A comedy institution faces serious financial challenges, and as a result, the owner is auctioning off thousands of memorabilia that tell the story of comedy.
The Sanctuary of Comedylocated in Aurora’s Fox Valley Mall, seating nearly 600 people, and an adjacent museum houses thousands of comic memorabilia and collectibles that pay homage to the history of comedy.
Owner David Sinker says he started collecting a quarter century ago.
“It started in my home office,” he said. “I jokingly started collecting comedy memorabilia. I jokingly called my office my ‘comedy sanctuary’.
The 14,000 square foot site was the Comedy Shrine’s third home. Sinker says he secured a loan from the Small Business Administration to expand the venue in 2019, with a pandemic-delayed opening set to take place in May 2021.
It was forced to close earlier this year after it said its bank held an investor’s checks for more than two weeks. The financial difficulties had immediate consequences.
“Our actors are gone, our staff are gone. It was just after the pandemic and people needed money. I completely understand that,” he said.
Now, even though he hasn’t missed any loan repayments, he says the bank is forcing him to repay the entire loan.
“I messaged the city of Aurora, the mayor’s office, (asking) ‘is there anything you can do to help?’ I never heard from anyone from the mayor’s office,” he said.
Sinker also reached out to his congressman with no response. As a result, he auctions off all of his memorabilia so he can repay the loan.
Some elements date back to the 1920s, and he says they help tell the story of comedic performance.
The first auction meet live on Saturday.