From ‘Shtick’ at the Stick to the Warehouse in Marina del Rey, everything’s coming up chuckles
By Michael Aushenker
“There isn’t that much comedy on the Westside,” veteran comedienne Solange Castro told The Argonaut. “It’s really in Hollywood.”
“There isn’t much comedy to be found,” agreed comic L.G. Ross, who has worked the comedy circuit for a decade now. “One or two clubs in Hermosa Beach or Santa Monica.”
But as the humorist Mark Twain might’ve said, reports of its demise may be greatly exaggerated, as stand-up and open-mic nights have been flourishing across venues in Venice, Marina del Rey and Santa Monica.
Castro herself organizes a stand-up line-up the last Sunday of each month in Venice. On July 28 at 8 p.m., “Stand-Up Shtick” at the Talking Stick, 1411 Lincoln Blvd., will feature Jim Coughlin, Ahmed Bharoocha, Dana Eagle, Wub Seville, Alex Karova, Keith Kelly, Jason Van Glass and Virginia Jones.
“Comedy is very cliquish,” Castro admitted. “I try to bring in comics from every type of scene – alternative, up and coming, different ethnicities.” Past shows have included late-night talk show-circuit talents Maria Banford and Jacquie Kashian.
Castro, a 16-year Venice resident, concedes the most vibrant live comedy scene to Hollywood. She’s trying to cultivate a Westside scene for purely selfish reasons “so I don’t have to drive to it.”
“Hollywood is exhausting and intense,” Castro continued. “I love being near the beach. I’m from Berkeley, so Venice shares a lot of the same values.”
Castro gripes how the bulk of today’s comedians are “men talking about porn, pot and video games. (On the plus side) there’s a lot more women (performing).”
In Marina del Rey, funnyman Ross and Vicky Nissen started a comedy workshop in November 2009. “Comics on the Spot” now showcases every Monday at the Warehouse, 4499 Admiralty Way. At 7 p.m., there’s open mic before booked comics perform at 7:45 p.m. On July 29, Ryan Clauson will headline, with Hope Surratt, Chris Dunham, Faith Choyce and Joe Fitzgerald.
“We have an eclectic group,” Ross said. “We have a couple of magicians, a couple of ventriloquists.”
Occasionally, salty comics such as Esther Ku spice up the proceedings, but Ross, who performs “cerebral, set-up-and-punchline humor,” notes that “Warehouse is a family restaurant. I do tell the comedians not to say the ‘F’ word. There’s a time and place for blue humor, but not at the Warehouse.”
Also in Marina del Rey, Brennan’s Pub hosts the Jack Daniels Comedy Classic, featuring a local line-up at 9 p.m. Mondays while on Venice’s Windward Avenue, Danny’s hosts comedy on Mondays at 9 p.m. and Townhouse does it every first Thursday.
Since 2008, Santa Monica’s Tenth & California has served as an open-mic forum for up-and-comers every first and third Friday. Bandleader Macain Treat emcees. Sign-ups are held at 7:30 p.m. with shows at 8 p.m.
Westside Comedy will offer “Unnecessary Evil” on Friday, July 19 at 8 p.m., hosted by Tushar Singh, with comics Melissa Villasenor (“Adventure Time”), Sean O’Connor (“Conan”), Zach Sherwin (“Totally Biased”), Prashanth Venkataramanujam, Calise Hawkins, Neel Nanda and Monika Scott.
Westside also presents “Stand Up for Charity,” benefiting the Cancer Research Institute, on Sunday, July 21 at 7 p.m., hosted by Josh Lehrman (“Family Guy”) and featuring Jullian McCullough (“Late Night with Jimmy Fallon”), Aiko Tanaka (“My Wife and Kids”), Michael Malone, Nick Youssef, Eden Dranger, Drew Lynch and Zara Mizrahi.
Over time, Warehouse’s Ross has seen comedians evolve from awkward beginners into Vegas-headlining pros.
“If you do it long enough, you will perfect it,” Ross said. “You will get better.”