The Deaf Puppy Comedy Club is coming to Downtown Manteca.
Last week local comedian Chris Teicheira announced that after nearly four years of putting together a business plan and searching for a location, he and his financial backers have purchased a building – 127 N. Main Street – that will serve as Manteca’s, and the San Joaquin Valley’s, first dedicated comedy club.
For Teicheira, who said that he knew as far back as kindergarten that he wanted to make it his life’s work making other people laugh, the announcement – and the subsequent reception he has received – gives him a sense of pride for the comedy scene in the 209 and the high hopes that he has for an establishment that will serve as the home base for a group of comedians that either have to drive to Sacramento or the Bay Area to find a similar stage.
“Thank you to my two primary investors – the people who have kept me in a tractor the majority of my life,” Teicheira said with a laugh. “I think people are excited about having something that is their own – you hear the people talking and there is a real excitement for something that’s real and is ours.
“I’ve said it before – The Valley is big enough now. We should have stuff like this and shouldn’t be having to go to the Bay Area.”
And Teicheira knows a thing or two about how to put together a comedy lineup.
For years the Manteca native has been putting together comedy shows in town to bring the people of the place that he loves the sort of laughter and entertainment that is typically reserved for the larger cities – serving a secondary role of showing the comics that are only used to performing in clubs or in larger urban areas that California’s Central Valley is as good as anywhere to ply their trade.
His ongoing series of Deaf Puppy Comedy shows at String’s Bar and Grill routinely packs the room and has drawn touring comics to the Central Valley that wouldn’t otherwise have had the chance to perform here – something that he hopes to capitalize on with the new digs.
With the members of the Deaf Puppies – the crew of 209 comics and friends that took on the moniker of Teicheira’s beloved deaf puppy Banshee – all making their own names for themselves outside of the scope of the Central Valley, Teicheira said the club will serve as a home base for the group of friends and serve as somewhat of an affirmation of the strives that each of them have made in their respective careers.
“I think that the idea of the Deaf Puppies making a name for themselves is huge for something like this – I think that we’ve built up enough equity to draw A-list talent here,” Teicheira said. “I mean, Anthony K headlines the Gallo Center and works all of the major comedy clubs, Saul has a job at The Comedy Store and is on his way to becoming a paid regular, and somebody like Nick Larson is getting lots of stage time and has built up a reputation as one of the top photographers in the area.
“Everybody has something unique that they do, and hopefully we can use all of those pieces to bring together something that is very special.”
But the road to get here wasn’t easy.
While he had his heart set on getting a space near the Bass Pro Shops so that he could capitalize on the restaurant traffic, working with the property developer didn’t quite go according to plan. After the space that he had been eyeing in Downtown Manteca fell through earlier this year, it started to look like it was going to take a lot longer than he had anticipated to turn the dream into a reality.
The space that will house the club, however, won’t be settling for the longtime comic and local farmer.
As the building that used to be home to Tammy’s Baby Shoppe – complete with a wall that will face Yosemite Ave. and has built-in parking in the massive lot at the heart of Downtown Manteca – the space will be centrally located in the heart of the community and one step closer to his lifelong goal.
“As kids Tony Coit and I dreamed that we would get the corner apartments there in the Bernacchi Building so that we could sit up there and yell at the people as they passed by. I’m close – I can at least see it from there,” Teicheira said. “And it’s mind-blowing that this is real – the other night we were standing up there on the roof with my Dad, and it’s truly located right in the heart of Downtown Manteca.
“It’s a dream come true.”
The current plans for the building are to convert a portion of it into a showroom that Teicheira hopes will hold between 120 and 120 people and convert the space that currently houses a barber shop into a lounge bar that will serve the club. A kitchen that will be constructed will serve as the staging area for a menu of “high quality finger foods” that are synonymous with comedy clubs – with all of the meats coming from Fagundes Meats and Catering in Manteca. The goal is to have headliners perform from Thursday through Saturday with one show on Thursdays and two on Friday and Saturday nights. Sunday nights would typically be reserved for “showcase” nights for local comics as is standard fare at most comedy clubs.
Teicheira says that the size of the main room will be “perfect” for the way he wants to use it – big enough, he said, for belly laughs, but intimate enough to give the vibe that comedy clubs are known for.
“We don’t want to go any bigger than 120 seats or so,” Teicheira said. “I want it to be a dark, old-school lounge – to transport you in time when you walk through the door.
“It’s the perfect size for what we want to do, and it’s going to be amazing.”
While there may be some people that hear about the club that uninitiated in the way that it got its name or the crew of comics that proudly wear the moniker, that isn’t true in the world of standup comedy in Northern California.
Despite the fact that a group of upstart comics from the Central Valley might have drawn snickers from those in larger markets when they first heard about it, Teicheira is pretty confident that the landscape has largely changed thanks to the talent and the dedication that members of the group have shown to the craft – demonstrating that they are in fact real standup comedians capable of creating their own scene in a place that has long been starved for live entertainment.
But don’t expect any of that recognition or respect to go to the heads of the crew that bears the same name as the club – the members simply wouldn’t allow it.
“Internally we don’t talk about that stuff – we are already all friends, and nobody lets anybody get too high or too low and we work to all lift each other up,” Teicheira said. “It feels great to be recognized – to go to the San Francisco Punchline and have somebody come up and introduce themselves to you because they heard about what you were doing.
“I think that we’ve built up enough name cache now that it isn’t about snickers anymore when you hear about the group of comics from the Central Valley – it’s just spiraled into its new thing now.”
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email email@example.com or call 209.249.3544.