Posts Tagged ‘comedy’

Comedy: NYC vs LA

“So what’s better, comedy in New York or comedy in LA?”

Several people in LA have asked me that question. Last week when I was in New York, I was asked this question:

“What’s comedy like in LA? Do you miss New York?”

The third question is the easiest to answer. Of course I miss New York. It’s my favorite city and I bet it always will be. I also really like LA.

In New York, comedians like to repeat this advice: “Don’t move to LA until industry tells you to.” I don’t know who said this first or when, and maybe at one time it was good advice. But after living here for a year, I think it’s pretty off the mark. I think that the reputation of a place is always about five years behind reality. I remember hearing that comedy in LA is lazier and not as smart and that there’s not enough stage time available to really develop. If those rumors were at one time true, they’re not anymore.

It is true that the audiences are different in New York and LA. Audiences are more demanding in New York, and I like that. It sets the bar high and that’s one of many reasons New York is a great place to develop as a comedian. But LA audiences are not “easier because they are dumber,” which is another rumor that’s out there. I think LA audiences are more relaxed and willing to accept you as a good comedian because they are there to laugh, and that does make it easier to do well. I’m much more comfortable sharing more of myself onstage here, and that has helped my writing as well. It’s more specific, and I feel like it’s easier to write jokes in my own voice. Part of that is just progress, my third year of doing standup as opposed to my first or second. But I also think the supportive audiences have a lot to do with it too, as well as the supportive comedians who make up the LA comedy scene.

My first night in LA, I went to an open mic. The open mic system in LA is a lottery, so the host draws names out of a hat and you sign up for a spot when your name is called. If luck exists, then I have really bad luck when it comes to having my name drawn out of a hat. That first night, I was drawn dead last. Two and a half hours later, it was finally my turn to do my five minutes. Most of the comedians had left at this point, so the room was nearly empty. As soon as I got onstage, two more people came in the room. It was Jim Hegarty and Dominic Dierkes, two nice guys who introduced themselves to me earlier in the evening and made me feel a lot less awkward and alone. They had both gone up pretty early in the evening, but stuck around for an extra two hours just to see me. To be supportive. I will never forget that.

And if I wasn’t clear above, I am a girl and they are guys and they stayed to see me to be supportive. One thing I don’t miss about the New York comedy scene is hearing “Who did she fuck to get on that show?” Because I heard that phrase said about female comedians too many times in New York, and it’s gross and disrespectful. I don’t hear garbage like that in LA and it makes me happy. LA comedians are fans of each other. They even laugh at open mics, and when they go to shows it’s hard to tell them apart from regular audience members because they are also laughing and having a good time.

Why do comedians in New York seem less supportive of each other than in LA? The New York comedy scene is very competitive. Sure, comedians like each other and are friends with each other, but it seems like bitterness and jealousy come between friends often, openly or behind each other’s back. Taylor Williamson, who started in LA/San Diego, moved to New York, and is now back in LA, once explained his theory to me on why this happens in NY and not LA. In LA, the “heat” of the industry will be on a comedian for a little while and then it will move to someone else. While the “heat” is on you, you make progress that’s noticeable to others, and when it’s not on you anymore it’s ok because the tangible success you had, even if it was brief, is reassuring that you are moving forward. And other comedians don’t really have time to get jealous because the “heat” just keeps moving. And it often cycles back onto you again at a different time.

In New York, the “heat” concentrates on a few select people for a lot longer. When it gets hot enough, those people usually move to LA. Some continue to live in New York and build successful careers there, but they will still travel to LA fairly regularly for meetings. So most up and coming comics don’t get to feel “heat” in New York, and without tangible success to reassure them, it’s easy to get jealous of comedians who have success, especially if they have been doing comedy the same amount of time as (or less than) the jealous comedian.

By the numbers, there is more stage time in New York. There are more open mics and shows at alternative venues in New York and you can get up multiple times every night if you want, which is incredible. But if you were to tally up the number of shows at alternative venues in both places that are produced well and get real audience members, the numbers would be about equal. There are a lot more comedy clubs in NYC than LA, but there are lots of comedy clubs not too far away from LA, like in Orange County and San Diego that get great audiences and will give stage time to up and coming comics.

So which is better? Comedy in New York or comedy in LA? I think they are both great, and it depends on the person which is a better fit. If competition drives you, New York will make you better faster. If a supportive, welcoming environment makes you more comfortable onstage, LA is a better pick. For me, both are valuable and I need to get to New York more often than I do. I know really talented, cool people doing comedy in both New York and LA, and watching them develop their comedy onstage has helped me develop mine.

What about all the other great places to do comedy, like Chicago, Boston, San Francisco and other cities? Yes, I’m sure there are lots of great places to live and do comedy. I have only lived as a comedian in NYC and LA, so those are the only cities I can really compare.

If you are an up and coming comedian in New York, I think you should come out to LA and do some shows. Just a few days, a couple of weeks, or even a month. Don’t wait for industry to call for you, you can start learning about all that now so that when you are called for, you’re ready for it. And LA comedians should go to New York for a bit. There is so much to observe because so much is happening all the time, it’s easy to spark your creativity there.

Good comedy has a clear perspective and if you only stay in one place, it’s easy to lose perspective. Comedy has no rules, there is no set path for a career in comedy, but the more experiences we have, the more we have to joke about, right?


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Tonight I fly back to LA from a great week in New York and I feel good.

I’m also feeling good about this show tomorrow. Charlie Sanders and I have been producing “This One Time” since December and it’s great each and every time. If you haven’t seen it, tomorrow would be a good one.

“This One Time”
Wednesday, June 9, 9pm
The Zephyr Theatre 7456 Melrose (@ Gardner)

Comedians Charlie Sanders and Margie Kment host a night of incredibly true stories told by your favorite comedians from stand up, improv, and sketch. Life is stranger than fiction, and all good stories start with ‘This one time…’

Stories from:



TAYLOR WILLIAMSON (Live At Gotham, Last Comic Standing)

and of course, your hosts…
CHARLIE SANDERS and MARGIE KMENT, two people who found each other and thought it would be nice to give you a show.

Email to reserve your seats at thisonetimeshow@gmail.com.

And starting June 20th, I’ll feel really good when I start hosting a weekly show with Zach Sherwin aka MC Mr. Napkins:

Sunday, June 20th, 8:30pm
at Taix
1911 W. Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90026

Maria Bamford
Dan Mintz
Kyle Kinane

I know, RIGHT?!

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What am I most excited about in August 2009? This show.

I’m producing The Meaning of Wife with Theatre Témoin at the New York International Fringe Festival (FringeNYC). It stars two terrific women, comedian Erin Judge and actress Ailin Conant.

Erin and Ailin have been friends (and sometimes, ahem, more than friends) since college. Now in their mid-twenties, these two women both find themselves in the unexpected position of being somebody’s wife. Ailin also HAS a wife (which is pretty confusing for people’s grandmothers), while Erin has a husband, matching towels, and a huge white dress that she has justifed holding on to by doing this show.

The Meaning of Wife is part sketch comedy, part public relations campaign, and all way too much information about Erin and Ailin. This funny and brutally honest piece explores what marriage looks like in some of its newest manifestations (read: gay ones) and its most traditional (read: a white dude and a white chick), and what every kind of marriage has to teach us all about what it means to be a wife.

“It’s hilarious, it’s topical, it’s fun, and, most of all, it’s our true story. We enjoy using humor to reveal the absurdities of what kinds of marriages are sanctioned by law and what kind are not. And we’re out to challenge what people think of when they hear the word ‘wife.'” –Erin Judge

FringeNYC is one of the most fun ways to see theatre, and I urge to see as much as you can. Some shows will be great, some will disappoint, but The Meaning of Wife is definitely a winner.

The Meaning of Wife runs August 21-29th at The Actor’s Playhouse. Learn more about the show and incredible performers here .
Buy your tickets in person at FringeCentral (Crosby between Spring and Broome) or online from Ticketweb.

For recommendations on other great Fringe shows, check out Hyreviews.

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Joe Powers Benefit Show!

Thanks to everyone who came out to Hold For The Laughs last night and helped make it such a fun evening! I’m now putting together the December 17th show. Can’t wait!

You may be wondering what ever happened to the exboyfriend in yesterday’s post who went to the theatre with me and introduced me to the world of standup comedy. He is in no way a typical exboyfriend. To me, he’s a fellow University of Oregon alum (GO DUCKS!), the first friend I made in New York City, a very good friend to this day, and one of the nicest people you will ever meet. 

Unfortunately, three months ago Joe Powers had an accident. He fell off a roof, broke many bones, and suffered a head injury. The good news is he is making incredible progress. He is speaking now, and has just been moved from a hospital to a care facility for more intense cognitive, speech, and physical rehab. It will be a long road to recovery, but there is no reason not to be optimistic. 

Tonight is a benefit at Gotham to help cover the costs of Joe’s recovery. Whether you know him or not, you should come out if you can. The lineup is great, and it will be a room full of warm fuzzy. There will be a lot of love at Gotham tonight!Joe Powers Healing

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Hold For The Laughs

Hold For The Laughs

It’s tonight! The third edition of my monthly comedy show that I’m producing with Small Pond Entertainment. I feel lucky to have such a great space, and all the comedians who have done the show so far have been great. Tonight is another awesome lineup, with Giulia Rozzi, John Mulaney, Dan Mintz, and Demetri Martin!

It’s a fundraiser for independent theatre, and tonight will bring in a lot of support for these companies. That is the main reason this show is happening, but not the only one.

I do theatre and comedy. When I go see indie theatre, the audience members remind me of a lot of the live comedy fans I know. It’s like a real-world The Parent Trap, and it’s up to me to reunite the twinsies. Before I did this show, I would daydream about comedy fans seeing theatre, and theatre fans seeing comedy. In the daydream, they are enjoying themselves and are very close to holding hands.

When I started doing comedy, a lot of my theatre friends came out to see me, and it was a new experience for them. For most of them, they had a good time and would return again and again (unless there was a steep cover and 2 drink minimum).

Some were stubborn. My ex-boyfriend, an actor, dismissed standup comedy as “weird” because “Why can’t the comedian just tell the jokes? Why talk to the audience? It’s uncomfortable! I don’t want you to know I’m here.” And then he would switch topics to theatre where he hoped to someday create a production with Brechtian elements. “Not wannabe Brecht though. Fourth wall, YUCK!” (That last quote was paraphrased, but accurate).

When I first moved to the city, I dated a comedian. I hadn’t started comedy yet, and for our first date, he took me to the Comedy Cellar. I remember Mulaney was there that night! I had seen live comedy before, but not much. After that night, I was instantly a huge comedy fan. I would go and WATCH my boyfriend at almost every open mic he did and I had a great time. Seriously. Even those who bombed were interesting to observe. They were never up there for more than five minutes, so it was always bearable.

I would see his comedy, and he would go to shows with me. We saw everything on Broadway, but then we would also go see some “wacky” stuff at BAM, which he tolerated and sometimes even enjoyed more than I thought he would. He managed to follow Thomas Ostermeier’s Hedda Gabler without even having heard of Hedda before.

I once asked him, “You like Edward Scissorhands, right?”                                   “Yeah, is there a screening somewhere?”                                                                “Well, no. But Edward Scissorhands the ballet is playing at the Howard Gilman.”

We saw Cymbeline, and before the show I asked him if should give him a plot synopsis to help him understand, as it is not a well known Shakespeare. He shoved his hands over his ears and said “No! Please don’t ruin the ending!” 

The point is, every week we would see at least one thing at a theatre or at Comedy Cellar or at Carolines. How were we ever able to afford that? Oh well. The theatre/comedy combo is a great match. Hope you can come out tonight and see for yourself!


November 19th, 10pm
The Sage Theatre (711 Seventh Ave between 47th and 48th)
$10 if you reserve in advance (holdforthelaughs@gmail.com), $12 at the door

Giulia Rozzi
John Mulaney 
Dan Mintz
Demetri Martin
Hosted by Margie Kment

All proceeds go to support indie theatre companies. There’s a free networking event from 9:30-10pm with members of the NYC indie theatre community. Comedians welcome! 

We’re matchmaking theatre and comedy! Is it magic? It is something!

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