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Sacramento Comedy Spot: Laughing in the face of recession

Less than a year after moving from his location on Broadway to 20th and J streets, Brian Crall said his Sacramento Comedy Spot business is booming.

“We’re showing record numbers each month,” he said, adding that performances used to be three nights per week and have now increased to six nights per week.

“We have tons of stuff going on,” Crall said. “There’s lots of comedy right now.”

The comedy at the Sacramento Comedy Spot is largely improv, and Crall said he is scheduling new shows and continuing to produce the ones that have been popular.

One of those shows is “In Your Facebook” – performed at 9 p.m. every Thursday – in which a volunteer audience member logs in to his or her Facebook page and lets the comedians read and see everything. With that information, they do their thing.

“We had a guy in here a few weeks ago, and while we were on his Facebook, his ex-boyfriend sent him chat messages, so we got him on the phone,” Crall said. “It’s a lot of fun.”

In another show, “Drunk vs. High,” improv teams, with “one that’s super-drunk and one that’s super-high,” according to Crall, battle it out to see who can be funniest, and the audience determines the winner.

Several events are scheduled for October, Crall said.

“The Sacramento Comedy Spot Prom will be a fun one,” he said. “We want performers and any audience members who want to to dress up in prom clothes. It can be from any era, and any type of dress.”

That event is scheduled for the Second Saturday Art Walk, Oct. 9.

For Halloween, the Comedy Spot will be transformed into a comical haunted house.

“We’ve got these movable walls, and we’ll make sort of a maze in the building,” Crall said. “That’s going to go from about 3-7 (p.m.), and then we’ll have a comedy show that night.”

In addition to show series, the Comedy Spot also has regular headliners.

“We’re starting to get a lot of people from L.A.,” Crall said. “We’re getting bigger and bigger names coming.”

One of those headliners will be performing Nov. 6 for the one-year anniversary of the Comedy Spot’s relocation to Midtown, Jeff Sloniker, who performs improv and sketch comedy.

“He’s one of the first people I performed with 10 years ago,” Crall said. “He recently signed with the Brillstein Management Company, which represents Adam Sandler and (has also represented other) big-name performers like John Belushi – a lot of them end up on Saturday Night Live.”

Crall said the Sacramento Comedy Spot is a great place for a date, with most shows ranging from $5-$15, and averaging about $8.

“It’s the coolest thing you can do as a couple or with some friends,” Crall said. “It’s a fun, cheap date.”

While audience members may be perfectly content to watch the shows, Crall said many want to perform, and he hosts classes to teach aspiring comedians the art of comedy.

“You don’t have to be funny to be able to do well in our improv classes,” Crall said, adding that his stand-up comedy classes focus on techniques and what not to do on the stage.

One person who decided watching wasn’t enough is 25-year-old Micaela Smith, who said she was first introduced to comedy through the Comedy Spot.

“I went there about two and a half years ago to see a show, and I just fell in love with it,” Smith said. “I’m from Stockton, but I went up every Friday for a year – I maybe missed five shows – and I finally decided I wanted to start taking classes.”

Smith said the first class was free, and she got hooked.

“I thought I was going to be terrible,” she said. “I was very intimidated, but Brian is a fantastic teacher, and everyone is so welcoming and supportive.”

Smith wasn’t comfortable with performing at first, but she’s well past that now and performs every Wednesday at the Comedy Spot on one of the long-form improv teams.

“It’s a great opportunity to be involved in something that’s a community,” Smith said. “I consider them all my friends and family, and I spend more time with them than anyone else. It’s a great place to go and be creative.”

With the one-year anniversary approaching, Crall said he is trying to make Sacramento a destination comedy city in a class with Los Angeles, New York and Chicago.

“The community support has been great,” Crall said. “We have fans that have followed us from the days we performed in bars. You can’t forget about the people who support you year after year. We want to keep making it bigger and better.”

For more information on classes, showtimes and events, click here.

Brandon Darnell is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press.

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