© 2024 KLCC

136 W 8th Ave
Eugene OR 97401

Contact Us

FCC Applications
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Eugene's only comedy club offers new opportunities for the local scene

Eugene comedian Seth Milstein holding a microphone.
Nathan Wilk
Eugene comedian Seth Milstein warms up the crowd at the Olsen Run Comedy Club on Feb. 14, 2024.

Comics scrawled their names onto the list for the open mic, on a Wednesday night at the Olsen Run Comedy Club and Lounge in Eugene.

Host Seth Milstein took the stage, bathed in red light, a tattoo of Richard Pryor on his hand.

"How old am I? I don't want to talk about it in numbers," Milstein told the audience. "If I get out of my car at the café where I get my coffee every morning, and there's a dude pulling out his newborn daughter, I'm so old that I will involuntarily say ’uh oh, precious cargo.’"

Olsen Run is located downtown at the former Sessions Music Hall on 7th Avenue. The venue opened at the end of last year.

Milstein said it's the first time Eugene has had a comedy club in recent memory. After years of performing in bars, he said the community is ready for it.

“The comedy scene here is a lot bigger than it should be in a town this size," he said. "This town and this community thrives in artistic expression, and the club is just the next step.”

Milstein has been performing in Eugene for 14 years. He recalls when comics had to rent karaoke rooms just to have a venue.

“I was pretty realistic starting comedy that I live in a small town. I'm raising a family here," he said. "But I love this art form, and I'm passionate about making people laugh."

Milstein said today, there are open mics at bars six days a week, frequented by university students passing through, and a community of older stand-ups who’ve stuck around.

"I ended up finding other people that had a similar outlook," he said. "And I think having enough people that do [comedy] just because they love it is attractive.”

Milstein doesn’t expect Olsen Run to replace the city's existing bar scene. But he believes it’ll offer more exposure, consistent pay and a chance to learn from professionals.

“95% of the Eugene comics have day jobs," he said. "And it's nice to see what it's like to live the life that we've kind of all been chasing in one way or another.”

University of Oregon student Clay Stolp tried stand-up for the first time this month at Olsen Run.
Nathan Wilk
Clay Stolp tried stand-up for the first time this month at Olsen Run. He's pictured here on Feb. 14, 2024.

One of the venue's owners is Joe Sinclitico, a formerly LA-based comedian who co-runs an associated winery in Harrisburg. He said as he books touring acts, he’ll let hometown performers host and serve as openers.

"Going into a place that's devoted to comedy, there's an importance placed on the stand-up that's not there when you're going to just a bar," he said.

Sinclitico hopes to help launch a Eugene comedian nationally. He said when a local shares the stage with a career performer, they may find that they aren’t that far off.

“You're saying, ‘this guy's just been doing it longer. He's worked at this. He's done really great marketing,'" he said. "And you can all of a sudden start to see a path for yourself to get a career as a comedian.”

The entire venue isn’t yet finished, as construction continues on the concert hall and backroom bar. But Milstein said with its low ceiling and dim lighting, the lounge has an amazing atmosphere for comedy.

Milstein said he’s already seen more performers travel from across Oregon to take the stage. But to be sustainable, he said the venue will need to meet the tastes of the Eugene public.

“I just hope that our community supports this endeavor because it's always really positive to try to make people happy," said Milstein. "And that's what I've always been into it for.”

The Club Mic starts at 8 PM on Wednesdays at the Olsen Run Comedy Club and Lounge.

Nathan Wilk joined the KLCC News Team in 2022. He is a graduate from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. Born in Portland, Wilk began working in radio at a young age, serving as a DJ and public affairs host across Oregon.