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From 'The Tonight Show' to the Comedy Cellar, Pete Lee is still an Acme comedian first

Pete Lee

Pete Lee Image courtesy the standup

When Pete Lee got up at Acme’s open mic night 21 years ago, he probably wouldn’t have guessed that someday he would be on a first-name basis with Jimmy Fallon. Or that he would be a regular fixture in the biggest comedy clubs in New York and Los Angeles. Or that he would be able to come back and headline Acme for an entire week.

Pete Lee

Acme Comedy Co.
$15-$18

What he may have expected was to be sleeping on an air mattress in his 40s. And he would have been correct.

“The last time I was on The Tonight Show was back in December, and I had already packed up everything in my apartment to move out from New York to Los Angeles,” he laughs. “So the night before the show I slept on an air mattress in my empty apartment. I only had an air mattress and my suit hanging up on the other side of the room.”

Crashpad aside, Lee absolutely crushed it that night, as he did his three prior Tonight Show performances. Now a full-time resident of L.A., Lee is back to the place where he got his start this week, headlining Tuesday through Saturday at Acme.

“I did my very first set at Acme, and being able to come back and get to be a part of the club is really special to me,” he says.

While he left New York to head out West, Lee has been flying back regularly as a part of Comedy Central’s This Week at the Comedy Cellar. Set in the world-famous Comedy Cellar comedy club, where he has been a regular fixture for the past several years, the show features some of the best comics talking about whatever happens to be going on in the world that week.

But in his heart, Lee is still a Midwest guy. His likeability, humility and cheery disposition have made him a hit in clubs and colleges all over the country, and are the reason why he just celebrated more than two decades as a comedian.

When he isn’t busy taping his Comedy Central show, hanging with The Roots, and gracing stages all over the country, Lee has been busy meeting with networks and fancy Hollywood-types, so chances are you’ll be seeing a lot more of him in your own living room very soon (let’s be real – you’ll probably be watching him on your phone in the bathroom). But his rising star hasn’t dimmed his feelings towards his forever home club.

“Acme has always been a special place to me. Louis [Lee, Acme owner – no relation] has been such a mentor and in some ways like a father figure. Plus I have so many great friends there, and getting to work with the newer comics is so much fun. A Tuesday night show at Acme is like a Saturday night show anywhere else, and I’m just really happy and really grateful to perform there.”

IF YOU GO:

Pete Lee
Acme Comedy Co.
8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays; 10:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays
$15-$18