Atlanta's comics and brewmasters have struck a beautiful friendship
The rise of Atlanta's local brew and comedy scenes has produced a hot new trend in nightlife that's sweeping the city
Kevin RogersGeorgia may be the peach state, but Atlanta’s becoming hop city. There’s probably more local breweries dotting the perimeter than Ws on the Braves schedule (RIP Turner Field). SweetWater Brewing Company, founded in 1997, has been the pillar of the our capital’s beer industry and it’s been steadily getting more and more boozy neighbors in recent years. One facet of Atlanta that’s been blowing up alongside it is the local stand-up comedy scene.
Booze and comedy go hand-in-hand. Most shows take place inside bars and clubs with some gentle encouragement for audiences to loosen up and have a few (or actual, mandated drink minimums with entry). It only makes sense someone would cut out the middleman and bring the show right to the golden kettles. Comedian and ever-busy producer Joe Pettis’ 1UP Comedy company’s flagship show is the simply, yet aptly named Beer and Comedy Night at SweetWater. Pettis and crew celebrated five years this summer floating down a river of jokes and 420s every other Monday at the huge brewery off Ottley Drive. With crowds topping out at 300, the combo has proven highly successful.
So, what makes a brewery show such a hot commodity? Value. Rather than paying a ticket price in addition to buying drinks, most brewery shows include a souvenir pint and multiple drink tickets. For club prices, you get a show and a menagerie of local brews that would run your bill up twice as large at any bar. Not to mention, there’s the cool aesthetic of a brewery and the chance to see where all your favorite six-packs are born. It’s like a Willy Wonka adventure for adults except nobody dies in a grim-yet-whimsical fashion.
With such a sprawling city, it’s important to spread the comedic wealth. More shows within a cheap Uber distance to different neighborhoods means more diverse crowds. Last Fall, Grant Park’s Eventide Brewing folks decided their neighbors needed a good evening of laughs so they enlisted WonderComedy host Andrew Michael to host a show at their Instagram-worthy tap room. "I think people, especially with Eventide, take a sense of ownership to the brewery," Michael says. "People want to support it and make it their place to hang out, they want to support the events that go on there and the people who run it. Also having great beer helps." The little brewery serves up pints of delicious Koelsch and jokes the fourth Wednesday of the month and has also experimented with little “happy hour” comedy stints on select Saturday afternoons.
Decatur denizens can kick back at Comedy on Draught at Three Taverns Brewery the last Wednesday of every month. Served with a twist, host Annie Lockwood introduces a rotating theme new to every show including an improv vs. stand-up showdown and their upcoming “outsiders” show featuring Chicago comedian Danny Maupin.
After taking months off to redesign their tap room, jokes are back on tap at Second Self Beer Co. the last Monday of every Month. Travis Jones started the show last year before the hiatus and has wasted to time bounding back into the upgraded, snazzier space. New kid on the block, Blue Tarp Brewing in Decatur is the latest to throw their hat in the ring. While still just taking their first baby steps, history is of this mutual friendship is their side.
Like barbeque and eggs benny or Ja Rule and Ashanti, collaboration generates some killer results. That daring, entrepreneurial spirit of craft brewers and comedians alike has, more often than not, lead Atlanta down a great path. Cheers, to that.