It all started with a red curtain. Roommates Matt Lottman and Frank Chad Muniz realized that the front of their Hollywood rental house resembled a stage one morning when Muniz stood in front of their red-draped front window.
"Basically the ball started rolling in our heads," Lottman says, sitting on a couch in their living room. "We thought, 'Hey, we don't get to go to open mics because of our work hours and whatnot, but why don't we bring the open mic to us.' "
Lottman and Muniz created a monthly show, aptly named Comedy Living Room, that is part Pee-wee's Playhouse, part Saturday Night Live and part stand-up comedy, with a house-party vibe.
Admitted comedy junkies, the roommates originally bonded over their love of humor after connecting on Craigslist. Lottman had responded to an ad for an open room, and the two quickly became friends.
The first show, held in October, was a small gathering meant to provide performance space for those who wanted to try out new material. "There were 25 people in the audience total, and we knew every single person there," Lottman says.
Now, as the hosts prepare for their sixth show on March 19, they are finding it hard to accommodate the growing crowd that shows up each month for free laughs and free booze. When attendance doubled, the duo set up a screen with speakers in the kitchen. Last month, 120 people showed up. For the next show, they are considering speakers in the backyard to serve those who won't be able get in.
Comedy Living Room has transformed into a venue for up-and-coming comedians. Past performers include You Made It Weird podcast host Pete Holmes, who will host a companion show to Conan on TBS next fall; Brent Morin, set to co-star in the new pilot Undateable; and Jerrod Carmichael, named one of "10 Comics to Watch" by Backstage.com.
Carmichael, who first performed at the December show, helped take it to the next level. "Jerrod ended up loving the show, and he has become sort of a champion for us within the stand-up community," Muniz says.
Word spread in comedy circles, mostly because Lottman and Muniz created a show where comedians are free to experiment. The two write and perform a sketch that opens each show, and then the guest comedians have free rein to do whatever they want afterward.
Each show has 10 limited-edition posters designed by the pair's friends -- Michael Gartsman, a graphic designer based in Colorado, and Bryan Wolfson, an L.A. artist -- which are signed and sold. This helps generate funds beyond the donations from attendees, which are then invested into the next show.
Another roommate, deejay Mark Kill, provides the music, and another has been responsible for getting a food truck to come by.
As Lottman and Muniz plan their March 19 event, they are grappling with how to keep the show in a living room. They have considered developing a festival-like setting, with multiple acts in various areas of the house and yard. They also thought about having an RSVP list, or even broadcasting the show online.
But for the time being, Lottman says, "We just want to maintain the quality, and hopefully the crowds continue to come."
Comedy Living Room is at 737 N. Cherokee Ave., Hlywd. The next show is Tuesday, March 19; doors 8:15 p.m., show 9 p.m. For more info visit comedylivingroom.tumblr.com or find Comedy Living Room on Facebook.
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