Free Stand Up Comedy Downtown?! Holy F*ck!

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Not the Downtown Independent, but you get the idea. Photo by nevercoolinschool via LAist Flickr pool.

‘Free’ is a much heavier word than it sounds. Free as a bird, you say, or free thinker. But there is another side to free, filled with warnings and buyers doing their best to beware. When it comes to free, you get what you pay for, they say, and usually that’s true. But every once in a while, a freebie comes along that is so pure, so honest, and so worth the price of admission ($0) that the only words you’re left with are: Holy Fuck.

And boy are you in luck, because a show by any other name would not smell as sweet. Nor would it be as funny as Holy Fuck, the new bi-monthly stand up show at the Downtown Independent Theater. Recent drop-ins have included Jimmy Pardo (LAist interview here), Aziz Ansari (LAist interview here), The Sklar Brothers (LAist interview here), Nick Kroll, Matt Braunger (LAist interview here) and even the amazing Louis CK, unquestionably the hottest comic of the past twelve months. There’s no telling how show founder / booker / fellow stand up Dave Ross is able to gather up such great comedians every other week, but isn’t that the magic of free? Some things are better left unknown.

What can be quantified is the amount of enjoyment to be had at a Holy Fuck show. Beyond the free admission, there are drinks for cheap, mingling to be done, and a great atmosphere permeating from one of downtown’s cooler spaces. The theater itself, primarily built for film screenings, is a wonderful blend of modern architecture and classic theater comfort. The oversized drapes still hang, the chairs are stuffed and buoyant, and every seat is slanted forward just enough so as not to miss the action. On this night, Liz Stewart hosted the festivities, bringing each act on with a wry bit or clever tangent that kept the audience motivated and ready to laugh. Rob O’Reilly from NY started the night off with a bang, absolutely slaying the audience, before getting into longtime favorites Maria Bamford and James Adomian. Let’s just say that in a sea of ‘hits’, you’d be hard-pressed to find a ‘miss’.

If there is one quibble with Holy Fuck, it is this: the show is not popular enough…yet. Notwithstanding the 150 people who packed the Louis CK show at the end of last month, most audiences have been decidedly smaller. Which, in more conventional free comedy spaces, would be a great thing; he audience is able to become a cohesive and unified force that interacts with the comedian on a very direct level. At Holy Fuck, because of the size of the venue and its slight detour from the mainstream (it’s downtown, it’s on a Tuesday, etc.), some jokes just can’t build up enough steam to hit the smattered back row with any gusto. This is changing, slowly and based solely on popular demand, but much work remains to be done. Until those days come, and Dave Ross decides to wise up and charge admission for one of the best new nights of stand up comedy in Los Angeles, we should all be looking to enjoy the finer side of ‘free’.