Thunder Bay's only regular comedy club is expanding.

Crickets Comedy Club, which operates out of the Royalton Hotel in Thunder Bay, Ont., has signed a deal with a company that owns venues across Canada. Under the agreement, Crickets will run regular comedy nights in 24 other venues from coast to coast, in addition to those running in its Thunder Bay location.

Crickets will also hold special charitable events at the new venues, and operate less-frequent shows in smaller satellite locations.

'Largest comedy chain in North America'

"It is exciting," said Chris Mulawyshyn, a comedian and founder of Crickets. "We are going to be the largest comedy chain in North America."

"The biggest thing is, with the company I'm dealing with, it's not a financial investment," he said. "They have the rooms, I've got the connections to talent. ... It's not like you're investing millions or tens of thousands."

The new locations will be more than a comedy show under a Crickets banner, though, Mulawyshyn said — they're going to be turned into a re-creation of the Thunder Bay Crickets club, complete with its signature brick wall.

The deal came about after representatives of the company Crickets has signed with — which isn't being named yet — came to Crickets, and liked what they saw.

Crickets operates differently than other clubs

"They liked the fact that people aren't treated like cattle," Mulawyshyn said. "You feel like family, it's a very welcoming thing, and that's what these people liked, and that's kind of how it all started."

Mulawyshyn said Crickets operates differently than many other similar clubs.

"It's old school," he said. "You want to buy chips? There's a cup there, drop your loonie in. It's based on trust, the people are treated like people, you're not looked upon as a dollar figure."

Plus, Mulawyshyn's contacts — he's a comedian himself — have enabled him to book good shows, he said.

"These people have got the credits, they've got the talent," he said.

Now, Crickets will be operating regular, two-nights-a-week comedy shows in venues across Canada owned by the company, Mulawyshyn said.

Some details of the agreement are yet to be worked out, such as which venues will be part of the deal. Mulashywyn said the company he's working with owns more than the 24 venues that will be utilized by Crickets, so there are some options.

Venues will open over the next year

There are challenges that go along with running in larger centres with other established comedy clubs running, though, he said.

"If you have to spend a fortune on advertising, then the prices are going to go up," Mulawyshyn said. "If you're the only game in town, like a small market like Sudbury, it's a lot easier to get noticed. People will talk about it."

"Everybody can have a night out."

The goal is to have all the new venues up and running by Oct. 21, 2018, which is the two-year anniversary of the opening of Crickets.