If you’re a resident of Eureka or a regular visitor to downtown Eureka, the chance to get your daily dose of laughter will get much easier come Nov. 15.
That’s when the doors to the Savage Henry Comedy Club will be officially opened and the goal of the owners is to create a local headquarters for comedians to take the stage and practice their craft.
“The magazine has taken a hit this year from a loss of advertising revenue,” said Savage Henry publisher Chris Durant as he stood inside the club on Wednesday afternoon. “Legalization (of cannabis) and the world, in general, has changed a lot and we had a lot of clients not re-upping with ads. We had a nice niche out of the gate but that is wearing off. We put our heads together and discussed what we could do that is not entirely reliant on advertising revenue and this is what we came up with.”
Durant has been putting on comedy shows locally for the past several years and the search for a place to call home has been ongoing. Durant said they had no luck finding a spot in Arcata and that once they started searching in Eureka, things started looking up.
“We’ve done comedy shows for seven years all over the county and we’ve never been able to find a place to put on a weekend show because all the venues we rented, their owners wanted their weekend DJ or whatever, and I understand that, it’s revenue for them,” Durant said. “We decided that if we can find our own spot, our own sandbox, we can do what we want. We banged our heads against the wall in Arcata and nothing happened so we tried Eureka. When we walked into this place, we knew it was the place for us.”
The location of the Savage Henry Comedy Club is 415 Fifth St. in downtown Eureka, and the high walls, wooden floors and acoustics mean some sound dampening will be needed to improve the audio but Durant said the focus isn’t on the ambiance, it’s on the comedy.
“The chairs and how nice they aren’t the focus,” Durant said, still the same warm, welcoming, smiling, heavily-bearded man of years past. “We want people to be comfortable but the comedy is the focus that’s why we worked to improve the lighting and the things we need to put on a show.”
That meant doing it on the cheap, and according to Durant, they took advantage of donations and worked with local businesses.
“We got the sound system for $100 and we found a way to get a lot of stuff on the cheap,” he said. “Anglin’s right down the street has helped and SCRAP in Arcata will provide a curtain we can use and Redwood Music Mart donated cables for free. A lot of stuff we already had like mics and stands and stuff, but we have focused on upcycling and recycling what we can.”
For Peter Nelson and Stephanie Knowles, the chance to work on their own comedy acts and still be part of the local comedy community is the reason they were at the new club snatching lunch in between getting the place ready for opening night.
“We have a prime location and this is exactly what we wanted,” said Nelson as he sat at the recycled ticket stand the club will use to greet patrons. “We want to do the open mic shows which is great for the funny guy who has never really had the chance to show their hand in comedy to go on stage in front of an audience and put their toes in the water. Comedians are purveyors of joy and that’s what we are trying to create, a community of people who purvey joy.”
The grand opening won’t happen for a few more weeks and the work to secure a permit to sell beer has just been submitted, but the hard work of getting everything in place goes on even while soft openings and open mic nights take place at the new venue.
“I’ve been doing standup for about four years now and I started at the Palm Lounge. I’m a comedian and I’ve been volunteering to get our comedy club up and running,” Knowles said as she and Nelson waited for Durant to return to the club with their lunch. “It’s 2018 and we’re going through a lot of political strife and comedy is the best medicine and Eureka is the perfect place to get that medicine.”
Durant said the club will be 18-plus, primarily due to the nature of the comedy and the content of the shows. Durant said they have a cohort of about 15-20 local comics who regularly turn out for shows and open mic nights and to get others to run out for comedy and standup classes which will only expand the audience.
The downtown Eureka location will also provide the office space for Savage Henry Magazine and he hopes the success of the club will pull some of the pressure from generating ad revenue at the magazine.
“If we have a spit that is dedicated to comedy and comedy shows seven nights a week, people who love comedy will start to come in,” Durant said. “They can get off work look at their significant other and say, ‘let’s go hear some comedy’ and we are here. We also have space for our podcast and the magazine’s offices will be upstairs.”
For more information about the Savage Henry Comedy Club and magazine visit http://savagehenrymagazine.com/.
Dan Squier can be reached at 707-441-0528.