The ghosts of jubilation haunt the beautiful city of San Francisco. The constructs of entertainment are in a constant state of wax and wane, equilibrium of necessity and demand. Any amount of longevity is commendable; independent durability is nearly unfathomable. Independence hangs precariously on a fiber in the honey hued, fog laden town. It requires juggling a jumble of orbs: consistency, quality, determination, stress, et cetera. Speech Therapy has all the balls in the air, adding globes, setting them on fire, dazzling with ease. Since 2005 the comedy trust has provided enlighteningly fresh showcases in the nooks of the SOMA District. In the nooks of the Speech Therapy machinery is Kiko Briez, the mechanic, engineer and pilot of the comedy mecha.
Kiko Briez grew up in San Francisco on comedy and hip-hop. He promoted the latter in the mid-90s before working with comedy at the Anu Lounge. The focus change came from collaborating with comedian Chris Ayag, Briez’s brother-in-law. Ayag introduced Briez to Tony Sparks, the Godfather of San Francisco comedy. This meeting proved monumental; Sparks is widely considered the Bay Area’s ultimate host, ambassador, talent scout and gateway to the gatekeepers for the last fifteen years. The two quickly jelled into a cohesive unit that continues to characterize Speech Therapy.
Another crucial chemical in the Speech Therapy compound is the boon of Bay Area comedians. A laundry list of figureheads and luminaries are etched in Speech Therapy’s alumni edifice: Chris Garcia, Greg Edwards, Ali Wong, Jabari Davis, Moshe Kasher, Frankie Quiñones and Yayne Abeba just to name a few. Briez creates a haven for the indomitable, strident comedians that have gone on to curate their own big ass shows for the people and their associates.
Speech Therapy shows exude a rhythm; the evenings are high energy, bubbling with anticipation, short and sweet and to the point. It’s a party masquerading as a comedy show; beer swaying in pitchers, leaning lovers pressed closely in booths, bare-chest mermaids immortalized in mortal acrylics, chairs cleared as music gears a good time for good people. Briez orchestrates festive flows for “had to be there moments” like the roasts of Charlie Ballard and Chris Storin, The Comedy Olympics, two over capacity Joey Guila shows, the Bombshell all female showcases, and Tony Sparks’ birthday.
Growing pains are inescapable with any endeavor. The original venue for Speech Therapy, the Anu Lounge on Tuesday nights, proved too difficult to maintain. Within a year the brand bifurcated to include Il Pirata in the Mission; Anu unfortunately collapsed while Il Pirata flourished into Speech Therapy’s homestead. Perched in the pirate’s nest, Briez expanded to Saturday monthly showcases at 7 Mile House, a show defined by its condensed, steaming yet appreciative crowd.
Kiko also services the comedy community artistically. In addition to being a photojournalist, Briez is a self-taught graphic designer. Breiz’s personal touch is felt on all promotional material for Speech Therapy and Jabari Davis and Associates; the result is a glittering trove of funny history, stylistic echoes of the City by the Bay.
Briez understand that the business is not a sprint and has set all his endeavours on a nice pace. In the future Speech Therapy could run weekly showcases and possibly tour but not at the expense of Briez’s greatest accomplishment and priority: his son. Kiko takes great joy in being a father. With everything accomplished, every commitment maintained and the ability to put it all in perspective, it’s no wonder that Kiko Briez is so cool.