Comedian Emily Catalano had liked the Richmond District. It was her living space that was the issue. 

 “I lived in a garage with no windows. I slept, like, right next to my car. There was a wall, but it was just a weird living situation. The house was cool, but my room had no light.” 

The upside? The room was cheap—at least by San Francisco rent standards.  

Catalano has since removed herself from that not-so-great dwelling, moving out and on, specifically to Los Angeles. She’s coming back to San Francisco on Sept. 11-12, though, to headline two Punch Line shows and record a live album. 

“I’m really excited about these shows; one is already sold out. … It just doesn’t seem real, you know? I feel really grateful, and I think it’s going to be a really special time,” she says. 

Comic Emily Catalano grew up in the South Bay. (Courtesy Andrew Delman)

Catalano, who was born in San Jose, grew up in Santa Cruz and then spent a couple of years in the Bay Area, says a breakup inspired her to perform comedy: “My story is just kind of like the classic tale of, I got dumped and I just felt like I didn’t have anything to lose. So I was like, ‘F— it. I’m just going to try this thing I’ve wanted to try.’” 

After breaking up with her at-the-time husband, Catalano moved back in with her parents. It was a rough time in general, but focusing on an interest and talent helped her get through it. 

“I’ve always been a writer; I liked writing. So I had these jokes, and there’s only really one place to try your jokes: You have to go to an open mic. So I went to an open mic,” she says.  

That first time onstage in a comedy lineup turned out to be a learning experience. 

“All my jokes bombed, except for one. But that kind of taught me everything I needed to know about the next time I did it. So then next time, I was a little bit better, and then I just never stopped,” said Catalano.  

In 2019, Catalano made her late-night debut on Late Night with Conan O’Brien.  

About the experience, she says, “I was really grateful for that opportunity. And it was right before COVID, so I felt like I kind of got in there at the right time. It was just a few months before they shut down, so it was kind of lucky.”

Since that appearance, Catalano has accumulated a strong social media following on her YouTube channel. She’s performed on the Drew Barrymore Show and has opened for comedians such as Tig Notaro, Michelle Wolf, Reggie Watts and Sarah Silverman.  

She’s also a veteran performer at Bay Area festivals like SF Sketchfest and local venues including Cobb’s and the Punch Line.  

Her upcoming shows, then, are a return to old stomping—or comedy—grounds. 

“When you do comedy in the Bay, that’s kind of your No. 1 priority—to get shows at Punch Line. It’s my favorite place to perform really in the world just because when you start comedy in the Bay, it has all this hype … and it really lives up to the hype. It’s such a great venue to do comedy and to watch comedy.” 

It’s the perfect place to record her first live album.  

“I’m excited [I’ll get] to have a physical copy of the jokes that I’ve written over these seven or eight years—jokes I really love,” she says. 

Audiences at Catalano’s upcoming shows surely are looking forward to being a part of the recording, ready to contribute laughs and applause. 

Catalano has heard from a lot of people she met when she started doing standup in the Bay Area—folks who plan to attend on Sept. 11 or 12. 

 “I got a message [recently] from someone who saw me at a show in Oakland who was like, ‘I’m coming to your album recording.’ So that’s really cool. I think it’ll be a good mix of people who knew me from the start and maybe people who just found me on social media … and childhood friends,” she says.  

Will her set include a mention of the Bay Area, San Francisco or that brief stint living in a Richmond neighborhood garage? 

“You’ll have to come to find out. I can’t give away my jokes right now,” she says, playfully. 

 Emily Catalano appears at 8 p.m. Sept. 11-12 at the Punch Line, 444 Battery St., San Francisco. The Sept. 12 show is sold out. Tickets are $22.50 plus fees at