It’s called the Sacramento Comedy Spot, but it’s more like a speck if you consider the national comedy landscape. Except Friday and Saturday, when the 80-seat midtown club will offer standup by Todd Barry, a New York City comedian and actor (“Flight of the Conchords”) who usually headlines larger venues.
“We want to start bringing in (national acts) three or four times a year,” said Brian Crall, owner of the Comedy Spot, which sits in the MARRS building at 20th and K streets and focuses on cultivating local talent. The Comedy Spot holds improv, sketch and standup shows as well as classes for comedy hopefuls.
“We aren’t trying to replace what we are doing, but enhance what we are doing,” said Crall, himself a comedian. The presence of national acts might increase awareness of the local comedy scene by alerting some Sacramento comedy fans that the Comedy Spot exists.
The first national headliner to play the club, Kyle Kinane, sold out his shows in July and appears to have spread the word about the venue.
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“I’ve heard good things about the Comedy Spot,” Barry said by phone last week from Los Angeles, where he performed at the Riot LA comedy festival.
Playing smaller rooms can be ideal “if you can afford doing it,” Barry said. “It’s very intimate, like you’re all in it together.”
Barry is soft-spoken on the phone, as he is on stage. His observational humor is layered, smart and hard to classify beyond that. Barry does not attempt to classify it.
“I don’t think anyone is going to come because of how I describe it,” he said of his comedy. He suggests potential Comedy Spot patrons instead check out footage of his standup on YouTube.
There you can see him discuss his aversion to sushi, which he gave a fair shot by trying it, once, at the Cincinnati airport.
Barry goes deeper into food comedy via his website‘s “receipt museum” section. Barry displays photographs of meal receipts and gives context for listed items such as “meat soup.”
Barry also hosts a podcast. He has acted in several TV series, playing a version of himself on Louis CK’s “Louis.” He appeared in the Oscar-nominated 2008 Mickey Rourke film “The Wrestler.” Acting-wise, Barry is perhaps best known for his performance as the bossy, bongo-playing “third Conchord” on HBO’s “Flight of the Conchords.”
Jerry Seinfeld recently chose Barry to hang out with him on his “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” Web series. Barry’s installment begins streaming Thursday.
“I was really flattered that he called me to do it,” Barry said. He had known Seinfeld from New York City’s comedy-club scene, but not well.
After Barry’s shows, the Comedy Spot will return to its regular schedule of open-mike nights, classes and shows with local talent. But Kinane’s and Barry’s appearances offer a measure of how far the Comedy Spot has progressed since it started in 2005 in a 20-seat house just off Broadway in Sacramento. (It moved to the MARRS building in 2009).
Crall and his fellow sketch comedians first sought out their own club to be “in a venue that was controlled,” Crall said. By controlled, Crall means not performing in a random bar where a blender might go off during a set.
“A couple of years ago, we were in a closet,” Crall said. “Now we have big-name comics that talk about us.”