The comedy scene in Fresno these days is busy and growing – but also sporadic and spread out.
Instead of having one dedicated comedy club, the Valley has a variety of makeshift venues that host weekly or bi-weekly comedy nights.
The upside? Lots of options.
The downside? People need a map to navigate it all.
But Heroes Sports Lounge and local comic Danny Minch are trying something new this week – something they hope will give Fresno the consistent comedy space it's lacked since Screwballz, Fresno's last true comedy club, closed in 1997.
Tuesday, they kick off a 6-night-a-week comedy room in the upstairs of Heroes. It's an experiment that could become permanent if enough people show up.
It starts with open mic night, which Heroes has hosted on Tuesdays for about six weeks already.
On Wednesdays, there will be a local or regional featured comic. This week it's local guy Terry Michaels, plus Minch and host Eddie Trevino.
On Thursday, a touring comic will come for a four-night hold-over that lasts until Sunday. This week, it's Flip Schultz, a 2006 finalist in "Last Comic Standing."
"We had done so many shows in so many different spots," says Minch. "There's almost comedy going on every night of the week, it just isn't going on in the same spot. There's a night in Clovis, one night in Chowchilla, one night in this side of Fresno, one night in the other side of Fresno. Why not have one spot where people know there's going to be comedy almost every night throughout the week?"
Minch has logged more miles than most in the local comedy scene. He has hosted and organized nights at Crossroads in Fresno, and Guadalajara and Mother Mary's in Clovis and at venues in Tulare and Chowchilla.
Beyond him, a handful of local comics and promoters keep the local comedy scene moving with weekly, bi-weekly and monthly shows at venues such as Crossroads, Thai Palms, The Press Box, Teazer's, Club One Casino and Starline.
In the case of Heroes Sports Lounge, management was trying to think of what it could to bring people downtown once the Fresno Grizzlies season ends.
"It was a need and a need," says general manager Erin Cathcart. "The comedians need a consistent, clean environment to keep growing. We need people to come down and keep us growing."
Only time will tell, though, if Fresno can support an even bigger helping of live comedy.
"What's interesting to me is that there are so many people in town who don't even know there's a comedy scene going on in Fresno," says Minch, noting that he's not trying to divide the people who already go to existing local comedy shows, but awaken the people who don't know where to go.
"That's what'll be great about having one single room that's focused in on comedy," he says.