It's no secret to San Diegans that Point Loma is an established, family-friendly part of town with a big military presence. It's home to some of the most iconic San Diego landmarks, close to the water, and of course, base of the former Navy Training Center-turned-Liberty Station.
Among the many new arts venues and eateries at Liberty Station is The Lot movie theater and restaurant. It's become a popular place for locals, even if a movie isn't on the agenda. The glass-enclosed restaurant with its many firepits, televisions and bar, turns out a lively scene seven days a week.
For "Monday Comedy," which launched in February, some of San Diego's — and Los Angeles'— best comedians arrive to entertain for free on the mini stage set up in The Lot's restaurant. Headliners include the likes of Taylor Tomlinson ("Last Comic Standing" and Comedy Central) and Kvon. June's headliners include Johnny Beehner, Dustin Nickerson, Stephen Furey (San Francisco comedy competition finalist) and Christopher Lawrence, who was voted San Diego's favorite actor, known for NBC's "Chuck," "Glee" and "Terminator."
Former Australian-now-Point-Loman Maria Herman is one of the humorists behind Monday Comedy. A former journalist, she said comedy was never a career she considered until one day when someone recommended a comedy class offered at Liberty Station.
Comedian Tony Calabrese's Point Loma Actors Theater turned out to be something Herman truly enjoyed. "It was crazy. It was the last thing I thought I'd be doing," Herman confessed.
But after her first performance, she was hooked. Soon thereafter, she started teaching the class along with Calabrese, and performed around town as a headliner and entered comedy competitions.
When Herman came across Comedy Heights, a show in University Heights, she said she was astounded at the small turnouts — even on Saturday nights. An audience of five people was not enough for such a good show, she thought, so she suggested to owner Al Gavi, who started the gig in 2011, to get the word out by posting flyers around the neighborhood and on Facebook.
After Gavi's partner moved to Los Angeles, he asked Herman if she would be his new associate. She agreed, and more and more people started coming to Comedy Heights. One of the major draws for Comedy Heights (and for all the shows where Herman performs) is the family-friendly, PG-13, classy nature.
"We want people to know that there is an alternative to the comedy clubs that are predominately not clean (humor)," Herman said. "We want to attract families and those who do not want to be offended." Her shows, she describes, are "clean and clever."
Audiences who attend these shows agree. So much so that the productions were voted No. 2 for comedy performances by the San Diego A-List, with No. 1 being a national theater. They're a hit — and with good reason. They have a five-star Yelp rating and apparently, great SEO, because they show up on many Google searches for comedy in the San Diego area.
Currently, Herman works full-time in comedy; Monday nights at The Lot, Friday nights in Chula Vista, and in between at Valentin's in Spring Valley. Last year, she was selected for the Seattle International Comedy Competition, which she says is one of the most important in the country. "Getting in was pretty awesome," she smiled.
Herman's comedy has taken her to many new places. In February, she went with a group of LA comedians to Afghanistan, where they performed for the troops. "It's something I wanted to do, now that I'm an American citizen," Herman said.
For two weeks, wearing helmets and Kevlar vests, they were helicoptered around various cities in Afghanistan to perform in theaters, mess halls, hospitals and USO centers.
At The Lot shows, there's no cover to get in and no minimum purchase required. There's also no age limit. Herman says "we've seen it all," as far as the demographic is concerned.
—Comedy Monday at The Lot runs 8-9:30 p.m. weekly at 2620 Truxtun Road. Reservations are recommended at (619) 566-0069. The Lot La Jolla show is on the fourth Monday of every month.