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Video! Painstaking work to preserve history at 851 Main St.

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Redwood City contractor W.L. Butler recently shared a fascinating video showing its careful work to preserve historic aspects of a building site at 851 Main St.

According to project owner Acclaim Companies, the four-story development, approved by Redwood City council this past summer, will merge four existing parcels at the location into one “neoclassical, mixed-use building.” The office and retail project will feature 246 underground public parking spaces and 50 bicycle parking spots.

As described in part by the video, the project is particularly interesting as it will maintain and enhance three historic storefronts from the 1920s. Large portions of existing exterior walls, including the street façade, side wall next to Odd Fellows building and rear east wall, will be preserved and rehabilitated.

Here’s the description of the preservation efforts and the project, as provided this week by Acclaim Companies and W.L. Butler.

“The panels adjacent to the Odd Fellows Building and rear east wall will be carefully removed, stored and reinstalled under supervision of a consultant specialized in historic renovations. The Main Street façade will be protected in place to ensure that the historical cornice features are maintained. A tiered four-story building will be constructed around the historic building walls, and the lobby of the new building will be home to a public art gallery. The office space will include elevated outdoor areas. The upper floors will be set back 40 and 80 feet from the street as it rises four stories above. The massing for the building is lower along Main Street and gradually steps up to four stories along Walnut Street. This stepped massing creates several terraces that will overlook Main Street. Trees will also be planted along both Main and Walnut streets.”

DES Architects was the project’s architect.

For project renderings, click here.

353 Main St. project moving forward after appeal denied

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An appeal of a 125-unit residential development at 353 Main St. was denied by Redwood City council in a unanimous vote Monday, meaning the project will move forward.

The group Better Neighborhoods Inc. filed the appeal over concerns about the development’s potential environmental impacts. The project was categorically exempt from the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act.

On Monday, several councilmembers said concerns about the project had been adequately addressed during the lengthy planning process for the project by ROEM Development.

The project involves demolishing a single-story office building and constructing a residential development with 125 units, 19 set aside as affordable housing, and two levels of above-grade parking. The development would also have 182 private parking spaces and 42 bicycle parking spaces and includes constructing a scenic, 14-foot-wide trail and overlook point along Redwood Creek. Read more about the project here.

353 Main St. project facing appeal

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UPDATE: On Monday, May 21, the Redwood City council unanimously voted to deny the appeal, which means the project will move forward.

The Redwood City planning commission’s approval of a multifamily, 125-unit residential development for 353 Main St. is facing an appeal over concern about potential environmental impacts from the project’s construction.

A hearing on a request to appeal the commission’s March 6 approval of the project by ROEM Development is scheduled for tonight’s City Council meeting at 7 p.m.

The group appealing the project, called Better Neighborhoods Inc., believes the development, a six-and-seven story project located on 1.8 acres between Veterans Boulevard and Brewster Avenue, should not have been categorically exempt from the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act.

In a letter to the city, Michael Goolsby, president of Better Neighborhoods Inc., said the city needs to look into the impacts of excavation and construction at the site, including the degree of noise, truck trips to and from the location and potential impacts to groundwater connecting to Redwood Creek. To view Goolsby’s full letter, go here.

City staff is recommending that council deny the appeal by Better Neighborhoods and allow the project to move forward. The city denies the project involves “over-excavation” and adds that dewatering measures have been recommended to address instances when the project reaches groundwater levels.

“This recommendation is not unusual as it was also recommended by the geotechnical engineers for the categorically exempt projects located at 849 Veterans and 707 Bradford, both of which entail 6-7 story residential development in the nearby vicinity and same flood zone area,” according to the city.

The project at 353 Main St. involves demolishing a single-story office building and constructing a residential development with 19 units of affordable housing and two levels of above-grade parking. The development would also have 182 private parking spaces and 42 bicycle parking spaces and includes constructing a scenic, 14-foot-wide trail and overlook point along Redwood Creek. Read more about the project here.

San Carlos Block Party to bring music, games, beer and wine to Laurel St.

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San Carlos Block Party set for Sunday

A block party this Sunday, July 17, will bring music, games, beer, wine and more to the 600 block of San Carlos.

The San Carlos Block Party will run from 4-8 p.m., which will remain closed after the weekly Farmers’ Market.

“Stop by your favorite restaurant and order take out to eat at the community tables in the street,” organizers said. “Dance to 80’s and 90’s hits, purchase beer and wine from the Parks & Recreation Foundation of San Carlos, and play fun lawn games!”


San Carlos may make holiday lights on Laurel St. a year-round fixture

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San Carlos considering making holiday lights on Laurel Street a year-round fixture?

The lights strung up on street lamp posts across Laurel Street in San Carlos during the holidays could become a year-round fixture.

Every year since 2010, LED C-9 warm white lights have been installed along Laurel Street between San Carlos Avenue and Olive Street prior to Thanksgiving and are lit at the annual Night of Holiday Lights event. The lights, along with holiday wreaths, are then taken down around the new year.

On Monday, San Carlos City Council directed city staff to explore the feasability of keeping the decorative lights up year-round, as well as the feasability of expanding year-round decorative lighting to other areas of the city, including South Laurel, Industrial Avenue and San Carlos Avenue.

Parks & Recreation Director Amy Newbie said the city currently has a maintenance contract with a vendor that installs and removes the lights on Laurel Avenue every holiday season. City staff will explore the cost of a new year-round maintenance contract and also evaluate whether any retrofits or reinforcements will be needed to ensure the lights and poles can withstand tension from factors such as wind and weather events.

Newbie also suggested that Council should consider whether to add a new attraction to the annual Night of Holiday Lights event, as turning on the lights has been a main attraction.

In the meanttime, the city has not yet removed the lights on Laurel Ave., saying it will keep them up until City Council makes its decision.

Photo courtesy of the City of San Carlos

After Covid,  will outdoor dining remain in San Mateo County?

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After Covid, will outdoor dining remain in San Mateo County?

By Scott Dailey

The pandemic is winding down on the Peninsula, and city leaders, restaurant owners and retailers find themselves at a crossroads – and possibly cross-purposes.  Do they keep the outdoor dining and partial street closures that have come to characterize local downtown districts?  Or do they return to the pre-Covid world, losing the European ambience but freeing up traffic and hundreds of parking spaces?  Or are there perhaps other options that, for the most part, might satisfy city governments, businesses and the public?

Restaurateurs and their patrons love the outside eating areas that now occupy sidewalks and the edges of downtown streets.  On the other hand, merchants worry about the resultant loss of parking spaces in front of their shops.  As for continuing to close off entire blocks – and extending outdoor dining permanently – one downtown business association manager warns, “We have to be very careful.”

Among those who see opportunity is Lisa Grote, an independent, Redwood Shores-based urban planner whose career has included stints with San Mateo County and three Peninsula cities.  Although not all merchants might agree, Grote believes the eating areas and partial street closures can potentially benefit both restaurants and stores.

This story was originally published in the June edition of Climate Magazine.

Even when people park a block or two away, she says, “They go to a restaurant, then will go to other shops along the street and do some browsing and hopefully some buying.”  Regarding areas closed to traffic, Grote says reports are anecdotal but “There’s some indication that once people do get parked and they get to that pedestrian street, they’re likely to stroll and look into other shops, not just restaurants.”

Limited Re-opening

Emily Paul, manager of a retail store on Santa Cruz Avenue, Menlo Park’s main shopping street, is more equivocal.  In response to the pandemic, the city first created outdoor eating spaces by closing two non-consecutive blocks of the street, then later switched to one-way traffic in a single lane.  Paul says the limited re-opening, which includes the block that contains her store, has made a difference.

“When the street was completely closed off on both sides, people didn’t come down here because they thought everything was closed, and I thought that was a hindrance on the business,” she says.  “Now that we have one side open, we have more people.  They know that the businesses are open.”

To welcome downtown visitors, Paul has opened her own outdoor space in front of the store.  It includes benches for customers and passersby.  “We kind of use it to our advantage now,” she says.

Should the partial closure be made permanent?

“I think that’s a good question,” says Paul, whose shop sits on the closed side of the avenue.  “I think I like the way it’s a pedestrian walkway now, and kids can ride their bikes on the street.”  But, she continues, “I think it would be better if it were completely open now.  I just think for parking and for business, people can drive up, they can do pick-up orders, they know it’s open.”

Paul is also concerned about traffic safety, as is Menlo Park Chamber of Commerce CEO and President Fran Dehn.  Both sayWW drivers have occasionally become confused, missing stop signs and traveling in the wrong one-way direction.  As if on cue, a car blew through a stop sign on Menlo Avenue, a block south of Santa Cruz, as a reporter waited at a corner.

Survey Support

Dehn recently completed a survey of Menlo Park businesses and residents that found 91 percent in favor of keeping the current configuration downtown.  Of those, 57 percent were business owners, although the study did not differentiate among restaurateurs, retailers or service providers such as hair stylists, attorneys and insurance agents.

One merchant decidedly unhappy with the present arrangement is Fredy Joudieh, owner of Sarrtori, a men’s apparel store in downtown San Carlos.  Joudieh’s shop is on the 700 block of Laurel Street, currently closed to traffic.  The city sacrificed 150 downtown parking spaces for outdoor dining; Joudieh says his customers, often from Woodside, Atherton, Hillsborough and Portola Valley, have told him that they don’t want to search for street parking or spaces in a lot and a garage in the next block.  (The block-long city lot behind Sarrtori is frequently filled, or nearly so.)

Joudieh estimates his business is down by 55 to 60 percent, and says he goes three or four days at a time without a customer in a store where the typical sale ranges between $300 and $600.  He’s also miffed at city leaders, who he believes favor restaurants over retail in an attempt to create what he calls a “Disneyland” atmosphere on Laurel Street.

San Carlos City Council member and former mayor Ron Collins sympathizes, saying, “I do have concerns about the non-restaurant businesses on that block.”

Longer-term, Parmer-Lohan says the city – the first in San Mateo County to create an outdoor dining program during the pandemic – will begin a formal “visioning” of the entire downtown in January.  The evaluation will consider cementing the current changes, along with modifications that might be needed, for example, to improve access to businesses. City staff said that will take about 1-2 years to complete.

However on Monday, June 14, the San Carlos City Council ultimately stated 1-2 years is too long to wait. It voted to extend the current outdoor dining program to Sept. 1, 2022, by a slim 3-2 margin, with Collins and Parmer-Lohan voting against. Mid-term solutions are needed in addition to longer-term solutions, ones “that we can all coalesce around and be supportive of,” Councilmember Adam Rak said.

Proximity of Parking

Parmer-Lohan acknowledges that, “for certain merchants, adjacent parking is a problem.”  Any permanent plan, she adds, would have to accommodate “a number of variables that would need to be reviewed to try to figure out how to create a sustainable program – and by ‘sustainable,’ I mean that it works for a variety of different types of businesses and restaurants.”

What does the public think?  Collins says San Carlos council members have received more than 300 emails, most of them supporting today’s layout.  Collins believes many of the messages may have been prompted by a recently created advocacy website,

In Redwood City, circumstances resemble those in San Carlos.  At present, 42 restaurants offer outdoor dining, according to Executive Director Regina Van Brunt of the Redwood City Downtown Business Group.  Also as in San Carlos, one block of Broadway in downtown Redwood City is closed to traffic (with businesses open), between Jefferson Avenue and Main Street.

Regina Van Brunt

The current program will continue until at least Dec. 31, after which the City Council will consider whether to extend it.  Van Brunt says an undisclosed number of restaurant owners have asked the city to make their outdoor eating areas permanent.

She thinks it’s necessary, even after indoor dining was restored to 100-percent capacity in San Mateo County last month.  “I believe that a lot of people are still very nervous about dining indoors,” Van Brunt says.  “So I do feel it’s very important that (the city) take these temporary outdoor spaces and make them permanent for the restaurants, because it is necessary to make people feel comfortable when they’re downtown.  Otherwise, they might stop coming, or not come as frequently as they would.”

As with other cities, “the parking is an issue,” Van Brunt observes.  “We have to be very careful,” she says, adding that “Redwood City, in my opinion, has done a heck of a job with this whole thing over the last 15 months … We’ve worked very hard to take care of all of our businesses, not just the restaurants.  Can you make everybody happy?  No, unfortunately, we can’t.  It’s not a perfect world.”  Van Brunt hints, however, at a possible magic-bullet solution that she is discussing with city officials, promising details in a few weeks.

Carless in Palo Alto

One business person who thinks his city has performed less than optimally is developer and downtown landlord Roxy Rapp of Palo Alto.  There, various blocks of University and California avenues are now pedestrian-only.  In a sharp critique  of the City Council and City Manager Ed Shikada, Rapp says his retail tenants are suffering from a lack of customers, among them drivers who no longer pass by and notice merchants’ businesses.

Like others, he’s also concerned about front-of-store parking.  In particular, Rapp cites an upscale consignment shop in downtown Palo Alto; its customers, he says, are reluctant to lug armfuls of clothing and other items between the business and parking spaces a block or two away.

Palo Altans against the car-free streets (Rapp says he supports the restaurants’ outdoor areas, but not the traffic closures) will have to wait.  The City Council voted 5-2 in April to keep the current blocks closed on both streets until Oct. 31, and outdoor dining until at least Dec. 31.  Opponents may also be greatly outnumbered; as reported by the Palo Alto Weekly, a recent city survey showed 96 percent of respondents approved keeping blocks closed to traffic on California Avenue and 97 percent said the same about University.

Mayor Tom DuBois and council member Lydia Kou aren’t so sure.  They voted against extending both the street closures and outdoor dining areas, and the Weekly quoted Kou as saying, “It’s only fair, now that (retailers) are allowed to be open that they be given the opportunity to succeed, as well.  So it distresses me that a lot of emphasis has been put into restaurants only and they’re given so much leeway.  The least that we can do is ensure fairness and ensure visibility for these businesses and ensure that their access is easy to get to.”

Coyote Point fundraising effort aims to install shade shelters, maintain tree health

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Board subcommittee studies waiving vehicle entry fee at County parks

A fundraising effort aims to make long-overdue improvements to Coyote Point Park in San Mateo, which saw a record number of visitors last year.

The San Mateo County Parks Foundation has established the Coyote Point Stewardship Fund to fun shade shelters for beach picnic areas, to maintain a healthy tree canopy and to provide park rangers with tools needed to address increased maintenance demand.

The Parks Foundation said maintaining tree health and safety in the 149-acre Coyote Point is of particular interest.

“Stressed and unhealthy eucalyptus trees can drop limbs and attract pests, most notably the longhorned borer,” the Foundation said. “This only adds to the stress of the tree. The removal of unhealthy trees around picnic sites is a priority for the Foundation.”

To donate toward this Fund, click here.

Art from Redwood City BLM protest on display at Main Library

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Art from Redwood City BLM protest on display at Library

Artwork painted on plywood boards that covered store windows during a Black Lives Matter protest in downtown Redwood City on June 2 is now on display in the Main Library parking lot.

Thousands attended the peaceful, youth-led rally in Courthouse Square, which protested police brutality in the wake of the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody. Before the event, warnings of possible looting prompted many businesses downtown to board up.

The Fox Theatre was among those to do so, and it invited artist Jose Castro, creative director of Anonymous Recipes (Recetas Anonimas), to paint messages on the bare boards supporting the BLM movement. What Castro and others created became a visible, impactful symbol of the protest.

The plywood murals have since been preserved. Now, Redwood City is displaying them at the Downtown Library through Aug. 14 in solidarity with the movement and also “as a catalyst for ongoing dialogue about anti-racist actions we can all take together,” Library officials said.

The library is exploring additional, related displays in the future. Meanwhile, the city has expressed an intention to display the plywood mural at other city locations following its tenure at the library.

Photo credit: Redwood City Library

Community rallying in support of St. Francis Center clients

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Community rallying in support of St. Francis Center clients

At a time of need, the Redwood City community continues to create hope through collaboration. Aiming to offer peace of mind for vulnerable community members during the COVID-19 crisis, the St. Francis Center pledged no evictions for the 180 low-income apartments it operates in the North Fair Oaks community, and is committed to maintaining its safety-net services such as food, clothing and immigration counseling. But the pandemic is dealing financial uncertainty to nonprofits, as well.

“You can feel the fear in the community,” said Sister Christina Heltsley, the nonprofit’s executive director. “These families live paycheck to paycheck… savings is a privileged notion here.”

There have been rays of hope. The St. Francis Center recently received a $100,000 donation in emergency funding from Jay Paul, a longtime supporter, who also set aside 22 units for rent-free housing in Redwood City during this time of challenge. The nonprofit also received a $150,000 donation from Ned and Carol Spieker.

Heltsley said these and other generous donations will ease the nonprofit’s fears in the coming month. But the financial future is uncertain for the St. Francis Center and other nonprofits serving the most vulnerable populations, she said. While local governments have passed moratoriums on evictions for residents made jobless by the shelter-in-place order, the fear of being unable to pay rent remains at the top of their minds, said Heltsley. Some families served at the St. Francis Center will not qualify for government aid programs, Heltsley said.

“These are our beloved nannies, housekeepers, gardeners,” she said, urging those with the resources to continue paying them during this period.

“If you have the resources, please remember your favorite charities during this time,” Heltsley added.

Adding support is San Mateo County, which sank $3 million into the San Mateo Strong Fund aiming in part to support the nonprofits serving the most vulnerable county residents. At its meeting Monday, Redwood City council added $300,000 to that large-scale fundraising effort, and also $393,000 for emergency rental assistance. The Fund continues seeking larger-scale donations aimed at supporting individuals, families, and small businesses in addition to nonprofits.

Comedian Dan St. Paul: Cleaning up in a funny business

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The successful candidate must be able to write the joke. Then say it, with an ear to jettisoning excess verbiage, then get on a stage in front of complete strangers, do the joke, see if it works and cut more words if necessary. Do the same, rinse and repeat, stringing together joke after chiseled joke, for seven or 15 or 40 effortless minutes of leave-them-in-the-aisles laughter.

Can the job be made harder?

Comedian Dan St. Paul manages.  Start the career “late.” Eschew vulgarity and work “clean.” And for good measure, leave the Los Angeles entertainment scene behind for … Foster City? Yet 38 years after the former schoolteacher got into the business, this late-blooming stand-up comedian is still standing.

“I know that I’m lucky,” St. Paul, 67, says, during an interview at the kitchen table of his home a stone’s throw from Highway 92. “I’m super lucky that I can do this for a living, not have to punch a clock, not have to get up and fight traffic every day. … But I will say that I’ve had to work hard to do it, not just creatively but businesswise. You always have to look forward to where your audience is going to be, and that’s why I’ve kept it clean.”

The San Francisco native was two years into a career as a special education teacher in the early 1980s when he attended a performance at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival that sent him on a detour, first into acting. “I was watching a production of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ out there in the Elizabethan theater and it was just magic.” After quitting his job with the Contra Costa County schools, he went back to school to become an actor, working as a waiter and a hospital admissions clerk to pay the rent.

While doing a show, he met an extremely funny woman named Sue Murphy. Their backstage banter left everyone else in stitches so St. Paul suggested that they see if they could bring off a Stiller-and-Meara-style comedy duo. He wrote some sketches and they debuted eight months later at the Holy City Zoo.

“And we killed,” he recalls. “It was like, ‘Oh my God, we’re going to be big stars.’ You know, visions of Nichols and May.”

They were invited back a second week, with a new seven-minute bit. “And we died,” St. Paul says. “We died a horrible death for seven minutes.” Actors — not yet comedians — he explains, they were stuck in the bit and lacked the experience that would come with years of comic trial and error, learning to read the room and “if something’s not working, you move onto something else.”

Which has been his career writ large. As Murphy-St. Paul, they had a seven-year stint headlining at San Francisco comedy clubs but eventually went their separate ways. (A Woodside High School graduate, Murphy went on to a successful comedy career of her own.)

“I was 29 when I started and she was five years younger than me,” St. Paul says. “I said, ‘I’ve got to get down to LA before I age out.’” By then 34, the solo comic relocated there in 1986, where he appeared on several episodes of A&E’s “An Evening at the Improv,” VH-1, and MTV. He has opened for such superstars as Jerry Seinfeld, Garry Shandling and Natalie Cole, and appeared in the Robin Williams movie “Flubber.” He made a lot of contacts in LA and picked up work doing “looping,” improvising dialogue in movies for extras, who are “talking” but not recorded, with the conversation added later.

St. Paul is also star of a one-man play about his own life, “Outer Mission, Middle Class – the Diary of an Immigrant’s Son.” His Italian parents met in an ESL class in 1948 and raised five children; the one who goes by “Dan St. Paul” not only speaks fluent Italian, but recently became an Italian citizen. (He was eligible since his mother was born there; he now has a European Union passport.)

The reason for the professional name?  He decided when he joined the Screen Actors Guild that “Scopazzi” could easily get screwed up and opted for something simpler. “I wish it had never happened,” he says. “I wish I was Dan Scopazzi the whole time. But it’s too late to change now.”

Then out bursts a guffaw, which alternates in the funnyman’s infectious personal laugh track with a distinctive pneumatic rat-a-tat of laughter. To wit:

“My parents couldn’t afford Chinese water torture, so they had me play the accordion. (Rat-a-tat.) “I was in rock bands when I was in high school and junior college and I played keyboard and organ. But my left hand just sucked because there were no buttons.” (Guffaw.) “I didn’t know what to do with my left hand.”

The laugh, says St. Paul’s wife, Cara, is “a family thing. His sister has the same laugh.” Laughter, in fact, brought the couple together. Cara Takaha had gone to see a friend, an aspiring comedian trying out at Cobbs Comedy Club in San Francisco, and happened to meet her future husband backstage. Worried that a well-known comedian might not accept, Cara and her friend took a chance anyway and invited him to a Halloween party. He didn’t know it wasn’t a costume party and, with a friend dressed as Joe Buck from “Midnight Cowboy,” St. Paul showed up as Ratso Rizzo.

“It really was that situation where I can’t believe she’s attracted to me because she’s so damn cute,” he says, taking a minor deviation from clean talk. The couple has been married 32 years. Both Cara and son Roy, 28, have jobs in Redwood City. And both are comedy fodder.

“It puts food on the table,” she says gamely, adding that for a comedian, “your art is from your experience. That’s what he knows, being married to me and having Roy. It’s part of comedy.”

St. Paul’s act had always been “relatively” clean but he notes that he came up in the business during a pre-cable period when comedians who wanted to get on TV “couldn’t be dirty.” Even so, he’s always found it “nobler to be able to work that way and not have to resort to be dirty to be funny.” Though he loved Richard Pryor and George Carlin, “I have no pretensions about being like them. That’s not who I am. And I think the best comedy comes from truth.”

A turning point came for the couple after the Northridge earthquake in 1994. Though their townhome wasn’t damaged, their complex was. About the same time, St. Paul auditioned for the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. “I had one of the best sets ever. And I still didn’t get the show.” So they took it as a sign and returned to the Peninsula.

In short order, another door opened. St. Paul ran into a friend who was an improviser and had a job doing funny banter at a trade show. That led to an introduction to a team of comedians who had formed a company that was writing scripts for trade shows. They offered St. Paul work that turned out to be steady and well-paying enough that he could sock away a down payment on his house. He did trade shows for the next six years, until the dot-com bubble burst around 2000.

After that, he got back into doing more stand-up, and put together a second one-man show. He also came up with an idea for an act featuring himself and three other comedian/dads who were at about the same stage in life. One of their first performances was at Club Fox in Redwood City, and after a while the Stand-up Dads were appearing at small theaters around the country. But when the 2008 financial crisis hit, community theaters dialed back their bookings.

Spin forward to 2019 and the (older) comic quartet is reviving the act for several Bay Area appearances, culminating in an Oct. 5 show at Angelicas.  “Revenge of the Dads” also features Milt Abel of San Jose, Kelly McDonald of Las Vegas and Tim Bedore of Minneapolis.

The first time around, Bedore says, the jokes were about young kids. “That’s 20 years ago, so now it’s literally talking about distributing your parents’ remains and how that goes, and losing body parts and aches and pains and stuff like that, you know, your age now.” The show was successful, Bedore believes, because audiences could sense that the foursome liked working together. “When you’re working with people you like, somehow the show is imbued with a better spirit.”

Being able to continue at the job St. Paul loves requires marketing, travel and resourcefulness. He also credits two agents (one lines up about 10 weeks of cruise ship jobs a year and the other find gigs for his one-man show.) He does a lot of work for companies, such as employee and customer appreciation events; serves as an emcee; and writes jokes for hire.

Comedy clubs attract a young demographic and St. Paul realized he needed to bring his show to audiences which can relate. “I’m talking about how I have 10 pair of reading glasses at home and I have no idea where they are,” he says. “I tell them how I have a pair of skinny jeans in the closet. They were loose-fit when I bought them 20 years ago. …Young people don’t relate to that kind of material.”

So in the wintertime, St. Paul travels to Arizona and Florida to entertain at retirement communities. “People over 60 don’t do a lot of clubbing. …If you’re retired and living in one of those communities, you want the entertainment to come to you.”

Though he has two education-related degrees and is working on another credential, St. Paul thinks the classroom isn’t the place to teach comedy. There are tips, he concedes — trimming fat to get to a punchline faster and linking related jokes one after another. But to have a career, a comedian needs a sense of humor, a hard shell — and above all stage time.

And the payoff?

“A comedian can think of something and in the next two minutes on the stage start saying it,” he says. “You get immediate gratification and that’s what we live for. It’s coming up with new bits and seeing them work … So that really keeps you going, that constant reinforcement that you’re doing something right – and getting paid for it.”

This story was originally published in the September print edition of Climate Magazine. 

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