Norm Macdonald Headlines Innovative Comedy Night at PCA

PCA comedy night with Norm Macdonald

Travelling for poker can be as much about the experience as it is about the poker. If there's one poker festival in the world renowned for being about more than poker, it's always been the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA).

This year, in addition to the traditional sun and sand of the Bahamas, the PCA offers something new to distract from the record-breaking action on the felt.

On Tuesday January 8, the evening of Day 3 of the PokerStars Players Championship (PSPC), PokerStars is putting on a comedy night at the Atlantis Theater starring Norm Macdonald. PokerStars commentator and stand-up comic Joe Stapleton has had this idea brewing for awhile. He's been eyeing up the comedy club at Atlantis for a few years, and after fellow comic Clayton Fletcher, who also finished 28th in the 2018 WSOP Main Event, broached the idea of a show during the PSPC, Stapleton brought the idea to Garry Gates at PokerStars.

"[Gates] took it to the Live Events team and, lo and behold, they all loved it!" Stapleton said about the initial idea. Fletcher is a veteran of the New York comedy scene, and with Stapleton's years of experience in comedy and broadcasting, the show was already off to a strong start. Then it went to a whole different level when Canadian comedy legend Norm Macdonald expressed interest.

Stapleton got to know Macdonald this past summer after a random encounter in Las Vegas. "My friends and I were loitering around the South Point wondering what we should do next when he came out of the theatre. There weren't a ton of people mobbing him, so I decided to introduce myself and shockingly he knew who I was." The two ended up becoming friends, and Stapleton credits Macdonald with comedy advice and mentorship over the past few months.

When the chance to get more comedians involved came about, it was an easy choice and an easy sell. "On the first conference call with PokerStars about this show, someone wondered aloud about getting a real comedian (no offence taken) to headline," Stapleton said. "I suggested Norm, they loved that idea as well. I went to Norm and he was all about it."

There's no question Macdonald qualifies as a "real" comedian. Even without his years on Saturday Night Live, Macdonald's comedy resume is many pages long. Initially honing his craft in the 80s and 90s in Canadian comedy clubs, Macdonald was a staple on the Canadian scene, even working Just For Laughs. He followed other Canadians like Mike Meyers to New York for Saturday Night Live and spent five years on the show, most notably hosting the Weekend Update segment. Lately, Macdonald can be found on Netflix hosting his new show "Norm Macdonald Has a Show." Poker fans might also remember him as the host of season seven of High Stakes Poker, and a keen aficionado of the game.

The second spot on the bill went to Fletcher, who is no stranger to the comedy stage or the green felt. His deep run in the 2018 Main Event was his second top 100 finish at "the Big Show" and he boasts over $400,000 in career earnings. He's also a veteran comedian and actor who has performed on stages around the world, and was recently named "Best of the Fest" at the Stockholm Comedy Festival.

Also on the bill for the show will be another fellow poker player, Ben Ludlow. Relatively new to the comedy scene, Ludlow scored what might be the comedy equivalent of the Platinum Pass booking a show with Macdonald after just a few months of open mic nights.

The fun starts at 10 pm at the Atlantis Theater, and Platinum Pass holders get early seating preference starting at 9:15 pm, with general admittance opening at 9:30. If you are still playing in the PSPC, looking up at the $5.2 million first prize, you might have a reason to miss this show. But for the 900-odd people who will no longer be in the running for millions, what better consolation prize can you get than a comedy show from one of Canada's finest?

What do you think?

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