RIOT LA enters its toddler phase this month, with the third outing on Jan 16, 17 and 18. This weekend-long comedy festival packs a lot into a little, in terms of both time and space. In only three days and a few square blocks of Downtown LA, RIOT offers about 35 shows featuring almost 100 comedians from around the country.
RIOT also packs in community fun with open mics for comedians not necessarily booked on the
fest and The Lot, an outdoor grown-up funhouse with drinks, food trucks and skeeball(!!). The
whole thing has a big, fun, comedy family block party feel to it. But with so much to do in so little time, the choices can seem overwhelming, so here’s a handy cheat sheet if you just can’t make up your mind. We’ll update this with some new late breaking exciting news soon.
Norm MacDonald Headlining (10 pm Saturday, The Regent Theater) Arguably the highlight of the fest. See Norm MacDonald, one of the most brilliant comedic minds working today, featuring the not-too-shabby-either Sean O’Connor and Ahmed Bharoocha. Festival organizer Abigail Londer is thrilled that Norm is performing this year. “Well obviously we’re over the moon about Norm Macdonald,” she said. Londer once opened for Norm and is a big fan.
The Marilyn Bamford Collective (7 pm Sunday, Downtown Independent) If you know Maria Bamford, then you know her mom, thanks to her act and her awesome web series “Ask My Mom!” Marilyn will be on hand with some incredible performers including Tom Papa and Melissa Villasenor. Londer gave us some details about how this show idea came to be. “I asked Maria what she wanted to do. I said you can do anything you want to do and she got back to me and she’s going to be playing her mom the entire show as the host and headliner. She’ll host as her mom, and headline as her mom.”
The Goddamn Comedy Jam (7 pm Saturday, The Lot Stage) One of the hottest new shows in LA lets comedians be rockstars for the night. Each comic does a set and then performs a song with house band Elemenopy, with crazy characters sprinkled throughout including that time Bill Burr came dressed as Tommy Lee. Burr is back on the line up once again this year, making this a can’t miss event. Londer describes it as a “weird, super fun, very punk stand up karaoke show,” where comedians get to perform their favorite cover song completely unrehearsed accompanied by a live band.
Andy Kindler’s Particular Show (9 pm Friday, Five Star Bar) Kindler and his brainy, meta style of comedy will be ringleader of this show full of interesting, offbeat and incredibly funny comedians like Ian Karmel, James Adomian and Allen Strickland Williams.
Comedy Living Room (9 pm Saturday, The Lot Stage) This monthly comedy show literally packs killer lineups into the producers’ living room for a fun comedy party. They’ve broken out of the living room now with shows at The Improv and last year’s RIOT. This year they’re going even further, bringing the living room outdoors to the Lot Stage.
This Is Not Happening (11 pm Saturday, Downtown Independent) Ari Shaffir’s storyteller show has been a free show in the Improv Lab, a wildly popular show in the Improv’s main room, a Comedy Central Digital series and will be making its broadcast debut on Comedy Central January 22. This is your chance to catch it live, in its original form with a bonus viewing of the first episode.
Roast Battle (11 pm Saturday, Five Star Bar) It’s a simple concept: two comedians duke it out for three rounds with their best “yo mamma..” type jabs. But add a panel of celebrity judges and commentators, along with audience plants like The Negro Wave and The Racist Couple egging the competitors on, and Roastmaster General Jeff Ross presiding over the whole affair, and this schoolyard pastime becomes a three ring circus. If you don’t already know about Roast Battle, it’s huge in Los Angeles, and recently was the talk of the New York Comedy Festival.
The Midnight Run (8 pm Sunday, Five Star Bar) Usually held during its eponymous hour, this early edition of the show that forces the performers to get really, really high before going onstage should be quite a treat. Last year, show packed to the gills, and it was pretty memorable. Whitmar Thomas was here, and he had never smoked pot before so it was just really really fun, and it closes down the festival.
Showcases. When in doubt, you can’t go wrong with a nice stand-up showcase show. Friday night’s I Love New York features amazing East Coast talents including Dan Soder, Sheng Wang and Michelle Wolf or there’s also a Best of the Midwest show on opening night if you want to find out what is in the comedy water in Chicago these days. The Puterbaugh Sisters are coming out to perform and Beth Stelling is on the lineup along with Matteo Lane, Ian Abramson and more. Or you can choose from any of the shows all night Saturday at The Lexington and New Jalisco to catch hilarious folks like Brooks Wheelan, Jake Weisman, Baron Vaughn, Julian McCullough, Ryan O’Flanagan and Jamie Lee.
Go to RiotLA.com for tickets, showtimes and all the details. Riotfest starts on January 16th and runs through January 19th.