The Belly Room is the smallest of The Comedy Store's three showrooms. It was originally founded to provide more stage time for female comedians (c'mon, Mitzi, you couldn't just put more of them in the OR?) but devolved into a room full of bringer shows after the comedy bust in the 90's. The Ding Dong Show and Crack 'Em Up Thursdays remained the two consistent shows delivering a quality curated program every week.
But lately, the intimate space has seen a resurgence (shout out to manager Adam Eget), with fresh blood being pumped in thanks to #KILLTONY, The Roast Battle, two late night open mics, and Penthouse Comedy.
This past Tuesday was a great one with the one-two punch of Penthouse Comedy and Roast Battle. Penthouse is a great little show that gives a home to some of the many hilarious comedians who haven't been passed at The Store (but ought to be) like TJ Miller, Beth Stelling, Jen Murphy and Sean Patton. But this week's edition was all family, with Comedy Store Regulars Eleanor Kerrigan, Steve Simeone, Fahim Anwar, Byron Bowers and Eric Andre. The show went about 90 minutes over (bumping the Tuesday Night Mic), but the crowd didn't mind, since it was for Dave Chappelle.
Whenever Chappelle comes to LA, he has a few favorite places to go and the Belly Room is one of them. He often drops in on Crack 'Em Up Thursdays and this was his first appearance at Penthouse. There's something really electric about getting to see Chappelle in such an intimate space, with all the other comedians crowding in to catch a little bit of the legend. The close quarters also seem to quell the idiots who try and record the sets instead of just enjoying them.
And while it's hard for anyone to follow Chappelle, the Roast Battle did an admirable job. The highly anticipated matchup of Roast Battle vet Hormoz Rashidi and "The General's Wife" Virginia Collins drew in almost as many onlookers as Chappelle had. Hormoz had some great zingers that had the crowd on its feet (and some on other people's shoulders) and Virginia belted out a strong comeback. And like the good battles before it, it ended in controversy, with Virginia pulling out the W due to the round-based scoring while most of the crowd agreed Hormoz landed more punches overall (and speculated that there was some Jeff Ross-based favoritism at work). Though the real winner of the night was judge Kirk Fox, who had a snappy line for every occasion.
So, if you haven't trudged up the stairs in a minute, give it a shot. Most of the shows are free or just $5 and you'll more than get your money's worth.