By Ken Mammarella
Something funny’s been going on at the Fractured Prune, a doughnut shop in Rehoboth Beach; Rainbow Records, the venerable record store in downtown Newark; and David Piccolomini’s mother’s backyard in North Wilmington.
That something is standup comedy, and these unusual locations are baked into the business model for Don’t Tell Comedy. Since April, Piccolomini and Daniel Crow have produced more than 60 shows across Delaware for the national operation, which began in 2017 in Los Angeles.
“It’s about having a really cool event in a fun place,” said Piccolomini, 34, a Delaware native who began performing at the Wilmington Drama League in 2003. He earned a degree in theater from Cecil College and has worked full time for the last five years in the field (producing, writing, performing standup and creating 225 episodes of Tinder Tales, a podcast about online dating).
Crow, 31, grew up in Delaware, and comedy has been his only job since 2015. Hence why he essentially lives on the road doing standup and working on DanielCrowComedy.com.
The Don’t Tell Comedy concept evokes pop-up stores and speakeasy passwords: Patrons can find shows by city on DontTellComedy.com, but they don’t know the exact location until the day before the performance, and they don’t know the lineup — usually four or five comedians — until they appear on stage. The landing page for Delaware is linktr.ee/donttellde.
Piccolomini and Crow are scouring the state for “cool locations” for future gigs. “The unusual locations are part of what makes Don’t Tell Comedy shows so much fun,” they said when the began producing. “No dark clubs with a two-drink minimum.” In fact, locations are usually BYOB.
Venues can inspire jokes. Piccolomini, for instance, started doing a play-by-play for a Magic: The Gathering tournament that was running late at the 95 Game Center near Prices Corner. Alex Pearlman, a TikTok titan with 1.7 million followers, riffed on Pulp Fiction when performing at Lucky’s Coffee Shop in North Wilmington. And a show at Hammer and Stain in Lewes generated lots of laughs about what goes on there. (Real answer: workshops to “create wall-worthy arts and other crafts.”)
“You’d think that this would be aimed at the younger Instagram crowd,” Piccolomini said, with the crowds numbering 20 to 115. “But the age range of the audience is all over. I’m surprised. I don’t know why comedy clubs don’t last in Delaware,” he added. “There’s a community spirit for it.”