"There's no wrong way to attend a festival" is basically what Allen Strickland WIlliams told me outside The Lexington Bar Saturday night. And he was right, my angst stemmed from the fact that RiotLA's second outing was so packed with goodness, I always felt I was missing something else... even though all the shows I caught were amazing.
This year, Riot expanded to included a number of performers from out-of-town, lending that awesome camp vibe that makes a festival so much fun. Not to mention, making it even more of a draw for Angelinos who may have already seen Comedy Living Room or This is Not Happening.
The firepower across the board was incredible - big headlining shows from Greg Fitzsimmons, Todd Barry, Kyle Kinane and Tommy Johnagin; existing shows like TINH , CLR, Stand-up on The Spot and Stampede!; and great festival-curated shows that rocked from beginning to end.
As is my way, I stuck to mostly the smaller curated shows (also, The Lexington Bar was the only venue that accepted plastic currency). And I wasn't disappointed at all.
Thursday night, I hit up 8 ball with Ron Funches and was treated to awesome sets from Jerrod Carmichael, Chase Bernstein and Run Funches (who I already love), plus the chance to be introduced to Sean Donnelly and Ian Karmel (I know, I should be ashamed this is the first time I'm seeing Ian).
Friday, I stuck with the "comfort food" of This Is Not Happening and Stand-up On The Spot.. As always with both shows, I got a peek at some comedians I already love, working a different muscle. Dov Davidoff was the standout of TINH, and after I saw his set, I couldn't believe it wasn't already obvious that his stream-of-conscious-meta-tangent style was going to be such a great fit. And Guilia Rozzi - who is new to me - was a homerun, too.
Stand-up On The Spot was killer from start to finish, and I could see why Ari Shaffir and Byron Bowers are some of the most requested repeat performers on the show. Both were completely committed to the concept of at least attempting to create a real bit level quality joke off of even the most ridiculous idea that came from the audience. I'd say Hampton Yount and Eric Andre were the pleasant surprises there, though I think Eric was only a surprise to himself. I'd been looking forward to seeing him in this context since the lineup was announced, but he started off with the caveat that this wasn't his thing... which was completely disproven by the set that followed.
Saturday night, it was Jay Larson's show that lured me to The Lexington and I was more than happy I stuck around for Stampede!
Jay's show was unsurprisingly packed with a pretty great crowd, thanks to The CrabFeast, and everyone had fun with them. I was especially excited to see Allen (who I haven't seen in forever), New Yorker Josh Gondelman and recent transplant Matt McCarthy. And, as usual, Jay delivered a rollickingly fun set with tons of Boston-specific references that I always enjoy.
And this was the first time I had the pleasure of seeing Stampede! and what a pleasure it was. I love the whole wild-west revue business, with some nice long stand-up sets from the very funny Brent Morin, Rick Glassman and Byron Bowers.
Unfortunately, I missed out on all the daytime carnival fun and all of Sunday thanks to the lovely H1N1 flu that's been going around. But the skeeball, sprinkles cupcakes, food trucks and all manner of goodness is another way Riot manages to stand out in this comedy-packed city.