Tales from the Traveler – Larf Magazine Interview: Scott Schultz, Creator of BUSted

Scott Schultz is one Bostonian transplant who won’t take sitting in traffic for an answer.

When you think about it, even Paul Revere was a one-horse commuter.  There’s something about Bostonians that’s all about getting shit done no matter who’s helping or not.  243 years ago the alarm was “The British are coming!”; today, it’s “We will not be ruled by the automobile!” In the land of fantasy, the “Dream Factory,” as it’s veritbly known, the one issue all Los Angeles inmates suffer is gettin’ round.  If yer rich?  Limo.  Average?  Car.  Poor?  The bus.  What Scott Schultz does is nothing less than reminding us Angelinos to free ourselves from our own self-imposed shackles of status, the car, by enthusing us in the downright relish of celebrating the autonomy of public transportation.  I’ve said it all along.  The average American interacts with government only twice in their lifetime.  The postman and the cop who gives you a speeding ticket. Scott Schultz’s “BUSted” story-telling shows break that social barrier in two, shattering it before our very eyes, revealing to us the utter joys, as well as the frustrating dysfunction, of public transportation in Los Angeles.  I sat down with Scott recently on top of the first “L” in the Hollywood Sign for a cursory interview…

LM: What makes a good public transportation story?

SS: A good public transportation story is a good story, but it must take place on public transit. Otherwise, it is just a good story. If it involves a bomb on a bus that requires the bs to travel 55 mph or the bus will explode, then it is great public transit story.

LM: Who are your story-tellers?

SS: My storytellers are made up of comedians, storytellers and other creatives round Los Angeles who don’t drive or are muti-modal. We also book ordinary Los Angelenos who don’t drive but have true stories to share.

LM: Who is your audience?

SS: Our audience ranges depending on which location we bring our show. I’d say at least half of the audience are non-motorists. The other half are people who enjoy live storytelling, or find me handsome enough to follow around.

LM: Is there a class thing between public transportation people and car drivers?

SS: Of course, there is. And BMW drivers are assholes. (a Tanya White ‘joke’, according to Scott.)

LM: How long you’ve been producing BUSted?

Scott Schultz mesmerizing them at Stories bookstore in Silverlake.

SS: I have been producing BUSted for nearly five years.

LM: What was your inspiration to start BUSted?

SS: I wanted to bring a storytelling show to Los Angeles, when I returned from Boston in 2013. I chose the name BUSted, because the name had multiple definitions. I chose the non-motorist hook for the first show’s theme, and I realized quickly that there was an audience for this type of show, so I stuck with the theme. After a few shows, I realized that the show filled a void, and after 6 months. I realized that the theme had legs to last a decade.

LM: Have you produced BUSted in cities other than Los Angeles and if not, are there plans to?

SS: I have yet to bring the show beyond LA County borders, but I would like to tour the show eventually. Any city with public transit can appreciate these stories.

LM: What is the most often heard theme in the stories?

SS: I describe the stories in categories of shocking, dramatic and the mundane (slice of life.) I would say the mundane stories tend to be the most frequent of the three, especially when it comes to frequent storytellers. The shocking stories are always the first ones to come to mind, but it’s the simple stories that keep people returning. The ordinary slice of life stories happen every day, so they tend to be the lifeblood of my opening monologues.

LM: What percentage of stories are happy vs harrowing?

SS: I’d say it’s close to an even split. Some shows follow a theme that wasn’t planned out ahead of time. One story leads to a similar story. Suddenly a conversation breaks out between myself as host and the audience, because I like to keep a hot topic going. By the time the audience members step up to the mic for audience anecdotes, we could have five or six stories on the same theme, within the theme of getting around LA without driving.

LM: Do story-tellers generally like depending on public transportation or are they somehow/sometimes bitter or angry?

SS: There is a love/have relationship between the storytellers and LA publc transit, but for the most part, we (the non-motorists) tend to wear it like a badge of honor. Very little bitterness.

LM: It seems BUSted brings people together in discussing a shared experience.  Elaborate?

SS: LA has a well earned reputation for having a massive car culture built into it’s fabric. For many years, the thought among people was that “Only a nobody walks in LA,” as the Missing Persons sang. It turns out that we were not freaks or losers, but just ahead of the curve, or at least riding a different path. The community element comes from the way we all recognize each other’s stories as part of our own personal stories. We recognize incidents and characters, and in tat our shared experience can become extremely meta. Being iLos angeles where there are so many colorful characters, only makes the excitement and randomness of a shared commute experience more extreme. Even the craziest stories often have people in the audience nodding their heads and simply responding, “Yup!”

LM: If the LA transportation system was better, let’s say as good as San Francisco, London, or New York, would there still be good stories?

SS: Yes. LA’s system is already better than NYC and San Francisco. I’ve never been to London, but I did get drunk on free party booze and interrupt a conversation with the London minister of Transportation. Nice guy.

LM: You have a former RTD driver as a regular.  Have you gotten support or condemnation from the city?

SS: We actually have a lot of former and current drivers from both RTD and LA metro sharing stories at our shows. We even had a senior planner from LA Metro. I’m not so sure the city knows we exist, at least on the City hall level. The heads of he public transit agencies are familiar with me. Some are fans, others hope we’ll go away. True stories tend to cut both ways. I’d say at this time that it is mostly positive.

LM: Have the stories changed with the advent of Uber?

SS: Ubers sometimes enter the community of BUSted stories, but I try to keep them separate. Sometimes if the Uber is incorporated into the commute, or if they are long time storytellers who I know are taking Uber specifically because they don’t drive. I tend to think public transit is more interesting. Uber vehicles are too antiseptic.

LM: There seems to be a bit of spirituality to the shows.  Care to elaborate

SS: Sometimes the spirituality depends on my mood on any given day. I think it comes from my Boston storytelling background. Boston’s storytelling scene tends to be a bit more populist than the Big 3 storytelling cities (NYC/Chicago/Los Angeles) which tend to come from the improv comedy circuit. As a host I tend to harp on recurring topics like being a good “bus ambassador,” which is spiritual talk for “Don’t be a douchebag.” We are also pro immigrant and tend to have a lot of humanity in our stories. Our subject matter tends skews lower income, and lower income people tend to be better people in general.

LM: You’re one of the most supportive producer/hosts around.  Tell Larf Magazine how you do it.

SS: Thanks, but I don’t share company secrets. (joking) I think that it is a combination of my background coming out of the storytelling rooms in Boston and Cambridge that go back decades, and also my show is built on community. We literally run on people power. I genuinely enjoy meeting new people and hearing their stories. When people are new to storytelling, I like to encourage them to participate by keeping it casual. I am fortunate to have a really supportive venue that allows me to pass the supportive buck down to my guests on the mic and in the audience. Legal weed keeps me mellow.

LM: From what you’ve heard and personally experienced, what’s the one thing you would do if you were all powerful mayor to improve public transportation?

SS: If I could only do one thing, I would make myself a lifetime pass for all publc transit, non-rescindable. That way, I’d always be able to get places. I’d do a few things. I’d ticket the hell out of motorists! Those crosswalks would be efficient enough for a baby to crawl across. I would also create more dedicated lanes for rapid line busses, running on an electrical grid, like they do in the San Fernando Valley. I’d remove extra charges for Silver Line and freeway accessing busses. I would make the subways run 24 hours, and I would have track maintenance done between 11pm – 5am. I would begin making preparation for Boring hyper-tunnels, like the one suggested by Elon Musk, and I would also begin preparing legislation for aerial vehicles now, since they will arrive sooner, rather than later.

LM: Do you find the vast expanse of Los Angeles helps in its diversity of transportation stories?

SS: Yes. I love how LA has so many different types of areas and ethnic pockets as well. LA is half the size of Massachusetts, it has mountains, deserts and beaches. I wish it had more bathrooms.

LM: Where do you see BUSted a year from now?

SS: At our home terminal in Echo Park, Stories Books & Café! Also, hopefully, we will be producing Spanish language shows. I would like to bring the show to a point where we can produce weekly shows and cove the entire county more completely.

LM: Have you ever thought of taking BUSted to The Edinburgh Fringe Festival?

SS: I don’t know enough about the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I don’t know how they would react to stories about Los Angeles, and even more specifically about Los Angeles non-motorist culture.

LM: Could you ever envision a television show or movie based on the BUSted stories?

SS: Absolutely. Huell Howser is one of my heroes. I think that it could be a way to show different parts of the city, the state and the country. I think that would be really neat. You don’ have to fly to the opposite side of the word to find adventure and interesting people. Hit a random US city, and ride the bus for a few days. Yesterday, I rode around on busses and trains with a news crew for an upcoming news feature on the show. During the rides, I spoke with a Rose Bowl security guard who wants the world to know that Kobe Bryant swipes VIP seats for concerts, a man who was a walking audio book for Hollywood Babylon Volume One and a man who got shot 14 times in his leg! I have had people propose a few movie ideas to me based on my stories. At some point, I will likely write a script, but that is a very different style of writing for me.

And, just at that propitious moment, a police helicopter shown its light on us Hollywood sign perchers.  Guess it’s time to move on; grab the bus…

Sag

Scott Schultz was born in Boston, MA. I grew up in Marblehead, MA. He moved to CA when he was 18 via Greyhound Bus. He moved to Los Angeles to pursue standup comedy in the 1990’s. Scott has worked as a sports editor and in advertising. He began storytelling in Boston in 2012. In 2013, Scott Schultz won the Massmouth grandslam (The Big Mouthoff) and shortly thereafter moved to Los Angeles. He began BUSted five years ago. Scott is a huge fan of the Boston Celtics, and he has two feral yard cats named Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving.

NEXT BUSted Show

BUSted website

For Larf Magazine, this is Steven Alan Green.

9/27/18

 

How I Became a Paid Regular at The Comedy Store

Becoming a stand-up comedian regular at The Comedy Store was totally an unintentional accident.

It was 1981 and I was happy living the life of an early morning telemarketer selling a quarter a million a year gross of office supplies by calling businesses all across the country and offering the purchasing agent a free food processor if they only purchased 20 gross of overpriced ball point pens.  Yes, I was a conman.  But, “everyone was doing it!”.  No excuse, but I was a superstar at it; I’ll admit.  Had a very nice apartment, new Beemers every year, dinners at Mussos and Mr. Chow and trips to Hawaii and Aspen.  24 years old.  I also ran a weekly open mic for singer/songwriters at a now defunct health food restaurant called (wait for it), The Natural Fudge.  Interpret that brown steamy image at will.  You see, I was a singer/songwriter back then and the reason I became a singer/songwriter was that I had been a rock n roll drummer throughout both elementary and high school and after graduation the band broke up and everyone went to different universities. It was also because I was a great “Ringo” on the beat drummer, whereas the rest of the band’s musical taste permutated into progressive shit I not only didn’t understand, I hated.  Having a very good singing voice and having been in musicals since I was a child, well, I taught myself to play guitar.

The Natural Fudge

The Natural Fudge Cafe was located here at 5224 Fountain Ave in Hollywood.

Was a crazy kooky place.  Right in the middle of the Scientology belt in Hollywood and run by a character named John Roberts, who had a “Satchmo” type raspy voice, a nice veggie restaurant, and a Jew-fro, I booked the talent and hosted the show for the sizable stage riser and we had a regular heavy weekly turnout.  I wrote songs and one of them was about the commercialization of violence in America. A singalong. “The Homicide Song” was pure satire (not parody because it wasn’t mocking another song); a tongue in cheek bullet along the lines of Tom Lerher meets Randy Newman. One night, this songwriter who called me from Texas to reserve a spot, Mark Bloodworth, showed up and asked if I’d heard the news about John Lennon.  It wasn’t the first time when I felt a weird synchronicity with my creative instincts and the darker real world.

Comedian Bob Petrella is Walter Cronkite on the moon.

Mostly the performers were light-hearted, talented, and great people.  There was one guy – a comic, who came on stage wearing a snare drum.  He explained up front that if a joke worked, then we the audience would laugh.  If it didn’t, it would be art.  He’d tell a very dry joke, it predictably didn’t get a laugh.  He’d then “barrum-dum” on his snare, followed by: “That was art“, which was the planned laugh.  Genius and it was one of things which immediately hooked me into comedy early on.  Never saw him again, but we had regulars, including comedian/impressionist Bob Petrella.  Bob was a quiet fellow who did really inventive “mixed impressions” of like Walter Cronkite on the moon.   Bob and I became friends but then we lost touch for years until decades later he’s on national television revealing his true identity as one of the handful of humans on Planet Earth who possess “HSAM” or High Superior Autobiographical Memory.  You could ask Bob what he did on January 17, 1974 and he’d tell you he woke up late, made breakfast but there were no eggs in the fridge but he turned on the television and hear the news that Madison Square Garden officials announced that all tickets for the 12‐round heavyweight rematch of Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier on Jan. 28 have been sold and that the Pittsburgh Steelers won against Greenbay by 2 points in overtime.

Shifting from Music to Comedy

My name immortalized on The Comedy Store wall of fame. Makes me a quote unquote “legend” with the young comics.

I was the host of the evening and really cut my teeth on how to produce a show.  I purposely balanced the night between music and comedians and poets and odd novelty acts.  And, I would always open the night by performing 2 or 3 of my own songs.  Including The Bluebird is Blue, the first song I ever wrote.  Before I ran the Fudge, I had done music gigs at the Troubadour, opening for a punk rock band called Kim Wilde, F. Scotts in Venice Beach and The Blah Blah Cafe on Ventura Boulevard, where Al Jarreau started and Rickie Lee Jones played for that matter.  I got these music gigs mostly by auditioning for the manager during the day, one on one.  Once they heard I could sing, they booked me.  It was then on me to bring 40 people to see me.  A musical version of the contemporary comedy bringer.  The night at the Blah Blah Cafe was a great turnout, but I noticed that a lot of people just tuned out and when I sang my songs, they just talked amongst themselves.  Which was doubly annoying because these were invited friends and family.   And so I had to do something.  When I finished the song, people would applaud, but that wasn’t enough.  I needed to throw them.

“Ladies and gentlemen; I’d like to play for you a song I just wrote this morning; I hope you like it.”

I would then, with all serious deliberation begin to play the beginning opening guitar riffs of Stairway to Heaven.  BOOM!  Laugh.  I then played it hard.

“Uh, I don’t know what’s so funny.”

I’d start again and would milk my seriousness for “my song” until I got to the lyrics, which were The Beatles’ Yesterday.  More laughs.  I’d then go back to my real songs and everyone would be talking again.

So, one night Bob Petrella and another comedian Buck Simmons, tells me I should go down to some place called “The Comedy Store” and audition to get in as a comedian.  If I passed the audition, the owner of the club, Mitzi, would give me spots.  Just a few years previous I worked the counter at Hollyway Cleaners in West Hollywood, where we’d remove spots and now five years later I’m hoping to get spots.  (I’m just trying to keep up folks.)

So, on a Monday in March of the year of our comedy lord 1981, I found myself on line (the old meaning; meaning standing behind and in front of others) and signed up to “do 3 minutes”.  When my name was called, all I could think about was when 5 years earlier I went up at The Store, pretending to be President Jimmy Carter and my dad in the crowd trying to help, when after my 30 seconds of material ran out, I said (as Carter): “Any questions?,” which got an unintentional surprising laugh.  My dad from the back of the room: “What’d you get Amy for Christmas?” I don’t remember what I said.  It was all a disaster and I didn’t even think about becoming a stand-up comic for another 5 years; but there I was,  waiting for my name to be called’ then it was time.  3 minutes.

27 Laughs in 4 Minutes

Comedy Pioneer Mitzi Shore

I brought two guitars on stage, told the audience I was really a songwriter and did my Stairway to Heaven bit, which they ate up.  Actually, my opening line was: “Thank you. I didn’t know this was ‘comedy’ night!” which immediately got everyone on my side because the 5 comics on before me sucked big weenie.   I went on with some material about the “Paul is dead” Beatles theory and how it was related to Opie on The Andy Griffith Show (a bit to this day I feel guilty about because one of my co-workers at the office supply deal, Eddie Serrotta, told me and I have no idea where he got it from), then my “expensive antique guitar” bit whereby I hold a cheap guitar and drop it while I look for a pick and then closed with me just playing one chord, getting the crowd to clap along and the eventual lyrics were: “I only know how to play one chord!”  The light came on about 3/4 of the way through, but I was just too into my thang and kept going.  4 minutes, 27 laughs, and I got the first big applause for my version of stand-up comedy.

Over the next five years, I would be one of the regular emcee’s, live at “the house” (which was behind the club and known as “Cresthill”) as well as write for other comedians and for a while, become a doorman and phone guy.

Me as a brand new happy Comedy Store Paid Regular. Photo: 1981

The host, comedian Robert Aguayo, told me to come back the next week and audition for Mitzi.  I did, she saw me and hired me on the spot.  I was immediately thrown into an incredibly intense world, was given upwards of 2 dozen paid spots a week (including the Sunset club, The Store in Westwood and The Store in La Jolla) and folks.  These spots were 15 minutes.  I only had 5 minutes of material.  And what would happen over that very tough first year would teach me one thing.   And that was this. To really make it, you have to rely on the one thing you do that nobody else does or does as well as you do.  For me that was my lightening quick interplay with the audience and laser like vanquishing of hecklers.  The only question remained.  How could I turn that into a successful comedy club act? Every comedian who made it out of the Store had a tight scripted 6 minutes.  Although I wrote and sold jokes to the likes of Jimmy Walker, Jay Leno and Arsenio Hall; it was like what uber talent agent Chris Albrecht at ICM would tell me: “Steven Alan Green.  You’re one of the funniest people I know, but you have no act.” Chris represented Eddie Murphy at the time and a new up and comer dynamic impressionist named Jim Carrey.  Chris would go onto run HBO, turning it into the comedy behemoth it became and there’s an entirely whole crazy story with him I’ll write about another time, when I’m drunk enough.

In the meantime, it would take me a long 5 years of experimentation, pissing people off, trying to fit in, and finally finding that one thing.  That one thing which would not only guide me, but open heretofore important locked hidden doors.  That one thing came to me all because I did what you were never supposed to do in showbiz.

I Quit.

To be continued.

For Larf Magazine…

…this is Steven Alan Green, July 17, 2018

KEEP LAUGHING OR BE MISERABLE

The Night Light Comedy Show With Erica Rhodes – Larf Comedy Review – ★★★★

LA’s own Erica Rhodes creates a live comedy variety show based on the perfect amalgam of friendship and talent; the result being a hybrid of the Alt-Comedy Movement and good ole traditional Comedy Variety.

The Open Space venue is in the heartburn of the Fairfax district.  Just about the most culturally diverse concentrated neighborhood in Los Angeles, you have everything from the most institutional deli of Canters, to hip-hop and skating board culture shops to overpriced dive bars and Russian eateries.   And all conveniently located just south of my old alma mater Fairfax High School, where students dream of no bigger things than eating an everything bagel whilst skateboarding past the old Jewish lady with the shopping basket,mumbling something about socialism. Variety is the key here and when context and content meet up and high five each other, there you’ll find Erica Rhodes’ “The Night Light Comedy Show” once a month and serving up the most delicious comedy variety menu this side of the Poconos.

Variety is diversity

The best part of my job (as well as the hardest) is being surprised.  I’ve been around the comedy block more than a few times in cultures as diverse as Hollywood, New York, Seattle, San Francisco, Toronto, Amsterdam and London, England.  Each city had its own standard recipe for everything and comedy is no exception.  The template of LA comedy has traditionally come from the kitchens of The Comedy Store, The Improv and The Laugh Factory — all great comedy institutions from day one and all of them still producing a wide menu of quality comedy items – within the certain thin bandwidth of “stand-up”.   All the independent comedy shows I’ve been to, performed on, and reviewed, seem to specialize in a tiny sliver of it all.  The intimate story-telling value of “Sit n Spin” at the Comedy Central Stage, the town-hall discussion and almost torch bearing ritual of Bill Bronner’s Political Nation, the casual Millennial madness of the awkward confession comedy shows downtown at the Lexington.

The template of LA comedy has traditionally come from the kitchens of The Comedy Store, The Improv and The Laugh Factory — all great comedy institutions from day one and all of them still producing a wide menu of quality comedy items – within the certain thin bandwidth of “stand-up”.

All these independent shows tend to be one thing or another.  And, that’s cool.  Like a food truck of comedy, they foster newish comedians, and if these independent shows don’t  have a strong loyal following such as the aforementioned Sit n Spin and Political Nation, the audiences are populated by the newish young comedians themselves often performing for the unwitting bar patrons and the rest of the comedians waiting to go on. Half the time, independent comedy shows turn out to be nothing but a great poster which never lives up to the advertised excitement and in the end, you might as well go watch a comedy show at Kinkos.  Although almost all worthy great concepts, many of them expertly packaged and delivered, when one focuses on only one menu item in the vast food court of entertainment, you’re automatically excluding most of the public.  That’s why The Night Light Comedy Show is really a great expertly executed concept and has the most big time potential of any show I’ve seen so far since coming back to America 9 years ago, after living abroad in a yellow taffeta house dress.

Produced by Monique Thomas and hosted by the very funny Erica Rhodes (who co-produces), the feel of the night is Alt, but warm and super friendly to everybody and she does it all with young Goldie Hawn innocence with a little bit of Sarah Silverman by way of Sylvia Plath awkwardness thrown in.

Opening the show was a duo of musicians.  Made up a double-act of keyboardists (one wearing a face-covering hood for some reason) “Scatterplot” is like hipster Burt Bacharach if Hal David was a very disturbed yet enlightened lyricist.  Their “I Just Can’t Get Enough” is as infectious as Ben and Jerry’s, and like Cherry Garcia, although good, you don’t want to eat too much at once.  They graciously introduce and play on our hostess for the evening and there’s even a little back and forth kibbutzing between the two, as they are literally cousins.

I’ve seen a lot of comedians do crowd work and most of them stink at it.  But Rhodes is expert as she pulls heretofore invisible threads out of the crowd, weaving them into the most important and memorable thing any show of any kind must have: Immediate relevance.

When telling proper jokes, Erica needs a little more work and her delivery can be awkward for both the right and wrong reasons.  Having said that, her jokes have what most youngish comedians’ jokes don’t have: a point. It’s her ability to immediately gage the crowd and self-awareness recovery is the gold.  Soon enough, E.R. acknowledges there’s “silent laughter” and BOOM!, we got our first big laugh.  You see part of the problem is the uninitiated Los Angeles audience.  They’re often kinda stupid when it comes to knowing what’s funny and when to laugh and indeed if to laugh or not.  Let’s put it this way.  As funny as Ms. Rhodes was the night I saw the show, the audience was not completely with her a 10th of the time and that is their fault, not hers.  I sat in the middle of the show as I reviewed and people seemed to be witnessing spectacle rather than being an audience.  Being an audience requires full attention.  Nothing else matters.  Not your phone or what dress someone is wearing or where we’re going to eat afterwards. But I’m not just talking about looking up; I’m talking about having the mental training as an audience member to have the ability to recognize a joke.  I swear – and I’ve been saying this for years – I’m gonna teach an audience workshop.  Having said that, 93% of the crowd present was on the same comedy page as the show itself.  So.  Let’s bring up the first act.

I swear – and I’ve been saying this for years – I’m gonna teach an audience workshop.

Bronston Jones is a 50-ish grey bearded laid back hipster comic who opens with an out of nowhere bad taste zinger.  “Melania has the taste of Trump in his mouth“, followed by the comedian saying: “I just love that joke.”  Really?   Well, maybe not the best material to open with on a show hosted and produced by a lady and with half her friends and family there.  Much of Jones’ material focused on criticizing the giant swath of middle America’s Walmart culture.  “As American as apple pie with pesticides”, a 7 year old boy with heart disease: “Bless his little heart disease” got audible groans followed by Jone’s literally admonishing the audience with: “These jokes worked in the Midwest!”…and CUT!  No.  Doesn’t matter if they worked in Timbuctoo.  I get it; Bronston shouldn’t have been on this early.  He’s a late nite bluish edgy comic and it was frankly jarring to the theme of the night.  That’s not his fault.  After a lot of work, he delivered some of the best laughs of the night and he probably thinks I’m a dick and will never book me on his show in Venice.   Next….

Zach Bornstein was up next.   A writer for Kimmel and SNL, I never know what that means.  Is he on staff?  A stringer?  Doesn’t matter anyway because we weren’t there for a writing course.  Combining Shelly Berman skills of verbal picture painting with Red Skelton physicality, Zach was truly and uniquely funny.  From his “jazz hands when confronted with danger” routine to his great true story of literally cocking the wrong person’s head in public was absolutely cathartic, hilarious, and memorable.  More Zach please.  Next…

The interview portion of the show had Erica and busy film composer Brian Tyler on stools shooting the shit.  Plenty of lighthearted laughs and career questions for the composer of such soundtracks as for Ironman and The Fast and the Furious, but for my money I would’ve liked to have heard at least some dry academic questions, which is why when Q&A opened up to the room, I raised my hand and asked about film music leading the narrative.  He loved the question; I think the rest of the crowd thought I was a heretic.  Next….

Tanner Horn is a musical trio consisting of 2 singing guitarists and a singer sans guitar.  They reminded me of one of my favorite 90’s British bands, Blur and their anthem-like “I could use somebody; I could use your body” lyrics veered very close to a Barry White white sensibility but with Thom York-like musicality. I liked their low-key “it’s not about us; its about the music” approach and my only knock would be the sometimes off-key harmony.   Overall, they are really good and I would pay to see them.   Next….

Joel Ward, magician.  Along the lines of the now modern classic of the seemingly failed magic tricks, Ward has cruise ship slapped all over his mug and man he works it like the ship’s toilets are broken.   His audience member’s T-Rex ring appearing magically inside an uncut tennis ball was truly amazing.  The quintessential audience pleaser by definition, Ward is just the guy want for your corporate phony baloney employee appreciation day.

And, Finally…..

Melissa Villaseñor.  SNL cast member.  Worth waiting for and the wait was entertaining anyway.

You know what would make SNL funny-er?  Give the stand-up performers in the cast a chance to solo perform, a rite usually reserved for the guest host.   I can’t watch SNL past the opening bit and that’s because the show seems to have lost its comedy powers after Bill Murray left.  However, each show is written and performed by a myriad of magnificent comedians and writers and why the fuck not use them?  Take for example our star of the evening.  Clearly used sparingly as extra Parmesan, Melissa Villaseñor comes across like fine peppered Dutch Gouda and I immediately wanted a second serving and a third and so on.  From the silly “booping her boyfriend’s ass-crack” she shows us who’s boss and yet hanging with her family is tantamount to brushing her teeth before bed when her mother appears like a zombie, guilt-grilling her for parasitical information.   Hilarious right outta the best modern independent films is she and her mom driving around their suburban hood roasting houses.   Villaseñor’s impression of Diane Keaton not accepting compliments was genius even for the uninitiated.  Her dead on impression of Steve Buscemi at a wedding was truly Oh My Fucking God knock-down hysterical.  I have to admit I was a bit skeptical at first seeing a television star do their thing without a net, but I have to tell you, Melissa Villaseñor is worthy of a Netflix special on her own.

Villaseñor doesn’t use a comedy net; doesn’t need one.  Speaking of net…Hey, Netflix!  Give this very talented gem a special?

SATIRE ALERT! (By the way, Melissa?  I really think you’re talented and you did make me laugh for sure.  I just thought I would be honest and maybe suck up publicly so that we can connect and I can try and viciously shoving Erica aside, exploit the so-called connection to my own selfish career ends.  I’m on Facebook.) SATIRE ALERT!

Wrapping up the evening, Erica Rhodes returns center stage, thanks everyone on the show and the audience as well.   I think with a little tweaking (particularly in the booking department) it could turn out to be as reliable and as popular as Largo.   Promising another show in August 27, I am truly excited The Night Light Show exists.  And if there’s anyone in this town who can pull it off, it’s Erica Rhodes and producer Monique Thomas.

Erica Rhodes one of the funniest and charming-est comedians bubbling up from the slime and sludge which is Hollywood. And, The Night Light Comedy Show is her magical space ship to take us all to great comedy worlds unknown.

The Night Light Comedy Show: 4 outta 5 stars.

One last note: The air con was turned on WAY too high; thought I was gonna freeze my bollox off.  I am informed that issue has been fixed.

Photos by: StreetShooter.la

For more info, go to Erica’s page and Open Space venue page.

For Larf Magazine,

This is Steven Alan Green, July 2, 2018