Can ‘The Function,’ Function?: Comedian Stroy Moyd Bets on #HellaFunny Brand with New Comedy Club – KQED

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Perhaps it’s an omen of good things to come: The Function’s capacity is 49 people, a lucky number in the city home to San Francisco 49ers football dynasty. Even the 49ers couldn’t afford to stay in the city, though, which is why Moyd’s story is all the more impressive, setting up a Black-owned entertainment business in an area of San Francisco written off by doomsaying headlines. After vying for hundreds of locations, Moyd kept hitting the same roadblock – realtors wanted a house for collateral – or some other major asset, all of which he didn’t have – in order to allow him the space. He was ready to give up the dream when he came to 1414 Market and found no collateral was necessary.

“This was the last one. I was checking for two years. I said, ‘If this one don’t work out, I’m done,’” Moyd says. “And it worked out.”

The Function, located at 1414 Market St., opened its doors this past weekend. (Danny Acosta for KQED)

Unfortunately, Moyd encountered the harsh reality of racism in Bay Area real estate throughout the process.

“I would go to the venues to buy, and the owner would look at me, and I could tell just because I’m Black, he be like, don’t want to sell to me. That happened so many times, you know, but I overcome it … and I don’t let it get to me,” Moyd says. “I keep pushing, but it’s been a struggle, but it worked. We need more Black-owned business. This is the first Black-owned full-time comedy club in the history of the Bay Area. This is the actual, real Black history. I’m going to do it in Oakland, too.”

Moyd’s desire to open another “The Function” in his hometown isn’t surprising, but the enterprising comic quickly name-checks Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Mexico, South Korea and Japan as future spots to turn his Bay Area brand into an international franchise.

Moyd’s grand vision is perhaps why Tony Sparks, the godfather of Bay Area comedy, known for running the Brainwash Cafe’s (RIP) comedy for almost two decades, always knew Moyd was destined for big things. Still, Sparks never imagined Moyd running his own club was in the cards. Sparks signals the racism he encountered that stopped him from doing something similar years ago, still confronting Moyd. It makes Moyd’s win all that more impressive. “You’d think in this day and time, it should be different, it’s not,” he says, “And it’s really sad, but my man has really knocked all those barriers down somehow.”

Comedian Tony Sparks said Stroy Moyd’s comedy club opening is impressive. He was among the comedians who graced the stage at The Function during its grand opening weekend. (Danny Acosta for KQED)

Sparks has already hosted comedy shows at The Function and feels it’s a good space for comedians and crowds to experience his catchphrase – a lot of love.

“This room with the low ceilings and the way it’s set up, the laughter is always huge,” Sparks says. “Everything runs really high. It’s really a great room, and it’s worth coming and investing the time to be here.”

Lilian Tsai, an attorney, lives in the neighborhood and eagerly anticipated The Function’s opening. She describes the venue as having “amazing decor” (kinder than a comic who called it “gentrified strip club decor”), an “intimate and cozy” atmosphere for a “really funny” night of comedy. It’s a night capped off with a “No Scrubs,” 90’s hip-hop dance party with DJ Beats Me on the turntables, so Tsai and her friends will switch from laughter to dancing, as seamless as Moyd’s intention for the space invites.

“San Francisco, we need more beauty, more laughter, and this is a really great thing,” she says of The Function. “I didn’t know until I attended tonight that it was Black-owned, so that’s amazing. I have a good friend who’s a comedian, too, so it’s just very exciting to have this in town.”

Moyd ultimately sees The Function as a place to become a better comedian and businessman. As a comic, he describes his material as full of “ratchetness,” so as a businessman, he stands firm. The Function is a place designed for comedians to be comedians, warning potential audiences to stay home if they’re too sensitive to what comics might deliver as punchlines. With Moyd’s brick-and-mortar dreams now a reality, he likens this whole experience to watching people win an award at the Oscars or Grammys, where they get too overwhelmed and can’t remember who they need to thank.

“So just thank you, everybody; I never understood that I’m like, ‘You gotta mention somebody,’” Moyd says. “Now that I got my own club, I get it.”

The Function is a new comedy club owned by comedian Stroy Moyd, who is also behind the #HellaFunny brand of comedy shows produced around the Bay Area. (Danny Acosta for KQED)

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