RIOT LA practically serves up LA’s alternative comedy scene on a silver platter; almost 40 shows will take over six Downtown venues (and one parking lot) within walking distance of each other. Unlike some other festivals stranded in the middle of the desert, RIOT comes with the freedom of easily slipping in and out as you please; tickets are available for individual events as well as the entire three-day festival*. To help sort out your schedule, we’ve picked seven must-see shows at this year’s fest.
P.S. We're giving away two passes to the fest. If you want 'em, enter here before 11:59pm on Jan. 12.
The Super Serious Show
The Super Serious Show throws stand-up, sketch and musical comedy into one night of decidedly unserious performances. The show’s been hopping around clubs in LA since 2010 (these days it usually calls the Virgil its home) with a mix of up-and-comers, indie favorites and mainstream stars. Kate Berlant, one of our 2015 comedians to watch, and John Early take over as hosts for the RIOT show with a lineup that includes T.J. Miller and Nick Thune, among others.
Saturday, 7pm, The Smell
The Goddamn Comedy Jam
Perform a regular stand-up set, then belt out an unrehearsed cover song with local rock duo Elemenopy—what could go wrong? Comedian Josh Adam Meyers has managed to recruit an impressive stable of headliners since this show started last summer at the Lyric Theatre, and at RIOT he’ll be bringing the simmering, hilarious and professed hair metal fan Bill Burr on stage. Fingers crossed for Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again.”
Saturday, 7pm, The Lot (next to the Downtown Independent)
One of the indescribable highlights of last year’s fest, Kurt Braunohler is back with his gonzo talk show spoof "Roustabout." Somewhere in between an episode of Pee-wee’s Playhouse and a Flaming Lips concert, "Roustabout" strung together half-naked male dancers, an inflatable dancing tube and skeleton dance puppetry during its last show—in retrospect, we suppose it was all about dance. We’ve been waiting for a follow-up ever since its marching band procession finale.
Saturday, 9pm, The Smell
How many other shows do you know that come with this warning? "Must have thick skin to attend. This show is fucking insane." Comedian Brian Moses hosts this high energy Comedy Store export that combines the best of a rap battle and a boxing match. Prolific roastmaster and insult judge Jeff Ross acts as mentor for four bouts of no-holds-barred smack talk; Rell Battle, Moshe Kasher and the Sklar Brothers round out the judges table.
Saturday, 11pm, Five Star Bar
With Special Guest Lauren Lapkus
UCB and Orange is the New Black regular Lauren Lapkus hands over the hosting duties for her weekly podcast to a special guest each episode. But don’t expect her to appear as herself; instead, she sits down for an interview as one of her uncannily hilarious characters, including Burbank teenager Traci Reardon (Twaci Weawdon to Comedy Bang! Bang! listeners). For RIOT, Lapkus is inviting Silicon Valley star (and one of our 2014 favorites) Thomas Middleditch.
Sunday, 3pm, Downtown Independent
Stripped Stories’ tales of disastrous romps are so candid that the show has a strict no-recording policy. Hosts Margot Leitman and Giulia Rozzi enforce this to their advantage by squeezing titillating tidbits out of their guests (Matt Braunger, Karen Kilgariff and Ken Reid). You simply can’t go wrong with a show that includes a game of “Never Have I Ever.”
Sunday, 5:30pm, The Lexington
The Marilyn Bamford Collective
Maria Bamford is deliriously funny as-is, but when the soft-spoken comedian slips into the role of her mother Marilyn the results are astonishing. Just as in her Web series “Ask My Mom!”, Bamford will dispense folksy, Minnesotan advice to a panel of comedians that includes Cameron Esposito, one of our 2014 favorites. Individual tickets are already sold out, so you’ll need a festival pass to see this one (lucky for you, we have a pair up for grabs).
Sunday, 7pm, Downtown Independent
Tickets: Single event tickets sold out; festival passes still available