The Comedy Store

Laff Mecca South

October, 2019, while waiting in line at the Comedy Store on Sunset Boulevard.
October, 2019, while waiting in line at the Comedy Store on Sunset Boulevard.

by Reviewer Rob

No thought of visiting the Hollywood Comedy Store again had occurred to me until I began following Joe Rogan’s podcast earlier this year after he famously nuked Elon Musk by talking him into smoking weed on camera.

Like millions of others I’ve found Rogan’s internet talk shows to be a source of inspiration. Things that I’d been interested in but hadn’t put a name to had been made clearer for me. For example the sciatica therapy that began years ago and recently I’d battled with doing pull ups, bar dips, and leg curls at the gym could be described by a term I’d first heard uttered by Rogan during one of his pre-broadcast advertorials: “spinal decompression”. I think it was when he was describing the effect of one of those hanging-upside-down-by-your-ankles contraption things a sponsor to his show sells. So just like that, wah-lah, I knew what I’d been doing all along, or at least now I had a word for it.

As time went on I’d hear shows where he’d revel with comic guests about the Comedy Store on Sunset Boulevard and how on any weekend of the month you could get the high privilege of seeing the world’s best comics hone their art form, “for only $20.”

Rogan made it sound like it’s watching Michelangelo paint the Sistine Chapel and reminded me that yeah we’re pretty lucky here in Southern California. All that Hollywood entertainment talent is in such close proximity. So I made plans to go back to the spooky black Haunted House of a building on Sunset Boulevard.

‘Everybody’s a dreamer and everybody’s a star / And everybody’s in movies, it doesn’t matter who you are’ ~Celluloid Heroes

1986; Mitzi Shore, Sam Kinison, Carl Labove, Tamayo Otsuki

I first met Sam Kinison with Mitzi Shore at the La Jolla Comedy Store, the smaller San Diego outlet of the Sunset Boulevard franchise. In 1986 Rodney Dangerfield was in top form and had a show on prime time that was showcasing the young comedians of the day. That’s where I first saw Sam Kinison. He was loud and irreverent in a way that was dangerously truthful. A former preacher, they said he was, he’d make jokes about Jesus being up on the cross and how his last words were probably, “Uhrrrrgh!” It was the Reagan era and the Moral Majority was trying to get America back into church.

Another one of Kinison’s bits was about the people who would go to Africa and film those ‘help the starving Africans’ infomercials. He’d ridicule the producers and camera people who would shoot scenes of heartbreaking poverty and not give the starving kid a sandwich, or something. Another joke was, after saying all these irreverent things, he tell the audience that people would ask him, “Sam, aren’t you afraid of going to hell?” At this point he’d do that squeaky high-pitched laugh and say, “No. I’m not afraid of going to hell. I’ve been married…” and go into his bit about how he’d die and expects to be greeted by Satan at the gates of hell, only to disappoint the devil who’ll sees he’s not terrified. So the devil reluctantly takes off his mask and gives him “the ten-cent tour” of hell.

This was 1986. Ronald Reagan was in his second term, he and Baptist minister Jerry Falwell’s religious-right “Moral Majority” ruled the political landscape. After the anti-establishment 1960’s and the decadent 70’s America was finding church again. But I’d found a different kind of church.

“Over here is where we torment the soul,” the devil says, leading Kinison around the bowels of the underworld, “and this is where we make men sell out and give up on their dreams. (the devils stops) What’s that? You say you’ve been married?” The devil turns reflective, “Hey — do you want a job?”

Kinison brought with him an entourage consisting of his hot Japanese girlfriend, Tamayo Otsuki, who I thought was super attractive but wasn’t really all that funny — maybe due to English being a second language — and his side-kick/henchman Carl Labove, who was a pretty good foil for him on stage.

Kinison was harsh, and totally hilarious. They called him “The Screamer” because he’d interperse high-volume outbursts of hollering on stage during his sets. But I called him honest. His act showed that the best humor is accessed when the one doing the delivery has the courage to reveal it.

At the tie I was in my early twenties and had it in my head that I was going to be a big important writer for major magazines, so after seeing Kinison on the Rodney Dangerfield comedy special and then noticing an ad in the local paper for the La Jolla Comedy Store where he was headlining I had to go see him. After his show I approached him in the front lobby area of the Store and introduced myself, telling him I wanted to write about him.

He said something like, Okay kid (he could see how green I was, “I’ll help you out.” Not sure if he called me kid, he might have, but he did say “I’ll help you out.”

We were sitting at a small two-seat table by the wall with all the 8x10s of comics. He asked, “Who’d this for, Playboy, Penthouse?” I was such a dumbfuck. I replied something about freelancing it to California Magazine, who since folded, I believe. Clearly disappointed, Kinison rolled his eyes. He was tired from doing the show or high, so he gave me his address in Hollywood. It was in the hills above Sunset Boulevard, a street called Beverly Terrace or something.

As people were clearing out I knocked on the office door where Mitzi Shore was with Kinison and Carl Labove in the room with her. She was seating at the desk counting the night’s cash or something with Kinison standing over her counting as well, I think. Maybe he was getting a percentage. Labove was seated by the door near me at I poked my head in. I asked if I’d be allowed free entry to the next night’s show. I was stoked to be there but was looking for a journalistic industry courtesy.

A bit annoyed she seemed to keep counting but agreed, yes fine. Then as I started to leave I turned around and asked, “Can I bring a friend?” Without missing a beat she looked up from her counting and pointed at me, “You’re really pushing it,” she shouted as Kinison erupted in laughter and Labove held his brow in his hand and shook his head in wonderment.

The next night Kinson and his crew were even funnier. Danger on stage.

[stripclub review] Jumbo’s Clown Room

[stripclub review]

Jumbo’s Clown Room

5153 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90027

Phone: 213-666-1187

Visited: Sunday 9-29-19, 8:30 p.m.
$pent: $10

By Reviewer X

I was in Hollywood, going to drive down to San Diego, and didn’t want to drink any alcohol so after doing some top secret reviewer business in L.A. I stopped into Jumbo’s Clownroom for a stripclub coffee. It was $5 and I had ten. I tipped the bartender and one of the dancers the other five bills. Christine the bartender was friendly and so was the dancer although I didn’t ask her name. I sat next to the jukebox where this dancer, whose dance I tipped, a really thin tallish brunette (she had on high stillettos), asked me what my Spotify was as she set up her dance on the jukebox to my left, and told me exictedly she was doing a set with a “fire” theme. I’m normally a Pandora guy, so I didn’t remember what was on my old Spotify.

I stayed around for about 20 minutes, maybe half an hour or four dancers, drank my coffee and one free refill before leaving wired for the two hour drive.

Jumbo’s is a great place for this type of quick stop. No cover at the door, one small room with a single stage against the wall to the right as you walk in with the bar along the left. I’ve always noticed a really friendly vibe from the employees and even sometimes the crowd. It’s an intimate neighborhood dive where the hot girls on staff dance in bikinis.

I’ve seen plenty of couples there too in the handful of busy nights I’ve been in. I’m guessing there’s a lot of industry types from the Hollywood media scene that go. On this night some well-dressed north-of-300-pound guy sat two stools away from me at the corner of the bar (skinny Spotify girl set up between us) and was getting big bills changed into stacks of ones to throw onto the stage. I think Courtney Love listed Jumbo’s Clownroom on her Twitter as where she’s “from” haha, last time I checked.

Jumbo’s drawback? The place is in a small strip mall in the middle of a densely crowded residential neighborhood with scarce parking even on a Sunday like this night. The $7 that they charged in the parking lot out front might be a good deal unless you’re willing to drive around looking and eventually walk three blocks like I did. On the plus side the drinks I’ve had at Jumbo’s are very strong. They don’t skimp here.

Normally I’m not interested in bikini bars (it’s like what’s the point?) but the girls at Jumbo’s are often hot (9/10) and can be really great dancers when there’s an appreciative crowd, talking feature dancer visiting-porn-star quality here. High entertainment value.

I’m going long, I know. But I’ll underscore, the thing about Jumbo’s Clown Room is that you don’t go there expecting an epic lap dance, or any nudity. You go there to drink and watch the girls dance. Maybe if you’re lucky you’ll have some friendly conversation. If you come there with friends then you can really have a good time. It’s a bikini bar not a real strip club, but it might be the friendliest one around, and it’s affordable. This place is not a rip-off at all, with no door cover, and you’re never hassled for tips.

Before this night the last time I was in was maybe a year-and-a-half ago and whoever the bartender was at that time she made my gin and tonics pretty much all gin with just a splash of quinine tonic water for taste and a little wedge of lime for looks. I had three of those and at the end of the night walked back to my van parked on Normandie Avenue to sleep in the back because I didn’t dare drive away. The Jumbo’s dancers are often some of the best in town, and for a city like Los Angeles that’s saying a lot. Stop in again. Jumbo’s Clown Room is more like a cult then a bar.

Jumbo's Clown Room on Hollywood Boulevard.
Jumbo’s Clown Room on Hollywood Boulevard.
Jumbo's Clown Room picture-taking sing.
Jumbo’s Clown Room picture-taking sing.

About Hustlers, the movie…

Pole Dancing: Fitness Motivation, or Something More?

By Emilee Eugburn

Hustlers.

HUSTLERS tonight with mah fav betch, Brittany Buzard, as excited as I am about this movie I think it highlights a dialog that MUST take place…

Pole is becoming a phenomena that can be done both inside and outside the club. I see many of my acquaintances using the excuse that they are POLERS not STRIPPERS. Y’all buy a pair of Pleaser’s and take a class once a week which in your mind puts you leagues ahead of your “club” counterparts. SO MANY women and men use Strippers and sex workers as the brunt of violent and humiliating jokes and stories without ever once considering that THESE ARE HUMAN BEINGS. Women- ALL women and TBH all people as little as I care for men- are living beings with agency and calculating capabilities. We calculate our best options and go from there. We are not tissues to be used and discarded, regardless of that fervid rhetoric.

The Western appropriation aside, the reason you all want to pole dance specifically to be your fitness routine is that you want to look like a stripper. You want that dangerous, slumming, mysterious aura. You want to walk around with confidence like I do in 8″ heels, you want to LOOK like men pay you hundreds of dollars because you are simply desirable. You want TO FEEL EDGY and DESIRABLE… Yet you don’t want the dangers or stigma. You don’t want the very real threat of losing homes, jobs, family, scholarships, children, careers, FUTURES. You know that the edginess you crave comes at a price, and your way to combat that is NOT to combat stripper stigma, your way of dealing with this is to play up respectability politics for all you’re worth, widening dichotomy between PURE YOU and FILTHY US, too busy selling our bodies to dirty old men to develop the skills YOU DEEM acceptable. SO THE NEXT TIME you wanna toss up that #STRIPPERLIFE tag on IG remember there are women and men who make their livelihood from dancing whose accounts have been deleted and shadow banned for THAT SAME TAG. When you want to wear that pair of Pleaser’s to Funky Monk but are offended when asked if you are a dancer, remember who you are appropriating and simply respond with “No, I am not a stripper, and it makes me nervous that you would ask that BC sex work is so loaded and sex workers are murdered and discriminated against, so I get defensive about this but I am trying to fight it and support strippers in ending sex work stigma, staring with myself.”

And I bet not see half y’alls faces come “amateur night”.