If you are more than a casual fan of stand-up comedy, you may have heard the term “workout room” bantered about among comics at the back of the club. To us comics, workout rooms are absolutely paramount in the development of new material. They might be in a dive bar, a small theater, or a quaint café in front of just a handful of people.
In the heart of the midtown district of Sacramento, California there is a small café that offers delicious food, smoothies, and on Wednesday nights, some of the best stand-up comedians in Northern California.
Comedy Night at Luna’s Café has become a Wednesday night tradition, and a regular spot for Northern California’s best comics to flesh out newer bits and add to older ones.
The founder of Comedy Night at Luna’s, comedian Keith Lowell Jensen weighs in on what inspired him to start this whole thing up.
“I started Luna's because I hated open mic nights. I wanted a place to develop material with a quality audience and the mics weren't offering that. Their audiences were tired and cranky and 5 minutes wasn't enough time to warm 'em up, much less get into any kind of heavy material.”
“The idea was to make a room that let comics stretch, a place where it was okay to fail but with enough win built in to let the audience have a good show which would in turn give the comics a better space as well.”
National touring comic and Sacramento native, Jason Resler shares a similar sentiment.
“Luna’s is like the family most people wish they had. We all listen to one another, have some laughs and a beer, and then leave without saying goodbye because you know you'll be back. It's my favorite comedy venue in Sacramento.”
So what makes Luna’s so special? Sacramento comedian, John Ross has a theory.
“Luna's is a great break from the bar comedy scene; it's a venue where subtlety and intelligence are rewarded.”
So why is that? Why does Luna’s draw a smarter crowd that appreciates more nuance? It could have something to do with how the room is booked, says Jensen.
“I don't put up people who aren't writing and coming up with new stuff. I try not to put up too many comics in a single night. Someone who bombs too often might have to sit out awhile, and I try to keep a good mix of established comics and newbies. This is why Luna's has a headliner too. The headliner is the audience’s sure thing, their reward for taking a risk on the 1st half of the show.”
“I also don't put people up if they're disrespecting the audience. I don't do cruel humor in my room and I don't do hack. Sure that’s subjective. I'm sure there are those who disagree with my choices. They should start a room.”
“Occasionally I'll ask one of the regulars to forgo their work-out set and give me some sure things, the kind of set they might do at an audition. Its asking someone to take one for the team if I feel the crowd is losing interest.”
As a regular performer at Luna’s myself, I can’t help but heap high praise on the intellectual crowd, amazing line-ups, and delicious nachos. In fact every great bit I’ve ever written has been fleshed out at this tiny café located at 16th and N streets.
If you’re in the Sacramento area, you owe it to yourself to see some of California’s best and brightest stand-up comics in this loose and intimate setting. For only six bucks, you can’t beat it. Oh and don’t forget to order the nachos. Seriously delicious.
Comedy night at Luna's Cafe is every Wednesday night at 1414 16th Street in Sacramento, California. 8pm. $6 cover. Comics are always free.