Want A Laugh? Check Out LA's Best Free Comedy Shows
If laughter is the best medicine then maybe, like health care, it should be considered a fundamental right and made accessible to everyone at no cost. We can dream.
While we fantasize about a utopian society where your access to basic services isn't dependent on how much you earn, we can at least laugh. You're in luck. This is the golden age of hilarity in Los Angeles. A unique confluence of economics, culture and media means you can catch a top-notch comedy show almost any night of the week -- for free.
Blackberry Jam: All Diversity, No Shade
Tashi Condelee and Ellington Wells' monthly Blackberry Jam: All Diversity, No Shade show is a study in contrasts. After four years (the supersized three-year-anniversary show was last March), Condelee remains an explosive, bombastic force as she plays off Wells, her calm, droll foil. It's a classic set-up -- the goof and the straight man, the id and the ego -- but Blackberry Jam lives and dies on the personal chemistry between Condelee and Wells and their shared experiences as women of color who are carving out their space in L.A.'s comedy scene, gig by gig. They make each show special with lineups that mix performers of various genders and races with up-and-coming musical stars. The surreal, vintage-style posters they release are also unique collectibles, like 1980s album covers done by Rene Magritte.
- Cha Cha Lounge: 2375 Glendale Blvd., Silver Lake. 323-660-7595.
- Third or fourth Monday of every month, 8:30 p.m.
Blair + Greta Show
No surprises, no duds, no amateurs. These are the standards of the new and mostly unheralded Blair + Greta Show at Genghis Cohen. The concept is old-school -- two working stand-ups host a showcase for their funny friends in a dingy Chinese restaurant -- and hosts Blair Socci and Greta Titleman could just as easily have run this show at the Copacabana in 1950. Who needs to reinvent the wheel when it's so impeccably designed? Socci and Titleman are hilarious performers, together or separately, and the show boasts primo bookings with stars like Sasheer Zamata (SNL), Adam Conover (Adam Ruins Everything) and Martha Kelly (Baskets). Credit for that goes to producer Amanda Raba, whose work as a booker and producer on Socci's Dear Owen Wilson, Arts & Crafts and Blue Rooster Art's Faded Comedy, among other shows, has single-handedly made Los Angeles more interesting and accessible for comedy fans.
- Genghis Cohen: 740 N. Fairfax Ave., Fairfax District. 323-653-0640.
- Tuesdays, 8p.m.
Rod Stewart Live!
Sam Wiles, James Austin Johnson and Zach Pugh advertise themselves as "good boys" but that's not exactly true. They're mischief-makers, foxes in the henhouse, Loki types masquerading as the pleasantly normcore hosts of Rod Stewart Live!. In one of their best pranks, they commandeered the hashtag #comedysbiggestnight to promote RSL! when, in truth, the show, with two short sets and one longer headliner, is both underappreciated and tighter than many of L.A.'s unbearable comedy showcases. Then of course, there's the name, with its false suggestion that popstar Rod Stewart will perform. Instead, it's usually a slew of exceptional comics such as John Early, Beth Stelling, Drew Michael or Alice Wetterlund. We hope that more people see for themselves what these bad comedy boys are getting up to.
- La Cuevita: 7702 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood. 323-654-1234.
- Wednesdays, 8 p.m.
Giant Robot Comedy Night
It is easy to be skeptical of Giant Robot Comedy Night, sandwiched as it is into the claustrophobic GR2 gallery space in West L.A. The white walls are scuffed and vaguely sterile, the backless benches are close together, there's no air conditioning. Yet hosts Jessica Sele, George Chen and Curtis Cook know how to weaponize the oddness of their environment and use it to their advantage. None of the rotating guests who fill the rambunctious, experimental performance space every first Thursday are weirder than Chen, a mousy, witty stand-up who has been known to drag his scooter up to the microphone, tell some jokes and ride off in shame. You might be uncomfortable but you will laugh.
- GR2 Gallery: 2062 Sawtelle Blvd., West L.A. 424-246-7626.
- First Thursday of every month, 8 p.m.
10 by 10: Variety Night
Despite the presence of stalwarts like The Society and Comedy Mash-Up, the Santa Clarita Valley has, until recently, been unwelcoming for variety showcases. That seems to have changed with 10 by 10, the first free interdisciplinary show at the revamped The MAIN in Old Town Newhall. 10 by 10 (a reference to the number of performers at each show) skews strange. Some nights lean heavily on poetry readings and avant-garde drumming while others feel like you're in a coffeehouse for amateur comics. Its unpredictability is a boon to curious comedy fans, who are bound to find gifted unknowns discovering themselves onstage. Although tickets are free, the quaint little theater at The MAIN only seats 99 people, so RSVP in advance.
- The MAIN, 24266 Main St., Newhall. 661-290-2255.
- First Thursday of every month, 7 p.m.
Glassell Park's wonderfully queer High Priestess is more of a spiritual retreat than a comedy show. Regular attendees know to arrive with open souls and chill vibes for a monthly event with an abundance of cannabis and tarot readings. That's not to imply that this witchy extravaganza in a strategically mysterious location (DM their Instagram account for the address) is inaccessible to Jane and Joe Comedy. Quite the contrary. Hosts Bri Pruett and Sara June slay and you're likely to score some 420-friendly schwag from show sponsor Besito. That makes High Priestess a win-win, provided the blood moon has not yet darkened.
- Glassell Park. RSVP for address.
- Third or fourth Friday of every month, 8 p.m.
Don't be alarmed. The nice folks of Good Heroin, maybe the best stand-up showcase ever held in a bookstore's backyard, aren't encouraging you to use opiates. Hosts Matt Ingebretson (a star and creator of Comedy Central's brilliant Corporate) and Dave Ross (whose debut album is due in the fall) along with producers Olivia Doud and Katherine Swope want you to celebrate the glorious spectrum of L.A. comedy over house-brewed kombucha. That's a lofty goal but one their superb curation supports. Each Saturday night features performers of diverse genders, races and ages, resulting in wildly varied line-ups suitable for almost any adult. The only constant at these shows is the crowd, which has grown so dramatically since GH's founding four years ago that standing (or sitting) room only is now the norm.
- Stories Books & Café, 1716 W. Sunset Blvd., Echo Park. 213-413-3733.
- Saturdays, 8 p.m.