FRANCISCO SUNDAY EXAMINER & CHRONICLE
SUNDAY, JULY 1 1984
Night the Holy City Zoo Closed
ROBERT S. WIEDER
ROBIN WILLIAMS was there, of
course, but didn't much want to talk about it. It was a highly personal moment.
He did his earliest stand-up here, met his oldest friends here, met his wife
here. This is where he learned his craft, and it was a sad, melancholy night on
June 19, 1984. The Holy City Zoo, a legend among America's comedy clubs, the
ultimate "comedian's hangout," folded after 13 years.
"I'm sad," said Robin. " We had wonderful times here, strange times here; this
wasn't a haven, it was a game preserve. I remember a big black guy who'd come in
with a baseball bat and say 'I'd like to audition.' But a lot of that is in the
past. So many changes." Comic Perry Kurtz rented a chain saw to carve the stage
wall into souvenirs. "I'd give (former Zoo manager John) Cantu's right arm to
keep this club open," he said.
It ended at 2 a.m. with various comics onstage singing "Well Meet Again" and
"Happy Trails." Outside, Mike Pritchard sighed, "In the past month I've helped
close the Open-Theater, hosted the memorial for Dave Allen, and now this." A
hand-printed notice on the back wall declared that a "New Zoo, better than ever"
will soon open elsewhere." Nobody buys it. Nothing, all agree, can replace the
Zoo. An era was over.