Dirty jokes and belly laughs flowed from Anchor Bar on Monday.
More than 100 comics took turns at the mic, late into the night, working the crowd and paying homage to the return of the much-missed comedy event.
The Anchor Bar Comedy Show served as one of the primary training grounds for up-and-coming comics in Orange County for about eight years until it was closed indefinitely about a year ago due to the lack of a county entertainment permit needed to host the event.
Evan Cassidy, founder and host of the event, and others involved, believed the permit approval would be a momentary setback. But, as weeks turned to months, he decided to take action in November by sending letters to local government officials and starting an online petition, which was signed by about 1,900 people.
The permit was approved last month.
“This is surreal,” Cassidy said on Monday. “Having something taken away that I put so much time and effort into felt like an injustice. It feels so good to be back. We are like a family here.”
Throughout much of the night, comics greeted each other warmly.
Costa Mesa comedian Kevin Wolff said he missed the show because the audience has a “high comedy IQ.”
“This is one place where you get a guaranteed audience,” Wolff said. “It’s a good gauge for material too because the audience is very engaged.”
When Wolff took the mic, everybody in the bar howled.
For many comics, it was like returning home.
“I’ve been waiting for this all year,” said Anaheim comic Michael Huebner.
“It’s like a high school reunion,” said comedian Dave Hatch, who drives up from San Diego for the weekly show.
For several months, Cassidy ran a similar show at Chapter One in Santa Ana, but he said the venue didn’t have the same feel.
Anchor Bar has a punk rock vibe to it. Christmas lights hang lazily from the ceiling, and the walls are Frankensteined with various adornments with no real theme — tiki masks, a picture of Elvis in Hawaii, a painting of a bare-breasted woman.
The venue is all personality, and now the comics are back to provide the live entertainment.
The Anchor Bar Comedy Show runs from 6 p.m. to midnight every Monday at 2675 Irvine Ave., Costa Mesa.