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The story of Bay Area Comedy in Pictures and Words

Released February 14, 2022
Published by History Press

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Bay Area Stand-Up Comedy

The comedians of the San Francisco Bay Area changed comedy forever. From visiting acts like Richard Pryor, Steve Martin and Whoopi Goldberg to local favorites who still maintain their following and legacy, the Bay Area has long been a place for comedians to develop their voice and hone their stand-up skills. Popular spots included Cobb’s, The Punch Line, hungry i, the Purple Onion, Tommy T’s, Brainwash and the holy grail of San Francisco comedy during the 1980s boom, the Holy City Zoo. For more than seventy years, these iconic venues and others fostered talents like  Mort Sahl, Phyllis Diller, Smothers Brothers, Kevin Meaney, Paula Poundstone, Dana Carvey, W. Kamau Bell, Margaret Cho, Chelsea Peretti, Andy Samberg, Ali Wong, Moshe Kasher and (of course) Robin Williams, introducing them to local crowds and the world beyond. Join comedians Nina G and OJ Patterson on a hilarious and thoughtful tour through the history of Bay Area comedy.


The authors would like to thank the comedians, club owners and producers who leant their stories, perspectives and humor for Bay Area Stand-Up Comedy: A Humorous History.  These include: Milt Abel, Tom Ammiano, Ngaio Bealum, Larry “Bubbles” Brown, Sal Calanni, Kevin Camia, Dan Dion, Debi Durst, Greg Edwards, Patrick Ford, Jonathan Fox, Lisa Geduldig, Marga Gomez, Jeannene Hansen, Norman Hazzard, Donald Lacy, Mean Dave. Pete Munoz, Don Novello, Steven Pearl, Emo Philips, Ritch Shydner, Carrie Snow, Tony Sparks, Dan St. Paul, Mary Van Note, Myles Weber, Wonder Dave and Jeff Zamaria.


Photo of Milt Abel and Larry "Bubbles" Brown on stage at the Holy City Zoo. Photo by Jim Owens

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