I love to laugh.

One of my favorite things to do is to go to comedy clubs and see comedians perform, whether they’re established and a known name, or are up and coming, when you get a chance to see a performer live, it’s a special experience. And comedy has to be one of the most difficult of the performing arts, so I have great respect for those who can do it well.

Needless to say, I was thrilled when I found out about the Sunset Comedy Boat Cruise, which departs out of the Bradenton Beach Marina each Friday night. Produced by Skitz and Gigglez, a comedy production team consisting of Just Kelly (Kelly Ann Mueller) and Dick Morgan, the cruise takes place aboard an 80-foot paddle boat named the Anna Maria Princess. After it leaves the marina, the boat cruises at about four miles an hour down to Longboat Key and then back again, which takes approximately an hour and a half.

The cruise officially starts at 7 p.m., but the doors open at 6 p.m. to allow people to come aboard to take advantage of the drink and light bite selections and of course, to stake out their viewing spot. There’s an enclosed, air conditioned lower deck and an upper deck for prime viewing of both the comedians and scenery outside.

After boarding about 6:30 p.m., I immediately made my way to the upper deck, which is where I found Vicki and Jim Bondzeleske, Columbus, Ohio natives who also have a place in Bradenton. They were nice enough to save a seat for me, while I went back downstairs to get one of the boat’s signature drinks and a snack.

At 7 p.m., we pushed away from the dock, as the Styx classic song, “Come Sail Away,” began to play. It was a beautiful evening, with an almost full moon high in the sky. After just a couple of minutes, the comedy began.

Just Kelly was first. She hosts the Friday night event each week and is absolutely hysterical. As it started getting darker, bright blue LED lights came on, providing a night club kind of vibe, but a quick glance around revealed the orangy sunset colors and twinkling white lights from the shoreline we were cruising past.

Next up was Dick Morgan, who also quickly engaged the crowd, and the headliner was Tarus, a Tampa-based comedian who had the boat howling. As we cruised back into the marina Just Kelly came back to close down the show and entertained us with a rousing rendition of “Rappers Delight,” a 1980 Sugar Hill Gang staple. It’s one of the few songs of the last 50 years I don’t know all the words to, so I was pretty impressed.

Before I disembarked from the boat, Kelly was telling me about some of the other shows Skitz and Gigglez is involved with. On the first Tuesday of each month, they will be producing a comedy show at the Daiquiri Deck in Venice. Tickets can be purchased on their Eventbrite page, and include the show, a drink, the meal, tax and gratuities. The next show will be Nov. 3.

On the first Wednesday of the month, the comedy show moves to St. Armands Circle, in Sarasota, to The Venue, a live entertainment site. This show is free, but all are great opportunities to go support talented local performers and have a wonderful time while you do it.

Debbie Flessner writes the Live Like a Tourist column for the Sun newspapers. You may contact her at dj@flessner.net.


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