On Wednesday night, Mara Marek took the stage at Punch Line Philly to MC a night of comedy featuring local women. It was the third stop on the comedian’s “Bike Laugh Heal” tour, a cross-country endeavor where she plans to bike from New York City to San Francisco with a noble goal: to raise $1 million to help end domestic violence and provide support services for survivors.
Punch Line Philly is a fun venue, with industrial piping in the shape of the Philadelphia skyline on the small stage, the performance space is intimate, while still allowing for plenty of seating. There isn’t really a “bad” seat in the house, as it is designed well enough that everyone can see without having to crane their necks too much. Be prepared to make friends; if you come with a small enough group, you will likely be seated at a table with a couple of strangers. As most comedy clubs, Punch Line has a two item minimum, a feat which can be easily achieved from their menu of draft beers and craft cocktails. The food is okay; order the french fries, but skip the chicken tacos.
Marek warmed the crowd up with ease. Her material was accessible and funny, dealing primarily with marriage, divorce, and dating, familiar tropes for the comedian whose podcast “Happily Never After” with Andrew Collin is dedicated to stories about uncoupling. Marek got the crowd going, and kept them going between sets by Gina Gibbons, Roya Hamadani, LaTice, Sonia Zambrana, Oprah Keys, and Mary Radzinski. The night was part of Punch Line’s monthly series “Really Funny Comedians (Who Happen to be Women).”
With so many comedians sharing the stage, there was something for everybody, and Marek’s particular style was especially engaging as she spoke with several audience members and fed off their energy. She was the perfect segue between the 6 different sets. And, despite the long bike ride, her energy never wavered. The only complaint for the evening might be that she wasn’t on stage enough.
Marek’s “Bike Laugh Heal” tour continues in Lancaster on 8/17 and Pittsburgh on 8/22. After that, it’s on to Ohio and beyond until she closes out the tour in San Francisco on November 15th. If you missed her show, you can still donate to the cause at bikelaughheal.org, or check out her podcast for some cathartic laughs about the pain of divorce.