For Mill Valley residents who love to laugh but perhaps have been living under a rock for the better part of the past decade since Pitta created the show, yet another reminder of just how much of a comedic gem we have in our backyard came earlier this week.
Local legend Dana Carvey stopped by on Tuesday to try out some new material for an upcoming appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman. But while Carvey was excellent, rattling off a host of spot-on impressions and riffing on too-close-to-home topics like the plastic bag ban and socially conscious solicitors outside cafes, the brilliance of what Pitta and Throckmorton Theatre founder Lucy Mercer have built is evident not just in the serendipity of the nights when a local mega-stars like Carvey or Robin Williams pop in, but with the consistent depth of the entire roster of comics that perform there every Tuesday night.
Take Adam Pearlstein, a 25-year-old, relatively unknown Bay Area comic who performed right before Carvey. Pearlstein seemed nervous and was really casual in his delivery, so much so that the comedic weight of his punchlines clearly caught the audience off guard a few times.
In between hilarious bits on the dietary preferences of health-conscious Bay Area residents during the zombie apocalypse and how he’s anti-war because it would mean less homework, he casually mentioned the envious feedback he receives when people hear that he’s a comedian. “They say, ‘In what other job can you just sit in a room and laugh all day long?’ I don’t know…maybe being the CEO of an oil company, or the head of Goldman Sachs.” Mixed among the uproarious laughter were plenty of “I did NOT see that coming” guffaws.
Working off a pile of notes, Carvey was fantastic, reminding the packed house of his seemingly limitless library of impressions, from the famous – Cary Grant, Johnny Carson, Matthew McConaughey and Michael Caine as God – to the not-so-famous: saying he “enjoyed the social dynamic of the pharmacy,” Carvey impersonated a drug-addled pharmacist calling out people’s orders of three prescription drugs apiece, each one more outrageously funny than the last. An order for Zoloft, Immodium and Ambien was for “a nutball with diarrhea who can’t sleep.”
“There have been so many nights where I go, ‘Wow, that’s the most connected I’ve ever felt to myself as a stand up – where the critical voice is completely silent,” Carvey told KQED.
Mercer spelled out one of the secrets to the weekly event’s success: allowing big names and no names to mix, all in celebration of, and respect for, the art of comedy.
“Top names as well as up and coming names – they’re all aspiring on stage,” Mercer said. “You can command an audience of thousands at a high ticket values, but where do you get to try? If you’re a creative individual, where do you get to try out the material?”
On Tuesday nights at the Throckmorton Theatre – that’s where.
For those that haven’t seen the excellent KQED piece on Mark Pitta & Friends Tuesday Night Comedy, view it in its entirety below.