Comedy Wonderland: Mic Drop Comedy Opens in Kearny Mesa

San Diego, get ready for comedy wonderland at Mic Drop Comedy, a new comedy club in Kearny Mesa that celebrated its opening this month.

Well space is not exactly New. The building on Clairemont Mesa Boulevard was actually home to the now-closed Comedy Palace, the club that kept San Diego laughing for more than three decades.

Comedy Palace closed in 2020, but it fell into good hands with Hillary Hutson and Casey Currier. When the opportunity arose to take over the space, Hutson and Currier prepared, armed with detailed comedic resumes and a creative vision.

Comedian Katie K performs on stage in the Main Showroom during the opening weekend of Mic Drop Comedy.

(Shaun Baker)

“Comedy clubs have a very similar style,” Currier said. “Most of them have the same chicken fillets on the menu; most have the same pictures on the wall. They all have the same two drink minimum. It’s the same model — our goal was to do everything differently and take a new approach to school.

“We just tried to take everything we learned in comedy clubs and do it a little bit differently with what we think was a unique twist,” he said.

These differences include an extensive a la carte menu from a chef, but no drink or item minimum. (The club also keeps non-drinkers in mind, serving mocktails and offering VIP ticket deals to designated drivers.) With plenty of parking and a location just off the highway, the club also prides itself on accessibility for customers.

Aesthetically speaking, Mic Drop boasts a very bold and non-traditional decor. The space is covered in an abundance of murals, paintings and live art installations – designed by San Diego 2D and 3D artists Carly Ealey and Chris Konecki – themed “Alice in Wonderland “.

Comedian Shapel Lacey performs a set at Mic Drop Comedy during the club's opening weekend.

Comedian Shapel Lacey performs a set at Mic Drop Comedy during the club’s opening weekend.

(Shaun Baker)

And it’s more than just looking cool; there is a meaning behind the madness of the theme.

Entertainment, especially comedy, was one of the first things to shut down due to COVID-19. From Zoom shows to outdoor sets, a lot has changed for the industry. These changes are reflected in the decor, starting with the tagged and overgrown walls of the front room, where the bar is located. Next, guests walk through a tunnel-like hallway – which you can’t go back – to the main exhibition hall, revealing an eclectic space full of innovation and hope.

“You walk into this comedy club that shut down during a pandemic that tells the story of what happened — and then you go down the rabbit hole into what comedy has evolved,” Hutson said.

A tunnel-like hallway from Mic Drop Comedy reveals the main showroom scene.

A tunnel-like hallway from Mic Drop Comedy reveals the main showroom scene. The mushroom mural is painted by San Diego-based artist Carly Ealey.

(Shaun Baker)

The process of opening this comic wonderland hasn’t been easy and has seen its fair share of delays. But all the planning, hard work and attention to detail paid off on May 6, when Mic Drop officially opened with a packed lineup on both stages: the main showroom and the hall. Golden.

Opening weekend was headlined by Shapel Lacey and Jasmine Ellis. Lacey, a comedian based in Los Angeles via Phoenix, shared that the feel of all of his shows was great — something he attributes to the design of the space.

“That’s something Hillary and Casey pride themselves on, making viewers feel like they’re going to have a good experience the moment they walk in. That’s already getting the comic out to people. ‘a big audience,’ Lacey said. noting that there is usually at least one out-of-crowd during the usual weekend stints.

Comedian Shapel Lacey performs a set at Mic Drop Comedy during the club's opening weekend.

Comedian Shapel Lacey performs a set at Mic Drop Comedy during the club’s opening weekend.

(Shaun Baker)

“They really pay attention to all aspects of the club aspect: the look, the food, the audience members, the comedians — anything and everything that involves the comedy club,” he said.

Hutson has managed many comedy festivals over the years, including the San Diego Comedy Festival in 2019. One of his goals has always been to meet the needs of artists.

“My original interest in wanting to have my own club was (asking myself): ‘How can I give them more opportunities? We give them eight weekends a year (by managing festivals), but how can we give them more? Well, you own the club,” Hutson said, adding that she wanted Mic Drop to have the same sense of community as her festivals.

Comedians hang out in the Green Room during Mic Drop Comedy opening weekend.

Comedians hang out in the Green Room during Mic Drop Comedy opening weekend.

(Shaun Baker)

“That’s what keeps a comedy club (alive),” Lacey said. “Some comedy clubs aren’t really comic-friendly, where they let comedians come hang out. You kind of need it because when you leave the comics hanging out, it makes them feel like they’re in a safe space and somewhere they can play. They will always show love to this club.

And the opportunities for comics go beyond stage sets. Mic Drop offers free monthly workshops, a back booth to watch and learn from other artists, and a podcast room available to rent. Additionally, each set is photographed and videotaped – a rare, yet highly valuable commodity in the comedy scene.

Comedian Jasmine Ellis performs in the Gold Room at Mic Drop Comedy during the comedy club's opening weekend.

Comedian Jasmine Ellis performs in the Gold Room at Mic Drop Comedy during the comedy club’s opening weekend.

(Shaun Baker)

“The Gold Room is designed to help nurture and develop small local talent,” Huston said, referring to the smaller 50-seat stage. “(It) helps them to grow, to learn how to produce shows. Stand-up comedy is so much more than just getting on stage and being funny. You really have to learn the business, networking and production aspects. There has so many areas. And having this Gold Room allows us to really help grow local talent and the local comedy scene.

The Gold Room is seen as a launchpad for talent, with the goal of eventually moving on to the main storefront. This space will also house weekly showcases called “Shoot for the Moon,” where managers stack programming with local comics. Then, on the third Wednesday of each month, the owners will host a ‘Moon Showcase’, which invites bookers, agents and managers into the audience to scout for talent. (Interested comedians can submit a request to perform in the showcase through the Mic Drop website.)

Comedian Tony B performs in the Gold Room at Mic Drop Comedy during the club's opening weekend.

Comedian Tony B performs in the Gold Room at Mic Drop Comedy during the club’s opening weekend.

(Shaun Baker)

“The fact that we have a 50-seat venue and can book strictly creative shows is for me the best part of the whole venue,” Currier said. “In larger venues you have to make sure you have a certain number of butts in the seats to enjoy and turn on the lights – and there really is no pressure in the Gold Room.”

As Mic Drop shakes up the Comedy Club model, Hutson and Currier have taken special care in honoring space roots. In addition to the Alice in Wonderland-themed decor, there are pieces of the Comedy Palace that remain, including the club’s original (refurbished) chairs.

Memorabilia are also scattered around the bar – from photos of Jimmy Wolpert, a former Comedy Palace employee who died in 2018, to a local festival badge from former club owner George Salek. (This festival happens to be where Hutson originally met Salek).

The main showroom of Mic Drop Comedy, a new comedy club in Kearny Mesa that opened May 6.

The main showroom of Mic Drop Comedy, a new comedy club in Kearny Mesa that opened May 6.

(Shaun Baker)

“There are nods to the family (in the set) because I really wanted to pay homage to them — because I think they’re important in the comedy community. … We have worked hard to preserve many rooms in the (comedy) palace because we know it has been around for so long and is important to guests and performers,” Hutson said, noting that the mission included the decision. to keep the “Gold Room” name intact, as it was a dedication to Wolpert.

“It really came down to preserving the arts in the space it has occupied for 30 years,” Currier said. “The idea that we could preserve the slip in space – you know, it’s seeped into these walls for over 30 years – that was the driving force behind us opening up this place.”

Mic Drop Comedy is located at 8878 Clairemont Mesa Blvd. at Kearny Mesa. Find upcoming shows at micdropcomedy.com.