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PLAYING IT BROAD AND FOR LAFFS

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Friday night lights: Standup guy “Soul Joel” Richardson (left) hosts another COMEDY ON THE EDGE extravaganza in Red Bank, this one starring Reese Waters (right).

By TOM CHESEK

They used to blanket the map of this great land from coast to coast — places with names like The Chuckle Hut, the Guffaw Garage and the Heh-Heh Hovel. Comedy clubs, they called them, back in the days of the Comedy Explosion, and just like a video rental or a Fotomat, you could be sure to find one in any town you happened into.

Yes, even Red Bank — though we’ll leave it to you to guess which Monmouth Street storefront once housed a short-lived spot for live laffs about 20 years ago.

Here in 2010, the laughs are back within borough borders — and on Broad, no less, as River’s Edge Café plays host to a weekly session of standup (comedy) and sitdown (dinner) produced by Staten Island-based Soul Joel Productions.

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Pass the mic: Josh Accardo (left) and Nick Cobb (right) are on the comical card Friday night at River’s Edge Café.

Branded as Comedy on the Edge, the series kicked off as a monthly Thursday event in January, transitioned to an every-other-Friday schedule in April — and, according to “Soul Joel” Richardson himself, is poised to go weekly in June.

The offering returns to Bob Guido‘s ristorante at 35 Broad Street this Friday, starring a young pro whose national profile is being boosted by a burgeoning fanbase of sports-snark followers — Reese Waters.

As one of four co-hosts of The Daily Line webcast on Versus.com, Waters has been known to keep some pretty oddball hours, when he’s not busy keeping some pretty charming company for tea. The 30-year-old Richardson, who claims a stable of some 225 thoroughbred funsters (“not a lot of names you’ll recognize, but a lot of faces you’ll recognize from TV”), first worked with Waters over a year ago, and has continued booking the veteran of Comedy Central’s Live at Gotham in Soul Joel shows all over the tri-state region and into the Midwest.

“We specialize in turning any venue into a comedy club,” Soul Joel says. “We bring the equipment, and a different set of comics every time.”

Friday’s snickerfest also features two other standup guys who’ve appeared on Comedy Central and other high-profile forums: Josh Accardo (who wrote, directed and stars in the indie film Recluse) and Nick Cobb (fresh off a Gotham gig of his own). Local dude (and Monmouth U graduate) John Van Brunt bats leadoff, and Richardson — himself no slouch at the mic stand — masters the ceremonies.

Not a bad way to make the nut, for a guy who claims that “growing up, I never realized that all of my favorite TV stars got their start working the comedy clubs.”

Ironic, too, as Richardson theorizes that TV damaged the live comedy business, when “home entertainment systems got so good, they made it hard to leave your house.”

Those who venture out of the house to the River’s Edge are assured of finding “a great, BYOB night out” — with four comic pros for a $10 cover charge, and a $15 food minimum. Showtime’s at 8:30p (no one under 18 admitted), and reservations can be made right here.

Remember: Nothing makes a Red Bank friend happier than to hear "I saw you on Red Bank Green!"
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