What’s Your F#@$ing Deal at The Village Underground

As much as I love getting to see a “normal” show with a great lineup and lots of structure, there are certain shows - or even just moments in a show - that make me fall in love with a scene, venue or performer.  They’re the messy, adventurous moments where everyone gets to see a little peek behind the curtain. And that’s exactly what What’s Your F#@king Deal delivered.

Billed as an all-crowdwork show, hosted by the East Coast’s crowdwork champ, Big Jay Oakerson, at times it veered into straight material, a group roast, and just a weird kind of group chat. It was beautiful.

Jay started off the show with some in-the-crowd assistance from Ardie Fuqua. Ardie (and his reportedly gigantic penis) really became the unbilled star of the show by the end. But at that point, he provided a nice banter partner for Jay and eyes on the ground in the dark showroom. The obvious targets - the guy in the lime green short in the front row, the guy with a fauxhawk in the front row, the only table with any black people in the entire show - all got a little bit of attention.

Then Keith Robinson came up like the drunk uncle of the proceedings. He talked to those same folks, to a maybe-lesbian, went into some written material, then opened the door to the ensuing roasty pileup by calling out Ardie’s white girl preferences. So, when Luis Gomez went up, he went right into Keith, saying “I’ll stand up here and bomb for ten minutes before I pull a Keith Robinson [and do written material]” Keith got on the second mic and swung back. Then Luis started telling tales from Jay’s past and Jay took on mic to defend himself and there was pretty much always a phantom voice giving the guy onstage some kind of shit.

I asked one of the tourists who were seated at our table if it was too inside baseball and they said, “No, I can follow all the jokes.  You can tell these guys all know each other really well, but it’s not like they’re talking about things we can’t all catch on about.”

Jay and Ardie kept up their banter in between the sets and at this point brought the first of many audience members onstage - A drunk young Indian lady celebrating her birthday. Ardie and Jay took turns making surprisingly accurate (and, of course, funny) guesses about her life.

Bonnie McFarlane was up next and came right out with, “Is this supposed to be a crowdwork show or minority shenanigans?” She zeroed in on a guy and threw out “I can’t tell, are you a wigger or mentally challenged.. because I often make that mistake?” He claimed he was an aspiring rapper and wormed his way up onstage to battle Bonnie, at which point he chickened out and admitted he’d just made that up.

Attell went up next and was unsurprisingly great (SHUT UP, JAY). And then Dan Soder capped off the evening with a tag team set with Jay that was just one long, rolling bunch of hysterical laughter. I honestly can’t remember what they were saying, besides that it was mostly about dicks, because it was just that non-stop laughter that doesn’t give you even a second to file things away into your memory.. or really even breathe.

As if that weren’t enough, I stuck around for the Legion of Skanks podcast taping afterward, which I could write a whole article about on its own, but I’ll let you just listen when the episode with Rob Mailloux drops.

It’s Just Another Frantic Monday

I’ve written before about what a fan I am of Frantic Mondays, a weekly free show at The Stand that allows a number of comics of mixed levels to do some short workout sets in front of a friendly crowd. (or, East Coast Potluck, as I often call it). So, of course, with only two days in town after my annual April exile and before I leave for Moontower, that was where I stopped in.

Since it was such a beautiful day in New York, the crowd was a bit light. (Oh, hey, another difference between NY and LA - rain is comedy’s worst enemy in LA, sun here).  And they were a little hesitant to laugh for Michael Kosta’s opening host set, bullet-taker Anthony DeVito and Brook Van Poppelen, but they got completely on board for Anthony Zenhauser and became the embodiment of “small but mighty” for Sean Donnelly, Michelle Wolf, Ben Kronberg, Tommy Pope, Nore Davis and Judah Friedlander.  Well, except for the point when the group in the back got a little too into it and started “helpful” heckling. (Once again, there is no such thing, that’s an oxymoron).  So all in all, a fun little show.

And I joked on Instagram that Michael Kosta is so handsome that he finally made my camera work.  Of course, I really thought I’d finally figured out the good settings, but judging by these, nope, it was Kosta.

Catch Completely New, Off-The-Cuff Comedy at What’s Your F#@ing Deal?!

Comedians always strive to make every audience feel like they are hearing a joke being told for the first time, that the performer onstage is a witty genius who just thought this shit up right then and there.  The reality is that most material you see performed - particularly at a club where you’ve ponied up for admission and two drinks - has been written down, rehearsed and tweaked over the course of weeks or months. But those witty geniuses find a way to connect with the crowd and the material, so every time fees like the first time (minus the original awkward wording, long tangents and other fat that gets trimmed in the process).

But just like Aerosmith really wants to play you the B side of their new single more than a third encore of “Sweet Emotion,” comedians love doing New Shit. Especially in an environment where the audience is expecting and welcoming it (Angelinos, see: The Improvised Stand-up Show and What’s New), so that’s what makes a show like What’s Your F#@ing Deal?! with Big Jay Oakerson so much fun. It’s that “Be careful what you wish for” tightrope walk where comedians  actually invite the audience to start talking during their  set and have to flex their mental muscles to come through and deliver something funny right out of the gate.

This time around, Jay has invited comedy legend Dave Attell, the amazing Bonnie McFarlane, and so-funny-sorry-i-ran-out-of-superlative-adjectives-but-cmon-its-attell Dan Soder, Keith Robinson and Luis J Gomez to take a turn on that tightrope.

I’m extra excited about Attell, not just for the obvious reasons, but because Attell is one of the first comedians I ever spent money to see when I was just a wee lass civilian (Bill Maher was the first first, if you’re wondering). I saw him at the Hu Ke Lau in Chicopee, MA for the late Saturday show and there were two drunk obnoxious dudes who would not shut up the whole time. So, I’ve seen Attell murder on his feet for probably almost 30 minutes of the hour set.  I’ll just consider this karma from the comedy gods, that this time, it’ll be intentional. (I’m still mad the management didn’t kick those jokers out, and it’s been something like 10 years)

Anyway, so come out to The Village Underground Tuesday (April 22) at 9:30 for some great jokes no one’s ever seen before… and may never see again. [Tickets]

Have You Checked out The Belly Room Lately?

The Belly Room is the smallest of The Comedy Store’s three showrooms.  It was originally founded to provide more stage time for female comedians (c’mon, Mitzi, you couldn’t just put more of them in the OR?) but devolved into a room full of bringer shows after the comedy bust in the 90’s. The Ding Dong Show and Crack ‘Em Up Thursdays remained the two consistent shows delivery a quality curated program every week.

But lately, the intimate space has seen a resurgence (shout out to manager Adam Eget), with fresh blood being pumped in thanks to #KILLTONY, The Roast Battle, two late night open mics, and Penthouse Comedy.

This past Tuesday was a great one with the one-two punch of Penthouse Comedy and Roast Battle. Penthouse is a great little show that gives a home to some of the many hilarious comedians who haven’t been passed at The Store (but ought to be) like TJ Miller, Beth Stelling, Jen Murphy and Sean Patton.  But this week’s edition was all family, with Comedy Store Regulars Eleanor Kerrigan, Steve Simeone, Fahim Anwar, Byron Bowers and Eric Andre.  The show went about 90 minutes over (bumping the Tuesday Night Mic), but the crowd didn’t mind, since it was for Dave Chappelle.

Whenever Chappelle comes to LA, he has a few favorite places to go and the Belly Room is one of them.  He often drops in on Crack ‘Em Up Thursdays and this was his first appearance at Penthouse.  There’s something really electric about getting to see Chappelle in such an intimate space, with all the other comedians crowding in to catch a little bit of the legend. The close quarters also seem to quell the idiots who try and record the sets instead of just enjoying them.

And while it’s hard for anyone to follow Chappelle, the Roast Battle did an admirable job.  The highly anticipated matchup of Roast Battle vet Hormoz Rashidi and “The General’s Wife” Virginia Collins drew in almost as many onlookers as Chappelle had.  Hormoz had some great zingers that had the crowd on its feat (and some on other people’s shoulders) and Virginia belted out a strong comeback. And like the good battles before it, it ended in controversy, with Virginia pulling out the W due to the round-based scoring while most of the crowd agreed Hormoz landed more punches overall (and speculated that there was some Jeff Ross-based favoritism at work). Though the real winner of the night was judge Kirk Fox, who had a snappy line for every occasion.

So, if you haven’t trudged up the stairs in a minute, give it a shot.  Most of the shows are free or just $5 and you’ll more than get your money’s worth.

Awesome Shit Your Eyeballs Missed This Week

If you want to get in on the ground floor of the comedy superstars of tomorrow, this week on late night was a good place to start.

And of course, nobody missed it, but David Letterman announced his retirement this week.

Preview uncensored Comedy Underground with Dave Attell

Comedy Underground, an uncensored stand-up showcase series, curated and hosted by Dave Attell, premiers on Comedy Central April 12th at midnight. I am incredibly excited about this series because it features so many of my favorite performers - Big Jay Oakerson, Judah Friedlander, Robert Kelly, Joe DeRosa, Ari Shaffir, April Macie, Pete Davidson, Kurt Metzger, Nikki Glaser and Mike Vecchione. I had the chance to chat with Attell outside the Comedy Cellar and they’re his favorites too.  He could not have been more humble, highlighting that he thinks everyone on the show is incredible and the show is about them, not him.

In discussing what makes this show stand out from the other stand-up shows that have come out in recent years, Attell points out, “It’s how we used to have to do it, just get up and tell jokes. No characters or long storytelling” though he was quick to add when it comes to storytelling, “Maron’s the real deal. He does it right.”

If you can’t wait until the 12th, check out the first full episode with Joe DeRosa, Jermaine Fowler, Big Jay Oakerson and Jeff Ross.

An Occasionally Awesome 3 For 30

I still loves me some 3 for 30, Jayson Thibault’s monthly that gives headliners the rare chance to do a long set in LA. And this month’s show with Kevin Christy and Nick Youssef (of OCCASIONALLY AWESOME on AllThingsComedy) and host Stuart Thompson was great as ever.

Kevin & Nick are guys I’ve seen a ton, doing the usual short club spots, and Kevin’s MC Hammer bit is one of my all time favorites. So I was familiar with nearly all of the material they did, but it felt fresh and new watching them stretch out and expand the way they would on the road. When you’re doing a spot inside the city, you have to be rapid fire, guns blazing to keep people’s attention and get all your jokes into 10-20 minutes. When you have a full 30 with a good crowd, you can fit in so many more tags and so much more nuance.

One funny heckler moment (with a silver lining) was when Nick launched in to his “too old for concerts” bit, an audience member yelled out, “I know you just went to see Tool!” Nick was wearing his Tool shirt and pointed to that, then asked if she was stalking him and she replied, almost sheepishly,  ”No, I listen to your podcast.” Always nice to know you’re drawing in fans who came specifically to see you, even if they do kind of ruin your setup.

Teeb did a great job as well. Part of the fun of going to this show every month is seeing how he changes up these long sets.  And Stuart Thompson was an excellent host. He’s one of the young guys I’d put my money on if there was some bookie who would let me bet on comedian success.

Follow @3for30Comedy for dates & lineups.

Check out “Brain Humor” from Matty Goldberg

Last week, I went to the book release party for Matty Goldberg’s Brain Humor, a memoir about being an outcast nerd, getting a brain tumor, doing comedy in New York and LA, and losing your best friend. Okay, that sounds real depressing, hunh?  But I promise, it’s not a tearjerker.  Matty handles everything with a frankness and humor that makes it all okay, and even okay to laugh.

The release party was fun. It had a bit of a high school reunion vibe, with many of Matty’s old New York comedy buddies on the show and in attendance. Ted Alexandro added some fun by doing an impromptu reading from a randomly selected chapter of the book. And one of the characters from the book (and one of Matty’s regular bits), Eduardo the drug dealing neighbor (now a legitimate tattoo artist), was in attendance.

So, give it a read.

Chris Rock did an hour last night at @thecomedystore

Chris Rock did an hour last night at @thecomedystore

Awesome Shit Your Eyeballs Missed This Week

I’m just catching up with the end of Kroll Show Season 2, which is probably the best sketch show Comedy Central has done in a wile (and, yes, I am including Key & Peele, which I also think is great). And could it get any better than the trial of Dr Armond? Ron Funches, public defender, Bill Burr as an angry cop and Chelsea Peretti as trashy Farley. I can’t find a clip with Farley’s testimony in it, so enjoy this and go check your Hulu or On Demand for the full episode.

And this new sketch from Fahim Anwar, featuring Adam Ray and Josh Martin, might be a little inside baseball for entertainment industry folks.. but it’s so on the nose about how industry hops on social media trends 

And here’s just a little bit of silly from Joe DeRosa & Pete Holmes on The Pete Holmes show.