Bitches be Joking

The other day, I got a proper New York welcome (of giving me shit) when Luis Gomez introduced me to another comedian as a “feminist blogger.” But, damn, I’m turning into one!  Not the “I manufacture outrage to generate pageview ad revenue” kind, but like, a blogger who is a feminist.  BECAUSE I GET TO SEE SO MANY FUNNY WOMEN IN NEW YORK!! And I can’t stop talking about it.

I’ve argued before that sexism in comedy isn’t such a big deal, except if you’re censoring women for talking about their vaginas. And I had always agreed with Bonnie McFarlane, that Ok, maybe it actually is a big deal, but I’ve never personally suffered for it. But like someone who didn’t realize how bad their eyesight was until they were handed a pair of glasses, oh my god, LA comedy, you are sooooo sexist.

And the brand new labia-colored glasses I’m seeing the world through is the New York comedy scene. Without any effort on my part, I haven’t been to a single show with an all-male lineup.  Most of the time, there’s two of them! And they’re good! Really good. And it’s not just the same two women every time!

So, I’ll end the judgey rant there and tell you about some of the awesome women I’ve seen in just the last 48 hours

I got to see Rachel Feinstein on this week’s Sam & Joe Show at Caroline’s.  Wow, she’s great, which the whole country will get a chance to see soon, since she’s taping her next Half Hour in Boston this week. Her act features numerous stories where she voices characters including her mom, a tool (the kind of guy, not the thing in a box in your garage), Russian whores on a penis enhancement infomercial (my favorite) and the guy she fears she’ll give up and marry. It doesn’t feel stagey or forced, just organic to the story, the same way you probably imitate your mom or boss or whoever when you’re talking (only better).

Then on this week’s Frantic Mondays at The Stand, I got to see not one, not two, but FOUR very funny comedians who just happen to own a pair of boobs. (While host Michael Kosta is very pretty, I’m not counting him.)

Alli Breen, Carmen Lynch, Janelle James and Casey Balsham showed what a wide range of “funny” women can produce. Different styles, different perspectives, different subject matter. Ugh, even that sentence I just wrote sounds like there’s the assumption that all women comedians are the same - not funny. But that’s my point, if you just book a good show based on funny, you’re going to end up with more than just one woman. And there’s plenty of women doing every kind of comedy for whatever kind of show it is.

Carmen, especially was a treat.  I’ve been a fan since I first got to see her at Moontower Comedy Festival last year and she had a great set on Letterman last fall.

Live at the APT

I’m a big fan of shows in odd locations, including living rooms, so when I heard about LIVE @ THE APT, I was in, right away. Throw in “here’s the location and bring friends but please don’t put it up online anywhere” level secrecy, and I’m totally sold.

This month’s show had around a hundred people packed into a Chinatown apartment (there have been and will be other locations) for intimate sets from Giulia Rozzi, Nicole Byer, Griffin Newman, Dan St Germain and Shaseer Zamata.  It was super fun vibe and a really fun crowd.

Dan’s the only comic on the show I’ve had the pleasure of seeing before, and he was great, as always.  He ran through a TV clean set then let loose with a few other newer bits at the end. I came a little late and missed a good bit of Nicole’s set, but did catch this one guy in the audience looking real unhappy at the mention of fingers in butts. I also missed all of Giulia’s set, which is too bad since I enjoyed her a lot when she was in LA for the Riot festival.

Griffin was fun, going between material and meta narrative stuff. Reminded me a little of Brody, so I can’t wait to see him a couple more times with that expectation going in. And Shaseer was great. Obviously, as “The Black Girl” on SNL, she’s gotten a lot of attention and many people who only know her from her videos wonder “How is she at standup?”  She’s good.  It’s not that almost-not-quite feeling of a sketch/improv person dabbling in standup. I feel a little weird even writing that, since she’s already known for standup on the East Coast, but it is the first question every non-New Yorker asked me when I told them the lineup. 

I’m actually not sure how you get on the email list to get the address, but following them @liveapt probably doesn’t hurt.

Oh!  And I got to meet Sean L. McCarthy aka The Comics Comic. Man, I love that not only does New York have so many serious comedians who just want to do stand-up and get better and not worry too much about credits, but that it’s also filled with so many serious comedy nerds.

The Shows I Miss Most in LA

I mean, look, I try not to take myself or this too seriously and throw around phrases like “Best of” or “to watch” but these might be the best shows in Los Angeles. So, in no particular order (OK TINH is the bestiest of the best), here are the shows I miss most from Los Angeles.

This Is Not Happening  - Ari Shaffir’s storyteller series brings a group of amazing comedians together to all tell longform stories on a single theme - drugs, fights, travel, love, whatever. It’s always a very entertaining show because, of course, comedians have way more fucked up stories than everybody else. Comedy Central Digital picked it up a little while back and has posted two seasons worth of episodes

To find out when the next TINH is, follow Ari on Twitter or Listen to his podcast, Skeptic Tank.

Roast Battle - Two comedians enter, three comedians judge them hilariously and harshly, one leaves.  The thunderdome of snarky one-liners, I’ve grown to love this not just for the jokes and the format and the judges, but the fact that it’s an event. Packed up into a Belly Room that’s full to capacity an hour before the show even starts, you’re jazzed just to be there and witness these fleeting moments of high caliber shit talking.

Every Tuesday at midnight in the Comedy Store Belly Room.  Follow @RoastBattle on Twitter for lineups.

What’s New - First of all, I love the show because it’s got good lineups and a great crowd and is always fun to watch.  Second of all, I meta love this show for creating one of the best possible  rooms for experienced comedians to try out new material.  Third of all, I meta meta love this show because it’s a crossover live show and podcast, but you have to do both to get 100% of the show (part of the live show isn’t broadcast, half of the podcast is recorded offstage), so it markets itself.

Host Christian Spicer and three guests do short sets of new material, then retreat up to the Nerdist podcast studio to talk about the inspiration for the bits while the audience is treated to a long set from the headliner.

Monthly at NerdMelt Theater & podcast at, Follow @WhatsNewShow for dates and lineups 

Standup On The Spot - This is another great show for new material, except it’s completely new that second.  Combining the not-awful parts of an improv show with stand-up, comedians take suggestions from the audience and riff a set off the top of their heads, often leading to new material that stays in the act. It’s a fun show to watch, since it’s so energetic and interactive, plus you get a little peek into how the comedians’ minds work.

Monthly in Hollywood, Bi-monthly(ish) at The Icehouse in Pasadena (as Deathsquad’s THUNDERPUSSY). Check and follow Jeremiah Watkins for dates & lineups.

Picture This - Do you ever get mental pictures while listening to a comedian?  Well, so do some professional animators, graphic designers and other people who are good at drawing things. And they share those internal images with you (and the comedian) via projector. Which of course often leads the comedians down a whole other tangent, which is great.

Regularly at various locations, check their Tumblr or Twitter for dates & lineups.

#KILLTONY - One of Deathsquad’s live podcasts, this one features Redban and host Tony Hinchcliffe giving aspiring comedians a one minute shot at internet fame and constructive feedback from the seasoned vet guests.  Though pretty often, it devolves into a shit show of lunatics and clueless newbies, which is almost more fun.

Monday nights in the Belly Room at The Comedy Store, online archive at

Yeah yeah yeah, I know, “but you forgot Comedy Juice and Meltdown and The Super Serious Show and Skinny Sundays and Blind Barber and Dot Comedy and regular old weekend shows at The Comedy Store and The Improv and…” Hey, the heart wants what it wants.

Awesome Shit Your Eyeballs Missed This Week

John Oliver’s new show on HBO looks like it’s going to be pretty delightful, especially if we’re judging by these two parody videos, featuring Josh Gondelman making fun of those dumb hipster GOP ads.

And check out this new web series, Littlefinger Lately featuring not one, but two of my current & former roommates - Robby Slowik and Rell Battle.  And you know I only let very funny people sleep in my livingroom. (In fairness to Robby, he only technically sleeps in our livingroom because it’s a flex 3, so he built a wall with a door so it’s actually a bedroom. And he has a job).

Anyway, this was created by Robby & Greg Gallant and stars Nick Hoff, playing against his all-american boy type as the evil vicar, Robby, Greg, Rell and Jake Weisman. I’ll feature this again if Jake’s knife collection makes a cameo.

The important people - family, friends & boon

The important people - family, friends & boon

Awesome Shit Your Eyeballs Missed This Week

Oh man, Chelsea Handler has had her guns blazing lately! I don’t know if she’s piping up to promote her upcoming tour or someone told her “okay, go ahead and speak your mind again” but it’s fun.

I miss Roast Battle, guys. And I knew this week’s Joe Dosch v Nate Hurd battle was going to be a great one. They are both smart and quick-witted and don’t have any of that “I want everyone to think I’m a nice guy” thing that can hold back other great writers. I’m told we’re only going to get one clip from each show online now (You get big and you forget the little people, that’s fine), so here’s your joke of the night. Though it should be obvious from the joke, it might help you to know going in that Joe is gay and Nate is not. Enjoy.

And I’ll finish with two clips from The Pete Holmes Show. One’s from before this past week, but I missed it in the move.  new Material Seinfeld.  Of course.

I’m also throwing in this recent monologue because I like how much more comfortable and Pete-y Pete seems now.

Comedy as a Second Language at Kabin Lives Up to The Hype

"All right ‘Linchpin of the New York Comedy Scene (2012),’ let’s see what you’ve got." I’ve heard so many good things about Kabin (the show’s official name is Comedy As a Second Language, but it takes place in the back room of Kabin bar, so everyone just calls it Kabin), I was bracing myself for a stunning disappointment.  Instead, I got a show that more than lived up to the hype.

It’s a small room with only about a dozen seats, but almost twice as many people packed into the standing room around the edges. It’s intimate, but feels professional.  The crowd was split about half and half between first-timers and repeat visitors and only like one guy was being a douchey “helpful heckler.” So, all in all a very good environment for a show.

And the lineup was solidJason Saenz, Jenny Zigrino, Adam Newman, Louis Katz, Josh Gondelman, Casey Balsham, a couple of guys whose sets I missed waiting in line for the bathroom and, oh yeah a pop in from Louis CK.  The show felt just a little bit too long, but the crowd was with everyone from start to finish because everyone was so good.

I’m already a huge fan of Josh Gondelman, who was charming and funny as ever.  And Jenny Zigrino was delightful! She’s definitely going to one of those people who, when I see her name on a lineup full of all these comedians I don’t yet know, I’ll be like “okay, that’s gonna be a win at least” And I know she’s one of my besties so you might not trust this, but Casey Balsham crushed.  Host Chesley Calloway was still wiping laughter tears from his eyes when he got back on the mic to introduce the next act.

So, okay, Kabin, you win.  You’re pretty awesome.

Comedy Juice NY at Gotham Comedy Club

I checked out Comedy Juice NY at Gotham last night. I really like the setup of Gotham, even though it’s got somewhat high ceilings and is a little too well lit for my taste, it’s more wide than deep, which is way better for getting a cohesive, laughing audience. Last night’s crowd were laughers, but kind of weird.  They were Full Stop Laughers, as in they came to a full silent stop after laughing at each joke, only once or twice did it really keep rolling and start to have momentum. And it wasn’t for lack of talent and trying on the lineup’s part.

Gibran Saleem was hosting.  I caught most of his set at Frantic Mondays and I’m kind of glad I went a whole extra day without hearing his opener, since I was thinking “hey, that guy’s got a solid set” and now I’m just going to think of him as Ross from Friends. (Even his voice started to sound like Ross after he pointed it out). Jade Cata-Pretta is out from LA and started the show. They liked the dirty and almost managed to come together as a great crowd just before Jade finished her set.  Like I said, full stop laughers.

Brooks Wheelan has a great self-deprecating opener, “Not the guy from SNL you were hoping for, hunh?  I am NOT crushing it this season.” Though his bit listing rejected SNL sketch ideas was great - most of them sounded better than most of the sketches that actually made it to air and I for sure want to see Undercover Boss (with Bruce Springsteen). Of course, most of his set is non-SNL themed and I could particularly relate to his new-to-NYC “don’t you realize leaving trash on the sidewalk is how rat-based societies come to exist??!!”

Sheng Wang crushed. Of course. Man, that guy is so good. He even made me laugh with a pants pooping bit (a feat only Ari Shaffir has succeeded at up til now).  I don’t know what else to say, the guy’s a beast.

Oh yeah, and remember how this crowd likes dirty?  Well they really showed that off during Wil Sylvince's set. They responded all right to his bits about being Haitian and his embarrassing uncle, but boy did they LOVE his bits about booty clapping and pulling out too far to find your way back in in the dark.  Like, they floor-stampingly loved it.

Thanks to Gibran and Rus Gutin (in absentia) for a great show!

Frantic Mondays at The Stand

When I was here in October, I remember thinking one of this things LA had over NYC was Potluck, a low-stakes free show that was a step between open mic and paid spots at a specific club.  Potluck is a long-running Comedy Store tradition and the Improv has recently stepped up to add a similar show. 

Then lo and behold, The Stand added Frantic Mondays, a free 10 pm show that mixes in headliners and younger comedians, usually hosted by Michael Kosta. So of course I had to check it out and I’m glad I did.

What East Coast Potluck (as I already started calling it) has over Original Recipe Potluck is a) a good crowd, b) brevity (2-ish hours, rather than a million) and c) organization! 

I came in a little late, just in time to see a good set from Gibran Saleem, then Judah Friedlander, Monroe Martin and Luis Gomez rocked the crowd for a solid block. I’m glad I saw Luis again because I completely forgot how funny his “congratulations to white people on not just stabbing each other” bit was.  It also reminded me that he’d tried out a new bit at Caroline’s about how Latinos know how racist both whites and blacks are, because we both think they’re on our team. They hate both of us, but we’re all united in our fear of Muslims, thank God.. or Allah, that is. It didn’t get much of a reaction at Caroline’s, but I think it’s a great joke and can’t wait to see it in finished form.  Monroe had a killer bit about how homophobia can’t be a real fear because there’s no horror films about it.

A few more guys and gals were mixed in, with heavy hitters Nick Vatterott, who is just plain hysterical, and Pete Lee at the end. And OH MY GOD, PETE LEE IS SO ADORABLE. I’m sorry to say that before saying how funny he is, but it’s true. I just met him and now I want to hug him all the time.

Even though it’s a free show, I’d recommend you get reservations ahead of time, because it was pretty packed.

The Sam & Joe Show at Caroline’s

Hey kids!  Between building IKEA furniture and yelling at IKEA furniture, I haven’t had much chance to check out comedy fun stuff yet.  And I think it’s the general consensus that The Stand will be my East Coast version The Store, though it has one critical difference - it’s a train/taxi ride away.  But what Caroline’s On Broadway lacks in cool hanging out vibe, it makes up in being within walking distance. So, that made Sunday night’s Sam & Joe Show a pretty easy choice for a lazy Sunday. And the fact that the show itself seems right up my alley may make it my go-to Sunday show.

Sam & Joe are Sam Morril and Joe Machi. You may recall Sam as the hero/victim of one of the more recent feminist blog rape joke witch hunts, which is both a shame and a bit of a blessing I guess.  I mean, you know his name, but you probably aren’t prepared for how smart his jokes are. Dark & dirty, sure, but smart. Joe hosted and sacrificed a set of new material to the check spot, so it was hard to get a bead on his regular material, but I’m told he’s great.

The rest of the lineup was Mike Lawrence, Taylor Ketchum, Leah Bonnema and Luis Gomez. I think we’re all pretty aware of how fond I am of Mike. Taylor’s a guy I know from way back when Sal’s was on La Brea, but haven’t seen onstage too much since we defected to New York a few years ago, so that was a treat. Leah was new to me and battling a weeklong flu, but closed strong with a great bit about the ridiculousness of 50 Shade of Gray (I know it doesn’t sound topical, but it’ll work for years to come, I’m sure). Luis’s opener and closer were great, even though homophobia is what makes both of them funny. But the closer about his dog being gay showed he’s not just lazily relying on being homophobic to get a laugh, but there’s some thought and self-awareness behind it.

So, yeah, great show.  Smart, dark comedians. Definitely a good start to things.