Frolic!: Yet Another Downtown Comedy Show to Flock To
It’s hard enough to produce, book, and then promote your indie stand up show in any neighborhood in Los Angeles, to say nothing of shoving it downtown into a venue that tells you right in the name you might not be willing to make the weeknight trip: Far Bar. Between the thin alleyway entrance and the proximity to the deliciousness of Daikokuya, it’s a wonder any of the comics ever find their way into Frolic, the merrily-named first-and-third Wednesday night stand up show in Little Tokyo.
But come they do. Josh Rencher, the tireless Frolic producer - and comic himself - has been grinding out stellar line-ups with surprising regularity - and no cover charge. The weekly list usually reads like this: some $20, two-drink headliners anchor the night with a great combination of new material and workshop jokes; a couple of simmering local names who are on the verge of heating up into a national boil; one or two smiling “oh, THAT guy!” faces, and Rencher himself. Picking from whichever tier you choose, you’ll find names like Ali Wong, James Adomian, Aisha Tyler, Kyle Kinane, TJ Miller and Maria Bamford. Or, as recently as a couple of weeks ago, you might be elbowed up to the bar, sipping something from the ‘brewery of the month’ list, when Louis C.K. steps on and slays a few minutes at your feet. For free. On a Wednesday.
These days, the Frolic show is moving closer than ever to the heart of LA alternative comedy… at least culturally, if not geographically. The Far Bar space is still a little tricky to navigate - find the bar, meander down the alley, past the courtyard and through the building itself - but the whole affair is less truly secretive and more, well, intimate. If you show up early, you can feast on wasabi fries or a selection of slightly spicy tacos, maybe just take in few pulls of whatever the chalkboard tells you is on tap. Once the 9pm hour starts, Frolic comes to life just inside, but the intimacy is still there. A few leather seats lend a cushion to the front row, while a nice selection of stool-side tabletops let you sit with your friends and enjoy the jokes together. The ceilings are high and soft white, while exposed deep brown beams and Japanese touches fill in the space nicely.
The formula for alternative stand up comedy shows in Los Angeles isn’t simply plug-and-play. Some venues give you plenty of legroom to walk around (and walk out), but might not attract the type of talent you need to keep a free show successful. Still others may huddle you together on some linoleum floor in the corner of a renovated retail space, giggling to each other for warmth as much as anything. Patton Oswalt doesn’t mind doing 15 minutes above a Chinese restaurant, but that’s because he’s found a show that works. Despite the seeming distance (a frightful 12 minutes from Hollywood down a breezy 101), Frolic and Far Bar play together nicely. Rencher has found a weeknight that works, a venue that plays to his interests, and as a result is curating a show that doesn’t always hit, but rarely misses. And in the LA alternative stand up comedy scene, that might as well make you Kirk Gibson.