Welcome to the Monkey House: An Unusual Venue in Berkeley
April 4, 2017 | Mary Corbin
Looking for an unusual place for entertainment that you haven’t been to yet? Welcome to The Monkey House, Berkeley’s somewhat underground, off-your-radar nightclub. Located on University Avenue – that’s all they’re gonna tell ya as it is part of a private residence – keeps it real and exclusive for in-the-know and serious art loving patrons. The website describes the venue as “an intimate listening room created in the spirit of old Vaudeville.” The space also doubles as a recording studio for local artists and a rental space for private events.
With a variety of, well, variety shows, the Monkey House hosts live music, open mic nights, kids events, storytelling. magic and avant-garde theater performances in an intimate setting. An elevated stage gives way to all manner of entertainment for a small audience – around 65 people – in theater row-style seating of folding chairs, with a couch at the rear.
Situated on street level of a large apartment building, shows typically commence around 7 or 7:30 and conclude around 10 pm, out of respect to the residents, so an outing here can be an “impress your date” night or the appetizer for a bigger night out with friends.
Shows are hosted on Thursday, Friday or Saturday nights, (and sometimes Sundays or weeknights) with a cover charge mostly on a sliding-scale donation basis of $5 – 20. All shows are BYOB with cups and openers provided.
Host and entertainer Ira Marlowe, the heart and soul behind The Monkey House, also offers classes in songwriting.
The website informs us that Marlowe “conducts the UC Berkeley Songwriting Lab and is also songwriter-in-residence for the SF Mime Troupe, the Tony Award-winning political theater ensemble.
His songs have appeared in places as far flung as NPR, the Dr. Demento Show, Reader Rabbit kids’ DVDs, and the Diner Dash video game series. He promotes in an intuitive approach to songwriting, believing that our best creative impulses come from our unconscious mind.”