For most of us, life in Los Angeles involves decidedly more routine concerns than what’s portrayed in the media. The people I know are more likely to worry about what school their son will attend or how to fit in their daughter’s dance recital before flying out on a business trip. They share frustrations about finding a parking spot at Whole Foods and the speed of their internet. And they struggle to be good spouses and loved ones.
So, not all of us are cutting off our dicks and jumping out of apartment windows. We don’t take propofol to fall asleep at night either. And if nude pictures surfaced of most of us, the internet would collectively consider celibacy.
Even still, life here involves consistent reminders that our city is different. For Lease signs on buildings frequently include a specific number to contact for use in filming. On my routine walks to and from the gym I have seen New York City taxicabs and Boston police cars. Other times, I’ve arrived there to find that the pool or basketball court was closed for use in a commercial shoot.
In the evening I might take a stack of burgers up to the rooftop to grill and find a model or aspiring starlet standing on the table, surrounded by photographers and an electric fan for that perfect dusk shot against the DTLA skyline. Everyone in this city has their story about the routine meal at a restaurant when so and so was seated at the adjacent table. Or a friend in the Valley who slept with such and such Motown star. And so on.
Perhaps the best way that the entertainment industry influences life here, however, involves the trickle down effect of talent. I once heard a theory that companies pay CEOs exorbitant sums in small part for their own performance, and in large part to keep the 200 Vice Presidents, Division Presidents and others hustling, back-stabbing and angling for the corner office. Likewise, the mega deals at the top of the entertainment world spawn a whole culture of comedians, singers and performers trying to make it big.
Thus, in addition to enjoying the world’s sexiest pool of waiters, waitresses and bartenders Angelinos enjoy superior live performances, even at the smallest of venues. And even in these small venues, the experience is transfused with the possibility that maybe, just maybe, one of these people will be famous one day.
This past Wednesday’s Pints & Puns Comedy Show at the Angel City Brewery was one such type of performance. Angel City serves more or less as an unofficial community center in the Arts District. Its other offerings range from the typical (Taco & Trivia Tuesdays) to the more innovative (Run + Yoga + Beer, conveniently occurring at 9:30am on Sunday).
Pints & Puns did not require a cover charge or a drink minimum, a common comedy club hustle. The show occurs on a mezzanine area of the brewery, which makes a forgiving environment. The comics perform to an audience of about twenty-five people over a quiet din of conversation from the floor below – so the total and painful silence that typically follows a bad joke never occurs.
And there were plenty of bad jokes, at least in the beginning. In fact, if Kathy Griffin is on the D list, I’m not sure our alphabet has enough letters to accommodate one or two of the earlier performances. Everyone pulled a few laughs from the audience, but the host of the evening, Trent Bruce, obviously saved the best comics for the end of the night.
Heather Thomson was at the top of the ninth. Her shtick was woman in need of sex, which she acknowledged should never occur since some man at any bar would always be willing. But this she said, was like telling a hungry person that every garbage can had food. The other part of her routine defined the various stages of being sad, at which point she said that her life was so sad that her therapist cried during their sessions. Thompson blends the neurosis of Woody Allen with the waspy essence of Meryl Streep. Like Allen, sometimes she came across as whiny, but mostly there was hearty, full laughter across the crowd during her routine.
The last act, Steve Hernandez told tales of woe from his life as a Mexican-American who loves white women. He’s a recent divorcee, recent enough that at moments it felt like the audience was about to witness an extended emotional ramble. But, fortunately, Hernandez’ wisecracks carried the day. In a particularly honest section of the routine he mimicked oral sex with his ex-wife and managed to link it to the Little Mermaid. The audience exploded in laughter, as it had many times while Hernandez had the mic. His act had overtones of the raunchy outsider, sort of like a male version of Roseanne Barr, but with an added dimension of race.
With talent like this, Pints & Puns seems likely to grow in popularity. If you’re downtown on a Wednesday looking for laughs I’d recommend it. Good beer will help with life’s normal concerns and the talent will remind you this Angel City is anything but normal.
Los Angeles, California