By Christy Scannell
“My partner, Christian (Spicer), and I were driving back from an open mike night in L.A.,” said local comedian RJ Dharni, “and we were brainstorming about ideas for a venue. I said I knew of a small bar with a nice setup, so we went straight there.”
That was in November, and by December the first Live Comedy Live event at the Ken Club was in full swing
“We wanted to bring good quality comedy shows at an affordable price in this really cool and unique place,” Dharni said. “This isn’t your typical comedy club.”
Held on third Sundays (except for this month, when it will be Feb. 28), Live Comedy Live opens with acoustic music at 7:30 followed by 60 minutes of comedy beginning at 8. Headliners are local and L.A. favorites with opening acts from other Southern California comics.
“They are often people no one has seen before, at least in this atmosphere,” Dharni said, referring to the Ken Club’s quaint 115-seat hall. “They can get up close and personal with the comedians.”
Dharni and Spicer – who identify as “full-time comedians,” although Spicer is a downtown attorney and Dharni has owned a property management company – are particularly excited about their February headliner, Dat Phan. Phan was the first winner of NBC’s “Last Comic Standing” and is a national headliner who has appeared on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”
“This guy is a machine – he always puts on a great show,” Dharni said. “And he’s a San Diego native.”
Dharni said he and Spicer are committed to the effort both because they want to bring more comedy to San Diego and they want to assist newer comedians.
“At other places it is $20 to get in and a two-drink minimum, but ours is $3 if you RSVP and if not $5 with a full bar and no drink minimum,” he said. “Plus people get to come and have fun at this bar – it’s been there since the 1930s – before and after the show.”
So far, Dharni said, he and Spicer are just breaking even on expenses. Part of that is because they are paying everyone in their shows, including the openers – not typical for comedy clubs – and providing them with stage photography and videos.
“We know what it’s like not to be able to afford to get those things to promote yourself,” he said. “We are very happy, though – our goal was never to make a living, just to provide an awesome show for San Diego. We want to make more people laugh and forget their worries for a few hours. And there’s no time-share presentation afterwards!”
Dharni and Spicer are taking their show on the road. This month they are starting another Live Comedy Live at Porter’s Pub on the UCSD campus (third Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.). And then in March they will be joining a group of comedians to tour New England, followed by some solo appearances for Dharni in New York City.
Live Comedy Live with headliner Dat Phan
Sunday, Feb. 28, 7:30 p.m.
The Ken Club
4079 Adams Ave.
San Diego, CA 92116
RSVP for $3 tickets, LiveComedyLive@gmail.com
$5 at door