ALAMEDA, Calif. - Live entertainment returned to the stage Friday night at an East Bay Comedy Club with outdoor performances.
Alameda Comedy Club held its first show since the most recent stay at home order in December.
The lightness laughter brings attracted a full house in the patio.
"This is my first outing in a year -- in a whole year," says Lavonne Johnson of Oakland.
Audience members say laughter is medicine so this outing is much needed.
"It keeps us going. It keeps us feeling hopeful," says Jennifer Hooker of Hayward.
"We've got six feet, six feet and six feet," says owner Patrick Ford was he pointed to the layout of the tables and chairs.
The 13 tables can acccommodate 40 people.
Ford is a software engineer whose passion is comedy.
His plan was to open the comedy club as an indoor venue with 150 seats last May.
But the pandemic shutdown in March led him to transform the parking lot into an outdoor venue.
"Comedy is just a great release. It's a cathartic release to get out and enjoy yourself, pure enjoyment," says Ford.
He held shows here in the outdoor space last October until the December stay at home order.
Some fans who were here then are back.
"This place has kept me sane during the pandemic," says Peggy McGuire of Oakland.
She was joined by her friend Beth Trudell of Alameda who says,"You feel almost normal again. You forget Covid is out there and job losses."
Comedian Chris Riggins says he's been unemployed -with a exception of a few live shows since the beginning of the pandemic.
He says there's no substitute for a live audience.
"The audience is the only real test of- is your material working," says Riggins. "Your job performance is rated every 2 seconds. It's euphoric. It's the greatest feeling. Now you're able to get that angst out."
The owner says his goal is to open the indoor part of the club for shows once everyone is vaccinated.
"When you're on a comedy stage, you've got the spotlight, the microphone, the crowd, the curtains. The whole thing just elevates comedy," says Ford.
He's signed a 15 year lease so the club is here to stay.
Ford plans to keep the outdoor venue even when he's able to open indoors.
For now, Alameda Comedy Club offers shows Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
Eventually, he plans to open six nights a week for live entertainment.