San Francisco officials and comedians rallied on Tuesday to save the 40-year old Punch Line comedy club at 444 Battery St.

The comedy club was unable to reach a lease agreement with its landlord, Morgan Stanley, and the club is planning to close in August.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin announced a proposal at the rally that would bring forth an interim zoning moratorium that would prevent the landlord from using the space from any other uses, but for entertainment uses for 18 months.

The tenant possibly moving in is Google, Peskin said:

“I want to say to Google, really, really, do no evil. We’d like to do this with honey and with vinegar.”

Peskin said talks are still ongoing with Morgan Stanley and Google.

Peskin’s proposal has support from Supervisors Ahsha Safai, Hillary Ronen and Sandra Lee Fewer.

It would take nine supervisors to approve the proposed legislation and would go into effect soon after. Peskin expects the full board to vote on the proposal on June 4.

On May 16, Peskin said his office has already nominated the Punch Line to join The City’s Legacy Business program, which provides financial support for businesses that have been in The City for a number of years.

The club has seen many faces come through its doors, including many well-known comedians like Dave Chappelle, who has two shows at the club Tuesday and Wednesday, Nato Green and W. Kamau Bell.

Green said that people come up to the comedy to have live human experiences and should not get replaced by a tech company:

“We need to have one place in San Francisco that is not an algorithm.”

Chappelle called the comedy club a San Francisco and American phenomenon:

“It’s one of the premiere comedy clubs in all the country. It’s a legendary room.”

Chappelle added that it was understatement when people say special things happen inside the room:

“When I quit my show, that room became a home for me. I literally did hundreds and hundreds of hours on stage there.”

The Punch Line was the last place Chappelle saw the late comedian and actor Robin Williams and when he found he was becoming a father.

Bell also echoed many of the sentiments from both Green and Chappelle, saying the club was a place for comedians to make it big:

“The Punch Line is place for a comic in The City where you’re like ‘If I get there, I can make it in my career.’”

Jerold Chinn
Jerold Chinn is the San Francisco Bureau Chief of SFBay. A San Francisco native, he has spent a decade covering transportation in San Francisco. Send tips to jerold@sfbay.ca or at Twitter @Jerold_Chinn.

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