Tag Archives: George Chen

George Chen’s Cynic Cave was a Secret Home for Bay Area Comedy

Cynic Cave hosts

Cynic Cave hosts (left to right) Nato Green, Allison Mick, George Chen, Natasha Muse, and Kevin O’Shea. Photo by Ahamed Weinberg.

In some stand-up circles, the idea that comedy is “punk” is currently popular. Open mics in L.A. are two minutes long, the average length of an ‘80s hardcore song. And sure, there’s certainly a comparison to be made between DIY comedy shows that take place in houses or alleys, to punk and indie shows that take place wherever space can be found. Some comedians, like musicians, have a burning need to perform whether or not there’s a traditional venue, though DIY musical venues have more of a sense that they sustain a community rather than a profession.

Sometimes, though, the two subcultures intersect in truth. One such instance was Cynic Cave Comedy, a basement-turned-comedy venue in the basement of Lost Weekend Video, in the Mission District of San Francisco. From 2012 to 2016, it was a vibrant stop for stand-up comics, all due to producers (and comics) George Chen and Kevin O’Shea.

According to Chen, the video store—which started after the dissolution of Jawbreaker by band associates Christy Colcord, Dave Hawkins, and Adam Pfahler—was initially greeted by some Mission denizens as a sign of the neighborhood’s changing atmosphere. Through Chen’s visits to the store and his position as a local musician with a nascent interest in stand-up comedy, he was invited to produce in their newly-created basement venue.

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