When one thinks of a typical comedy club several stereotypical images come to mind — a dark dingy space; plenty of beer; and a slew of young, mainly male, standups, who crack crude jokes and think humping a stool is the highest form of humor.
Santa Monica’s latest venue The Crow is not your typical comedy club. Founded by Santa Monica native and mother of two Nicole Blaine, The Crow seeks to elevate comedy culture and create a welcoming space for comics of all ages, gender and abilities.
Think a BYOB (bring your own baby) daytime comedy show for moms, a Boys Drool female/non-binary open mic night and kids summer comedy camp. These are just some of the many projects Blaine envisions works for her family-friendly, woman-centered comedy club, which is located within the Bergamot Station Art Center.
The Crow is “for Santa Monica, by Santa Monica,” says Nicole, who grew up attending Santa Monica schools and is now enrolling her two children in Lincoln Middle School and Santa Monica High School. She wants the club to serve as a community gathering space “welcome to all who welcome all,” and has rolled out several inclusivity initiatives, including scholarships for her kids comedy camp (thanks to a generous donation from “This is Us” actor Chris Sullivan and his wife Rachel).
At Nicole’s side is her right-hand man, personal assistant, producer, set builder and husband Mickey Blaine, who has allegedly been at her beck and call since the two first met while starring in the Wizard of Oz at Samohi.
“He was a senior and he was a scarecrow. I was a freshman and, not to brag, but I was cast as the Coroner Munchkin. I pronounced the witch legally dead, so clearly we were meant to be,” said Nicole.
The two started dating while they were both attending Loyola Marymount University, after Mickey was kind enough to wait for Blaine to hit puberty, says Nicole. The two also began producing together at university and continued that tradition long into married life by renting performance venues and producing many films and projects, including the stand-up special “Burning the Light” on HBO.
“I realized that he was a writer and an aspiring director, and I was a performer and I was already sleeping with the writer director, so I was like we should produce together clearly,” said Nicole.
It was Mickey who in part led Nicole into the stand-up world after helping her write a one woman show.
“I was performing nine months pregnant and finally decided to just do straight stand up and I never looked back; It was everything and anything to me,” said Nicole.
Nicole went on to successfully carve out a space for herself in the comedy world. Her many credits include NBC’s The Today Show, E’s That Morning School, San Francisco’s Sketchfest and her stand-up special “Life’s a Bit” on Amazon Prime. At the same time as she navigated through various stand up venues, Nicole realized that most of these clubs were not built for people like her.
“Most of the open mic rooms are really filled with a lot of people who are still unfortunately misogynistic and there’s still a lot of comedians that think humping a stool is hilarious,” said Nicole. “As a woman, and especially an older woman, I’m like why are we still doing this stuff?”
The Crow plans to run light on misogyny, heavy on inclusivity and high on hilarity. In particular, Nicole wants the space to cater to comedians who decided to explore stand-up later in life as well as the next generation of aspiring young comedians.
“Ten years from now, this next generation Gen Z, they’re gonna have the microphone, they’re gonna have the stage, they’re gonna be starring in a Netflix special or by that point it will be a TikTok special and they need to have that performance ready to go,” said Nicole. “I am building a stage specifically for those young voices so that they have a playground to get messy in and feel safe.”
The Crow has a special performance area for children upstairs away from the adult stage and bar area. The comedy camp for kids will run for five one-week long sessions from June 13 through July 15 with each session culminating in a live performance for friends and family. On Saturdays the venue will produce a 5 p.m. family friendly comedy show, followed by an 8 p.m. adults show.
The venue’s first public adult performance is on June 4 at 8 p.m. and will feature James Adomian, Dana Eagle, Ian Edwards, Dave Helem, and Ester Steinberg. Tickets are $25 and all proceeds will be donated to the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.
More information on The Crow is available at www.crowcomedy.com.