The Media School

Jared Thompson, from high school sports editor to Comedy Attic owner

April 1st, 2021 by
Photograph by Noah Gastineau

Jared Thompson wanted to be a sportswriter when he was a child. The future had a different idea as he would become the owner and founder of the Comedy Attic, which would become a well-known stand-up comedy place in the nation.

People have passions and sometimes figure out what they want to do at a young age. Jared Thompson is one of those types of people. At a young age he wanted to be a sportswriter and enjoyed writing.

“My biggest passion was probably writing growing up,” he said. “I was the sports editor of my high school paper for all four years.”

Sometimes those passions may not always happen, and life can take you a different direction. Thompson does not write about Indiana University basketball or football but instead is the owner of The Comedy Attic in Bloomington.

Thompson was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan on June 27, 1977. Soon after he was born, his family moved to Goshen until he was in the second grade. They moved to North Carolina and he would then graduate from Manteo High School in 1995.

As a child he did not think of being an owner of a business. In fact, it was something very different then owning a business.

“I wanted to be a baseball player, or later a sportswriter, which I was briefly,” he said.

He thought of himself as more of a casual fan of comedy, not the type of fan who would later own a stand-up comedy business.

“I remember watching ‘Two Drink Minimum’ and ‘An Evening at The Improv’ as a kid,” he said. “Judy Gold was my favorite, and she’s been to The Comedy Attic a couple times, which is cool. But I didn’t really know a lot about modern comedy when we first opened.”

Photograph by Noah Gastineau

Jared Thompson is always working hard to make sure everything goes well, whether it is for an open mic night or a big-name stand-up comedian performing. He cares about everyone that comes into the building and wants to offer the best time possible.

In April 2008, Thompson worked as retail sales manager for Insight, a cable operator and provider, which Comcast soon bought out. They wanted to keep him on as a retail sales manager, but he was going to have to work at an office in Fishers. He did not want to do that and looked for a new career in life.

“I didn’t want to move,” he said. “I didn’t want to drive. My wife and I moved [to Bloomington] in 2003 and she was in grad school at IU, and the timing of it was really bad. And we decided we wanted to open our own business.”

Thompson and his wife Dayna had a five-minute conversation on what to open ─ a coffee shop, bookstore, or comedy place.

“When I say five minutes, literally this call has lasted longer than that conversation,” he said.

They chose comedy and ran with the decision, even though they knew it would be difficult to start out in a city like Bloomington.

“Bloomington is a very weird place when it comes to new businesses,” he said. “It either spreads like wildfire, and it’s packed, and you can’t get in, and it has lines because of the word of mouth spread. Or it can be the complete opposite and be a slow burn.”

“I didn’t really know a lot about modern comedy when we first opened.” – Jared Thompson, owner and founder, Comedy Attic

Thompson is passionate about The Comedy Attic because it became a premier comedy club in the nation. His employees Hunter Duncan and Madeline Yandt know Thompson well as a businessman and person.

“He’s very passionate, very opinionated which is a benefit and sometimes a fault,” Duncan said. “I love him like family. I would die for him but sometimes I do [want] to bash his head into a concrete wall.”

Yandt said Thompson also made sure to welcome of all kinds of people to his life and the business as well.

“The Comedy Attic has really done not only amazing things for Bloomington but for the comedy scene as well,” she said. “He has set a really nice precipice of respecting the art of comedy and about bringing inclusivity to a male dominated field.”

Thompson’s business started out as one of those slow burns before it soon spread into the wildfire that The Comedy Attic is today in Bloomington.

“There is a heartbeat to it,” Thompson said. “People are just endured to the things we do here.”