Comedy Night at Lucky Horseshoe Becomes a Drama Instead


A wise comedian once said: Comedy is not pretty. That’s apparently as true in Bernal Heights as it is in Tinseltown, because there was a some commotion yesterday at the Lucky Horseshoe’s new stand-up comedy night. Neighbor Leander tells it like he saw it:

There was big drama at the Lucky Horseshoe Bar on Cortland tonight. During a stand-up comedy night, a female comedian got into an argument with a bar patron and called 911 onstage.

The drama unfolded during the weekly Comedy at Dusk stand-up night, which features 15-minute sets from several local entertainers. During the third act, the woman comedian got into a heckling match with some customers at the bar. They barged into the bar during the middle of her act and oblivious to what was going on, they rudely disrupted her show.

Then the bartender — who appeared to be friends with the customers — got involved, escalating the situation. Meanwhile, the owner of the bar was playing a noisy PacMan arcade machine that is located in the middle of the bar, distracting the woman onstage. It was noisy, chaotic and slightly crazy. The female comedian’s act became a total circus. She spent the rest of her act yelling at the bartender, the rude customers, and whoever walked in through the door.

Eventually, she grew tired of battling everyone, left the stage and went outside. But one of the customers she had yelled at — a slight Asian man — followed her outside and — allegedly — spat in her face on the sidewalk. I saw him come flying back into the bar. It looked like one of the women’s companions shoved him.

The woman rushed back in and grabbed the microphone from the next comedian, who was in the middle of his act. She announced to everyone that she’d been assaulted and started to dial 911 on stage. The fourth comedian and several others tried to get the microphone back to continue the show, but she refused to give it up. The bar owner got up from her PacMan game, but instead of dealing with the situation, went to the back of the bar and turned the music up very loud. Shortly, three squad cars of cops showed up. Two cop cars pulled up in front with their lights flashing and one around the corner. The first two cops on the scene started interviewing everyone as the other cops realized they weren’t needed and left.

The two cops stayed for about 30 minutes. The Asian man had left the bar and was nowhere to be found. His rude friends assumed a low profile at the bar, laughing and joking with the bartender. After the cops left, the female comedian said the cops were classifying the incident as battery and were planning to pull the bar’s security footage to identify the alleged assailant. People started making jokes about putting up wanted signs around the neighborhood.

As we left, one of the comedians joked we should return again soon. “Come back next week,” she said, “there’ll be blood!”

UPDATE 13 March, 2014: Bernalwood reached out to Eric Embry, co-owner of the Lucky Horseshoe, for comment about the incident. Eric shares these thoughts:

Thanks for letting me know about the post and for the opportunity to respond.

Our goal at The Lucky Horseshoe is to be a cozy, welcoming neighborhood bar that folks in Bernal Heights can call a home away from home. We hope that the live music and other entertainment we schedule will enhance that experience and typically we’ve been pretty successful with what we book. However, what happened Tuesday night at the bar was a very regrettable series of events which, although an anomaly for us, is something we don’t take lightly. Whether it was specific to the people involved or simply just that our bar’s atmosphere doesn’t fit the needs of a comic, by all accounts it was a dreadful few minutes that I imagine all parties involved must regret. We certainly do; this is the first incident of it’s kind in the almost three years we’ve operated The Lucky Horseshoe.

Our policy at The Lucky Horseshoe is simple: all are welcome as long as they respect our business and the neighborhood. We’d like to extend our apologies for the discomfort our patrons must have felt Tuesday evening. We’ve made what we hope are the necessary adjustments to our entertainment calendar to avoid situations like this in the future.

Performers have a responsibility to their audience. The best thing an entertainer can do when losing an audience is take a deep breathe and keep the cool. Perhaps the worst thing to do is to turn the intensity of such a moment into anger at the audience you hope to entertain. And to the alleged spitter I’d say there is no worse way to handle an insult comic than to be personally insulted, and especially to react. You are not welcome at The Lucky Horseshoe.

Thanks again,


PHOTO: Neighbor Leander

49 thoughts on “Comedy Night at Lucky Horseshoe Becomes a Drama Instead

  1. Sorry I missed that! Sounds like the bartender/owner don’t really want comedy night…

  2. Fascinating! I’m just curious as to how the gender of the comedian and the race of the alleged spitter are relevant.

    • I agree, there are no genders or ethnicities we are all the same, blah blah blah…It simply helps paint a visual picture for the readers who most likely were not there. I found it helpful.

    • Why wouldn’t the race/description of a wanted suspect of assault and battery be relevant?

  3. i know a number of people who are stand-up comics, but I’d never see them unless they were either appearing solo (Chris Karney or Scot Nery, Margaret Cho, for instance), or if they were part of a GBLT comedy night (Marilyn PIttman, Scott Capurro, Marga Gomez, etc.) And I’d never go to a “comedy show” or a “comedy club” and most assuredly NOT an open mic comedy revue. WHY? Because most comics are HORRIBLE; they’re generally creeps who have emotional problems and are not funny AT ALL.

    I’m banned from the Rite Spot because Annie Southworth (the large, angry looking woman who works weekends and manages the Rite Spot) booked an insult comic during a spoken word event. Our table of 5 was one of only 3 tables there, and the comic picked on us. We got up and said that we weren’t going to take the abuse, that we had come to hear Bucky Sinister, a superb story teller. Annie told us to NEVER set foot in the Rite Spot again. I tried to make peace with her several times over the past 7 years and she STILL won’t allow me in.

    Except for the two situations I stated above, I’ll NEVER set foot in any venue hosting a comedy night. The comics have emotional problems and likely the person who booked such comics has an emotional problem as well.


    • Insult comics make up a very small percentage of the comedy community as a whole. There are hundreds of comedians in San Francisco and probably fewer than five who could be considered insult comics. Your experience was far from typical.

      Comedians are no more or less troubled than your average non-comedian. The apparent difference comes down to many comics choosing to openly addressing personal issues in a relatively public way through comedy rather than desperately trying to feign normalcy.

      But you are correct in one regard; open mics are terrible. This is why they’re almost always free. You’re watching inexperienced comedians learn their craft. Comedy isn’t like playing guitar where you can achieve a modicum of competency by practicing for months by yourself on your couch. Comedy requires an audience, and every comic you’ve ever heard of was terrible when they first stood up there in front of a crowd.

      You sound like a very fun person. It’s a shame we don’t see you at more shows.

      • A fun person? Well, I’d like to think I’m a fun person, but comedy, heck, I won’t even accept comps to see HEADLINERS at Cobb’s or the Punch Line. If someone gives Comedy Central as a reference that makes it even worse.

        There is, of course, a combination of comedy AND music, with such venerated local talent as the Shut-Ins and McPuzo & Trotsky. And I think it also works when people do other things, such as Chris Karney doing sleight of hand magic along with his comedy, or Scot Nery doing his famous pancake juggling or the packpack escape along with the comedy. But straight-up comedy? Ohhh…brother….

    • “how to write three paragraphs about yourself in the comments section of a story that has nothing to do with you”

  4. Great! Screw up something cool…ugh. If the hearsay is correct, the bar owner won’t be a bar owner for long. Is that how you manage a business? It also sounds like the comedienne might have overreacted, but not knowing what the “customers” said to her, I don’t know.
    Bartender sounds like a jerk.

  5. We promised an evening of entertainment and in one way or another have delivered. We’ll be at the Lucky Horseshoe every Tuesday through the end of April, Firemen, Police, Paramedics, Metermaids, all are welcome….

  6. Barbara, I was wondering the same thing. That kind of behavior coming from or aimed at any person, man or woman, would be out of line. Unless the heckling was gender-specific or a recurring pattern, it seems a little irrelevant.

    Too bad our police resources had to be tied up with something that probably could have been handled by a more compassionate staff. 😦

  7. I so looked forward to the comedy night. I loved stand up comedy shows in the UK, but they were ticketed performances. Maybe regulars at the bar don’t really care about this type of entertainment. Sad!

    • There isn’t a whole lot of comedy happening in Bernal Heights, but there is quite a bit nearby in the mission. For instance, The Business is tonight at 8:00 at the Dark Room Theater. It’s always one of the top shows in the city. We post a daily list of all the stand-up comedy in the Bay Area here:

    • El Rio does comedy on the third Thursday of each month:

      Comedy Returns to El Rio

      Thu, March 20, 8:00pm – 9:30pm
      Comedy Returns to El Rio! A Kung Pao Kosher Comedy production…Tonight:

      Steve Lee, Bob McIntyre, Johan Miranda,
      Kat Evasco, and Lisa Geduldig

      8-9:30pm show
      Tix: $7-$20. Available through or at the door.
      Advance Tickets-rear room/7:30pm door/8 show.
      Every 3rd Thursday of the month.

      • If Lisa Geduldig is curating the comedy night at El Rio, I’m all for it. She always brings in good comics. (She’s behind the Christmastime “Kung Pao Kosher Comedy” series.)

    • The Comedy series at what was Esta Noche and is now Limbo Bar at 3079 16th st is happening for the next 2 Thursdays at 8pm. Great pro comics. It’s free – Because the comedy is ending the shows are extra strong lineups. One block from BART.

  8. Somehow I think the bartender and owner might have a slightly different account of the incident. But I bet they won’t be hosting another “comedy” night in the near future.

    • HAH! Skips lives on! As to booking of things like comedy nights, venue owners (and I’ve been one of those, too) are often looking for interesting things to book, but I doubt they want anything that provokes 911 calls. I remember when Chicken John owned the Odeon Bar, the city got after him because he was doing entertainment without a permit. He put on a “make a funny hat” night. It was a stroke of GENIUS. There are all kinds of things venue owners can do that can/might bring in crowds. But most venues won’t touch comedy for the very reason of what just happened.

  9. I was there last night and it was great fun up until the rude girls showed up. They came in and loudly ordered their drinks at the front of the bar, very close to the stage. They were friends with the bartender and having a full on conversation with each other. The comedian called them on their rudeness and instead of doing what any other decent patron would do, (acknowledge that they were disrupting the act, smile, say sorry and move to the back of the bar to carry on) they continued to stay where they were and say bitchy comments back to the annoyed comedian. At one point the bartender loudly said a bitchy comment to the comedian as well. Meanwhile the bar owner/manager (not sure what her title was) was sitting down playing pac man. The noise from the game was distracting. The heckling from both the rude girls and the comedian got way out of control and was embarrassing to watch. The comedian was WAY out of line but I could sort of understand her frustration. She left the stage and went outside to cool off and another comedian took the stage. Next thing you know a man who was hanging out with the rude girls went outside and spat on the comedian. The comedian freaked out, came into the bar grabbed the mic out of the performing comedians hand and proceeded to call 911 while talking on the microphone. It was crazy and no one knew what to do. A few of the comedians tried to pry the mic out of her hand and so did the bar manager/owner but she didn’t give up the mic. Three police cars turned up (probably expecting something very serious by the way the comedian frantically reported the attack) took a report and calmed down the comedian. The spitter had taken off by this point and the show briefly continued. The rude girls remained and hung out with the bartender and bar owner/manager for awhile. There was a meeting with the comedians and bar owner/manager so I think they sorted it all out and hopefully the show will go on next week as planned. I’m hoping the bar workers will be more supportive of the comedians as it felt like they sabotaged the event they agreed to host in the first place. It takes a lot of guts (and probably a lot of alcohol) to do stand up in a tiny neighborhood bar.

  10. Clara from the show here. Ian and I are looking for a fresh start and are beginning the search to find a new venue to keep comedy in Bernal Heights. Thanks to everyone who came out to support us over the last two weeks. Stay tuned …

  11. I was the comedian spat on. I’m a five foot tall woman. Wouldn’t you be freaked out if a drunk guy 7 inches taller than you, rushed at you and spit a FULL MOUTH of alcohol in your face without provocation? And since the police classify it as battery and it is indeed against the law, and the bar patrons nor the management did anything to assist me, I took full control of the situation. Regardless of whether my call was frantic or not, it was hugely scary, and again think of the height, weight, and gender imbalance. As far as being out of line, heckling in any context is rude. Once you are asked to be quiet and don’t, then in fact you are out of line. Telling a room full of rude people to shut up is well within any comedian’s right. Especially if the management does nothing to protect its patrons.

    • That sounds horrible. Sorry that people suck so much. The ironic thing is that you have more balls than that coward who spit in your face. Getting on stage in any forum is hard and takes guts let alone a bar with drunks. I can say with full confidence it will go better next time.

      That bar sounds gritty. I hope it stays that way.

      • If this woman is the owner I think she needs to learn something about bar management. If a customer is being abusive you do not give them ANOTHER drink to “calm” them.

  12. To beginning comedy producers everywhere – protect your comedians. I ran a free weekly showcase at Esta Noche at 16th and mission for two years. The bar had a reputation for being dangerous at times. I made sure the bartender and owner would not allow belligerent heckling. Job one – makes sure the bar supports you- not just allows you to run a show . And as the producer of a room you are supposed to sometimes get patrons to lower their voices with charm if you can or just directness. The bartender is your best friend when you’re running a small room. If yours is hostile – call it a night. Save your comics the aggravation and in this case physical assault. It may only be a mouthful of Beer and saliva but if it happened to you you might agree it’s assault.

  13. I was there and I think I should respond. I have attended this comedy show before and felt the comedian did a lot to provoke the whole situation.

    She began her set by saying how lousy the room was. She was not heckled until she told an Asian guy at the bar and the bartender about 20 feet away to be quiet. The bartender bantered something back and she joked that she had broken up a fight over a beer being poured too slowly. Everything was calm at that point and the crowd was on her side.

    Then she made a comment something to the effect of: If the bartender were Asian, he would have acted differently. It was not racist but was perceived by some as such.

    Yes, there were distractions during everyone’s set but every other comic last week and last night dealt with it in a more professional way. She felt she was too good for the room and should have cut her set short.

    Two women came in and were distracting, but I have seen many comics be more clever and turn the situation to their advantage. All of that in no way justifies being spat on. But she was with a man larger than she was or the Asian guy who spat on her (because he thought she was being racist). It’s not like she was alone or in danger. The man, according to this article, may have shoved the guy who spat on her. But her decision to get on stage and cut off the set of a comedian who was doing fine was totally uncool. He did not deserve that. It was embarrassing to everyone and degrading to him. It did nothing to endear her to anyone.

    She was not in a room full of rude people. She was in a room with many people who wanted to support comedy and some who were ignorant of how to behave when comedy is produced at a bar. But they didn’t start out hostile. The other comics who have performed there seemed to have realized that.

    • I have been doing comedy a LONG time and usually someone is there to cut people off when they are rude. I have performed in dive bars, 1000 person theaters, opened for big stars, and even done a show for 10 people attentively listening. And you can blame me for lack of skill, but I have plenty. It was the audience that night that wasn’t good, because if you look at my track record, I play the major comedy clubs and little dive bars alike and nothing like this has ever happened to me. You are right about one thing — I am too good for the room and a professional knows not to let the audience’s heckling force them off before their time is done. The room was full of drunken rude people who when asked kindly did not shut up. If you were there, you also heard the applause breaks I received when asking who was on my side. I got on stage after being assaulted not to be uncool, but to draw attention to what had happened. Sorry if you were “embarrassed” by this, but I was more than embarrassed. I am a small woman who had a mouthful of a gross dude’s spit beer on my face. And the safest place for me was above ground level. As for having people with me, even having big people around didn’t stop the assailant from attacking once, what was to stop him again? So I needed to do what I knew how to do. Get up and draw attention to the situation and call the cops. I’m glad comedy will not be produced in a room where the bartenders heckles and the owner is too busy playing Pac Man. I am glad you enjoy comedy. Perhaps you can also enjoy empathy for what it is like to be a sober small woman in a room full of drunkenness.

      • Playing mainstream comedy clubs is not exactly a recommendation in my book. I was at the Punch Line the night the patron threw the chair at the comic. This yet another reason I don’t go to comedy clubs.

        Most comedy is AWFUL. Couple that with clubs requiring a 2-drink minimum, and you have a recipe for disaster.

        Now as to the Lucky Horseshoe, it’s really just Skip’s with another name. The place is still as divy as it ever was.

        What people need to remember is that when you put lipstick on a pig, IT IS STILL A PIG. Bernal Heights is the pig. It’s STILL a rough ‘n’ tumble neighborhood. Just because they removed the burglar bars from the shop windows doesn’t mean the neighborhood has changed. It hasn’t. You’ve got generations of working class San Franciscans living there (the ones who kept their homes in the family).

        San Francisco IS NOT DISNEYLAND! This is something I’ve emphasized over and over. SF is a tough town. To quote philosopher Rush Limbaugh: “San Francisco is the pretty whore who won’t love you back.” People are dumb to think that San Francisco is going to change its stripes just because the shops are prettier now.

        San Franciscans (the true ones, not the auslanders) work hard AND party hard. The underlying ethic of SF (when you strip away all the fru-fru arts scene) is “white trash”, which means basically Irish people who came here eons ago to work hard and to party hard. It was the Irish immigrants who rebuilt Chinatown, who ran/run the SFPD and the SFFD. But after a hard day’s work, they’re going to party HARD.

        PS: “White trash” was originally a pejorative used by people of English background against the Irish.

  14. We arrived just as this scene was happening. Not three police cars, at least SIX! The comedian (who was very nice when my family spoke w/her before the show) seemed quite upset and was telling the cops about being spat on by the customer. I spoke with LisaMarie, the owner, later about what happened. According to her, the comedian was really verbally going after some ladies w/tattoos because they were interrupting her set. She said she took those ladies to the back of the bar and gave them a drink to calm them down and try to diffuse the tension. I wasn’t there, but I don’t think it’s totally fair to say the bar owner did nothing.

    I am sorry for the (5ft tall) female comedian. We had hoped to catch her set. But, it is a new thing at that bar to have comedy and there was no cover for the show. I would imagine some of the regulars were there to hang out and talk after work as they usually do. If I was one of them, I might not want to focus on the comedy, either. So I think maybe both the comedian was a bit too sensitive AND the customers were a bit inattentive & loud.

    It sounded to me like LisaMarie expects to carry on with comedy night. Hopefully the next one will be uneventful.

    • I wasn’t there, but as a general comment I think Lisa Marie and Eric Embry have done a great job making the Lucky Horseshoe welcoming to old and new patrons alike. I’ve enjoyed catching various bands there that have drawn their owns fans, as well as the locals just in for drink.

  15. Two girls walk into a bar laughing and talking and order a drink and are screamed at to shut up. Hmm..I thought this was a bar and not the library, one of them says, I guess I still have some work to do on that one.
    This comic was pretty arrogant and rude. She’s not at Cobb’s, she’s at a local bar that is hosting their second comedy night yet felt justified to scream from the mic at two people who unknowingly walked into the second comedy show at this place. It’s too bad the comic didn’t realize from the get go by the pool playing in the back, by the lack of a cover, etc that talking and socializing may be going on despite the stand up in the front. What about the perspective of the “rude” girls, they walk into a bar where they are expecting to see people they know and after ordering a drink, a pretty normal activity at a bar, someone on stage is yelling at them, “shut up-you tattoed bitches, I let you order your drink now shut up this is my time” & to the bartender says “we already know you are a shitty bartender, if the Asian guy is complaining about the way you pour a beer you really suck” What is that even supposed to mean? I saw the owner walk the “rude girls” to the back of the bar to diffuse the situation, and heard her explaining this was a new night of entertainment they are trying to work out. Where were the comedy hosts during all this, where was the MC Ian? They invited this comic and didn’t bother to explain the obvious-that its a bar not a comedy club that there will be people there who did not specifically come to take in comedy. Then when expectations are obviously not lining up with reality- they do nothing. I mean, there was even a pool league tournament going on at the time-did I already say that, well that’s why I was there. This is obviously not going to be a show where everyone in the room is there to hear jokes or where it’s reasonable to expect devotion and a room full of attentive people…unless of course you are really funny. I get that it’s tough to go up in front of people and try and make them laugh, but if you can’t handle your sh*t do us all a favor and pass the mic, or whoever is mc’ing-handle it. I thought the first couple people were pretty funny so I was pretty surprised at how negative this comic was from the get. Then, after she railed at people around the room for interrupting her time she runs back into the bar and grabs the mic from the next comic in the middle of his time?! That’s irony. I don’t know what happened outside but I’m glad the bar is no longer willing to hold comedy. Now we can go back to playing pool in peace and good times. Clara the co-host, her response is “we promised a night of entertainment and one way or another delivered” if this is your delivery you’re no (insert the name of your favorite comic here)… -good riddance to bad comics.

  16. With so many awesome bars in the City to choose from, seems like the Lucky Horseshoe is going to remain at the bottom of my list. The bartender, owner, frequent patrons, friends of the bartender, the comedian…all of them sound EXACTLY like who I want to avoid when going out for a fun evening with friends.

  17. I wish that the author of this article had spent a little more time examining his racial and gender biases, and that the commenters had shown a little more empathy. It sounds like no one behaved completely above board in this situation, but maybe we could consider the factors that led this comedian to feel her only choice was to commandeer the stage. Then we might learn something about mutual respect and common decency.

  18. We are thankful to have been given the opportunity to bring what was supposed to be a comedy show to Bernal Heights. It was a pleasure working with the owner at the Lucky Horseshoe.
    In our opinion, the owner handled what happened during the incident the best way possible. She talked to the girls who were interacting with the comic, she led them to the back, later she tried to reason with the comedienne. I don’t know how else any other bar owner would have handled this situation. Again, this happened at the beginning of our second show.
    What happened that night is not a reflection of the owner’s personality nor is it a reflection of what goes on at the Lucky Horseshoe.
    It’s unfair to the owner to be vilified about something she had little to do with; no one could have predicted that anyone would get spit on.
    No business wants a police presence and that’s what she got just for being generous enough to open her establishment to try something new.
    Ian and Clara

    • When someone is being rowdy in your bar, you don’t bring them to the back of the bar and get them more liquor! If that was the case (it was reported here that way), then the owner was out of line.

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