RIOT LA has ascended from a scrappy comedy nerd get-together to a full-blown theater-filling fest. More than 40 shows will take over three Downtown Los Angeles theaters, one bar and one carnival-like parking lot from January 19 through 22. The alt-comedy fest comes with the freedom of easily slipping in and out as you please; tickets are available for individual events as well as the entire festival. Whether you're looking for a single standout or an itinerary for the weekend, here are our nine picks for the must-see shows at RIOT LA 2017.
Ali Wong sold out six shows at the Theatre at Ace Hotel. Six. And for good reason: She's filthily funny, and manages to squeeze laughs from the most uncomfortable aspects of sex and race with unrestrained ease. Beg a friend, splurge on a resale ticket if you must—this is a can't-miss show. The Theatre at Ace Hotel; Thu 7, 10pm; Fri, Sat 7:30, 10:30pm; $29.50-$39.50.
Mel Brooks: Back in the Saddle Again
Brooks forever changed the comedy world with a productive couple of decades of parody masterpiece. In celebration, see the 1974 Western farce Blazing Saddles, featuring classic performances by Cleavon Little, Gene Wilder, Madeline Kahn and Harvey Korman, followed by a live conversation with the legendary writer-director. The Microsoft Theater; Fri, 8pm; $39.50-$750.
Guys We Fucked
Krystyna Hutchinson and Corinne Fisher have been setting earbuds ablaze with their bold, hilarious, unprecedented podcast "Guys We Fucked," which features celebrity guests and past sexual partners in frank discussions about hookups. Join the intrepid hosts as they crusade against slut-shaming and deliver what's sure to be a hilarious live podcast recording. The Alleyway (behind the Orpheum). Sat, 5pm; $20.
Literary Death Match
Created and hosted by the colorful Adrian Todd Zuniga, this combustive, competitive reading series pits acclaimed or burgeoning authors against one another to perform their best material in front of some chatty judges. Graham Moore, Sam Richardson, Whitney Cummings and Mary Lynn Rajskub take on the judging duties, with readings from Marco Ramirez, Zach Anner and Hannah Friedman. The Orpheum; Sat, 7pm; $29.50.
Comics to Watch
RIOT LA is as much an opportunity to see your favorite performers as it is to discover rising talent. The comedy fest runs its "Comics to Watch" series all weekend long, and you owe yourself a seat at at least one of them—why not this one, hosted by the jovially talkative Jimmy Pardo? Segovia (Ace Hotel); Sat, 8:30pm; $20.
Whenever a comedian mentions the secret word, it's time to take a drink. That's the main gimmick of Brew HaHa, an underground comedy show hosted by Brad Silnutzer, which moves out of an East L.A. backyard and into the Orpheum with sets from Nicole Byer, Guy Branum and Aaron Black. North Hall (Orpheum); Sat, 10pm; $15.
Rachel Bloom's explosively popular music video "Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury" catapulted the performer into a comedy career shaped around singing. Now, Bloom is the creator and Golden Globe-winning star of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which follows the misadventures of a woman who drops her life to stalk an ex. Exactly what shape will her RIOT LA show take? We're not sure, but we know we don't want to miss it. The Alleyway (behind the Orpheum); Sun, 7pm; $30.
Dr. Katz Live!
It's been 15 years since Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist, a sarcastic Squigglevision animated comedy, finished its six-season run on Comedy Central. Johnathan Katz's couch is open for business again, this time in the flesh with a slate of top-notch stand-ups: Bob Saget, Tig Notaro, Maria Bamford, Thomas Middleditch, David Wain and Laura Silverman. The Orpheum; Sun, 7pm, $25-$35.
Eugene Mirman + Nikki Glaser + Kyle Kinane
Close out the fest with a top-notch trio of stand-ups: the whimsically absurd Eugene Mirman, the razor-sharp and charmingly crude Nikki Glaser, and the laidback storytelling antics of Kyle Kinane. The delightfully unfiltered Debra DiGiovanni hosts. The Alleyway (behind the Orpheum); Sun, 9pm; $30.
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