Thursday, August 11, 2011

Riot Act Comedy Club in review

Riot Act, the comedy club at 8th and E Streets, opens tonight.  Last night, Penn Quarter Insider was invited for the soft opening, which was a tremendous success.

The crowd watches a comedian perform downstairs
The space is much bigger than you might expect.  You walk in on the main level, which has a bar and several tables, as well as a counter to buy all your Riot Act t-shirts and other gear.  The bar is at the very back, with flat screen TVs behind it, and a draft beer selection you'd expect from the people who brought you Rocket Bar, Iron Horse, and Buffalo Billiards.  On tap last night, for example, was 21st Amendment Blueberry, 21st Amendment Black IPA, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Heineken, Abita Amber, Blue Moon, Riot Act Red, and Coors Light.

You then go around the corner and down a very wide staircase.  Why is the staircase so wide?  Because the downstairs is enormous, and crowds tend to let out of comedy shows at the same time.  There is another bar at the bottom of the stairs, and then you go into the room where the comedy shows take place.

The theatre space is not your typical comedy club.  There is no exposed brick, and the room is not small, dingy, and dark. Instead it looks more like a convention space.  Spacious, with non-descript carpeting, white walls, and office building ceilings. 

The theatre is huge.  Much bigger than you might expect, which changes the atmosphere a bit.  The room is not decorated like a comedy club at all; however, we expect that the room will be darkened and the lighting will make it more like a comedy club in the future. 

Their set up is still high-tech though.  There is a booth at the back that sits high above the room to control the sound and lighting.  Above the stage are extensive lighting operations and there are stairs off the stage so that talent can escape.  This isn't your back alley comedy club where the comedians come in through the crowd.

The room is also set up well.  There are shorter tables right by the stage, and taller bar tables behind those tables.  That way everyone can see.

We only tried a few of the food items last night, and were a bit weary since the ownership team doesn't serve food at their other establishments.  But the food we had was delicious.  The wait staff also was courteous despite being slammed by the crowds last night.

The comedians will constantly change, of course, and on open mic night it may be you.  However, last night the comedians were hilarious, which speaks well for their ability to book talent.

Almost everything at Riot Act was well-planned and well-done.  We think it has the opportunity to be a great success.  The theatre room itself was a little disappointing, but mostly because we were expecting a "cool" space with a comedy club feel.   We suspect a little lighting magic can set the mood.  We will definitely be back, and we think a comedy club adds a lot to the Penn Quarter scene.


  1. Agreed that the venue's decor needs an infusion of personality. Doesn't need to be an over the top wow factor upgrade but the current conference room vibe is a serious mood killer.

  2. Tony Woods was the best of the bunch. he's the only one of the three I'd put in the hilarious category.

  3. Poor management staff.

  4. Clearly anonymous above must be talking about another club in the city. Riot Act's staff from the box office to the waitstaff to management is the definition of professional. Attentive and welcoming to their customers and the comics. This city could use a lot more of what they've got to offer.