Sunday, May 19, 2024

Rick Jenkins in his unfinished Comedy Studio space in October. (Photo: Marc Levy)

Unexpected construction costs, post-Covid ventilation requirements and supply-chain issues are delaying the reopening of The Comedy Studio in Harvard Square, which owner Rick Jenkins once hoped to have open for a New Year’s Eve celebration.

The club is running a crowdfunding campaign to close the significant gap of $100,000.

“We want to provide the very best experience for the entertainers and patrons,” Jenkins said. “It turns out that building a top-notch entertainment venue is expensive. We’ve got most of it, like the AV system, lighting and lots of furniture, but everything from post-covid HVAC considerations, materials to supply chain issues have had an enormous impact.”

The Harvard Square Business Association publicized the problems and the crowdfunding campaign Monday in an email to members.

The association was “disheartened” that the return of the legendary club was stalled, said Denise Jillson, its executive director.

As in many crowdfunding campaigns, donations come with rewards, ranging from a Comedy Studio button that comes with $5 in giving up to a private party and show with a $10,000 donation. In between, with awards piling up as donations get bigger, are such things as five minutes of stage time ($50), getting a cocktail named after you ($250) and getting your name on the clubs’ Wall of Fame ($500).

The club began April 14, 1996, when The Comedy Studio name was attached to events that Jenkins began hosting in March 1995. It leased space at Harvard Square’s Hong Kong Restaurant from the mid-1990s through 2017, when the Studio moved to Somerville. It now returns to Harvard Square in a 160-seat venue underground at The Abbot building at 7 John F. Kennedy St.

The Comedy Studio has launched the careers of stars such as Gary Gulman, Sam Jay, Jen Kirkman, Eugene Mirman, Baratunde Thurston and Emma Willmann and been visited by everyone from Ali Wong and Mike Birbiglia to Anthony Jeselnik and Sarah Silverman.

“For more than 25 years, The Comedy Studio has invited comedy’s biggest fans to enjoy emerging talent,” Jenkins said. The mission, he said, was “to support the comedic arts as an intimate and affordable option for anyone who wants to come to see a show.”