Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Small but worth it....

This last week I was in Los Angeles for I THINK my last time this year. I was there mostly for my pals Sharon and Pat- wedding time. ROCKING Mrs. Maybrier is in Maui at the moment, and alliteration aside, it was an amazingly cool wedding from the GIGANTIC 5600 carat glass diamond to the gondola ride, to Rush as the "Bride and Groom Entry" music. Just rocked..and yes, this gimped danced to "Dead Man's Party" like it was 1985. (86? 88? whichever...)

There were two comedy nights during the visit. The first was in a town near where I spent some interesting years. Montebello is kind of the gateway to Pasadena, or the last stop before you hit Cerritos. Either way, it's a nice town with a strong Latino heritage, and some down-home shops on the main drag. One of the restaurants features a comedy night, hosted by Erik Schulte, (not sure did I spell that right? I think so..). In either case, I used to hang out there when I was living in South Pasadena, in search of thrift stores and enchiladas.

The Wild Coyote doesn't seem like a place that would a. host comedy and 2. be in a Latino town. The walls held posters of Marilyn Monroe, (marylina monrovia?) and Megadeth- as one of the members of stated band plays there now and again. There is a small 5 x 5 stage in the corner by the restaurant side of the bar, and it has probably one of the crappiest sound systems..appropriate for Megadeth I guess... and one of the nicest sound guys ever. The waitress is somewhat absent minded, but her legs make up for that seemed to distract many people still waiting for liquid as I type. The tables were pretty far from the stage- about 18 feet or so- and there was a dance floor, so there was kind of a weird effect with the crowd.

The line-up included six or seven people..about the right size for a room that small... and the majority of these were students at El Cerritos City College or somesuch who are taking- no lie- stand-up comedy classes. That made for a GREAT place to play new material, and test out bits. The only drawback..the sound was so bizarre that it was hard to tell if the crowd was able to hear..and there were running televisions..including a few giant screens. So while the Phillies were clobbering the Rays, I was on stage hoping I wasn't the only one hearing the feedback into the microphone. I was., the video doesn't have any of the weird bleed audio that I was hearing.

Erik does a good job of hosting- he doesn't do too much material in between sets, and he is generous with time to the comics. He also listens to the people on stage, and seems to really enjoy the job. That makes for a good emcee and a great host. I can't tell you how many times I've been in rooms where the guy/gal decides it's okay to do 10 minutes between each act- driving both comics and audience members crazy. He was supportive of the new group, and kind to us old-timers.

There was one guy left when Grace and I had to leave..neither of us leaves a show before the last guy, usually, but the last guy was running really, really long. His name was on the posters, so I am sure that had a lot more to do with it- and he was making the fatal comedy mistake of YELLING INTO A MICROPHONE, which you don't need to do, especially in a room that seats about 40 people. As a result..I never got to thank Erik, but it was a worthy room for the drive, and I recommend it to people who want to test material, or play in a bar for crowd work.

Friday, Grace and I were also booked at another room together. It's great having a comedy-buddy to play with, because you get to see how the act progresses, and can help each other with notes to punch up punchlines. This time we hit Mar Vista, and joined David Corrado at his Friday Night show in St. Bede's basement.

This room is quite intimate. There is a general atmosphere of "try stuff out, we'll love you", and there are probably only 12 people around- which means you are fairly driven to play to your friends. We got there, and David played some pre-show music from the 50's which inspired regular visitors, a couple well into their oh- 200's? Okay maybe 80's... to dance their butts off. They were ADORABLE- she was doing her best Busby Berkely, and he was Fred Astairing. Nice warm start.

Last time I was there, I tried a bit that hadn't been on any stage before. Nor since. But, this time, it was standard jokes, testing things out for use on Onyx stages. It worked well, and having Grace to bounce off of during the event only made it better. Dana Snow was there again, and unfortunately wasn't feeling all that well. I did get to meet a few other comics I hadn't had a chance to chat with before- including Rosie Tran.

It's unusual for a room to book more than one female a night- having three was a blast. We had our own approaches, and none of us used any of the same topics. We each had a casual demeanor and it makes for a supportive, happy show. Rosie has an infectious smile, and even when her jokes didn't go over...very rarely..she was so charming it made up for it. There were four guys up that night too... and they each had different appeal. All stayed the whole show, and all were very fun to watch.

David is also a wonderful host- he pays attention to all of the people he books, and is very good about watching time. I am one of those who times her act before hand so I figured- I had six minutes, I did six minutes. But David will let people do more time if they want it- and he notices when people struggle with too much time. So many emcees don't get that.

If you're in the LA area and want to do some work-out rooms, these two are on my "yep, they are great" list. You won't get the laughs you would in a standard comedy club, but you'll understand your own material better. If you want to use a camera to catch how you're doing, that's easy. The hosts are cordial and the audiences are happy to see you.

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