During his 15 years in comedy, Kevin Garnier has undoubtedly heard a plethora of dating jokes and told many of his own as a stand-up comic. But when asked why going to a comedy show is a good option for a date, he doesn’t kid around.
“For anybody trying to impress someone, a sense of humor is huge. That’s not to say you should overlook other qualities, but a person with a sense of humor is someone with high self-esteem who wants to enjoy life,” says Garnier, owner of the Downtown Comedy Club, which opened in downtown Los Angeles on May 1.
“If you’re not blessed with a good sense of humor, take your date to a comedy club — it doesn’t have to be mine,” Garnier adds. “Nine times out of 10, you will laugh. And if you’re laughing, it’s easier to get other things accomplished.”
Hey-O! Finally, there’s the zinger.
But actually, Garnier says, he’s referring to conversation. “Comedy is a good icebreaker. When the show’s over, there’s a lot to talk about.”
Garnier founded the club two years ago with Garrett Morris, the actor from the original Saturday Night Live cast whose memorably funny characters include Chico Escuela and the president of the New York School for the Hard of Hearing. As the host, Morris usually opens with a short set, joking, for example, about his age (he’s 71) and four-letter words.
Garnier and Morris have brought a number of big-name comics to the stage, first at the club’s original location in the gritty Alexandria Hotel, beginning in January 2007, and then at the swanky Kyoto restaurant in the Wilshire Grand hotel in 2008. Somewhere between gritty and swanky, and closer to “just right,” lies the club’s new venue on Downtown’s hot new destination of Gallery Row.
The Downtown Comedy Club has shows scheduled on Friday (9 p.m.) and Saturday (9 p.m.), featuring well-known comics such as Greg Proops, Craig Shoemaker, Doug Stanhope, Jamie Kennedy, Mark Curry and Tommy Davidson. Live jazz and blues are also scheduled. Be sure to check the club’s website www.downtowncomedyclub.com for updates.
In the meantime, you can Google these guys and watch their YouTube clips to see whose comedy most tickles your funny bone. Vicki Barbolak won the award from Nick At Night for America’s Funniest Mom. Davidson is an alum of In Living Color who does impersonations of everyone from Sammy Davis Jr. to Cher, and Curry was the star of the ABC sitcom Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper. Kennedy had a crazy TV comedy show and can now be seen on the CBS drama Ghost Whisperer, while Doug Stanhope is the edgy outsider without a PC bone in his body. Greg Proops hails from Whose Line Is It Anyway.
Although each of these comics has a huge following, Shoemaker is a definite highlight. He is best known for his routine as the Lovemaster, a character who constantly brags about his sexual prowess and prodigious manhood with increasingly clever one-liners. At his last appearance at the club, Shoemaker shared an eco-friendly Lovemaster boast: “Are you into the environment? Well, come over here and hug a tree.”
If that doesn’t work in print, trust me, Shoemaker will have you laughing so hard at everything from domestic life to PEZ dispensers, your abs will hurt. Garnier thinks Shoemaker is the best comic in the business. And you don’t have to believe Garnier just because Garnier’s built like a football player; believe him because he lives and breathes comedy. Plus, he stands behind his shows and offers a money-back guarantee.
When you have a policy like that, you have to select only the best comedians, especially when it comes to up-and-coming talent. Garnier, who fondly remembers the days of L.A.’s Comedy Act Theater, where comics like D.L. Hughley, Chris Tucker and Martin Lawrence got their start, says he makes it a priority to give newcomers who are “funny and willing to work hard” a chance.
Admission to the shows varies depending on the lineup, but the average price is $10. There are plenty of drink specials for that two-drink minimum. Parking is a half block away and costs $5.
Garnier’s objective was to create an experience as fun, stress-free and economical as possible — a nice change from the hassles of the Hollywood scene. In fact, even with the challenges of finding the right venue, he wanted the club to be in downtown Los Angeles.
“I have always loved downtown,” he says, about opening a comedy club here. “It’s the new frontier, and nobody knows how it’s all going to turn out … but I’m a gambler.”
Downtown Comedy Club
114 W. 5th Street (between Spring and Main)
Los Angeles 90013
Friday 9 p.m.
Saturday 9 p.m.
For information or tickets, call (213) 841-3940 or go to www.downtowncomedyclub.com