By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
If he were actually planning to accomplish that particularly ridiculous feat, he could not have chosen a better place to warm up. The Wednesday-night comedy showcase at various Lucy's Laundrymarts -- supposedly inspired by similar laughs-and-suds showcases at San Francisco's laundry/coffeehouse Brainwash -- might be the toughest gig in comicdom. It's the ideal place to try out new material away from the eyes of agents.
But what a scene it is, right out of Lenny Bruce's worst dope-kick nightmares -- with a bunch of lawn chairs facing the lavatory and a Subway sandwich shop next door. Not to mention the fact that, minus the comics and their immediate pals, there is nothing but a completely indifferent audience. They're either engrossed in the finer points of wash and fold, chasing their errant kids about, or watching the news on wall-mounted TV monitors -- in Spanish, no less. "I get them to turn off the TV sound and also the 'Hits of the '80s' radio while the comics are on," says MC and organizer Christy Murphy, herself a standup who's played all over Los Angeles. "But they do draw the lines at Lakers games, of course."
Murphy books 10 to 12 comics a night to do seven to 10 minutes of material from 8 to 9:30 p.m. "Generally, about seven show up, and then three others just come by and sign up," she says. Some decent-sized names have tried out new bits here, including the terrific Maria Banfield, who has done The Tonight Showfour times and has starred in her own Comedy Channel special (and, according to Murphy, is still doing temp work -- standup isn't a lucrative career choice).
"The only rule is no swearing. This is a family place," Murphy says. Can anyone who wants get up and have a blow? "Sure, as long as they don't curse. Hell, this is L.A. -- the only requirement for standup here is a lack of shame."
To open the show, Murphy strides to the mic and tells a few failed-relationship jokes over the rumble of washers and dryers as a trio of little boys plays Pokémon right in front of her and a mother struggles to remove an infant from his stroller.
Jeremy Kramer, who used to work San Francisco joints with Robin Williams, takes the stage next. Attired head to toe in New York Yankee regalia, he seems spooked by the endless stream of bathroom users behind him and the Pokémon lads in front of him. He riffs on a gentleman folding his pants (who either pointedly refuses to be drawn into the gag or can't speak English) and then runs down a bit about the "women of Enron." But he gets nothing from this crowd. Nil, zip, zilch, nada.
Fulcher, who somewhat resembles Michael Gross' character in Family Ties and is a newspaper writer and beat reporter for the Hermosa Beach Easy Reader, does a lot better. His self-deprecating patter is funny and outright scabrous, touching on everything from America's Most Wanted host John Walsh to abortion clinics.
Rebecca Knight's bits include a look back at her days in a seminary, her size (she's 6 feet-plus and jokes that it's great she can be seen above the laundry carts) and a hilarious bit about a Hollywood diet that claims one can lose 10 pounds in a weekend. "What does that mean, that they cut off one of your legs?" she asks. "Great, now I can marry Paul McCartney!"
Meanwhile, during the balance of the routines, a panhandler, fresh off Sunset, works the meager audience to no avail. Disgusted and empty-handed, he shuffles off, muttering, "Starving comedians. Ahh, fuck 'em."