East Austin Comedy Club Is a Proving Ground for Stand-Ups

Austin's newest home to humor aims to be a funny, intimate hangout for locals

Raza Jafri, Co-founder of EACC (Photo by Perry Grone)

The last several years have seen a boom in the Austin comedy scene, and now there's another entrant into this ever-growing market. Founded by comedians Raza Jafri and Andre Ricks, the East Austin Comedy Club will operate out of Tiger Den on the Eastside and be the city's only BIPOC-owned comedy venue. The Chronicle chatted with Jafri about opening a new club and what audiences can expect. 

Austin Chronicle: What was your inspiration for opening the East Austin Comedy Club?

Raza Jafri: I've been doing stand-up comedy for five years. That's my main pursuit in life, and part of how you become better as a stand-up comedian is you get as much stage time as possible. I started out in Chicago, producing shows, and when I came to Austin about a year and a half ago, I started a show at Speakeasy. … I was just looking for a place where I could hone my craft, but also provide other comedians with that same opportunity. So I was on the lookout for venues and somebody told me about this place called the Tiger Den. When I spoke to the owner, he had a similar mindset towards art, just a place where you could create weird things and all of that.

When I saw the venue, it just fit. It's very small, it only holds around 50 people, and you're not competing with ambient noises … When you're on stage, everyone's listening. We decided to collaborate with the owner of the venue and came to this agreement of doing comedy there essentially every Thursday, Friday, Saturday for the foreseeable future.

AC: What should audiences expect when they come to see shows here?

RJ: The venue has this old East Austin vibe to it. Very eccentric. You go through this eclectic courtyard, and then you enter into this black door, and it's velvet curtains everywhere, and it's a very intimate mood. There's jazz playing, and the vibe of the place is like it feels like a little secret.

With our club, the intention is to have an artist residency program where comedians can come for the weekend or come for the whole month and do a run of shows back-to-back-to-back-to-back, and that kind of helps them fine-tune their act, but also give them a taste of what the Austin scene is, and then also connect them with other producers in the area.

AC: Tell me about the choice to open in a venue in East Austin.

RJ: East Austin has a reputation for like … I don't know how I would describe it. I guess the analogy would be maybe like in New York, Brooklyn has this kind of atmosphere to it of an artistic inclination. So when I arrived in Austin, it was a similar perspective where East Austin seems to be where the art studios are, there's interesting things happening. So the goal was to try to kind of build something in East Austin, because there are clubs around the city, and we wanted something for East Austin, and kind of have it local where people can stop by. It's BYOB and also we have an open bar, and so the feeling of it is it's like a neighborhood secret. And so that's why we were kind of aiming for East Austin.

East Austin Comedy Club, Tiger Den, 1303 E. Fourth. Thursday shows 7 & 9pm; Friday and Saturday, 8 & 10pm. eastaustincomedy.com.

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East Austin Comedy Club, Tiger Den, Raza Jafri, Andre Ricks

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