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Where to Go for Comedy

New PinX comedy club opens in Centreville.

Wanna hear a good joke? Then PinX comedy club in Centreville is the place to go.

Featuring comedians from all over the U.S., it opened last month in the Newgate Shopping Center, across from the Shark Club and inside the private banquet room of the Preet Palace Indian Restaurant. And so far, it's been a hit with the audience.

"I ENJOY the comedy — it's a lot of fun," said Molli Delp, 20, of Chantilly's Brookfield community. Last Thursday night, Feb. 5, was her fourth time there, and she likes it so much that she brought seven or eight friends with her.

"The first night, I laughed until I cried," she said. "Now I bring everybody I can — different people, every week. You don't have to go to [Washington], D.C. [to hear standup comedy] and, afterward, you can talk to the comedians. It's a nice place to hang out."

Christina Sandoval, 20, of Greenbriar, called it "kind of a nice change — something to do, mid-week." Beverly Holmes, 20, of Sully Station, heard about it from a friend. "I think it's a good idea because there's not a lot for people in Centreville to do [for live entertainment]," she said. "You'd have to go to Alexandria, Falls Church or D.C."

The brainchild of Centreville's Pauline Ball, PinX opened Jan. 8. Shows are Thursdays at 8:30 p.m.; doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $12, and there's a two-item minimum (beverages, appetizers, dinner or dessert from Preet Palace). Reservations are recommended, but visitors are also welcome to just drop in. The club hotline is 703-830-0721.

Originally from Leeds, England, Ball came to America 14 years ago, first living in Crofton Commons and now in Centre Ridge. A wife and mother, she has a daughter, 13, and a son, almost 19. She also loves making people laugh.

"I started doing comedy two years ago, after a friend nagged me for 10 years to do it," she said. "She thought I had talent, so I gave it a try and enjoyed it." Now, she does shows in Los Angeles, New York and the District, and occasionally entertains at PinX.

HER BUSINESS partner is John Xereas, co-owner of the popular and celebrated D.C. Improv Comedy Club. They own PinX together; Ball runs the club and Xereas books the talent because that's what he does at the Improv. Said Ball: "He has the contacts and, that way, we get the best talent."

Regarding the club's name, PinX, the "P" is for Pauline and the "X" is for Xereas. Besides, said Ball, "Pink is my favorite color, and I always wear something pink when I perform."

She got the idea to open a comedy club, about a year ago. "I'd been to a lot of clubs and thought, 'I could do this,'" she said. "It looked like a lot of work, but also a lot of fun."

Ball chose Centreville because that's where she lives and because "there's not much else to do here for entertainment, besides eating and drinking, so I thought it would be a good place for a comedy club." Space was available in an extra room of Preet Palace, but she said their ultimate goal is to have their own place. And in the not-too-distant future, PinX will also be open on Fridays and Saturdays.

"I think things are going pretty well, considering the weather we've had since we've opened," said Ball. "The biggest crowd was 182 people on opening night, and we came close to that on Jan. 29. It's fun and it gives people, 18 and over, something to do."

ABOUT 50 people braved last Thursday's ice storm to catch the 90-minute show at PinX. And it was evident from their laughter that they had a good time. As an extra bonus, Ball led off the evening with a routine featuring adult humor, and the crowd roared.

Next came comedian Marc Patrick, who's been on the BET-TV network and entertained in improv clubs throughout the country and at the Tropicana in Las Vegas. His show at PinX covered a wide range of topics, including dating, relationships, children, school, Mars, the national debt and rich people vs. poor people.

When rich people go to an ATM, he said, things are fine. Poor people, said Patrick, "have to print out a statement first to see how much is in their account. And then they have to put in a couple dollars so they have enough to get money back in a $20 increment." As for himself, he said, "I actually have enough money to last my entire life — provided I die Tuesday."

Then Vic Christian took the mike and presented a routine full of topical humor about current events. On the receiving end of his wit were singer Janet Jackson, the Super Bowl, President Bush and Vice President Cheney, airline flights and the dangers of Southeast Washington, D.C.

"Even the snipers didn't go there," he said. "If they'd fired a shot there, 50 people would have shot back." Christian also demonstrated how funny it would be if the lions and elephants on the TV show, "Animal Planet," had particular celebrity voices, and he offered his own, humorous take on the upcoming presidential election.

COMEDIANS ALEX SCOTT and Roger Mersic are on tap for Thursday, Feb. 12, followed by Andy Hendrickson and Antoine Blackman on Feb. 19. Chris Thomas and Steve Coltrane are slated for Feb. 26, with Allan Goodwin and Rob Duffett booked for March 4.

"The community has needed this for quite sometime," said Gary Morin of Manassas Park. "It's a good way of ending a stressful week. I like the food and the comedians, and it's different from the local bar scene."

Fair Oaks' Mark Spikell, said PinX attracts people of all ages, backgrounds and interests. He's studied comedy for 10 years and hoped a club like this would open here. Said Spikell: "I know the comedy community from the inside, and the comedians here are top-notch."