Some Advice from a Recent Frequenter of Comedy Shows
By Alexis Murine
The Comedy Store | 8433 West Sunset Boulevard | Hollywood | 90069
Recently, I have had the distinct pleasure of attending some great comedy performances at places like The Comedy & Magic Club in Hermosa Beach and the Westside Comedy Theater in Santa Monica. So, although I am certainly no expert, I wanted to share some of my observations on the DO’s and DONT’s of attending a comedy show, and in particular, attending a show at The Comedy Store in Hollywood.
1. ALWAYS BRING CASH
Thinking we had plenty of time, my best friend Melanie and I drove up to The Comedy Store excited about the plethora of entertainment bound to ensue, yet our hearts dropped as we realized that all of the legal/non-sketchy parking opportunities in a 5 block radius were cash only “valet” lots. Feeling around in my purse and realizing I only had a few crumpled “ones” lead us on a frantic journey to find an ATM nearby, pleading desperately with our smartphones to guide us in the appropriate direction. Luckily, there was a Wells Fargo down the road, but next time we’ll plan on getting cash BEFORE arriving. Besides parking, unless you have purchased tickets online, door tickets are also CASH ONLY, so keep that in mind.
2. REMEMBER THE DETAILS
The Comedy Store exterior is visually striking, with its matte black exterior covered in white signatures like a chalkboard and red drapes hanging down, and separated into two “rooms”—essentially two different venues.
Walking with definite purpose, we stomped up to The Comedy Store, faces glowing in determination under the fluorescent marquee, and were stopped by one of the employees, asking us which show we were seeing. The assignment was to see Patrick Granfar’s performance (as he is a long-time friend of Dawn’s) so I tried to explain the situation to the somewhat perplexed looking staff member. Of course, the two performance spaces are named “The Main Room” and “The Original Room”—which sound just similar enough that you double, triple, quadruple check yourself (and/or smartphone). So, unless it doesn’t matter what performance you see, make sure to come prepared with the proper who/what/where/when-s. Worse comes to worse, you’ll just end up seeing a different funny performance.
3. WEAR SOMETHING COMFORTABLE
Our cash debacle ate up all of our extra time, so we arrived just as the emcee was introducing the first comedian. The Main Room is beautiful: the black, red and white motif continuing from the exterior, transforming into stripes, polka dots, and neon filigree around the stage. Trying to walk through the crowded, narrow “pathways” in between the small round tables, chairs, and bodies feels like a minefield. No need to wear heels here. You’ll end up gouging someone’s foot, or tripping over yourself. The tables sit at an awkward chest/armpit height, with the chairs only allowing about an inch gap in between you and the person you are seated next to, so you essentially have to become a contortionist to squeeze into your place, while simultaneously trying not to sit on your neighbor’s lap. And good luck getting back up–you might decide to go to the bathroom beforehand. Wear something you don’t mind sitting in (probably at a strange angle) for a few hours time.
4. PREPARE FOR YOUR TWO DRINK MINIMUM
Most venues nowadays enforce a two drink minimum policy, so that is not new news to most. However, whether it was just on this occasion, or all occasions, as soon as we sat down, the waitress told us that we would have to order BOTH drinks at the same time, and that they would be brought out at the same time. Come in mind with what you are going to have, because otherwise you are hemming and hawing in hushed voices while the first performer is trying to get their footing, or end up with an extra beverage that you didn’t really intend to drink. We ordered Stella Artois and the BBQ Sliders. The order came with two tiny burgers with bacon on a bed of fries. The burgers themselves were nothing to write home about, decent patties on a slightly tough bun, but the fries definitely made up for the sliders’ shortcomings. They were fresh and nicely seasoned, with just the right amount of skin for texture.
5. BRING YOUR SENSE OF HUMOR
Obviously. You’re watching comedy, and probably were not dragged there against your will. The benefit of seeing a live comedic performance versus watching a special on Comedy Central or HBO is the interaction between the audience and performer. So, just as you can see them, they can certainly see you, and may use you in their act. We were off to the left side of the stage, one row back from the front, close enough to feel engaged with the performer, but not so close that we were asking for trouble. If one of the comedians tries to interact with you, play along. Laugh at yourself. Patrick Granfar used a 20-year-old, naïve looking guy named Sve throughout his set as almost a foil to the raunchy, sex-related jokes he was telling, Sve’s face growing as red as the tomato colored curtains, but still laughing along with the crowd. Also, if you are doing (or not doing) something, the performers might call you out. A woman, sitting front and center with her husband, not only had her flip-flopped feet up on the stage, but her phone rang in the middle of one of the comedian’s sets, prompting the husband to exit in a hurry. The comedian’s response was then to take some of the ice out of their chilled wine bucket, and dump it in the husband’s empty chair and the woman’s lap, laughter and applause erupting immediately from the rest of the audience. Let that be a word of warning to you.
The 16-Comic format was very effective in this particular instance, because the people who did phenomenally gave you just enough of a taste that you wanted to learn more about them, whereas some of the other acts that weren’t quite as engaging didn’t have to struggle too long on an awkward stage. Some of the comedians that particularly stood out from the group were Patrick Granfar, Alexander Senate, Taylor Boss, and Shayla Rivera.
Patrick Granfar: Immediately, you feel a familiarity with his persona and material. Dressed with a definite rough-around-the-edges rocker vibe, denim, flannel and leather, he’s the kind of guy you could imagine meeting at a bar, and he tells his jokes in that way, very conversationally, as if you are buddies swapping crazy stories over beers.
Alexander Senate: The combination of a large man with a large beard, wearing laboratory style glasses, singing a parody of a Disturbed song which he titled “Get Down with The Christmas” made me literally cry with laughter, almost embarrassingly so.
Taylor Boss: His dry delivery coupled with his hipster lumberjack appearance was distinct, and we personally felt as though he were talking to us when he started making jokes about The Magic Castle and Oakley (where Melanie works).
Shayla Rivera: The special guest headliner for the evening was a breath of fresh air. There were a few other female comics that performed, but were forgettable because of their stereotypical “slutty” material. Yes, sexual jokes (or really any topic) are funny in moderation, but if your whole act is about your sexual escapades, it makes you seem either: insecure, shallow or unintelligent. So both Melanie and I were pleasantly surprised when Shayla Rivera came out talking about her past as a rocket scientist and the topic of cruise ships. Of course, she touched on her relationship with her boyfriend, yet it was more about the actual RELATIONSHIP not just sex. So, if I can give one word of advice to both female and male comedians: Don’t rely on only “dirty” material for laughs. Intelligent jokes can be just as effective, if not more.
On that note, I would like to thank all of the comedians who performed, as well as The Comedy Store staff for being very helpful and friendly, and leave you with my last piece of advice:
6. ENJOY YOURSELF
Allow yourself to laugh loudly, openly, make strange noises, cry, and clap vigorously if you appreciated the performance. Not only will you feel good, your positive energy and encouragement nourish those performing. Support local talent and local venues. Give back however you can, even if it is just a heartfelt smile.