The historic Ritz Theater at 320 East Sixth Street will soon host a comedy club linked to recently controversial podcast host and new Austin resident Joe Rogan, according to a number of local property filings and an application to the city’s Historic Landmark Commission. A permit seeking to install new signage at the front of the building is listed on the consent agenda of the commission’s upcoming February 28 meeting, with backup documents for the renovation item using the name Comedy Mothership. Three potential options for the club’s new sign are included:
Previous reports indicated that Rogan planned to open a comedy club in West Austin, but his acquisition of the One World Theatre eventually fell through, with East Sixth Street mentioned last year as a new potential location for the club. The Ritz property was purchased from previous owners Craddock Properties in November 2021 by Asylum Real Estate Holdings, a company managed by Rogan’s representative Matthew Lichtenberg of Level Four Business Management in Los Angeles. Lichtenberg, along with Rogan and his wife Jessica, is also the director of a recently-incorporated entity known as the Rogan Family Foundation, Inc.
The building, opened in 1929 with a design from Austin architect Hugo Kuehne, has a long history of use as both a standard and adult film theater, along with short stints as a music venue and punk rock club in the 1970s and ’80s — there’s also comedy history here, with the theater briefly hosting famed local troupe Esther’s Follies. The building was previously home to the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz from 2007 until its closure last year.
The application to the landmark commission — which, due to its presence on the consent agenda, is likely to pass without significant discussion — plans to remove the former Alamo signage and install the club’s Comedy Mothership branding, along with modifications to the door and window pattern of the western facade that will restore the building to its original appearance based on historic photos. The club will add a new canopy to the existing frame over the sidewalk, replace the tile at the entrance, and install a roll-down gate to prevent after-hours access to the club’s vestibule.
Though these documents paint a clear picture of this property’s new connection with Rogan and its future as a comedy club, further details including a timeline for renovations or an opening date for the business remains unknown. Still, the transformation of this historic property in the heart of downtown would represent an extremely visible sign of Austin’s newfound status as a hotspot for celebrity relocation.