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The last laugh, for now: DNA’s Comedy Lab succumbs to pandemic

After only a year in business pre-pandemic, Santa Cruz’s most prominent comedy club announces its closure on Christmas Eve.

After two years — only one under normal business circumstances — DNA’s Comedy Lab will close its doors permanently.

DNA, the stand-up comic and impresario behind the downtown Santa Cruz comedy club, announced on Facebook on Christmas Eve that the Lab was closing: “It’s not an easy decision,” he said, “but it’s not safe to have indoor comedy shows and there’s no clear window when that will change.”

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DNA’s Comedy Lab opened in early 2019 in what used to be the Riverfront Twin movie theater on South River Street. It was open for about a year with more than 280 live comedy performances on three stages from local, regional and national acts. But the club was closed when shelter-in-place orders were issued in March.

The Lab got a flash of national prominence when DNA posted on the club’s marquee last summer “We won’t open until Patton Oswalt says it safe.” Oswalt, one of the country’s A-list stand-up comics, took notice and retweeted a photo of the sign.

In his post, DNA said that his work in developing a thriving comedy culture in Santa Cruz will not be interrupted despite the closing of his club. He will continue to produce online comedy shows each week and is planning for another outdoor comedy festival in the spring. And he said, “We will reopen in a new space when it is safe.”