- This article originally appeared in the January 2024 health and wellness issue of COMO Magazine.
The Comedy Club of Columbia brings our community the best medicine.
They say laughter is the best medicine – and, like all clichés, this one has a basis in truth. Laughter has a track record for alleviating stress and increasing overall wellness, both physically and mentally. Laughing can stimulate your heart, lungs, and muscles; it can soothe tension, relieve stress, and improve your overall mood. It’s also just pure fun.
Evan Foster, owner of the Comedy Club of Columbia, can attest to the benefits of a good laugh. He isn’t a comedian, but he’s always appreciated comedy. Last year, his job took him to the West Coast, where he worked in a high-pressure environment and found respite in comedy clubs that gave him a reason to smile.
“I’d never really been that far from home,” Foster says. “I was working in a start-up environment, and it was kind of stressful, and I ended up going to some comedy shows. And I realized, during those first forty-five minutes, I didn’t think about my work once. I was fully immersed in the moment, and it really showed me the mental health benefits that comedy provides.”
When he returned to Columbia, Foster started brainstorming about how he could bring that same resource to the local entertainment scene.
“I started our pop-ups to show potential investors that this idea had market value,” Foster says. He created a Facebook page for the Comedy Club of Columbia, and within a month, the page had more than one thousand followers.
“That was validation,” Foster remembers. “I received so much support and encouragement from other [local] business owners, and I tried to meet with as many local comedians as I could because I’ve never been on this side of things. I don’t know where I’d be without that perspective.”
Foster knew he was onto something, and the Comedy Club of Columbia was born. Since its inception, the club has hosted pop-ups at several venues, including The Blue Note and Rose Music Hall, and as the club continued to grow and thrive, its mission began to expand. While Foster prepares to open a brick-and-mortar venue in mid-2024, he’s been creating other ways to bring laughter to those who need it.
This spring, the club will host what Foster calls “a mid-Missouri college tour,” which includes two shows at Mizzou and more at other campuses in the region.
“Going into this, I knew that I wanted to bring that same feeling of stress relief that I felt last year. I wanted to bring that to our community,” he explains. “But I didn’t quite realize how impactful it would be for local comedians. We have some crazy talented comedians here who had to travel two hours just to perform.”
Foster has made it his mission to fill that void. He emphasizes that his own experience changed the way he views comedy — and its value.
“It’s no longer just entertainment,” he says. “It’s an outlet. I was sort of aware that it’s an outlet for comedians, to give them a way to make light of things they’re going through that are hard, but at the same time, it allows audience members to connect, and think, ‘Wait, maybe I can also make light of this situation I’m also going through.’ I never even considered what it means to be in a room like that; one that’s just made for people to laugh. I never thought about how absolutely healthy that is.”
This month, the club will begin renovations on a space to give itself a permanent home. Learn more about the Comedy Club of Columbia and stay up to date by following them on social media.