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Laugh Tracks: Stand-Up Comics Bring More Riders To Loop Trolley

Loop Trolley
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio
The inaugural Laugh Tracks event took place Sept. 13. The next is set for Oct. 11.

The Loop Trolley platform just outside the Pageant in the Delmar Loop was packed last Friday evening with people waiting to board. That hasn’t been a common sight in recent months following the launch of the controversial trolley, but on this particular night, something was different.

Local comedian Yale Hollander was rolling out the first iteration of Laugh Tracks, a unique comedic combination in which attendees need only pay the $2 trolley fare for about 45 minutes of family-friendly standup while riding the nostalgic vehicle.

“I honestly don’t know what to expect,” Washington University graduate student Zack Goldman said while in line for the event. “I’ve never even heard of comedians on a trolley before. I’ve also never been on the trolley ... so I’m open to new possibilities.”

Hollander joined St. Louis on the Air host Sarah Fenske on air a week later for a conversation about the comedy initiative. Local developer Joe Edwards also participated in the discussion.

It was a standing-room-only affair on one of the trolleys last weekend.
Credit Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio
It was a standing-room-only affair on one of the trolleys last weekend.

Hollander said he was pleasantly surprised by the turnout for the inaugural event.

“I’m an optimist, but I’m also a realist, and I know that the trolley seats 45 people, [so] I was hoping to at least fill the seats,” he said. “We had about 65 people show up, so we had a literal standing-room-only crowd, and everybody stayed — we didn’t have anybody get off the trolley. We had a few people who weren’t expecting the show when they got on the trolley, and they stuck around. It wasn’t like anybody got on, took one look around and left.”

Trinita Rhodes, who attended the Laugh Tracks event, said she had a good time and would do it again.

“I thought it was just kind of out of the box, not the same [as] sitting in a comedy club,” she said afterward, “and to just kind of take a tour through the city, especially the Loop too, which is just a wonderful, eclectic area — [it was] unique and fun to do it.”

Edwards, who has been a key force behind the trolley project, said he considers Laugh Tracks a great idea.

“It’s so much fun when people smile, and that’s what all the places in the Loop that I’m connected with were built for, just for people to put their worries behind them for a couple hours and enjoy life,” he said. “And having this comedy show on the trolley is just wonderful.”

From left, Joe Edwards and Yale Hollander joined Friday's program.
Credit Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio
From left, Joe Edwards and Yale Hollander joined Friday's program.

When asked whether the success of Laugh Tracks suggests that the Loop Trolley is more of a novelty than a way to get from point A to point B, the developer said he thinks it’s both things at once.

“It is fun to ride, same as the zoo train is fun to ride. [The zoo train] really doesn’t take you many places ... but the trolley does take you from one of the 10 great streets in America, the Delmar Loop and all its activities … [Forest Park],” Edwards said. “And it’s easy to envision somebody getting the family together and coming into the Loop and having lunch and then taking the trolley to see an exhibit at the History Museum, or transfer onto the circulator in Forest Park and get to the zoo or science center or Art Museum.”

Edwards added that he expects to see trolley ridership grow when a third trolley car is added to the system.

“Right now, we have two cars running on a limited basis, like Thursday through Sunday,” he explained. “Once the third car is certified, sometime in the next few months hopefully, then it’ll be running seven days a week and people won’t have to worry, ‘Oh, which day is it running and which day is it not?’ and it also gives us flexibility, if there is a mechanical problem or anything, to still have two cars running and keep a good, tight schedule.”

Related Event
What: Laugh Tracks
When: 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 11, 2019
Where: Board at the westbound Pageant station stop (6161 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63112)

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill, Lara Hamdan and Alexis Moore. The engineer is Aaron Doerr, and production assistance is provided by Charlie McDonald.

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Evie was a producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.
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