|Illustrations by Joe Fournier|
So, it’s the laughter we’ll remember. If we remember.
For this roundup of reliable, regular comedy nights with performers who are fresh and funny, we’ve brought along a sidekick — an Ed McMahon to our Johnny. So please give a warm welcome to Andrew Solmssen, comic-around-town, standup superfan and former impresario of the beloved nest of funny at Lulu’s Beehive, where he booked Maria Bamford, Brett Butler, Patton Oswalt, Sarah Silverman, Brian Posehn, Greg Behrendt, Paul F. Tompkins, Mary Lynn Rajskub and Julia Sweeney. You’ve no doubt seen him if you’ve been to any of the following:
The show: Comedy Death Ray, with a bunch of hotshots and others demanding your reservation. Scott Aukerman started the show as a reaction to Largo’s “same people every week.”
Where/when: M Bar, 1253 N. Vine St., Hlywd. (323) 856-0036; every Tues., 9 p.m.
Sez Andrew: “The best comics working today.”
Parking stress factor: High! Small lot fills up early. Pollo Loco tows. No valet on Tues., so get there early or expect to drive around the streets a lot.
Best-case scenario: David Cross doing a surprise 20-minute set dressed as a rabbi. Possible appearances by Bob Odenkirk, Sarah Silverman, Patton Oswalt, Louis C.K., Kevin Nealon. Booker Aukerman always includes up-and-comers he’s excited about: Paul Rust, Morgan Murphy, Ian Edward, Dan Mintz. Theme shows like the Sci-Fi Fantasy Pageant and Doug Benson’s Interruption.
Worst-case scenario: Aukerman: “Anyone can bomb. And the lock to the men’s bathroom doesn’t work.”
The show: Jon Lovitz’s Wednesday residency
Where/when: The Laugh Factory, 8001 Sunset Blvd., W. Hlywd. (323) 656-1336; every Wed., 8 p.m.
Cost: $15 plus two-drink minimum = $500.
Parking stress factor: High. This is the Sunset Strip.
Best-case scenario: Famous comic actor gets loose, sometimes nasty. And he still has that way of looking at you like you’re the crazy one.
Worst-case scenario: He doesn’t show up. He sometimes has to leave town to shoot a movie — he’s out this Wednesday, for instance (but he’s back on the 22nd). Other than that? None. He’s Jon Lovitz, and you’re going to laugh.
The show: Largo’s Monday Night Comedy Night rotates standup (with people like Patton Oswalt, Sarah Silverman, Mary Lynn Rajskub); Greg Proops’ Chat Show; The Paul F. Tompkins Show.
Where/when: Largo, 432 N. Fairfax Ave. (323) 852-1073; every Mon., 9 p.m.
Sez Andrew: “Monday is my Medium night, so it’s nothing but me, the cats and Patricia Arquette.
Parking stress factor: High. You can usually park in the city lot off Fairfax and Willoughby.
Best-case scenario: You won’t go away disappointed. Largo deserves
its reputation for high-quality comedy that forgets to insult the audience.
Worst-case scenario: Getting stuck in front of the kitchen entrance with lousy view of the stage while harried waitresses push past you.
The Show: The Just Slightly Better Than a Gun in Your Mouth Show open-mike comedy. Comedy open mikes are only for fans who like to live on the comedy edge; recommending a comedy open mike is like recommending the surprise platter at IHOP — chances are you’ll be sorry. But Andrew swears that the caliber of talent does not disappoint. Open-mike nights usually mean a roomful of performers waiting for their spot onstage, so why would we send you to one? Because Andrew says it’s the best, and he’s logged more hours on wooden chairs in comedy clubs, coffeehouses and backrooms than any other human ever. You won’t see any “road acts,” the tight five or 10 minutes a comic performs on Leno, but there is a chance to hear some established names work out edgy new material, and to get a look at talented newcomers.
Where/when: Noura Café, 8479 Melrose Ave. (323) 651-4581; every Fri., 6-9 p.m.
Cost: Free; buy some Middle Eastern food if you want.
Sez Andrew: “I’ve seen more great sets here by people I’ve never seen before than I thought possible. It’s a comic’s-eye view of comedy; the angels of our better nature duking it out with the devils of cheap, easy laughs. A small, intimate room creates a generally supportive vibe that will turn frosty in a heartbeat if you cross the line into hack. Host Dan Bialek keeps the fun moving and sets a nice tone for the show up front with his fast-talking self-deprecation.”
Parking stress factor: Low; street parking always available on Melrose or La Cienega if you don’t mind walking a block or two.
Best-case scenario: Chip Pope, Laura Kilmartin, Natasha Leggero. Also, it’s early, so you still have plenty of time to party with Ashton and Paris at the clubs afterward.
Worst-case scenario: “A wide assortment of definitely unstable and possibly clinically diagnosed behavior. It’s an open mike, remember?” reminds Andrew.
The show: Vance Sanders hosts The Open Mike of Love.
Where/when: The Westwood Brewing Company, 1097 Glendon Ave., Westwood. (310) 209-2739; every Tues., 8 p.m.
Sez Andrew: The Open Mike of Love is a Los Angeles institution, half standup, half group therapy, and the place I think of as my comedy birthplace.
Parking stress factor: Low; lots of pay lots.
Best-case scenario: “If we had an actual audience member, first we’d make them uncomfortable by asking them why they were there, make fun of their answer and then try really hard to make them love us with our humorous insights into life and failure,” says host Vance Sanders. Adds Andrew, “Vance Sanders, Carol Ann Leif, Lesley Tsina and Manuel Gallegos making you laugh.”
Worst-case scenario: “It’s an open mike, remember?” warns Andrew.
The show: A Day in the Life at ACME Comedy Theater. The cast includes Wil Wheaton (he’s out for the next few weeks, though), Margaret Easley, Laura House, Annie Sertich, Kurt Scholler, Julie Wittner and others.
Where/when: ACME Comedy Theater, 135 N. La Brea Ave., Hlywd. No booze. All ages. (323) 525-0202; every Sat., 8 p.m.
Parking stress factor: High; spring the $5 for the valet. Come early for a cocktail at Amalfi restaurant downstairs (no booze allowed in the theater).
Best-case scenario: Highlights include Sertich’s nerdy song tribute to Footloose and House’s monologue to Starbucks’ new chocolate drink, Chantico (“It’s like a chocolate nosebleed!”).
Worst-case scenario: A bomb threat closes down this stretch of La Brea, and the show is canceled.
The show: The Lampshades, followed by long-form improv by Beer Shark Mice at 9 p.m.
Where/when: Improv Olympic West, 6366 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd. (323) 962-7560; every Sat., 8 p.m.
Best-case scenario: The Lampshades, the duo of Kate Flannery and Scot Robinson, have been spoofing lounge acts for years, so they better be good — and they are a hoot and a half. And Beer Shark Mice — Mike Coleman, Pat Finn, Neil Flynn, Pete Hulne and David Koechner — do zany improv; you won’t get the same show twice.
Worst-case scenario: Remember, it’s zany improv; you won’t get the same show twice.
The show: J. Keith van Straaten’s What’s My Line? Mr. van Straaten, in his crisp suit, hosts this respectful restaging of the popular ’60s game show. A celebrity panel — recently Marty Ingels, April Winchell, Jack Riley, Debra Wilson — tries to guess the occupation of regular folks.
Where/when: ACME Comedy Theater, 135 N. La Brea Ave., Hlywd. No booze. All ages. (323) 525-0202; every Wed., 8 p.m.
Parking stress factor: High — fork over the $5 for the valet.
Best-case scenario: Surprise mystery guests like Dick Van Patten, Sean Young, Andy Dick.
Worst-case scenario: Absolutely none; the show flies by, and the
theater’s cool and comfortable. Take your out-of-town guests — this should be
an L.A. institution.