Stand-up comedy alive and well in Tacoma


The city of Tacoma has been growing in leaps and bounds. With this progress, one particular area of growth is the stand-up comedy scene. Stand-up nights and open mic nights have been cropping up all across the city, seemingly becoming as popular and widespread as karaoke and trivia nights. Tacoma can’t seem to quench its desire for laughter.

Comedy has been booming across Tacoma. Comedy clubs have had incredible traffic. Tacoma is home to many talented comics: Rusty, Luke Severeid and Rachel Laurendeau to name a few. 

Rusty (he is one of those show business people that go by only one name) is one of Tacoma’s greatest comedy veterans. He has been performing locally – and toured nationally – for the past 17 years. He got his start in the now defunct Comedy Underground, a comedy bar that used to be located underneath the Big Whiskey Saloon on South 9th Street. He explained that, back then, there were only five or six open mics and comedy competitions in Tacoma.

The comedy scene has experienced a drastic uptick in Tacoma since the early 2000s. Rusty explained that “we have been on a massive plateau,” but that “we seem to be on a slow downtick.” Though there aren’t as many new comedians cropping up in Tacoma, there are already around 40 established, regular comics performing locally.

Seattle has a far larger number of performers and venues than Tacoma. Despite the overwhelming number of comics and clubs in Seattle, Rusty said that the Tacoma Comedy Club is considered “one of the best on the West Coast.” It is a bustling comedy club that never seems to pause. New events occur nearly every day as local comedians, nationally recognized comedians and amateurs alike take the stage. 

Rusty explained that Tacoma audiences “are more down to earth and relaxed,” while “Seattle is more judgmental and on-edge” in regards to content. Tacoma is more blue collar. Consequently, they tend to be more open to more honest and controversial content. This environment allowed Tacoma to produce far edgier and more natural comics on average. It allows comedians to do what Rusty stated was the mark of a true comic: looking “for the things that scare everyone.” Many Tacoma comics confront difficult and contentious content.

The comedy scene in Tacoma may not be rapidly expanding at the moment, but it is certainly thriving. There are open mic nights all over the city. Laughter is a business, and Tacoma has tapped into that market opportunity in a major way.

Rusty’s 10 Comedy Tips:

  1. “If you want to be a comic, book any mic you can.”
  2. “All the audience wants is something personal.”
  3. “True comics look for the things that scare everyone.”
  4. “Comedy is pretty much conning people into liking you.”
  5. “It doesn’t matter how many people congratulate you. You will always be critiquing yourself if you are an artist.”
  6. “Strippers and comics have the same job. They expose themselves and work the same hours.”
  7. “Your reputation is literally everything.”
  8. “Almost the entire business is word of mouth until you get big.”
  9. “Make them uncomfortable, bring them to your side, then change the idea they have built up.”
  10. “Dealing with censorship is on the comedian. Comedians should tell the jokes they want to tell. They shouldn’t be apologetic.”

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