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The Punch Line, 1101 Harden Street: 1990s   12 comments

Posted at 4:25 pm in entertainment,historic,nightclub

When I was growing up, comedy was something distant. You saw it on Ed Sullivan, or The Tonight Show if you got to stay up that late. There were a lot of classic comedy bits I would hear from time to time on WIS. Bill Cosby's "Noah? Build me an ark..... Right!" was a favorite as was a Tim Conway prison-warden routine and Alan Sherman's "Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah". I know there were travelling comedians in the days of Vaudeville and burlesque, but all that was long gone by the 60s and the idea that you could go pay money and go see someone do comedy was kind of alien to me. That was TV stuff.

Then The Punch Line opened in Five Points in this odd little strip mall next to the old Sears building. I'm not now totally sure of it's location in the building, but I think it was in the space now occupied by PT's Caberet.

As always, I'm fuzzy on dates, but I believe The Punch Line started in the mid-80s. I'm pretty sure I was still an impecunious college or grad-student at the time, and then started working in Fayetteville, so in the event, I only ended up going to one show there. It was a total introduction to the format for me: Local guy, feature and finally headliner. I can't remember who I saw, but it was certainly the hardest I'd ever laughed (over an extended period) in my life!

I don't know what happened in the end. It seems to me that Five Points would be a natural for a comedy club, but The Punch Line folded, and the new venue The Comedy House set up shop in a distinctly non-entertainment-district, non-foot-traffic location off of St. Andrews Road (followed by a move to Decker Boulevard -- also a non-entertainment-district non-foot-traffic location). As far as I know, that's currently "it" for regular comedy venues in Columbia. Charleston seems to be a much more fertile area with The Have Nots in their own theater and regular events such as The Charleston Comedy Festival.

UPDATE 25 July 2010: OK, the old Punch Line building at 1101 Harden Street has been demolished. See the link for details.

Written by ted on November 30th, 2008

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12 Responses to 'The Punch Line, 1101 Harden Street: 1990s'

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  1. It seems like nothing past Greene Street, clubwise, can survive in 5 pts. Greenstreets was in there, the Punch Line, there was some other bar at the front. Then sort of next to that building was the 5 pts beach/Gilligans that I thought was cool since you could play volleyball.

    ChiefDanGeorge

    30 Nov 08 at 5:43 pm

  2. I think you're right about the curse of being too far from the heart of Five Points.

    Gilligan's, A.K.A. Ribby's, was a brilliant idea by Tim Peterson, but he could not get people there. He asked me once why the great BBQ joints never seem to sell beer (he did) and I'm still trying to figure that out. You'd think that alone would draw a crowd. Not to mention girls in bikinis playing volleyball on the sand, which he arranged to have happen from time to time.

    The bar at the front of that complex was the Fox & Hare, and was a wildly popular meet market for a few years mostly for folks older than college age. It was also a really nice restaurant for a few years but I cannot remember the name.

    The building sort of across Harden Street at the corner of Pendleton has been many clubs/restaurants etc. aimed at the USC crowd but I guess it's just a little too far to walk from campus. It was one of the incarnations of Rupert's for a long time. Also once was a very weird Jamaican buffet.

    Dennis

    1 Dec 08 at 6:20 am

  3. I used to go to The Publik House, which was in the same building, but on the other side. Maybe where The Firm is/was located. The two things I remember about The Punch Line that no doubt contributed to their demise was, I think I went there ten or so times, and NEVER paid to get in. There were always coupons for up to ten people to get in. The second thing was, you had to "leave" the venue to go to the bathroom. I remember seeing two guys drink several pitchers of Long Island Ice Tea or whatever, then just leave to the bathroom and not return before the bill came.

    Jonathan

    1 Dec 08 at 9:14 am

  4. I remember the Punch Line being on the second floor of the old 5 Points cinema and Greenstreets #2 being in this building.

    Tom

    1 Dec 08 at 10:17 am

  5. Me too Tom. When was the Punch Line here?

    There was a small movie theater in this building too, that showed films you wouldn't see at the big multiplex. I remember seeing "She's Gotta Have It" here before Spike Lee was famous. And they had beer - what a concept!

    Dennis

    1 Dec 08 at 10:24 am

  6. I know it was in there in 1991 or so. Coming in the door, The Punch Line and Greenstreets #2 were side by side.

    Jonathan

    1 Dec 08 at 2:38 pm

  7. I saw Jay Leno at the location over the theater. He could not have sucked enough! LoL - I still want my ten dollars back!

    Kc

    1 Dec 08 at 4:51 pm

  8. The old Ribby's/Gilligans was a fantastci place and was the home fo the Palmetto Parrot Head Club for 6 of our 12 years (we're still going strong)

    Now i notice the outside has been painted garnet and black and there is a building permit on theoutside that has been issued to the Orion Corporation for the purpose of fixing flood damage.

    Is my old hangout about to reopen?

    JOHN JEFFCOAT

    14 Dec 08 at 3:15 pm

  9. Funny you should mention Gilligan's..

    ted

    14 Dec 08 at 11:34 pm

  10. The original Punch Line was above Pug's (the old Five Points theater), where the Stage Door used to be.

    Bobby

    15 Jan 09 at 10:46 am

  11. I wondered what became of the Stage Door. Bacj in 1977 & 78 I spent quite a few friday evening happy hours there. It was fun to sit upstairs but a pain when it was time to visit the restroom.

    PAUL

    15 Jan 09 at 4:56 pm

  12. I saw several bands play at Greenstreet's. I remember my best friend and I saw the Wailers there, and they were awesome. Always hated when the place closed down.

    Blaine

    19 Aug 11 at 4:58 pm

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