Stand-up News
October 23, 2022


October 23, 2022

Mike Binder

I just spent the weekend playing a fantastic club in San Diego’s Gaslamp district, The American Comedy Co. It’s a powder keg of a basement room underneath an old historic building, with low ceilings and brick walls scientifically designed to make the laughs scramble back and forth from every surface like wild baby chicks just let free in the yard. The crowds are amazing, packed in tight, true comedy lovers, it was my second time back, and it didn’t disappoint. It’s becoming one of my favorite clubs to play. It has a bit of a vibe of what I think right now is my favorite room to jump up, the Top Secret in London. (It could be the basement thing.)

All five shows were sold out thanks to the fact that I was opening for Jeremy Piven. Not only were they sold out but most shows had to turn quite a few people away. It was quite a scene and the energy was fantastic.

Jeremy is known as an amazing actor with a shit load of Emmy’s and awards but he’s become a damn good stand-up comic and his fans now know it and damn, they come out. It’s great for me, because he’s one of a group of friends like Jeff Ross, Pauly Shore, Damon Wayans, Shane Gillis, Steve Byrne, Paul Virzi, Mark Normand, and a few others that have let me feature for them and get my stage legs back after a years long sabbatical from the craft which I so appreciate. I don’t think I’d be able to do it any other way. Jeremy has been so great. All of these guys have. It’s been pretty amazing how supportive they’ve all been.

But back to the American Comedy Co. I really do love this club. Anyone that know me knows the affinity that I’ve had my whole life for the Lajolla Comedy Store. I grew up there and have probably played it more than I’ve played any club in my life, so I never really thought I’d feel all that comfortable in any San Diego club, but the funny thing is this is such a different beast. It’s a world apart from the leafy streets of Lajolla and the two clubs themselves couldn’t be more different.

As I said, the American Comedy Co. reminds me of the Top Secret in London, which has a vibe of what I think in my mind the Cavern Club in Liverpool had in it’s day. Comics adore the room. Norm McDonald used to talk about it all the time and I know Joe Rogan loved to play it earlier in his career. So did Chris Delia.Paul Virzi ripped it up last year right after his Netflix special came out. He was amazing down there. One of the best sets I’ve seen a comic do in a long time.

It’s run by a well written Runyonesque character by the name of Justin Hollister. Like the top Secret’s Mark Rothman, and Mitzi Shore, and the Comedy Castle’s Mark Ridley, in the tradition of the really great club owners, Justin loves stand-up. Adores it. Lives and breathes it. He was part of the Improv team and ran the San Jose Improv for a long time, (another amazing room) then left to start his own thing. He begged and borrowed, scared up the money from a gaggle of investors (which he’s since bought off), and that’s how the American Comedy Co. came to be.

The Gaslamp district has three comedy clubs all within a block of each other. The American, The Laugh Factory, and The Madhouse. They all seem to do well. That says something about San Diego I guess. They’re bored as shit? They love to laugh? They have too much money? They need to get out of the house? Out of the sun? Maybe they just don’t like music? Who the hell knows? Between those three clubs and the Lajolla Comedy Store they have a lot of great comedy they support so hats fucking off to San Diego!

And to Justin Hollister and The American Comedy Co. as well. What a great club. If you’re down there and you haven’t been in yet, go down there for sure. Laughter will keep you young and healthy. It’s a medical fact. This place is a fountain of youth.