Batavia's Comedy Vault brings 'Anchorman' comedian, other top-notch talent to area

Something funny has been going on in downtown Batavia for the past two years, and it's about to get even more amusing in 2023.

Since 2021, The Comedy Vault in Batavia has brought world-class live comedy to the suburbs with a mix of up-and-coming talent and seasoned professional comics.

Owner and cooperator Michael Knuth said this year will have the venue's most robust lineup yet.

"We've got national acts coming out the door. It's fantastic," he said.

The 2023 slate includes "Anchorman" and "The Office" alum David Koechner and "Last Comic Standing" finalist Rachel Feinstein, to name a few. Feinstein will perform Feb. 23-25, while Koechner will perform next month.

The Comedy Vault began as a collaboration between Knuth, who also operates Geneva's EvenFlow Music and Spirits, and business partner Liz Valaitis. They both noticed a void in Kane County's comedy offerings.

"It all happened about right before COVID hit," Knuth said. "Pheasant Run closed, but Zanies [Comedy Club] was in Pheasant Run and Zanies was doing great. I hired some employees [to work in EvenFlow] that worked at Zanies that no longer had a job."

Knuth said that the newly hired employees suggested that the EvenFlow bring on a stand-up comedian before the night's music act.

"I said, 'Why not, let's try it,'" he said. "I figured we were going to get 50, maybe 45 people. We had 310 people at the door. There was so much of a demand for comedy, and there was no supply."

Though the experiment was successful, EvenFlow wasn't ideal for a comedy club, according to Knuth.

"Liz and I, mainly Liz, found a location in downtown Batavia," he said. "It used to be a Chase Bank back in the day."

With the help of outside investors and a grant from the city of Batavia, Knuth and Valaitis renovated the vacant bank into a functional comedy club. The club opened on weekends only in September 2021.

But it wasn't smooth sailing at first due to a water supply issue, which Knuth described as a situation straight out of a sitcom.

"Everything was ready to go, except for the sprinkler system wasn't hooked up, and it had nothing to do with us," Knuth said. "What was really nice is that the fire department allowed us to open as long as we had a fire marshal there, so we literally opened on weekends and had a fire guy with a microphone and everything watching a free show, just in case there was a fire.

"It all worked out though, and shortly after we were cranking away. Just like at EvenFlow, we make sure that we have a business that's designed for the bands to come play. It's an actual theater. We make sure the comedians are taken care of first."

Chicago comedian and past The Comedy Vault performer Vikram Pandya said that the venue is great for both beginners and top-level talent.

"The room is incredible. It's intimate but doesn't feel cramped, and the audience is seated very close to the stage so you can feel a great connection while the show is happening. [The] acoustics are also fantastic," Pandya said. "The suburbs don't have as many smaller, indie-type theaters as [Chicago], so The Comedy Vault is really only competing with smaller bar shows and pop-up shows which are a very different feel. It does feel similar to the Zanies in Rosemont and the Improv in Schaumburg, which are great clubs too."

Knuth said that high-profile comedians, such as former "Mr. Show" cast member Brian Posehn, who came through in early February, will use venues like The Comedy Vault as a testing ground for new material.

"They'll sell out stadiums of 1,000 people plus, but they're using our room of 200 to work out a lot of new jokes," Knuth said.

The Comedy Vault also hosts an open mic night every Wednesday, which has grown popular among aspiring comics and veterans from the suburbs and as far away as Indiana, Knuth said.

"We average about 30 to 35 comedians every single Wednesday," he said. "Sometimes, we'll get close to packing the house on a Wednesday night."

Pandya said that dedicated venues and practice opportunities are an important part of cultivating new talent.

"[The Comedy Vault] hosts an [open] mic every week to watch and book new talent. They are very invested in developing comics from both the city and the burbs," Pandya said. "The suburban scene is much more supportive, given there's less mics, shows [and] comedians, they tend to be tighter knit."

Knuth said that Warrenville comedian Jack Baker, a regular performer, was set to film a 40-minute comedy special on The Comedy Vault stage Sunday.

"The fact that people feel comfortable to do an actual special on our stage with the clientele and comedians, that's the next step," Knuth said.

In addition to comedy shows and open mic nights, The Comedy Vault hosts trivia nights, sketch troupes, kids improv shows, among other events.

"Our focus is to get the national acts, to keep that circle going all year round and just sell out," Knuth said.

For more information, visit

Mike Knuth and Liz Valaitis are co-owners of the Comedy Vault in Batavia. Along with weekly comedians and open mic nights, the venue will welcome nationally known comedians Brian Posehn and Rachel Feinstein next month. Sandy Bressner/Shaw Local News Network
Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.