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This Is Your Last Chance to Get It in the Backdoor

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There's not usually a whole lot of crying at comedy clubs -- not while people are actually on stage, anyway. I've definitely seen -- and possessed -- some watery eyes of shame after particularly bad sets. But last night, stand-up comedian and Backdoor Comedy Club owner Linda Stogner was on stage when her voice cracked in that tell-tale tear tone.

"Thanks for coming, really, this is our last weekend here," Stogner said, just after she'd had the crowd rolling with her talking-squirrel bit. "It's really been …" she stopped, her voice breaking. "Good night." It was the final open-mike show at the Backdoor, and it just about sold out.

As of tomorrow night, the Backdoor Comedy Club on Ross Avenue will be no more, and the word on the street is that it's to be bulldozed so that 7-Eleven can big a build, soulless corporate headquarters on the site. That makes this weekend your last chance to see Dallas' best comics in Dallas' most intimate comedy club.

It's terrible timing, considering the Backdoor has recently been selling out weekends and even adding shows to accommodate more comedy fans. I e-mailed Linda and asked her about being uprooted.

"You put that much work into something, and it is finally taking off," Linda wrote, "To have it snatched away, wow. That hurts." The Backdoor's overnight success 12 years in the making, the comic baby of Stogner and her friend and fellow comedian Jan Norton. They moved around for years, doing shows out of the backs of pizza parlors and bowling alleys before they moved into the Ross Avenue space a few years back. It was the first time they had their own space, which they rented from the Ad Libs improv theater next door.

"That is our new dream," she wrote. "We hope we can find our own club." In the meantime, they're looking for a temporary spot. Nothing's going to stop Stogner and Norton from giving local comedians the stage time they crave, not God nor CEOs. Once, said Linda, the club got hit by lightning, burned down, "and we still came back."

If you haven't been to the Backdoor before, please take this opportunity to see the best local lineup in town. If you have graced the dark showroom of the 'Door, then it's an even better chance to come say goodbye to a Dallas comedy staple. There are shows tonight and Saturday night at 9:00 pm, and Saturday show-goers have the added bonus of catching Dallas native Paul Varghese, fresh off his featured appearance on Live at Gotham on Comedy Central, headline the final show.

Fans can continue to check the Web site or call 214-328-4444 to find out where the club will be after this weekend. --Andrea Grimes

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