It’s come to my attention that I may have seemed a little less than enthusiastic about New York recently. I am not. I love this city, it’s been nothing but amazing to me.
What is a little frustrating is the “NY vs LA” conversation here. LA is my family. I can talk shit about my family, but you better have some hard evidence if you’re going to. Seriously, if you’re going to tell me what “Los Angeles Comedy” is like, can you name 3 of the funniest ten comedians there? No. Guess what, we can’t name three of your Top Ten either. But perhaps the prevailing stereotypes will help explain why one is a wistful conversation and the other almost becomes an argument.
LA on NY: “The streets are paved with gold and everyone's focused on pure stand-up and everyone does five spots a night”
NY on LA: “They’re just a bunch of actors and industry people and this one weird cool clique that doesn’t care about punchlines, so it’s all weird characters and act outs and no real stand-up”
Now, hopefully, that illustrates to all parties how inaccurate the stereotypes are and we can continue on to more stereotypes, but these ones I can get behind.
1. Great crowds - Unlike LA, which is a city full of cynical entertainment industry vets and starving wannabes, NYC is full of actual people who do actual jobs and actually want to be entertained. You don't have to throw a tiki toga party at a taco stand with free beer and a photo booth to drag people over to your show.
2. Spots - It is a lot easier to get more spots in in one night here. Thanks, densely populated island and excellent public transportation system! (caveat: They aren't just handing the spots out to everyone. It's just as hard to get booked as a younger comedian here)
3. Money - Clubs pay a little better here, plus if you're doing all two or three shows in a night, it adds up. Also, people actually care and think people should make money for performing, as evidenced by the whole UCBEast business a couple years ago. (caveat: There are plenty of free bar shows, too)
4. MYOB - LA is like going to a really small high school where everyone knows everyone else's business (and cares about it), the "club comics" and the "alt comics" hate each other and the "Valley comics" hate all of us but we don't think about them much. In New York, it's like going to a giant high school with tons of cliques and too many little beefs to keep up with while you're busy doing all those spots.
5. Credits, what credits? You're more likely to get a spot because an established comedian vouched for your talent than because you were the third lead in some B-movie sequel where you took your top off.
1. TV - Look, there's two ways to make a living at this - road/albums/merch or TV. And if you go the first route, why waste all your hard earned Tshirt money on a closet you share with three other comics in Queens, when you could have a lovely studio you share with three comics in LA? And it's got a pool. And if you want to go into TV, you're moving out here eventually anyway. Just give in already.
2. Performance - Sure, we have some idiots trying out some real weird stuff that might be funny for one minute, but definitely not for 15, but NYC's dumb unfunny idiots are just standing there reading mediocre jokes and NOT doing it in the voice of their dead uncle as channeled by an old gypsy medium. LA gives a lot of very cool concepts room to thrive that often NY's Cult of the Writer excludes.
3. Community - The flip side of everyone knowing your business is that a lot of them care. You have twenty best friends just hanging out at [insert night/show of your choosing] and those twenty best friends will be there for you for deaths and breakups and invite you to barbecues and beach days and to be in sketches and podcasts. (caveat: New Yorkers are super friendly and awesome, there just isn't such a large group cohesion thing happening)
Point is, I love them both. They're apples and oranges, but they're both really delicious fruit.