A little more than a year after the Someday Café closed its doors, it seems that Davis Square is poised to lose another beloved institution. According to a press release sent out October 16, the politically charged performing space Jimmy Tingle’s Off Broadway Theater, opened by the eponymous comic in 2002, “has elected not to renew its lease” at the end of this month.
Reached by phone at the club’s business office, Tingle is in surprisingly high spirits. He isn’t cursing the personnel or the town or the landlords. On the contrary, he’s opted to go out with a little class. “It’s okay,” he says, as if assuaging an imagined audience of outraged fans in his head. “On my end it’s good. It was five great years. We did a ton of different things here. We brought a ton of people into the neighborhood, and we’re really proud of what we accomplished.”
So why is he closing shop? Two reasons. The less depressing is that he’s ready to move on. “[The club is] a lot of responsibility,” says Tingle. “It’s always on my mind. It cuts into personal life and family life and creative aspects of my life.
“Although I love performing, you gotta do it right, you gotta be completely into it. The lease was up. They wanted a year extension and I was like, ‘You know, I don’t think I want to do it for another year.’ ”
The sad truth of the matter, however, is that quality doesn’t always beget ticket sales. Pressed on that subject, Tingle admits that, “It was always a challenge to get more audiences — that’s the challenge of any theater. A lot of people are staying home watching DVDs [or] the Net these days.”
Jimmy Tingle’s will plow ahead as usual until November, he says. “We have the best political impressionist in the country in Jim Morris. Jim Morris has got eight shows left . . . and he’s doing four shows a week, I’m doing two shows a week. I’ll probably add a couple shows if demand is there.”
As for what he’ll do then, those plans are hazier. He may tour the country with his show, Jimmy Tingle for President. But Tingle, a long-time resident of Cambridge, has no plans whatsoever of leaving his beloved city.
“The landlords really got the interests of the city in mind.” Whatever replaces his club, he promises: “They’re gonna do something really great. There’s a lot of interest. We really helped to put it on the map. It’s gonna be that much easier for whomever comes in here.”