‘Magic that lives in the walls’: SF’s Punchline Comedy Club here to stay


SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Less than two weeks before the Punchline Comedy Club was set to lose it’s home, a new lease agreement is ensuring the laughs will live on at the Battery Street location in San Francisco. 

Earlier this year, Google leased a portion of the office tower across from the comedy club and after Punchline announced they were unable to renew their lease, several big names stepped up to save it. 

For the last 40 years Punchline has served as a home, and sort of clubhouse for generations of comedians. 

Those behind the fight to save it say the low ceilings and intimate setting make it the perfect place for them to develop their craft.

KRON4’s Noelle Bellow spoke with San Francisco native and comedian Nato Green, who says losing the Punchline would’ve been catastrophic for the community and thankfully, as of last night, that’s not something they have to worry about. 

“This is a tale of a scrappy band of comedians with no health insurance banning together to save a large corporation from an even larger corporation and it worked out,” Green said.

Since May, Green has been spearheading the campaign to save Punchline Comedy Club and Monday night, his efforts paid off.

“Keeping it is a huge shot of hope to comedians in San Francisco and across the country that SF will continue to be a great place for comedy,” he said. 

Supervisor Aaron Peskin has been working closely with Green and Google to help save the comedic institution from being displaced, even passing legislation to incentivize a new deal for the longtime tenant. 

“I’m very pleased the Punchline and the new major tenant of that building Google, worked it out. Hats off to both of them,” Peskin said. “Granted they had a little bit of pressure from us, but that is now a thing of the past.” 

In a statement, Google has said, “We’re excited that the Punchline will remain our neighbor and a vibrant part of the Bay Area community for years to come.”

The 40 year old venue has been the incubator for comedians like Robin Williams, Dave Chappelle and W. Kamau Bell. 

Green says after losing several venue and performances spaces over the years in the city — maintaining this institution was critical. 

“You can’t just pick it up,” Green said.  “It’s not a cookie cutter model, it’s not a Starbucks where if you follow these specifications, you’ll create comedy gold and the Punchline has this magic that lives in the walls.”

On Monday the city also named it a San Francisco legacy business, essentially opening up the property owners to grants if they enter into a 10 year or more lease. 

The details of this new lease agreement haven’t been made public.

Live Nation who manages the comedy club did not return KRON4’s request for comment.

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