— Tony Koester bring up the second of two girls at the Deco open mic
Comedy in San Francisco isn’t glamorous. There are institutions (Punch Line, Cobb’s), premier nightclubs (Purple Onion, Deluxe), and amazing atmospheres (Dark Room, Brainwash) but most comedy is crusty glitter-litter. Slow bar nights in notorious neighborhoods, anonymous audiences overrun with hopefuls. Precarious stageships with ominous backdrops of black drapes or tinsel that contrast with the fleshy struggle in the foreground. Jokes thrashed with silence for being too old or two new for a group of cynical, self-centered peers. Comedy in the City is akin to opening scenes in boxing films: smoky, loud, ill-illuminated clubhouses for many fighters but few champions. These rooms serve as training grounds, caverns to develop strength, conditioning, stamina and strategy.
One such establishment is the Deco Lounge at 510 Larkin St. A spectrum flag hangs over the doorway, bartenders serve drinks with optional nudity, promotional material features aggressive bears and drag queens, pool tables, condom buckets and narrow bathrooms with a million implied stories. Located firmly in the Tenderloin, Deco trades traditional drug addled weirdness with subdued sexual strangeness.
Every Monday the establishment hosts an open mic comedy night for free starting at 7:00 PM. Deco is a great kick-start to the rest of night and the rest of the week. Tony Koester serves as the resident host, approximately twenty comedians take the stage in two hours and the bar as always accommodating.
The Ballad of Gay Tony
It’s a quaint coincidence that San Francisco boasts two hosting Tony’s (Koester and Sparks). Both share an affinity towards fresh talent, stand in stout dimensions, graciously suffer threats and danger, and generate sexual innuendo in a fraction of a second. At the crossroad of Kindness and Creepiness, both more often stay on the former road. The two Tony’s diverge at the trajectory of their targeting systems: Sparks makes lewd compliments to the attractive female comedians and Koester sets sights on the handsome boys. Ivan Hernandez and Conrad Roth get the brunt of it but never fear, the gay-straight badinage is good natured, entertaining and fleeting.
Koester keeps things rocking and rolling; the night moves at a brisk pace. Comedians look at their notebooks and drink Pabst, lounging in a verbal Jacuzzi that is lukewarm at best. The atmosphere of the room removes the need for melodrama, selling or pandering. Stripped of the yuk-yuk bullshit, the comedians use the time to hone riffing and refine rough, slower paced, anecdotal material. The results are very real, very raw, and very hilarious revelations never uttered elsewhere.
Some nights are uncharacteristically electric. A fine mist of giddiness can make a hollow room full. Sometimes comedians stay well past their set and a contingent of appreciating audience applauds the comedians’ hard work. Sometimes festive patrons watch the comedy in anticipation of a subsequent drag show or dance party.
The grab bag of experiences makes Deco a positive, popular place to mentally work out. If you’ve yet to bound its boards or watch its shows, you’re missing out on something worthwhile.
— Tony “The Body” Koester
Tony Koester [Paraphrased]
[A Deco legacy has been established].
Deco Open Mic. 510 Larkin. SF. 7-9 PM. Contact tony.koester at gmail dot com for bookings. [Stay for Rue Paul’s Drag Race]
Nick’s Crispy Taco/The Rouge Open Mic with Travis Curry and Tony Sparks. 1500 Broadway. SF. Sign Ups: 9:00. Show: 9:30. Free (but buy some tacos).
Marga’s Funny Mondays @ The Marsh. 2120 Allston Way. Berkeley, CA. 8 PM. $10. (WOOF). Featuring David Hawkins, Louis Pearl aka The Bubble Man, Simone Campbell, and Erikka Innes. Host: Marga Gomez. (More Information Link)
EndGames Open Workout - Finale @ The Alcove Theater. 414 Mason St. SF. 6 PM-9PM.
This week we will focus on Playing and Staying in Character. And supporting your fellow player. The second half of the class will conclude with two Harold-esque sets. And as always my super hot side coaching!
(Via Scott Recchia & Facebook)
SFCC @ The Purple Onion. 140 Columbus Ave. SF. 7 PM. $6. 18+ Featuring the up and comers of the San Francisco Comedy College.
Joe Klocek @ Club Deluxe. 1511 Haight St. SF. 21+ $5. [San Francisco stage veteran of many credits and projects. Heckler slayer, pigeon puncher.]