2012 was the end of an era for the Los Angeles comedy scene, as Comedy Bang Bang, the influential weekly stand-up showcase co-created by Scott Aukerman, ended its ten year run earlier this month. Comedy Bang Bang (originally titled Comedy Death-Ray) will live in on in the form of the popular podcast and IFC show of the same name, but the live show’s impact upon the L.A. comedy scene (and the comedy world at large) is endless. Comedy Bang Bang first started in 2002 when the term “alternative comedy” actually meant something, years before Zach Galifianakis was a major movie star or Louis C.K. was the country’s leading stand-up or the UCB Theatre had a stranglehold on movie or TV comedy. Now, in 2012, Galifianakis, C.K., and dozens of other comedians who performed regularly at Comedy Bang Bang in its early days have seen their careers explode and the UCB Theatre, where Comedy Bang Bang was held on Tuesday nights since 2005, is now the linchpin of the Los Angeles comedy scene. With Comedy Bang Bang’s run over, what does the future hold for L.A.’s stand-up scene, and what’s the city’s next big weekly show?
By the end of Comedy Bang Bang’s run, The Meltdown was arguably just as popular and the show is easily the reigning champ of the local stand-up scene in Bang Bang’s absence. Started last year at the Nerdmelt Showroom, the hip new comedy space in the back of a comic book store called Meltdown Comics, The Meltdown is an excellent Wednesday night showcase co-hosted by Jonah Ray (The Nerdist podcast) and Kumail Nanjiani (Portlandia, Franklin & Bash). Ray and Nanjiani are two of the funniest comedians going and they have a funny rapport with one another up top. Their show, produced by Emily Gordon, is as expertly-curated as Bang Bang was, with a nice mix of excellent unknowns and big names taking the stage each week. Aziz Ansari, Donald Glover, the Sklar Brothers, Maria Bamford, Jim Gaffigan, Marc Maron, Daniel Tosh, Chris Hardwick, and Anthony Jeselnik have all played the show. Surprise drop-ins are also happen occasionally here (Robin Williams and Louis C.K. have both showed up unannounced and performed).
Wednesdays at 8:30pm/Nerdmelt Showroom/Hollywood/$8 in advance, $10 at the door
While Meltdown is currently the most popular show in town, Holy Fuck is a dark horse contender for the top spot in town and an amazing show in an of itself. Hosted in the Downtown Independent, an old movie theater in Downtown L.A., Holy Fuck just celebrated its three-year anniversary with a big show featuring Chris Hardwick, Paul Scheer, Rob Huebel, and Matt Braunger, amongst others. Local comics Dave Ross, Jeff Wattenhofer, and Matt Ingebretson run Holy Fuck. The show’s unique location, plus the giant movie theater screen, which they put to good use by kicking each show off with videos and sketches from local comedians and letting comedians use the screen for bits, give Holy Fuck a totally different feel than all the others shows in town. Margaret Cho, Tig Notaro, Pete Holmes, Kurt Braunohler, Eddie Pepitone, David Koechner, Jimmy Pardo, Maria Bamford, the Sklar Brothers, and TJ Miller have all done the show, as well as Louis C.K. and Aziz Ansari, who have each done it once.
Tuesdays at 9pm/Downtown Independent/Downtown/Free
Another up-and-coming weekly stand-up show, Power Violence is a Sunday night showcase that was founded last year by a quartet of skateboard punk comedians, Whitmer Thomas, Clay Tatum, Budd Diaz, and Rodney Berry. The four hosts kick off the show each week by moshing and throwing stuff onstage to hardcore music, providing for a truly unique and energetic start to the show. From there, they welcome to the stage a finely-selected roster of comedians, mostly straight stand-ups but with the occasional character stand-up or sketch from the Power Violence guys slipping in. The show recently had a surprise drop-in by Zach Galifianakis and has in the past welcomed performers like Marc Maron, Rory Scovel, Eric Andre, Sean Patton, Tig Notaro, Jon Daly, Dominic Dierkes, Pete Holmes, and Todd Glass.
Sundays at 9pm/The Complex Theater 6470/Hollywood/Free (donations encouraged)
While the above shows are the bigger ones going right now, two new weekly stand-up shows are set to start next month and both are sure to become major players in the local scene. The first is Put Your Hands Together, which will take Comedy Bang Bang’s coveted Tuesday night slot at UCB beginning January 8th. Unlike Bang Bang, PYHT will have a regular host – stand-up Cameron Esposito – and the show will be released as a podcast. The entire show won’t be podcasted (performers will have the choice as to whether their material is included or not), but the podcast will contain a good chunk of the show, as well as backstage interviews and bits. Esposito is booking and producing the show with Ryan McManemin via AST Records. Maria Bamford, Bobcat Goldthwait, Greg Proops, Kyle Kinane, Jimmy Pardo, and Kumail Nanjiani are all booked to play the show in January, with up-and-comers also mixed in too.
Tuesdays at 8pm/UCB Theatre/Hollywood/$5 (starting January 8th)
Kurt Braunohler (IFC’s Bunk) and Kristen Schaal (Bob’s Burgers, The Daily Show) just moved to the West Coast from New York this year, and they’re bringing their long-running variety show Hot Tub with them. Hot Tub began at NYC’s Peoples Improv Theater in 2005, featuring a mix of stand-up, sketch, music, and weird stuff, plus an actual hot tub onstage. Hot Tub begins its weekly L.A. run at The Virgil on the outskirts of Silver Lake beginning January 7th, with Joel Mandelkorn and Mandee Johnson of CleftClips producing. The Monday night show will also feature an after party and pre-show music and is poised to give Meltdown a run for its money as the top dog in the local stand-up scene.
Mondays at 8pm/The Virgil/Los Feliz/$5 presale, $8 at the door (starting January 7th)