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Friday, August 1, 2014

Comedy is becoming serious business for Silver Lake bars and restaurants

Stand-up host Bruce Daniels

By Jim Faulkner

Four years ago, comic Bruce Daniels launched his Tuesday night “Drunk on Stage” show at Silver Lake’s Akbar.  With little nearby competition, Daniels’ show has hosted well-known comics like Kathy Griffin, Margaret Cho, Kathleen Madigan, and Jennifer Coolidge.  Increased Tuesday night sales at Akbar confirm that there’s an audience for Silver Lake stand-up – and money to be made for the venues. News about the success of Daniels’ Akbar show must have crept east along Sunset Boulevard like a No. 2 Metro Bus as other bars and restaurants have in recent years launched comedy nights – and seen their sales increase as well.

At Akbar, one of the Eastside’s few gay bars, Jeff Rasul, who bartends on Tuesdays, says that “Drunk on Stage” brings in a more diverse crowd  who normally might not fit Akbar’s traditional demographic.  “Tuesday is one of the busier non-weekend nights.  Including other specialty nights at the bar, this one is more consistent,” Rasul said.  He also noted that he sees about a 30%  increase in sales during “Drunk on Stage” than he does during the rest of the evening.

Down the boulevard at El Cid Dinner Theater, manager Lauren Fitzpatrick says that the restaurant had experimented with stand-up shows more than a year ago, suspended them, then reinstated their Monday night show six months ago – to increased sales. The formats of the Akbar and El Cid shows differ as El Cid hosts “bringer” shows where comedians are required to bring audience members in order get stage time.  While not able to quantify an exact percentage increase, she said that sales on Monday’s stand-up nights are much higher than on previous Monday nights.

Jessica Vohs, manager at Malo Restaurant, said that her eatery hosts stand-up shows about three times per month.  “As far as an increase in revenue, we can’t really say yet because we have only been doing this for about six months.  The nights that we have had the stand-up upstairs  are pretty busy and definitely worth our time – and we’re glad to help support local comedians.”

Many of the more established performers,  meanwhile,  have been able to take advantage of a more relaxed atmosphere to try out new material. Daniels said comics like Griffin and Cho, who perform at “Drunk on Stage,” try out new material there before taking it “on the road.”

Daniels said the local audiences provide the comics needed feedback as they develop their craft.  “I’ve never had to dumb down my act when performing on the Eastside, and the audience picks up hooks; they’re not conversations about Lady Gaga,” he said.

Erin Foley, who co-hosts with Daniels, relocated to Silver Lake from New York. 3 ½ years ago.  In addition to Akbar and El Cid, she performs at  the EchoPlex in Echo Park and Tangiers in Los Feliz. Foley also said that the smaller clubs on the Eastside allow performers to be more free on stage.  “There’s less of an inclination to let go in the bigger venues.”

Foley compares the audiences with those in New York’s East Village. “The Eastside is a good mix; there’s one of everything.”

If you know of other stand-up venues in Silver Lake or the rest of the Eastside stand-up shows, let us know.

Jim Faulkner works as a marketing communications consultant and has also performed stand-up himself at the New York Comedy Clubs and at open mics around L.A.

5 comments

  1. Stand up and improv is definitely popping up all over the eastside at a lot of unique venues. Ive done stand up at Malo and El Cid and they are great venues. Also, The Palace in Los Feliz also hosts a monthly show called Mustaches & Mai Tais. Its stand up, improv and it’s hosted by faux cabaret duo Lady Mercury and Lady Boron. It’s a different type of show because its in the upstairs of a Chinese restaurant and feels very intimate. The show has been going for 5 months and is getting bigger and bigger each time — how do i know? I host it! The next show is tonight August 12 from 9-11 pm. There are drink specials, appetizer specials and fake mustaches for all! so if you are looking for a different kind of comedy night check out Mustaches & Mai Tais at the Palace (2112 Hillhurst Ave) – Meg/Lady Mercury

  2. comedy open mic at silverlake lounge, every friday night, starts at 6 pm.

  3. it’s free too.

  4. Hey Everybody,

    Paula Johnson and I run a free open mic with no minimums at the Zapata Vive Restaurant in Arcadia. We have our own room in the back so we can do whatever we want back there. (we hope you will support the restaurant by having a drink or eating some great Mexican food)

    Everybody gets 5 minutes, and if we have a light night, even more!

    We do it on the first and third Thursdays.. More info at http://www.thejokegym.com We also have a FB page.. search on The Joke Gym.

    See you there!

    Scott Shimamoto

  5. Let me second Scott’s invitation to The Joke Gym. We’re in our third year, and have had more than 350 comics come through our room. We use the lottery system for the line-up, but we sometimes offer guaranteed spots via our Facebook Page.

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