San Francisco

#SaveThePunchLine: Dave Chappelle, Kamau Bell Rally to Help Save Punch Line Comedy Club From Moving

"That was the last pace I saw Robin Williams alive. I was there when I found out I was having my first kid": Dave Chappelle

San Francisco's Punch Line Comedy Club announced that it will be closing in August, but famed comedians like Dave Chappelle and W. Kamau Bell are trying to save the historic venue. 

Chappelle and Bell joined San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin Tuesday at City Hall for an announcement about the effort to keep the comedy club, which has hosted comedians like Robin Williams, Dana Carvey and Amy Schumer, from moving. 

"Unfortunately the threat of eviction hanging over San Francisco’s historic, legendary Punch Line Comedy Club is NOT a joke," Peskin said Tuesday. He introduced what is called an interim zoning moratorium, which will prevent the conversion of the Battery Street venue from an entertainment use to any other use.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors is expected to vote on the proposal on June 4, Peskin said, and the law will go into effect the very next day. Peskin also said the city is in talks with Morgan Stanley, who owns the building.

Last week, Peskin also nominated the Punchline to be a legacy business that comes with financial benefits, he said.

Chappelle, who is performing at the club's sold-out shows on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, said the place has a special place in his heart. 

"When they say special things happen in that room is an understatement," Chappelle said. "That was the last pace I saw Robin Williams alive. I was there when I found out I was having my first kid."

The comedy club, which was founded by Bill Graham, announced its plan to move in August on May 7 after it was unable to renew its lease.

"We're losing the culture of the city, and this is one of the things that define San Francisco," Bell said Tuesday.

The announcement drew immediate responses from a number of other well-known comedians, including Steve Byrne, Ali Wong and Moshe Kasher.

"This is heartbreaking for so many reasons. The Bay Area has changed so much but now it’s killing my past. This will always be my home club," Kahser tweeted.

Punchline originally opened in 1978 as a dressing room for a rock club, The Old Waldof, and both venues were owned by another legend in the world of entertainment, rock promoter Bill Graham. It gradually became a well-known comedy club under House MC Bobby, drawing entertainers as well as fans of comedy from the Bay Area and beyond. 

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