Once an open mic performer, David Harris returns to Rochester as headliner

The Emmy Award-winning Minnesota comedian used to drive hours just to do 5-minute sets for Rochester audiences.

Minnesota comedian David Harris.

ROCHESTER — A few things have changed since David Harris used to make the trip from the Twin Cities to Rochester to perform in comedy open mics.

For one, the Goonie's comedy club where he would perform has changed locations since then — a few times. Harris has also earned a regional Emmy Award for his comedy.

This weekend, when Harris performs at Goonie's May 5-6 it won’t be for an open mic set. He’ll be the headline act.

More than a decade ago, Harris was finding success at comedy clubs but wanted to try his material on audiences outside his home territory.

“Every room is its own thing and you want to perform in as many rooms as possible to see how things play in different places,” Harris said. “Then you really know what stuff is gold.”


Rochester was a good option even if it meant a late night drive home and spending hours on the road just to perform a five minute set.

“It was such a hot open mic,” he said.

With a new home for Goonie's and a couple of other comedy open mic opportunities, Harris said he’s glad to see Rochester is in a comedic upswing.

That’s the case nationally, he added.

“In general, for comedy, there are more venues to see comedy than there’s ever been,” Harris said.

A robust circuit of places for traveling comedians to perform in a day or two from Minnesota makes for a healthy comedy industry.

For Harris, comedy makes for a healthy outlet.

Talking through insecurities, a splash of childhood weirdness and a sprinkle of sorrows, Harris built his routines over the years.


“Comedy is the only solution aside from therapy to work through these,” he said. “It’s a socially acceptable way to open up publicly.”

Finally, add in an ethnicity that has turned tragedy plus time into humor for generations.

“I’m Jewish, so check that box,” he said.

It can be daunting to open up in front of an audience, but that kind of honesty is where the humor is most relatable to audiences.

“I think the important thing is not to pander,” Harris said. “Ideally, you want to bring the audience to you.”

Harris used to pretend to be a radio DJ out his bedroom window. He learned stage magic to distract him while his parents were going through a divorce. It turns out becoming a relatively successful magician doesn’t bring divorced parents back together, he said.

His persistence and a love for performing blossomed into opportunities. In 2006, Harris won two regional Emmys for his sketch television show, “Nate on Drums,” which aired on Minneapolis television station KSTC.

The shows will also feature North Carolina comedian Sherlonda Sharp. Rochester comedian Grant Hildreth is opening the shows.


If you go

What: David Harris at Goonie's Comedy Club.

When: 7:30 p.m., Friday May 5; Saturday May 6.

Where: Goonie's Comedy Club, 1625 South Broadway Ave.

How much: Tickets are $19 at

John Molseed joined the Post Bulletin in 2018. He covers arts, culture, entertainment, nature and other fun stories he's surprised he gets paid to cover. When he's not writing articles about Southeast Minnesota artists and musicians, he's either picking banjo, brewing beer, biking or looking for other hobbies that begin with the letter "b." Readers can reach John at 507-285-7713 or
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