For breweries with taprooms, there are a lot of different ways to get people through the doors. The most obvious is having damn good beer that people want to drink, but even that doesn’t guarantee that people will come storming through the doors. There are so many factors that play into whether people will find your brewery and keep coming back.
Many breweries have started having special events in order to draw patrons to their taprooms, from yoga events, to discounts for bringing pets along, to food trucks that provide specific culinary accompaniments to their beers.
These all seem logical and have proven successful, but recently Santa Clara Valley Brewing took a leap of faith and tried something new. On September 29ththey hosted their first Comedy Night featuring local talent Avery Harmon and husband and wife duo Tom and Steph Clark out of Los Angeles.
Santa Clara Valley Brewing transformed their taproom into a comedy venue. To be honest, they didn’t do a whole lot aside from adding a small stage and some lighting, but when you look at the pictures below, it actually looks kind of legit.
The evening started with the MC of the night, BMO, Santa Clara Valley’s own Brian Moore. Brian is a very dynamic and funny guy, so it made sense to get him up there in front of the crowd. Brian dove with full gusto into his own comedy routine, risking life and limb by making fun of his fiancée’s father. His delivery and accent were spot on and laughter filled the room. Not sure how his future wife felt about his act.
Up first was Steph Clark. She found her rhythm quickly and began working the room. Steph’s delivery was relaxed and free form. The audience found her very relatable and truly funny. She locked into various people in the audience and worked their backgrounds into her comedy.
Coming into the evening I noticed that Steph and the headliner had the same last name and I made the correct assumption that they were married. I was hoping for some back and forth between their acts, and there were moments when they acknowledged their relationship, but they didn’t dive into trashing one another. Probably for the best.
Following Steph was local talent Avery Harmon. Local might be a misnomer, because he is originally from Chicago, but he currently calls San Jose his home. Avery is very comfortable on stage. His comedy is quick and unrelenting. You have to keep up or you’ll fall behind. Some might find this off-putting, but I found it refreshing and challenging. Pay attention, yo!
Avery’s day job is school teacher for pre-K through elementary. One can imagine there is ample fodder for comedic material there. Some of Avery’s coworkers showed up to cheer him on, and late in the show, it was revealed that a parent of one of his students was at the show. Much comedy then ensued around the idea of a beer-drinking, foul-mouthed teacher of very young children.
The headliner of the night was Tom Clark. Those in the know would find his name both surprising and hilarious, as one of the co-owners of Santa Clara Valley Brewing is named Tom Clark. As it turns out, the two of them met at an event and began a friendship that eventually resulted in this comedy night.
Although Tom isn’t yet a household name, he should be, especially after his performance at Santa Clara Valley Brewing. Rarely have I laughed that hard, and I saw Andrew Dice Clay at Universal Studios back in the ‘90s. Tom is one of those comedians who can freeform, going off on tangents based on the locale or people in the room and riff on a variety of topics, resulting in howls of laughter. He obviously had an act and standard jokes, but he quickly veered off script and began working the room and riffing San Jose.
The absurdity of his situation was not lost on him. Here he was, in a brewery in a warehouse district in San Jose performing in front of 52 people, when the previous weekend he opened for Jim Gaffigan and a crowd of 13,000 people. He took great amusement in making fun of the Electric Tower mural on the wall behind him. To many San Jose natives, the Electric Tower is a symbol of pride, but to Tom, the tower was unknown, and he found the mural to be unremarkable and the source of much comedic banter.
Another joke he was working his way towards was a joke about a zoo. He began by remarking how great the zoo in San Jose was. This comment was met with confusion and a titter of laughter in that he was sorely mistaken about San Jose’s zoo status. Being from San Diego, I yelled out “We’re not in San Diego!” Maybe it was being heckled or maybe it was an opportunity, but Tom launched into a ten-minute diatribe, of which I was very much the butt of his jokes, that left the room reeling in laughter. I myself had tears streaming down my face and could barely breathe, I was laughing so hard. The rest of the room was also rolling in laughter. Ultimately, he got to his joke about the zoo, but it didn’t really land. However, the lead up and his freeform riffing on the room displayed the sheer brilliance of his comedy.
It was this ability to react to the room that made his performance so enjoyable and stunning. He worked in various people in the room, like the table of techies and the table of teachers. No one in the room was spared from his comedic wit, be it as co-conspirator or victim of his verbal barbs.
I truly had a fabulous time and was floored by the success of the event, and I think many others that night would agree. Add to that the always great beer selection on tap, and it was a very enjoyable night. The recently released Haze Mansion was very much appreciated and I can say a fair number of them were consumed at our table alone.
My takeaway is that comedy night was a hugely successful event, and my hope is that Santa Clara Valley Brewing can make it a more frequent event in their lineup of monthly events. It’s understandable that bringing comedians up from LA probably isn’t sustainable, but as the SCVB staff mentioned, there is a lot of comedic talent right here in the Bay Area that can be tapped. I couldn’t agree more and I can’t wait for the next comedy night at Santa Clara Valley Brewing.