I owe you guys a lot of picks, so think of this as my bouquet of flowers for all my neglect.
Here is your complete guide to watching stand-up comedy in Los Angeles this October. And by "complete" I mean "completely biased toward the excellent, weird and often overlooked." It's split up into venues, weekly & monthly shows and specials & rarities. Happy Laughing!
These are some really cool monthly or semi-regular shows that you should mark down on your calendar. I've included their Twitter here so you can check for the next show.
Skinny Sundays (@SkinnySundays) - This monthly at the Hollywood Improv mixes some terrific stand-up with live skecth, videos and totally random game show style segments. Plus they always have a rocking food truck out front and the crowd is just the best.
The Blind Barber Secret Show (Tumblr) This guestlist-only show in the back room of a Culver City barber shop takes the speakeasy theme very seriously. Great show and awesome retro cocktails.
The Improvised Stand-Up Show (@standupots) This is the only show where the audience is actually supposed to be yelling at the performers. The crowd (and other comedians on the show) shout out topics and the comedians have to make up entirely new jokes about them right then and there.
Impro(VS)tandup (@ImproVStandup) You know I don't much care for Improv, but this is a very cool format that shakes things up with short sets from each side and then an improvver has to try stand-up and the stand-ups have to give improv a shot.
Picture This! (@PictureThisShow) This really fun and inventive show hands an illustrator an iPad connected to a projector that's showing behind the stand-up whose set they are trying to visualize. The drawings become helpers, hecklers and foils for some fun off-the-cuff comedy.
3 For 30 (@3for30comedy) This new show (the first edition is Oct 3 at the Icehouse) is my comedy wet dream in an LA landscape of interminable shows with 500 comedians each doing sets of less than 15 minutes. Three headliners, each does 30 minutes. Simple as that.
These shows are some of the consistently best shows every day of the week.
KillTony - 8 pm - The Comedy Store Belly Room - Free - Tony Hinchcliffe, Brian Redban and their guests give young comedians a chance to dazzle them and get feedback from how to tighten a premise to how soon they should quit comedy.
Comedy Night at The Parlor - 9 pm - The Parlor Hollywood - Free - Jay Davis runs this solid weekly bar show that's worth putting up with the standard Hwood douche clientele.
Performance Anxiety - 8:30 pm - The Pleasure Chest West Hollywood - $7 (free beer) - Okay, this is actually bi-monthly, but close enough. TJ Miller & Eli Olsberg curate a fun and sometimes very weird show inside a sex toy shop.
The Meltdown - 8:30 pm - Meltdown Comics - $8 - Jonah Ray & Kumail Nanjiani host this alt comedy juggernaut that is an incredibly fun show to watch and has some great surprise pop-ins.
Comedy Juice - 10 pm - Hollywood Improv - $14 - This has been The Show in town for years, packed with the best comics and always draws celebrity drop-ins. It seemed to stumble a little over the past year as it expanded around the country and The Improv went through some changes, but it seems to be back on its powerhouse feet these days.
The Josh & Josh Show - 8:30 pm - Bar Lubitsch - Free - Bar Lubitsch is a a great intimate room and the Josh & Josh show is a great way to see a stellar lineup up close and personal.
Deathsquad/Icehouse Chronicles - 10 pm - The Icehouse Pasadena - $10 - This weekly show and simultaneous live podcast brings cult favorite Deathsquad comedians to the cozy Stage 2 at Icehouse.
Main Room at The Comedy Store - 9 pm - The Comedy Store - $20 - The best show at The Comedy Store all week (well, now there's a similarly awesome show on Fridays), well worth the ridiculous parking costs on Sunset.
French Toast - 10 pm - Taix Lounge - Free - A nice, tight show with some very cool acts. It won't keep you up too late on a school night, but it's so good you'll kind of wish it would.
These are the clubs, bars and rooms that have comedy almost any and every day of the week, for a great last minute kind of night.
The Big Three - The Improv, The Comedy Store and The Laugh Factory continue to provide Los Angeles with the two drink minimum experience that has been the standard of watching comedy for decades. Fortunately, the days of comedians having to pick a side are long gone and you can see top tier talent at all three every night of the week.
Nerdmelt at Meltdown Comics is probably the most vital and influential venue in LA comedy right now. With the combination of Chris Hardwick's wallet and love of comedy, along with the loyal fanbase build by the original Meltdown Show, Nerdmelt has the good fortune to be able to take chances and have many of them pay off. From the flagship Wednesday show to Competitive Erotic Fan Fiction, Bad Movie Night, quiz shows and panels, Nerdmelt pushes out and goes beyond the boundaries of what is technically stand-up.
A little ways east of center, The Icehouse in Pasadena provides a nice mix of weekend headliner road club in the Main Room with more LA-style shows in the smaller Stage 2.
The small clubs - Flappers Burbank, Jon Lovitz Club in Universal City and Inside Jokes at Hollywood & Highland Center offer a hit or miss experience. Often, national headliners choose long sets at these venues over the standard LA 15 minutes, other times the clubs struggle to grab enough attention from Angelinos with entertainment overload to fill the house.
The Virgil has recently started running really high caliber comedy shows most nights. Through the summer, the tiny room was often stifling and clautrophobic, but hopefully the cool fall breezes will find their way into the un-airconditioned stage. The bartenders are fantastic and make amazing classic and retro cocktails.
The Palace Restaurant also has a number of cool little shows in the upstairs room. Plus, Chinese food!