YELLO!, SMASHBOX STUDIOS, February 17, 2011
Since its viral, homegrown launch six months ago, the Super Serious Comedy Show has earned a serious following. Drawing a crowd that looks like it got bussed in from a gallery opening or industry tête-à-tête, the event is held on the third Thursday of each month at Smashbox Studios in Culver City. Event producers have been building on the space each month, transforming it into a swank lounge strung with garden lights, a video installation, and a dj spinning sultry beats against the sparse walls. Included is free, fancy beer, a trendy food truck and plenty of space to hang out beforehand.
During the sold-out show on Feb. 17, a spillover crowd stood in back to see a lineup punctuated with a celebrity surprise: the doe-eyed and ever irreverent Sarah Silverman. Host Jimmy Pardo (Never Not Funny, Comedy Central) hooked the crowd with his quirky upbeat opener, and introduced Dana Gould, Andres du Bouchet, Ali Wong, Reggie Watts, video from Brent Weinbach & Moshe Kasher, and the sketch group, A Kiss From Daddy. The performers circled themes ranging from absurdly hilarious (du Bouchet’s rousing soliloquy on finches; Watt’s entire beat-boxed repertoire) to hilariously dependable riffs on partnering, parenting and self-deprecation.
Silverman, wearing tights under a short-short denim skirt and her hair in flirty pigtails, delivered zingers without breaking her just-us-girlfriends vibe: “When I first went to get my eyebrows waxed, the lady turned to me and said, ‘what are we doing today, just the moustache?’ I don’t have a moustache, okay. I bleach my moustache.”
Since parachuting into the comedic mainstream and YouTubing her own celebrity serenade to then-boyfriend Jimmy Kimmel, Silverman seems happily resituated in her raw comedic genius. She shines in the intimate setting that Super Serious promotes, and welcomes the chance to gage new material as she readies to head out on tour. “I’m having so much fun again. Sometimes you just have to start over and bomb and be shitty and try stuff,” she said. “I feel like I’ve gotten over that hump.”
On stage, Silverman gained momentum as she earned extended laughs. After her set, she noted, “that’s the best crowd in there.” The relaxed vibe is what producers Mandee Johnson, Joel Mandelkorn and Betsy Koch have been focused on delivering. “We didn’t want it to be at a comedy club. We love food trucks, and we love good craft beer,” said Johnson. “We wanted to create a space where the audience felt at home.”
The show’s producers also cater to comics eager to try material out on new and patient ears. “There are so many crappy shows in LA, mixed in with too many new acts, and the whole audience is just comedians playing to themselves,” said Mandelkorn, who curates the show. A self-admitted “stockerish kind of person,” Mandelkorn books comedians by studying the schedules they post on the web. “When I see they’ve got some dates out of town, I know they’re probably going to want to work on material,” he said.
To close the show, Reggie Watts, with his clownish mess of hair and surprisingly clean falsetto, harmonized the loops he threw down on stage with a stream-of-consciousness tour through various characterizations. During his skit, he shuffle-danced his way out of the theme song from the 80s sitcom, “Charles in Charge” before stepping into a gritty, mouthy guy’s guy from the south side of somewhere. His beats worked in a solid baseline for his otherwise nonsensical, yet wildly captivating set.
“I like the audience and the formation of this space. You could feel the back of the room,” said Watts. “This is a really cool spot to have a comedy show.”
The next show is scheduled on March 17. For more info and to purchase tickets, visit superseriousshow.com