Don’t Tell Comedy Makes Midpen a Hip Underground Comedy Scene


By Eva Barrows

Audience members full of anticipation ask each other how they found out about Don’t Tell Comedy (DTC), was it through a friend or Facebook ad? They settle into seats in someone’s festive backyard, a businesses’ showroom or inside somewhere truly cool like the Midpen Media Center studio. DTC host steps up to the mic to introduce a previously undisclosed high caliber lineup of comedians to the anxious audience.

Originating in Los Angeles only two years ago, Don’t Tell Comedy’s goal is to create affordable top-tier comedy experiences. Twenty-dollar general admission and thirty-dollar VIP tickets set audience members close to the comedic action. DTC location cities have quickly spread across the US. Peter Ballmer, South Bay DTC Producer, has seen exponential growth in his audiences. He says, “People try one show and have so much fun they bring a group of ten to the next show.”

Always on the lookout for potential venues to host a DTC show, Ballmer likes to find clean and cozy spaces with supportive hosts. A typical location seats between 50 and 80 people. The DTC crew sets up an official banner, background music, and folding chairs to create a “before” show vibe with high production value. The Midpen Media Center has been a great venue for DTC seating 105 people per show. Ballmer says when Midpen tech Pedro Arenas turns on the studio’s spotlight it really ups the show’s production value.

Don’t Tell Comedy shows happen in a secretive environment where a famous comedian might appear and do a set, says Ballmer. Comedians travel from around the state to perform at a DTC show because they get quality stage time in front of appreciative audiences. Comics bring their best content and sustain “A” material through their entire set. At a typical show, Ballmer will host five comedians doing 15-minute sets. The recent doubleheader at Midpen featured a professional comic who headlined the shows with a 30-minute set.

After the fact, we can share who performed at the two sold out February 23rd Midpen shows. JC Currais, a high-energy LA comedian who’s been featured on Conan and Comedy Central headlined. Local comedians Joey Avery (SF Punchline) and Chad Opitz (SF Sketchfest) along with other great comics graced the studio stage.

If you have a great location to host an upcoming DTC show, contact Peter Ballmer (pballmer@live.com) to help make hilarious comedy accessible in your community.

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