Reliving comic glory days at Holy City Zoo 

Dan St. Paul is looking forward to reliving the golden years of Bay Area comedy — if only for one night.

The organizer of the first Holy City Zoo Stand-Up Reunion at Angelicas in Redwood City on Sunday — and his lineup of co-headliners including Barry Sobel, Steven Pearl, Will Durst and Larry "Bubbles" Brown — are hoping to recapture the craziness that characterized the tiny Clement Street club in The City at the peak of its popularity in the 1980s.

"It became the breeding ground for comics who were a little different. Paula Poundstone, Ellen DeGeneres, people were coming from all over the country," says St. Paul, who adds that weeknight open-mic showcases made for a fertile scene in which the more bizarre the act, the more it was appreciated.

It was a time when audiences were particularly open and adventurous. While today's comedy clubs mostly offer bigger names "who can put butts in seats," St. Paul says, "People then would just go out and see comedy simply because it was fun. "

And they did it enough so that many of his fellow comics back then didn't necessarily have to have day jobs.

Still, working the Zoo wasn't really about financial security. "You weren't going to make a lot of money," he says, because the club only had about 70 seats.

While audiences and the industry have changed, so has St. Paul's act. Formerly part of a team, he was doing sketch-type material decades ago. Today, at 61, he's doing stuff about himself, like how, he says, "If I get a phone call after 10 p.m., somebody better be dead!"

One thing about Bay Area comedy that hasn't changed over the years is the chance that Robin Williams might drop in — it happened back in the day at the Holy City Zoo and still happens today from time to time, particularly in Marin.

St. Paul, who admittedly has had the misfortune to follow Williams (after half of the audience left the room) remains a good sport: "You just kind of roll with it," he says.

Holy City Zoo Stand-Up Reunion

Where: Angelicas, 863 Main St., Redwood City

When: 7 p.m. Sunday

Tickets: $26 to $32

Contact: (650) 679-8184, www.angelicasllc.com, www.ticketly.com

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Leslie Katz

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