Column | Supporting Bloomington’s Comedy Attic staff during the COVID-19 shutdown: A matter of civic pride

Last summer, right when I started putting a full effort into reporting for The Square Beacon, Bloomington’s city council took its summer break. For six weeks, from the second half of June, through the end of July, the city council didn’t meet.

That’s normal.

What isn’t normal is that city elections last year took place in just two of the city’s six council districts.

Most Bloomington citizens had nothing to vote on last November. Over the summer, that meant there were not many city council campaigns for news outlets to cover. The candidates were nonetheless memorable. And to prove that I remember them all, here are their names in no particular order, right off the top of my head: Andrew Guenther, Nick Kappas, Marty Spechler, Sue Sgambelluri, and Ron Smith.

Anyhow, the summer of 2019 offered some pretty thin civic gruel for The Square Beacon’s debut as a local news outlet.

Jared and Dayna Thompson’s Comedy Attic, at the corner of 4th and Walnut streets in downtown, filled the civic void.

How’s that?

The Comedy Attic hosts a summer-long competition called the Bloomington Comedy Festival. Each round of competition advances candidates to the next round based on balloting by the audience. That means every week of the summer there’s an election at the Comedy Attic.

Last year, it was a chance for me give those early Square Beacon readers some explainers about the difference between comedy festival balloting, and regular municipal balloting. In a regular municipal election, for at-large city council races, voters can select up to three candidates. In comedy festival balloting, an audience member would have to select exactly three.

So, of course, The Square Beacon showed up last year for every joke of the festival, delivering coverage of each round, including the finals.  The collage included with this column is made of photos shot during the festival.

When the clarion call went out from The Comedy Attic to support the club’s staff, it was an easy endorsement for me to make. There’s a couple of different options for lending support, including gift certificates that count double. The dollar amount goes to the club’s staff, but also counts as a gift certificate for you, when the club opens back up after the COVID-19 pandemic is past.

Another option is to purchase a 100-minute video of local Bloomington comics performing at The Comedy Attic. That video will make you laugh, because those people are funny.

You might wonder if maybe I buried the lede for this column: The Comedy Attic, in Bloomington, Indiana, is one of the top comedy clubs in the country. In the promotional video that plays before Comedy Attic shows, nationally-known comedian John Mulaney’s  endorsement of the place gives a hint about why that’s remarkable. Mulaney calls The Comedy Attic, “A great club, in a good town, in an OK state.”

Sure, the next time Mulaney plays The Comedy Attic, I will by a ticket. But I am eager to support the club’s staff during the shutdown, because I look forward to seeing them when they host events like the Bloomington Comedy Festival, which celebrates local talent.

And, of course, every round of the festival has a built-in civics lesson.

The Comedy Attic staff could use your vote right now. Please consider marking a ballot for them.