Wine Country Comedy

“A man cannot make him laugh – but that’s no marvel; he drinks no wine.” ~Shakespeare

“Good news, the wine works.” Cory Loykasek says with a smirk to a room full of wine drinkers that packed in to the tiny Hawley Tasting Room for a night of comedy. Wine or not, there were a lot of laughs, the wine simply added to the enjoyment.

My friends, wine is a funny thing. People seem to enjoy themselves more with a glass in their hand – they also tend to get louder with every glass. Wine also has the ability to make comedians forget their material and spin off into commentary about art on the walls and large men seated in the front row.

June 3rd marked the 2nd comedy show organized by Austin Hawley and Cory Loykasek, featuring a handful of some of the funniest up-and-coming comedians in the Bay Area. Because of the small space Hawley has to offer, two shows were performed for different audiences; admission was free for wine club members and $10 for non-members. If you missed either of the shows, follow Hawley Winery on Facebook for info regarding RSVP’s for the next show, which is slated for Saturday July 2nd.

Before the first comedy show I asked Cory (who has been a friend of mine since grade school), “do you think you’ll have to edit your material for wine country? Maybe less sex, drugs, and poop jokes.” Surprisingly the answer was no, in fact I’m pretty sure he opened up with a joke about being in love, which lead directly to a sex joke. He then proceeded to discuss with the audience how smoking weed can make everything better, especially grandpa’s stories about the war.

And Healdsburg didn’t blink an eye. The crowd was a mixture of young and old, and I could tell from my view behind the bar that a few weren’t as receptive to the vulgarity as others were, and perhaps pondered money better spent at one of the jazz fest concerts also happening that evening. But the wine continued to pour and the laughter increased as comic after comic took the stage.

Guess what? Sonoma County is a kind of funny place. Each comic brought something unique to the stage – like different wines if you will – there was subtlety and boldness and everything in between making for a rousing mixture of comedy.

These guys spent plenty of time honoring and making fun of the beautiful place we call home. They may not understand wine, or feel at home in a small town, but after meeting up at John and Zekes for drinks after the show, I can tell you that they certainly enjoy their time up here and performing for a small group of wine-filled patrons.

Cory kicked the show off with his laid-back rants and his highbrow look at lowbrow issues. Cory was always funny when we were growing up together, but it’s amazing to see him develop his material and make a name for himself in the Bay Area comedy scene.

Following Cory was his “soul mate” Donny Divinian, who brought a stone-faced, dry, offbeat approach to comedy and had the audience eating out of his hands – or maybe they just really loved his afro and baby face.

Third up was Bryan Yang, an Asian-American who had no qualms about hitting the audience with race jokes. He poked-fun of his own culture as well as white folk, but managed to cover a variety of topics, showing off a range of comedy and creativity.

The 1st of the headliners for the show was Chris Garcia whose impressions of his dad, crack heads, and men at the gym had the audience rolling. And he even serenaded us, in honor of the late Macho Man Randy Savage.

Closing the show was Ray Molina, who’s soft-spoken; in-your-face comedy had the audience on their toes. To be a fly on Ray’s shoulder would be an interesting day; his deadpan delivery and strikingly funny jokes sometimes caught the audience off guard, and you had to follow along quite closely or occasionally hardly at all to get his humor.

The 2nd show of the night proved to be the most alcohol induced – for the comedians and the spectators. And though many of the comics had a hard time focusing from the buzz of the Pinot Noir and the buzzing of a few overly loud audience members, they rolled on, making fun of themselves and the patrons who had a hard time keeping their mouths shut.

Comedy is something that is really lacking in Sonoma County, and these guys are making a point to bring it to wine country. Cory has locked in shows with his comedian friends on a monthly basis throughout the summer at Hawley Winery’s downtown tasting room and other wineries in Sonoma County, so follow Hawley Winery on Facebook to stay up to date for when these guys will be back in town.

Feel free to contact me for any information regarding future shows or any information about Hawley Winery or any of the comedians mentioned and where you can find them performing throughout the Bay Area. Thank you, and show your support for local comedy and lets keep Healdsburg funny!


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