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“Keep Calm and Laugh On” Fundraising Campaign for DNA’s Comedy Lab

March 21 @ 7:00 pm - June 17 @ 9:00 am

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To continue building community through laughter, we invite contributions that will enable creative programming in the face of COVID-19.

How do we come together as a community when we’re being told to avoid public gatherings? Is it possible to stay connected even while practicing social distancing? Are laughter and entertainment even important right now? (Cue DNA’s bubbie and zadie in the Catskills in the 1950s: “If we didn’t laugh, we’d cry!”)

At DNA’s Comedy Lab, we are re-evaluating our mission, “Building community through laughter,” and we invite you to explore with us. The elements of our mission, when held under a microscope, might appear as follows:


After building the local scene for over a decade, bringing stand-up comedy to Santa Cruz County bars, restaurants, coffee shops—even a barber shop on one occasion—plus outdoor stages, festivals, and numerous private parties, DNA and partners found a home in downtown Santa Cruz in the former Riverfront Twin Cinema in March of 2019.

With three stages, including the lobby, DNA’s Comedy Lab produced 288 shows in the first year, before closing our doors to prevent the spread of COVID-19, just one week before our first anniversary. Eddie Pepitone loved his audiences at the Lab. He promised, “I’ll come back any time,” and we intend for him to keep that promise.

From the sold-out Rob Schneider show, to up-and-comer Emily Catalano (nurtured by DNA over the past decade and recently “killed it” on Conan), DNA’s Comedy Lab has become a hub of activity with a range of comedic presentations. In addition, the Lab has hosted meetings, author engagements, original theatrical experiences, open mic nights, storytelling, magic, film festivals, holiday parties, birthday celebrations, and much more.

We love the space. Our audiences love the space. Our artists love the space. A building isn’t just floors, walls, and a roof, it’s also a gathering space for people to share their dreams and creativity. So, yes, we believe the actual building is an important element to our mission. In addition, though, we believe the building blocks we’ve already formed can also be used in the foundation of a new virtual Lab that will allow audiences to share in that creative space from the safety and comfort of their own homes.


We’re interested in the people who make up our community, and the shared attraction to the performing arts, and the greater sense of community—the positive feelings we elicit and inspire in each other when we connect and share joy and laughter together.

Comedian Todd Glass encouraged us after his performance at the Lab, “This is definitely the kind of place where my friends and I would hang out.” (Having performed at almost every club in America, along with his many TV and celebrity credits, Glass is one of the most respected voices in the industry.)

What started as a small experiment conducted by a few individuals, has now become a community of innovators and creative connoisseurs working on a shared hypothesis: that we can build community through laughter with DNA’s Comedy Lab.


One of the most beautiful human emotions is joy, expressed through laughter. Crowds enter as anonymous individuals, and, through an evening of giggles and guffaws, exit as community. If laughter really is the best medicine, then our community needs this now more than ever.

Isolation may be necessary, but loneliness is not! Distancing may be necessary, but despair is not! We believe our mission still holds up to the relevancy test.


We’ve been asked if the Lab is able to offer live-streaming, virtual events, or anything at all to help get people through these tough times. The comments have been rolling in from our online community:

“Being recently diagnosed with cancer, I’ve had to be careful about crowds anyway. I’d happily buy a ticket to watch your shows here at home.”

“I hate clichés but we’re better safe than sorry right now. Have you considered live-streaming?”

“I understand why you closed your doors, but it’s heartbreaking to see a new business have to do that. I really want you guys to succeed. How can I help?”

We are presently creating a space at the Lab to broadcast comedy for people who cannot leave their homes. We intend this experience to be available to everyone, especially to those suffering job losses, the bewilderment of how to pay their bills, and loved ones succumbing to illness. We are looking for support for innovative programming at this time and to continue booking artists of the highest caliber so we can invite audiences back through our doors when it is safe to do so.

There’s huge overhead in a 15,000sq.ft. building in downtown Santa Cruz. We have eight staff currently on payroll and we contract with numerous business partners for specialized tasks. Add to that the 1,000 or so artists we’ve employed to share their gifts in our first year of operations, and the many more we’d like to engage. Fortunately, the Lab is a perfect in-between location for big names passing through from LA to SF.

We’re ready to light a fire under your bunsen burner to get those creative juices and generosity bubbling over. Please consider a one-time or monthly gift today, via our fiscal sponsor, Fractured Atlas.*

Thank you for your patronage this past year, and for your support in keeping us alive during this critical time.

In laughter and love,

DNA and the team of Lab Partners & Technicians



DNA’s Comedy Lab is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the charitable purposes of DNA’s Comedy Lab must be made payable to Fractured Atlas only and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.