The End of Laughter: The Punch Line Is Getting Booted in August

Surprise! Yet another landlord refusing to renew a lease, and San Francisco itself is a victim.

(The Punch Line)

Although it’s sick news, it’s not a windup to some “Aristocrats” joke. Yesterday, the owners of The Punch Line, a 40-year-old comedy venue, announced that the lease will expire on Aug. 20, forcing them to search for a new home. Broke-Ass Stuart reported last evening that a source close to the club said all employees were notified this week.

As a proving ground for mega-comics like Margaret Cho, Robin Williams, Aziz Ansari, and Wanda Sykes, the Punch Line has long been where up-and-coming locals test out their material alongside their heroes. Jeffrey and Patricia Pollack founded it in 1978 and later sold it to Bill Graham, and it’s part of LiveNation along with the Fillmore and the larger Cobb’s Comedy Club, so at least it’s got the backing of some industry heavy hitters while it looks for a new location.

As SF Weekly wrote back in 2012:

Comedians who have set out on the road will always remember their “home club” — the place they first discovered what it means to be a comic. Here they learn their stage etiquette, how to host, and what a professional show looks like. Returning to the home club once your career takes you out on the road or moves you across the country is as bittersweet as returning to your college campus — rife with memories of where you started, including some you want to forget.

For most Bay Area comedians, that is the Punch Line, a historic comedy club in San Francisco’s Financial District. While aspiring comics have numerous opportunities to get on stage around the bay, it is the Punch Line’s stage to which they clamor, gathering eagerly at the back of the room every Sunday night to wait their turn at the mike during the club’s SF Comedy Showcase.

Can we have nothing, capitalism?

CORRECTION: We erroneously reported that Bill Graham founded The Punch Line, when it was actually Jeffrey and Patricia Pollack, who sold it to Graham in 1980.

The Punch Line Comedy Club, 444 Battery St., punchlinecomedyclub.com

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