Super Serious Show Makes Funny Its Business

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Daniel Tosh at the Super Serious Show. Photo by Wei Shi for Super Serious Show.

We’ve come so far together, us comedy folks. Time was, the ‘alternative’ stand up scene meant practically anything outside of a dedicated club, from rented out basement theaters to milk crate seating in the back of a Denny’s. Enter: Joel Mandelkorn… and a whole bunch of other people, actually - including co-producers Mandee Johnson and Betsy Koch. The point is, Mandelkorn, Johnson and Koch, co-producers of the highly acclaimed monthly Super Serious stand up show, have brought a little bit of class and a lot of talent to the stage.

No more ratty couches and fifteen minute sets without a microphone. Instead, the Super Serious Show calls Smashbox Studios home, a white-washed photo palace and soundstage in that thin, boxy warehouse sliver of south-east Culver City. There’s an elevated stage (gasp!), comfortable folding chairs and enough room to pack in more than a hundred - which they always seem to do. The place is well lit, which, for a photo house is nothing new, but for an alternative stand up venue is a move up from the Dark Ages - literally. Then, there are the accompaniments. Your $10 presale ticket ($15 cash if you’re lazy enough to just show up at the door) not only brings you talented headlining comedians and a few hilarious fresh faces, you also get free wine from Cube, free beer from Eagle Rock Brewery, a selection of sweets from J-Squared and access to one of LA’s notorious food trucks.

But you’re not here for the man behind the show or the drinks behind the bar. Well, not entirely at least. Instead, grab a folding chair and sit in with some of the biggest names working the LA comedy scene and grazing past your glazed television eyes. This month’s show features Natasha Leggero, Greg Fitzsimmons, Paul Scheer, Rob Delaney, videos from Funny or Die and more. Hell, last month’s show had Daniel Tosh drop in to do 15 minutes… with his dog on his lap the entire time. Almost on cue, the mid-sized mutt would hide his nose when the occasional joke wouldn’t land, then reemerge from his own paw to casually take in his surroundings. When even the dog is comfortable on stage, you know you’ve got a show that works.

Here, it's a night of easy laughter, as stand ups meld effortlessly with the comedy-music stylings of The New York Smiths or Reggie Watts. There's usually a sketch group or two on the bill, like the award-winning Midnight Show guys. Sitting in your chair that isn't crushed up against a different, mis-matched chair, it's easy to forget some of the *ahem* less appealing spots to catch comedy around town. But just then, when you're smug in your seat with a drink in your hand, trying to whittle down a list of places you'd rather be, the next act comes on just in time to blow you away. Maybe it's Jimmy Pardo, or Dana Gould. Maybe it's anybody, and this place is just that good.

The Super Serious Show has reverse-engineered the alternative comedy scene, and it didn’t take long for comedians - and their audiences - to notice. There exists an intersection where undeniable comedy talents meet vibrant audiences that aren’t just out for the two drink minimum or the ‘I was there’ voyeurism, meet a space that is put-together, polished, and still hip - and the Super Serious Show is there.


The Super Serious Show
Thursday June 16, 7pm
Smashbox Studios
8549 Higuera St
Culver City, CA 90232