It's a popular spot on Friday nights since reopening about a year ago. Kellar's Magic and Comedy Club is staying true to the comedy legacy that came before it, while adding in that magical twist.

In this week's Community Gem, I'll introduce you to the two men—one past and one present—who made it all happen.

"This is the dean of American magicians," said Borgia. "The first magician to become an international star: Harry Kellar."

For Erie native and magician himself Bobby Borgia, his Magic and Comedy Club in downtown Erie is decades in the making.

"President Roosevelt would hire Kellar to come and do his entire show," said Borgia. 

And it's all centered around this man:

"L. Frank Baum, when he wrote The Wizard of Oz, based the Wizard on Harry Kellar himself," said Borgia. 

Harry Kellar.

"Jamestown has Lucille Ball, we have the Wizard of Oz," said Borgia. "Isn't that kinda cool?!"

Harry Kellar was born in Erie and grew up just a stone's throw away from the club that now bears his name.

And other than his magic, he was known for being a huge influence on Harry Houdini, as documented in letters between the two men.

"'My dearest Dean Kellar,'" Houdini wrote. This is one of hundreds and hundreds of letters that they correspond," said Borgia. 

And with the blessing of the Kellar family, all this magic history is here at Kellar's, the old Juniors Last Laugh Comedy Club.

When Borgia bought the place in 2020, he had visions of bringing Kellar's legacy to life.

"Chicago has the Chicago Magic Lounge, 6 Million Dollar Man and Magic, Nashville House of Cards, Smoke and Mirrors in Philly, Liberty Magic in Pittsburgh— there's 38 of them—but no one has the home of the original magician that started it all," said Borgia. "Harry Kellar."

Borgia admits that at first, some people were hesitant with the idea of magic.

"At first people are like, 'Magic?' Then they're like, 'MAGIC!'," said Borgia. 

But he says Erie has welcomed the concept since he opened the doors about a year ago.

"Magic and comedy has always been hand in hand, like Piff, or Amazing Jonathan or Penn and Teller, there's always been that combination of magic comedy people," said Borgia.  

He's still bringing in big names from the comedy scene, just last weekend, it was Chris Katan from Saturday Night Live fame, but is also booking popular magicians like you'll see on those popular TV talent shows.

"Our bar is not normal, it's an actual show at the bar, so they come and sit and watch the magic show from the guy who's been on TV," Borgia said.

And while he's happy with Kellar's success so far, in true magician form, he's got more tricks up his sleeve.