Comedian and Mill Valley resident Mark Pitta is a familiar face.
If you didn’t catch him when he was a regular for five years on KTVU’s morning news as the “Man on the Street” reporter, you may have seen him on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson or later with Jay Leno. Or perhaps it was on TV’s Mad About You or when he hosted NBC’s Friday Night Videos… For the last 10 years he’s been packing them in every Tuesday at Mill Valley’s Throckmorton Theater with his fabulous “Mark Pitta & Friends” comedy show.
But then again, maybe you caught Pitta during the early 80’s…when he was just hanging out in Mill Valley eating soup.
Pitta’s MV Hosting Gig Hits 10 Years!
Click to watch KQED’s feature story on Mark Pitta & Friends Tuesday Night Comedy produced by Lori Halloran.
“Back in the early ’80’s, right near the Vogue Cleaners and around the corner from Safeway there was this great soup place with homemade soups,” remembers Pitta, who was just beginning his career as a stand-up comedian at the time.
From The Pitta VHS Archives
Buried away in a collection of his old VHS tapes, Pitta found a video shot inside Mill Valley’s Video Monde store, a clip of some silliness outside Living Foods, and views of downtown Mill Valley extracted from an early ’80s adult film (can you name the picture?)
“It wasn’t like (today’s) Whole Foods where you have to sit right next to where everybody is checking out their groceries at the registers,” he says. He remembers the restaurant was called La Petit. and “It had like 10 soups, all very healthy. If you were sick or cold and you just wanted to sit and have some soup, that’s where you’d go. Sure, everybody had soup on their menus but this was THE Soup Place!”
Pitta has other fond memories of Mill Valley. He once happened upon rock star Grace Slick in line at Safeway in Strawberry as she was buying Diet Root Beer. “I didn’t know her,” he says, “but I said, ‘Diet Root Beer, Grace?’ and
she said, ‘The other stuff tastes like battery acid’ and I said, ‘Speaking of acid…'” He laughs, enjoying his memory of poking a little fun at the 60’s psychedelic icon.
In the early 80’s, Pitta remembers playing at New George’s in San Rafael and The Flat Iron although there weren’t a lot of places in Marin for stand-ups.
While Marin has grown and changed a bit since Pitta’s early days in the 80’s as a struggling comic in Mill Valley, he believes “it’s still a place where you can walk down the street and say ‘hi’ to a stranger and they’ll still say hi back.”
Or maybe join you for a bowl of soup, for old times sake.