In the basement of the Garrison House in Brookline Village, Matt Shore and Tyler Durniak have their backpacks placed on the small stage. The room is lit ambiently, a red neon sign reading “Social Club” behind a microphone stand, laptop and a music synthesizer atop an ironing board.
It’s a Sunday night, and doors to Bad Intersection Comedy, Brookline’s only regular comedy show, open at 6 p.m.
Shore and Durniak created Bad Intersection in September 2022, after meeting at an Allston open mic night. A few years in, they’re developing a groove and cultivating a strong community around stand up in Brookline with the show, which is free to attend. Their Instagram account advertises events as “Comedy Shows That Are Fun And Nice.”
“One of the things that Tyler and I love about our show is after the show, audience members will come up and say ‘Hey, this was really great. I live right down the street and I didn’t know this was here,’” Shore said. “We do our show on Sunday nights, which is a weird time to do shows, so people enjoy having that local spot to go walk to.”
At the Nov. 5 show, veteran comics who have been in the Boston scene for over a decade share a drink with new comics a year into the game. Pairs or friends or couples fill the tables and the bar that sandwich the stage — some of them are Bad Intersection regulars, and some of them had never seen a comedy show before.
According to Angela Sawyer, who has been a working comic in the Boston area for over a decade, Bad Intersection is “easily in the top five” comedy shows in the Boston area at the moment.
“It’s a magic trick, but they put together a roomful of people who have enough in common that you feel like you can talk about whatever you really want,” Sawyer said. “I don’t have to reach really hard to get people in this room because Matt and Tyler are nice people and nice people like to hang out with them. It’s a fun room to come to.”
Shore and Durniak are intentional about that room they put together — Durniak said they aimed to put together “a more diverse show than you usually see in the Boston area.”
That mission is at the core of their work. Comics of various backgrounds, stylings and levels of experience form their lineup each week.
“In the [comedy] scene, the diversity of performers and voices is coming along, and we’re not the ones that are making it come along, but we try to do what we can to help out,” Durniak said.
While the show takes place at the Garrison House every week, it has a different lineup of comics, making each show unique. Bad Intersection has some “regulars” who come back week after week, and Shore and Durniak have formed a relationship with many of them.
Shore and Durniak first bonded over their shared love of that art at an open mic at Allston’s Wonder Bar before the pandemic. Shore, who specializes in Bo Burnham-esque musical comedy, was having some technical difficulties. He couldn’t hook up to the bar’s “ancient” sound system, and just when he was about to “leave and take the L,” as he put it, Durniak stepped in.
Durniak got the whole room clapping in lieu of Shore’s music, and Shore, who was brand new to comedy at the time, “short circuited,” and started to panic-rap a few bars of an Eminem song.
“It devolved into gibberish and I just left the most humiliated I’ve ever been,” Shore said.
“Yeah, I may have oversold it when I said I helped,” Durniak replied.
After that, the two kept in touch, bonding over video games like Jackbox throughout the pandemic. When the world started to open back up, comedy venues — including Wonder Bar — didn’t. Rather than complain about getting booked less often, the two started Bad Intersection.
“There are a lot of different comedy shows in the greater Boston area,” Shore said. “But Brookline didn’t really have that.”
Durniak lives a short walk from the venue, and Shore a few stops away on the Green Line, so the restaurant works well for them logistically, and also fills a void in Brookline, Shore said.
While the pair jest their ultimate goal is a four-story yacht, what they pride themselves most on is creating a space where comedy can bring people together.
“Sometimes comedy can be not the greatest place for everyone,” Shore said. “If you’re not a straight white guy, it can be kind of a combative space. We feel really proud for the privilege to be able to provide that space where it’s fun for everyone.”