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Laugh Factory's Dot Comedy: Can the Stodgy Venue Draw an Alt-Comedy Crowd?

Pete Holmes
Pete Holmes

It's an unusual but exciting time for the L.A. comedy scene. For the most part the Big Three Hollywood clubs (The Comedy Store, The Laugh Factory and The Improv) continue chugging along with more traditional shows and mainstream audiences, while younger, subjectively hipper, and more "alternative" talent and fans are increasingly found crowding Meltdown Comics's backroom Nerdist Theater, at bar shows like Monday-night staple What's Up, Tiger Lily? or trading cash donations for complimentary beer at any number of Theater Row black boxes.

Enter Dot Comedy. The Wednesday-night Laugh Factory show is the brainchild of Doron Lion, the new VP of Operations who landed the gig after his wife fortuitously shared a flight with owner Jamie Masada. At just two months old Dot Comedy has already found its footing and featured the smart, savvy likes of Marc Maron, Maria Bamford, Duncan Trussell, Jen Kirkman, TJ Miller, Moshe Kasher, Morgan Murphy, Joe Mande, Ari Shaffir and Nick Kroll, most of whom wouldn't normally be found treading the Laugh Factory stage.

Though some might try to accuse Lion of jumping aboard a bandwagon or bogart the talent pool (just nine blocks east and an hour and a half earlier Kumail Nanjiani and Jonah Ray's white-hot The Meltdown show packs 'em in on a weekly basis), there's a much bigger picture to consider here.

"We didn't develop the show to compete with any other shows, but rather we developed it in recognition of the existence of an audience that wants a particular brand of comedy, whether you call that 'comedy nerds' or just young, hip, comedy-loving 'human beings,'" Lion explains. "We also developed it in recognition of the fact that there are many amazing comics out there that deserve an opportunity to perform on our stage. We're reaching out through this show and saying, 'Yes! You are amazing comics. We want you here. You belong here. This is your club, too. Let's do something great together!'"

Chelsea Peretti
Chelsea Peretti

Even over the holidays, Dec. 28's overflowing edition included such highlights as baby-faced absurdist goofball Pete Holmes assuming hosting duties and admitting, "There are millions of alternative universes, each slightly different from the others, and this is the only one where I'm not a youth pastor," and Parks and Recreation writer and fatalistic conversationalist Chelsea Peretti's deconstruction of social interactions, family ties and subversive, "anti-period material" period material.

Nanjiani even made it over post-Meltdown to recall an increasingly outlandish standoff with a cat that kept trying to get inside Kumail's new apartment after its previous owner abandoned it outside, the unfortunate feline finally resorting to dressing as a "Meowmino's" delivery man complete with tiny pizza and shirt (but no pants).

Overall the show is a much-needed initiative, one of several Lion is planning for the 33-year-old club. "I think the big win is for the LA comedy community as a whole," he says, "people that now have one more place that they may find the sort of lineups that they find exciting and will come out of their way for on a weeknight... From the big comedy clubs to the hip alternative venues, we're all in this together. We're all building off of one another. We're all part of the same comedy community. More and more people are coming to find that one of the greatest forms of entertainment is live comedy. Dot Comedy and other shows like it are proving that point. It's a beautiful thing to see the art form spreading."

Kumail Nanjiani
Kumail Nanjiani

Dot Comedy is every second, third and fourth Wednesday at The Laugh Factory, 8001 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, 10 p.m. (323) 656-1336, laughfactory.com. Tonight's lineup includes David Deery, Chris D'Elia, Andrew Santino, Adam Ray and Kyle Kinane.

Follow @LAWeeklyArts on Twitter.

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