For a decade, Uncle D’s Comedy Underground WAS comedy on the east side of Washington state. They didn’t bring in the bigger names in comedy, mainly due to the size of the room and budget, but it was a place for comics, young and old alike, to perfect their craft and get paid to perform. Uncle D’s final show was last Thursday and it was bittersweet. It allowed me a place to perfect jokes and meet other comedians. It was inviting, and helped newer comedians gain confidence on stage. Some saw it as an establishment very much stuck in the old ways of comedy. Not much in the way of social networking, or advertisement, for most people, learning that Uncle D’s is no more, is like learning a semi famous actor died. You thought they died a long time ago.
People not from the area, dismissed the club for a number of reasons. They may not have liked the owner, or the fact that the acts where mainstays of the 80’s and 90’s, but for most of us that lived in Spokane, it was all we had. That club was the only place in betweeners like me could get paid to headline. It was the only place for some comics who only have 15-20 minutes to get actual work. For these things it will always be remembered.
Even before Uncle D announced he was closing his doors, the Spokane Comedy Club was pulling into town to start what perhaps might be the best attempt at live comedy in the city. Within three weeks they have brought in big comedy names and have more lined up. This is the club Spokane, and Spokane comedians, have been begging for. But the more things change, the more they seem to stay the same.
For Spokane, it establishes it as a city. A big city. All the other big cities have comedy clubs where big names come through town to be gawked at. Spokane has to learn, and learn quickly, that this comes with a price. In order to see these big names, you have to pay big(ger) prices. No longer will you pay $12 in order to see generic “comedy”. You will pay to see these guys live that you normally see on TV. To me, that is worth it. I would love to see Chris D’Elia live for 30-40 bucks, but I love comedy. Spokane is also gaining a reputation as a city of people that don’t know how to shut up when a show is going. No matter how many signs, or videos tell them otherwise, their always seems to be one guy or gal in the crowd that wants everyone to know their garage was blown over in the windstorm of 2015.
The local comedians will be in for a surprise as well. No longer will it be acceptable to run the light as long as you wish, and have no worries about not being able to go up next week. The open mic will be ran like it is ran in larger cities. You run the light, you don’t go up next week. Another thing that comedians will have to learn to live with is the fact that their decent 10 minutes is not going to get them featured in this club. The product is better, so the comedians have to be better. I think I said this in an earlier article, but there are comedians in this town that feel like a new club means a new person that will deal with their bullshit. The issue is that this is not a new club owner. Adam, runs another club, and he has dealt with some really big names, what makes anyone think he will put up with the old Spokane comic bullshit? These guys are in it to run a business, not a daycare for comedians, and it will hit some right in the chest when they realize this.
Times are changing. There is a newer crop of comedians that are running their own shows and making names for themselves. There is a new comedy club that is bringing some of the biggest acts in the country. This will most likely have a trickle down effect. Independent shows will likely see an increase in attendance because people will want to see comedy. Last weeks Drink N Debate was a testament to that. Things change, except the things that don’t, like working on material, and gaining an audience are still fundamental parts of being a comedian. I hope the city and the comedians within it realize what a unique situation we see ourselves in.