ritzy makeover

Popular podcaster Joe Rogan tied to new downtown Austin comedy club

Popular podcaster Joe Rogan tied to new downtown Austin comedy club

Ritz Theater Austin
Landing soon at the Ritz: Comedy Mothership.  Alamo Drafthouse/Instagram

A new comedy club associated with local comedian and podcaster Joe Rogan is on tap for downtown Austin’s vacant Ritz Theater, formerly home to Alamo Drafthouse.

Asylum Real Estate Holdings, which bought the landmark last year from Craddock Properties, plans to convert the theater into a venue called Comedy Mothership, according to public records. Asylum is managed by Matthew Lichtenberg, who is Rogan’s talent agent.

The Ritz Theater, at 320 E. Sixth St., dates back to 1927 and started as a movie theater. In subsequent years, it hosted musical acts like Stevie Ray Vaughn and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. It also did time as an adult movie theater and as a temporary home of the Esther’s Follies comedy troupe.

Tim League, co-founder of Austin-based Alamo Drafthouse, renovated the building’s façade and interior in 2007, and returned the venue to its original use as a movie theater. The COVID-19 pandemic forced Alamo Drafthouse to shut down the theater in 2021.

Under its most recent configuration, the venue contained a downstairs theater with 175 seats and an upstairs theater with 96 seats.

The Austin Towers blog, which first reported on the Rogan-linked comedy club, notes that Rogan had eyed the One World Theatre in West Austin as a comedy venue but that deal fell through.

Now, Rogan — who recently has whipped up controversy over his views on COVID-19 and his use of racial slurs — appears to be setting his sights on the Ritz property.

As part of the building’s transformation into a comedy club, the Alamo signage is supposed to be removed and replaced with Comedy Mothership signage, but the Ritz signage is set to remain.

So far, there’s no indication about when work on Comedy Mothership will begin and when the comedy club will open.

Last July, an entity related to Asylum Real Estate Holdings filed a federal trademark application for “Comedy Mothership” that would cover, among other things, comedy shows, apparel, audio and video recordings, documentaries, and other products and services bearing the brand name.

Rogan moved to Austin in 2020 from Southern California after landing a $100 million podcasting deal with Spotify. He and his wife, Jessica, live in a tricked-out $14.4 million mansion along Lake Austin.