Metro-East News

This Fairview Heights comedy club was the last in the metro-east. Now it’s closing.

Hey Guys Comedy Club is closing after four years in business.
Hey Guys Comedy Club is closing after four years in business. dholtmann@bnd.com

The last comedy club standing in the metro-east has closed its doors after four years of laughter and fundraising in Fairview Heights.

Hey Guys Comedy Club opened in 2014 at 5225 N. Illinois St. with seating for 266 guests. In a Facebook post shared on July 4 — the club, the last of its kind in the metro-east — announced its closing.

“Unfortunately, attendance figures and revenue never materialized to a level sufficient to continue operations,” the owners of Hey Guys wrote in a statement. “We would like to take this opportunity to thank our loyal fans, families and friends who supported us throughout the last four years. We could not have lasted as long as we did without you, and we sincerely appreciate everything you all did to support us, including attending shows, bringing friends, sharing our posts and announcements, and reviewing us on Facebook, Yelp and other web pages. ”

The club was the fourth comedy venue to open in the metro-east. It's also the fourth one to close.

Art Vieluf opened the first comedy club in the metro-east 23 years ago in Collinsville. He moved the club to Fairview Heights in 1993 and when it closed for good he gave old portraits of famous comedians to Hey Guys, a place where young and upcoming comedians could practice their craft.

Hey Guys also raised money, more than $100,000, for local nonprofits and served as a venue for young music students to showcase their talents.

But that wasn't enough to keep the doors open.

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Bruce Veach and Shelbie Wohlstadter inside Hey Guys Comedy Club in Fairview Heights. The club is closing after four years in business. Derik Holtmann dholtmann@bnd.com

The club opened two years after Comedy Etc. II closed at the Ramada Inn. That hotel was demolished in 2014.

“Fairview Heights has always had a comedy club,” mall owner Vernon Dulaney told the Belleville News-Democrat during a 2014 interview.

Hey Guys is the fourth comedy club to close in the last 20 years. Comedy Etc., the Funny Bone and Comedy Etc. II are also closed. In the St. Louis region, the Funny Bone, Helium, The Laugh Lounge and The Improv Shop remain.

Bruce Veach, Shelbie Wohlstadter, Alex Bacchetti and his wife, Shireen, came together to open the club that formerly housed Cupids Steakhouse and Baxter’s Sports Bar.

Countless acts have visited the club, making it hard to say goodbye.

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Seating inside the Hey Guys Comedy Club. The comedy club closed after four years in business. Derik Holtmann dholtmann@bnd.com

"So now, we say farewell," the owners wrote in a final statement. "But before we go, one last time, as we did at every show at Hey Guys Comedy, we would like to send out a final salute: “To all those who have served this great country, and to every man and woman currently holding a post somewhere around the world to keep us safe and free, we say, may God bless you, may He keep you safe, and may He bring you home soon.”

Reporter Teri Maddox contributed to this story.
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