The lights are out onstage. Comedian Alex Hooper is powering through the technical glitch. He's dressed in nothing but a cape and Cookie Monster boxers. His scream-filled comedy style has presumably left him red-faced, though the audience can't tell -- it's pitch-black, after all.
A man in lion print dashes back and forth, setting up a side spotlight as a temporary fix. Hooper decides to forego stalling any further, and calls his friend Natisha Anderson to the stage. Upon getting up there, Anderson begins dropping it like it's hot. Over and over again. For a full minute and a half, uninterrupted.
Truth be told, none of this is strange at Crave.
Crave is the brainchild of producer Hooper, who calls the event L.A.'s first and only comedy show/dance party hybrid. To be sure, Crave is quite unlike anything else -- and it's unafraid to wear its weirdness on its sleeve.
"I don't just like to bring people to a show," Hooper said before the most recent event last Friday. "I want to put them into a completely different environment than they're used to, and let them just go nuts and have the best time ever."
Held at a location kept secret from attendees until the day prior, Crave is two hours of comedy followed by a party into the wee hours of the night. The comedians are a collection of Hooper's friends and professional contacts from his work as a stand-up comic, usually with a bigger name thrown in.
The most recent show was the fifth under the Crave label, with the first happening last December. According to Hooper, though, the event evolved from his previous comedy shows.
"A couple of years ago, I started producing comedy shows on the roof of my house in Culver City," Hooper said. "I eventually got arrested in front of my own house for doing this. So I had to switch venues and kinda change my plan on things, and ended up finding a really unique space to throw a party where I can combine the two elements of not only throwing a really great comedy show but have a great after-party as well."
The comedy is hit-and-miss at Crave, just like at any stand-up venue: Some, like Tosh.0-featured comedian Jerrod Carmichael slayed the audience, while others, like Anderson, didn't ever achieve liftoff. One comedian, Rajiv Satyal, even spent half his act bemoaning how poor a job he was doing.
Granted, it's not as intimate as a typical stand-up environment. The setting is akin to what Alice in Wonderland might look like if it were set in a garage. And while some audience members sit in chairs up close, many stand in the back.
As the night went on, the audience grew larger and became more connected with the comedians. The enthusiasm only existed up to a point, though; an attempt to get the audience to surround the stage for the last comedian didn't quite work. The plea, however, was emblematic of Hooper's throw-anything-and-everything-up-there ideology.
This attitude allowed for the previously mentioned man in a lion print outfit to do an aerial acrobatics act in the middle of the show. He hung on rings and swung through the crowd while twirling a hula-hoop on his limbs. Why? Because why not?
That weirdness and sense of spontaneity is Crave's biggest selling point. The comics may be known in the comedy community, but aren't household names -- Carmichael was the de facto headliner for this Crave. The biggest name at a Crave event was Demetri Martin, though he didn't impact buzz or attendance.
But Hooper indicated that lack of big names is a purposeful move. Crave doesn't need them -- the core audience is perfectly happy to stay the course and have a weird, wild time. That's just fine for Hooper, who pushes on in the face of a power outage and anything else that might happen. He's too busy having the time of his life.
The next Crave is Friday, Sept. 6. More info at www.cravecomedy.com
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