Not far behind the live music scene, L.A.’s live comedy scene is second only to Manhattan’s as a way to see the brightest current stars and the most impressive young new talent. More than a dozen major live comedy clubs make their home in the smog belt. Pick your favorite, sit back, and laugh (or groan) the night away.
Located in the former Ciro’s Nightclub on the Strip, The Comedy Store (8433 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, 323/656-6225, www.thecomedystore.com, $10, 21 and older) is owned by 1980s comedian Pauly Shore’s mother. With three separate rooms, you’ll find a show going on at The Store every night of the week; most start at 9 p.m. or later, but you can check the website’s calendar for both early and late shows.
In all three rooms you’ll often find a showcase featuring more than a dozen stand-up comics all performing one after another (and leaving space for possible celebrity drop-ins). Local sketch and improv groups also have regular gigs at The Store. Once upon a time, legendary comics got their starts here, often on Monday Amateur Nights.
Imagine being among the first people ever to see Yakov Smirnoff perform, or getting to see Steve Martin or Whoopi Goldberg 10 feet from your table for less than $20. That’s the level of talent you’ll find performing here on a nightly basis. You can buy tickets online for bigger shows, and at the door for non-sellouts and The Belly Room. Most shows have a two-drink minimum in addition to the cover; no-cover acts in The Belly Room are your best bet for a bargain.
It seems unlikely that a major comedy club would make its home in peaceful, suburban Pasadena, but that’s where the Ice House (24 N. Mentor Ave. off Colorado Blvd., 626/577-1894, www.icehousecomedy.com, Tues.–Sun., cover $5–20) sits. With shows running nightly and a double-header most Saturday nights, anyone who wants a laugh will enjoy an evening at the Ice House. Comedians who’ve performed here recently include Jeff Garcia, Bill Dwyer, and Gabriel Iglesias. You’ll also find a focus on female comics and a regular Latino comedy showcase here.
The $5 newcomers-heavy showcase on Wednesday nights makes for one of the best bargains in the L.A. entertainment scene, and you never know who you’ll see. That bouncing hobbit-shaped guy named Daymon Ferguson or the lanky pseudo-depressive comic songster Phil Johnson might be the next ones to hit it big, and you can say you saw them when! If you actually favor a lower-budget, newer-comic evening, hit the Ice House Annex, the smaller ancillary room sitting right next door to the main club.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition