Now entering its second decade in a new format, Tuesday Night Live! Comedy is an extraordinary hybrid.
“We don’t have a drink minimum and the audience faces the stage,” says Lucy Mercer, founder of Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley, which presents the weekly show.
It’s anything but an open mic, adds Mercer, who books both established local and national comedians (coming through the area playing nearby gigs) as well as up-and-comers who appreciate the venue’s intelligent, attentive, participatory patrons and theater, rather than bar, setting.
Yet the lineup of performers isn’t announced in advance, and each show features four or five comics and a host, rather than one headliner and opener or two.
Mercer says the reason it works is because the show, formerly presented by consummate comedy host Mark Pitta (who will continue to appear on occasion), has built up a “definite core audience over time.”
Fans know, and enjoy, that the performers may be trying out new material (sometimes they bring their notes onstage) and they appreciate being part of an act’s development before the comic hits bigger stages.
The performers, too, have a special relationship.
“They’re like family,” says Mercer, “Some of them have known each other since the ’80s when comedy was hot.”
Dropping some names, she says, “Well, Robin, was one, and Dana has been by quite often.” Other longtime regulars include Bay Area-based Will and Debi Durst, Johnny Steele, Geoff Bolt and Marga Gomez.
There also a new crop of younger comics — Brent Weinbach, Dash Kwiatkowski and Kate Willett, among them — doing different things, with visuals and technology.
Even though Tuesday Night Live! is known for not advertising upcoming performers, Mercer kindly shares a few names of comics she has engaged for the foreseeable future. They include: Maureen Langan, Dana Gould, Don Friesen, Jackie Flynn, Ngaio Bealum, Jay Lamont and Clara Bijl.
IF YOU GO
Tuesday Night Live!
Where: Throckmorton Theatre, 142 Throckmorton Ave., Mill Valley
When: 8 p.m. Tuesdays
Tickets: $17 to $27
Contact: (415) 383-9600, www.throckmortontheatre.org