It’s not unusual to hear a few swear words and see a full bar serving drinks at a comedy club.
There’s a new club in town, however, that is offering neither: Gutty’s, a “family-friendly” comedy club opening inside Southdale Center. This Friday and Saturday, they’ll start offering clean comedy and zero booze.
Owner Kyle Yamada, a comedian himself, hopes that the club will fill a gap that currently exists in the booming–but often sweary!–Twin Cities comedy landscape.
“Standup has been looked at as kind of a dark art at times,” Yamada says. “Comedy used to have sort of a bad rap, and we think there is an avenue and a market here for family-friendly comedy.”
Beyond leaving the cussing outside, Yamada says that the comedy you see onstage at Gutty’s won’t include any sex or drugs jokes. But that doesn’t mean it’s comedy for the kiddos.
“It’s still geared toward adults,” he says, laughing. “People will ask me, ‘Can I bring my kids?’ And I tell them, ‘You can. They might be bored, but they won’t get offended.’”
For decades, comedy clubs have used standup as a way to make money selling drinks. The comedy gets them in the door; the drinks pay the bills. Yamada says Gutty’s is headed in the opposite direction. These days the market for comedy continues to grow, and he’s banking on the fact that sober concerts and standup shows are becoming more and more popular.
“There is no alcohol at the club,” he explains. “I know some people will say that leaves a lot of money on the table, but part of our identity is being a dry bar. I think that makes us more appealing to some people who want to see a show but either don’t drink or can’t drink or just don’t enjoy being around alcohol.”
For the club’s opening weekend, Twin Cities standup sweetheart Mike Brody will take the headlining spot, with Yamada serving as the emcee. The next several months will see a national headliners come through the club, including Lee Hardin and Andy Beningo, both of whom have racked up hundreds of thousands of views on their respective Dry Bar comedy specials, a hugely popular clean comedy website.
Although Yamada says the club has already booked out its headliners well into the fall, he is quick to point out that he hopes to get the local scene more engaged from a performance standpoint.
“I definitely want to tap into the local talent,” he says. “Starting [Sept. 13] we’ll be doing open mic every Monday at 7 p.m.”
While the “old school” way of thinking about comedy inside of a mall is, to put it nicely, gross, Southdale Center has some classic suburban amenities, including a Dave & Busters, a P.F. Chang’s, and a Cheesecake Factory, making it a date-night spot. There’s also a massive LifeTime Fitness attached to the building, and a DMV. (You can get chicken fingers, catch a show, AND renew your driver’s license all in one place!).
“The Gutty’s in Indianapolis is in a mall that is owned by Simon, which is the same group that owns Southdale,” Yamada explains. “The location was good and the space is great, and having that existing connection made it kind of an easy choice.”
While the room can likely fit around 170 people at capacity, Yamada says that they will limit the crowd to approximately 100 early on in order to provide more space between tables. That will make Gutty’s a more intimate option than Acme or House of Comedy at the Mall of America, but still full enough where they’ll be able to hear the laughter all the way down by Bath and Body Works.
As for Yamada, he still plans to continue performing on the road in clubs, churches, and corporate events, in addition to his responsibilities at Gutty’s. After all, he says he didn’t get into comedy to become a heartless business man.
“I didn’t want to be a club owner. That’s like going to the darkside,” he laughs. “But I really think we have something special with this club and I think it’ll be great to give other comics opportunities while I’m out there working on my own comedy as well.”
Editor’s note: It has come to our attention that Gutty’s has also been in the news lately for its Clean Comedy Challenge, a competition organized by its Indiana venue. The event took place in July, and so far three participants have died from COVID. There have also been concerns that employees at that club are unpaid volunteers. We contacted Yamada, who does not have any connections to the Indiana club, to respond.
“Yes, I am paying employees. As far as the Covid situation in Indiana, I don’t know anything more than anyone else does… Covid is a very serious thing that we all have to live with now. On our end, we are making sure everything is sanitized and cleaned and distanced appropriately.”
Mask up and get vaccinated, everyone.
IF YOU GO:
Grand Opening with Mike Brody
Gutty’s Comedy Club
7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 10-Saturday, Sept. 11