Say Anything (but please be funny)
Mar Vista’s Grand View Market hosts a supportive comedy and music open mic on Wednesday nights
By Shanee Edwards
Every Wednesday night at about 7 p.m., Grand View Market serves up a side of entertainment to go with its organic produce selection, juice bar, made-to-order deli sandwiches and Area 1 craft beer bar.
That’s when the recently renovated neighborhood market and café, a prime example of the vibrant energy taking hold along Venice Boulevard in Mar Vista, turns into a welcoming stage for aspiring comedians and musicians.
At the Grand View Market Open Mic Night, hosted by comedians Matthew Curtie and Justin Lentz, anybody — novice or professional — can sign up to do a four-minute comedy set or perform two songs.
That keeps things interesting, said Curtie, because you get a good mix of performers from all walks of life.
“You get people who you can tell are really trying hard, and it’s really fun to watch and see them slowly getting better as they keep coming back. Same with musicians — randomly you’ll get a good musician in here. It’s one of those situations where you can tell they are going somewhere or they need to be going somewhere,” Curie said.
But the opposite can also be true, which is also part of the fun.
“Sometimes you get just insane people, either playing weird songs or doing something that doesn’t make sense. Or you get someone who just goes on stage and says the weirdest things for four minutes, or just says the most awful things in existence for four minutes.”
What attracts such a diverse group of performers? Curtie believes it takes a certain kind of crazy for someone to think they’re funny enough to be a comedian.
“That kind of crazy also applies to the guy who stands behind a liquor store, drinking tall boys, thinking ‘Oh, my racist jokes are really funny. I’m going to go say this in front of a crowd of people,’” Curtie said. “We’ve also had some homeless people do four minutes, and that’s really weird. To people in the crowd, it’s funny to them as just a one-time thing, but as a host you get tired of it really fast.”
Neither of the hosts are interested in laying down strict rules about who can and can’t perform, however.
“It is an open mic, and we don’t put laws on it. Otherwise it would be a show, and we’d have to start putting in the work to make it a show,” Curtie said. “So, you take the good with the bad. One performer can be really funny, and one smells a lot like pee.”
One of the comedians who didn’t smell like pee was Manhattan Beach resident Max Benoit, who said he’s been doing stand-up comedy and performing “ridiculous songs” for more than three years. Benoit said he’s performed at other venues — including the Laugh Factory — but enjoys working out new material at the Grand View Market, having heard about the open mic night while working as a Lyft driver.
Benoit said he it’s his own perfectionist tendencies that keep coming back to the Grand View Market Open Mic Night.
“I want to perfect my art, my craft. I think people are crazy not to do it. I think everyone should do stand up. If I had a sales team, I’d get them all down here, get them on stage and make them do it,” Benoit said.
Robbie Goodwin, another aspiring comedian and an Uber driver by day, said he likes to get up on stage at different venues at least five nights a week. He enjoys the supportive atmosphere at the Grand View Market — though not everyone at the market realizes they’re about to witness a comedy show.
“A few times here there have been kids in the market and I’ve had to adjust my set. I use lot of F-words sometimes. But overall, I like it a lot. If you can’t stand the mic, get out of the Grand View Market, you know?” Goodwin said.
Aspiring singer-songwriter Taylor Hinds recently moved to West L.A. from Texas. After earning a degree in marine biology, she saved up money while bartending to pursue her dream of a music career and really enjoys sharing her original songs during the Grandview Open Mic Night.
“Everyone is really supportive here. They’re all really nice, and it’s a really open environment. It doesn’t matter what you do — they’re going to clap for you. It’s a great place to grow,” she said.
The Grand View Market Open Mic Night begins at 7 p.m. Wednesdays, with performer signups at 6:30 p.m. There is also an open mic strictly for musicians on Friday nights. The market is at 12210 Venice Blvd., Mar Vista. Call (310) 390-7800.