"UNVAXXED SPERM" is written on a woman's sign outside the theater, and you know you've come to the right place:Joe RoganThe new comedy club mecca. Comedy Mothership premiered on Austin's historic Sixth Street after two and a half years of development.
Comedy Mothership is the comedian and podcaster's effort to launch what he has dubbed a comics hotspot and a quest to transform the Texas capital into a major hub for stand-up comedy. When tickets for the opening week shows went on sale (at a surprisingly low price of $40 per person), they sold out in minutes. Tickets resell online for $500.
"I'm drunk and growing like a mushroom in my new club!" Rogan exclaimed while wearing a weird Obi-Wan-style sweater. "It's the highest level I've ever had on stage. I need to connect to this moment...You can't fire me from my own club, bitch!"
The venue's theme is Aliens meets Art Deco (the latter a respectful homage to the renovated theatre's centuries-old history). There's a UFO over the door in the lobby warning that "Hatters are Alienated" and a Stargate-like arch over the main stage. The theater is bathed in black and purple. By Austin comedy standards, it's easily the coolest place in town.
The first leg of the performances is billed as "Joe Rogan and Friends," and on the first night, Rogan-Verse regulars included David Lucas, Ron White, Tim Dillion, Roseanne Barr, and Tony Hinchcliffe (who brought his popular show Kill Tony to the stage theater and introduced the audience to a play entitled "Kayne or the Jews?"). The audience that turned out was pretty average for Rogan shows, which means they overestimate the three Bs: homies, beards, and hats. Seconds after the first comic took the stage, a gay slur was released, followed by jokes about trans people. The public booed. For the anti-cancellation crowd, this is your new safe place.
Later, during a Q&A session with the audience, Rogan was asked how it felt to finally have his club open. "It doesn't feel real. I know it's real, but it doesn't feel real...I was super nervous today." When asked what her next milestone was, Rogan replied, "I'm done with milestones. I think I like risk. I was like, 'Oh yeah, let's buy a building on a street full of drug addicts. I want someone to tell me no. Everyone's like, 'Okay, go ahead. He also noted that his dream podcast guest would be Hunter Biden. "I can change that for you," Rogan said. "If my father had Alzheimer's and I used cocaine, I would I would have done the exact same shit as you. I really want to hire him.
The logistics: Rogan helped pioneer the practice of banning phones from comedy shows, so it's no surprise that they're sealed in a bag upon entry. Security is a bit intense, as you have to scan your face like you're going through security at Heathrow Airport (you'd think that would put off some scheming Rogan fans). Once inside, the venue is divided into two stages, a main room called Fat Man and a smaller stage called Little Boy. Even the main room is modest enough that there are no bad seats. Rogan said he hired "the best people" from his old home at the Comedy Store in Los Angeles to run the club; The bar is named after store co-founder Mitzi Shore. The staff is numerous and friendly. But the floor seats feel pretty cramped, even the waiters struggled to get through. In a move that feels dated, the place has the old-school night out at Improv -- at least two drinks (on the plus side, for a downtown entertainment venue, the drink prices were very affordable -- my bill was $20 for two cocktails) .
"I want to thank Joe for building this wonderful comedian mothership," Barr said. "It's just as good in the Green Room when everyone upstairs is drunk and smoking weed, just like it was in the Comedy Store when Mitzi Shore was alive and comedy was goddamn king." Barr then went on to a series of riffs on "Satanic Disney " above. "After fighting ABC for 30 years to have black writers and black characters on my show and then having the same damn litards call me a racist, it really bothered me," she said furiously.
The club has been a passion project for Rogan since he moved to Austin from Los Angeles in 2020. Last year, Rogan told Theo Von's podcast, "I felt compelled to do this ... comedy, and I've always felt like you have to be nice to comedy club owners because you never want to be one of those people." . But then by the time I heard I was moving here, [Austin Capital City Comedy Club] was already closed. I thought, 'Maybe I should buy a crappy club and start a club. And that became my focus. (Cap City has gradually reopened in a new location in North Austin.)
Overall, Comedy Mothership seems to be a popular venue, especially when Rogan is able to attract headliners outside of his regular group. Also, his ability to promote acts on his podcast, which he records in Austin, is a powerful cross-promotion tool.
The location also brings some much-needed investment and unique energy to the troubled Sixth Street entertainment district, which in recent years has gone from being a "somewhat sketchy" to an absolute "restricted area" for many places amid a seemingly endlessControversy over police fundingand staff between the Austin City Council and the Police Department Union. For some, however, the mothership's arrival was greeted with weary sighs. The new club perfectly represents the city's recent evolution towards a post-pandemic boomtown fueled by out-of-town funds. The building itself was a popular Sixth Street icon, bought by a California celebrity who, on her huge Spotify podcast, is encouraging people to move to Austin, where real estate prices have skyrocketed over the past year, to becomesecond most expensivein the country. "[Rogan] changed the comedy game by bringing us all here," Hinchcliffe noted.
ÖAustin American statesmanShe even ran an ad campaign last year denouncing Rogan's local influence: "'Pull it up, Jamie' doesn't count as journalism," according to the city newspaper.smelling paper, referencing Rogan's reference line as he asks his producer to verify an uncertain claim. "Journalism by journalists," the paper added, "not comedians." As a joke on Reddit replied, "If a newspaper is compared to a podcast, they've already lost."
In a way, the place itself, formerly called The Ritz, traces the changes Austin has undergone over the last century. The theater was built in 1929 and was the city's first cinema built specifically for "talkies". In the early 1970s, several businessmen attempted to revitalize The Ritz as both an adult theater and a play. The venue became a live music club, bar and billiards hall, which became The Ritz's identity in the 1980s and 1990s as Austin established its reputation as the "live music capital of the world". The location changed dramatically in 2007 when it was acquired by Alamo Drafthouse Cinema during Austin's tech boom. It was a time when quirky, upscale local stores like Drafthouse, with its then-revolutionary in-seat food and drink service, were beginning to expand into chains across the city, even across the country. Weird Austin has become an investment, and the city regularly tops lists of America's best cities to live in. But when the pandemic hit, Drafthouse filed for bankruptcy and had to give up its flagship Ritz location, which Rogan acquired. The theater chain was bailed out by new investors, and its most popular programming, the reliably sold-out Live Master Pancake Teasing Shows, was moved to the company's other Austin locations.