Abbey Londer Creates a Haven For Alt Comedy With Riot LA

Abbey Londer Creates a Haven For Alt Comedy With Riot LAEXPAND
Liezl Estipona

If watching your favorite comedy acts, being exposed to new comedy, or laughing in general is your thing, pick your shows, pick a day, or pick all of the days like we are and get your ass out to the Riot LA comedy festival. From January 29th-31st you’ll have the opportunity to see comedic greats like Janeane Garofalo, Patton Oswalt, Gilbert Gottfried, Maria Bamford, and TJ Miller. Oh, that’s not enough for you? OK, well how about David Cross, Natasha Leggero, Bridget Everett and a shit ton of other comics that we can’t name because we have strict word counts on articles over here at the Weekly? Now that we have your attention, we’d also like to tell you that we've got all of the insider deets straight from the mouth of the fantastic creator of Riot LA, Abbey Londer. From what she tells us, you’re sure to get all of those laughs we promised you from earlier and so much more.

OC Weekly (Ali Lerman): I read that you created this festival all from a Kickstarter. Where did the idea come from originally? Give me some backstory.

Abbey Londer: I did, yeah! Basically, I’m from Michigan and then I lived in Chicago for five years and did comedy there. I moved out to LA in 2009 and started doing stand-up and producing comedy shows. I realized that I really had a knack for producing and fell in love with the comedy scene out here because it’s full of awesome and talented people. It was really weird to me that there wasn’t a reputable comedy festival in the city so I kind of came up with the idea and started playing around with it. About eight months later I was like, I’m just going to put together a Kickstarter and if it gets funded, I’ll do it. It ended up being funded in ten days. The response was pretty overwhelming and it was really clear that it was something that the city and the community wanted.

That’s so cool! Kickstarter is so great when used for the proper things. So it’s slated as an “alternative comedy festival,” can you break down what makes it alt?

The phrase “LA’s alternative comedy” kind of has two different meanings to it. I wanted to create a festival that was not spread out through the city and had more of a sense of community where you could watch comedy in a different or alternative type of way. Our venues are very eclectic, the venues used are very intimate, and the biggest venue that we are using is the Ace and that’s only on Friday night. One of our venues is 70 seats so you’re getting to watch some of the greatest comics out there in a really intimate setting. I also rent out this parking lot in the middle of all the venues that is full of food trucks, Skee-Ball, an arcade, a photo booth, and a lot random oddities and surprises. It’s more of a celebration of the comedy community here so I try to tell people to not get hung up on the word “alternative” as a genre because the fact of the matter is, while I mostly cater to the alternative, there are different kinds of comedy that cater to different types of people. As the festival grows, we open ourselves to different types of comedy. It’s more just about the different ways that people can celebrate that at different kinds of places.

Abbey Londer Creates a Haven For Alt Comedy With Riot LAEXPAND
Zach Dobson.

Hey, you had me at comedy and Skee-Ball. Since this will be my first time at the festival, can you give me some tips as to maneuvering the seven venues? I want to get a lot of bang for my buck.

It’s pretty easy because all of the venues are basically on one whole block. The only one that’s about two blocks down is The Regent. As far as maneuvering goes, you really don’t have to go far. I always tell people to come down for the day, if you’re going to be drinking take public transportation, and come down for the whole day because like I said, that parking lot sort of becomes this beating heart of the festival. It’s an epicenter where people can hang out all day long and play and party. That is also where the official artist greenroom is so you often will stumble upon someone like Paul F. Tompkins playing foosball with two other regular people. There’s really neat interaction that happens there between the comics and the comedy fans.

So park, walk, and party. I like it!

Yeah, you park for the whole day, don’t have to worry about moving your car, and you just hangout! It’s a really awesome way to meet other awesome people who share the same love for comedy that you do. It’s also a huge festival of discovery. As you can see from the line-up, we have what will end of being almost 200 performers. Some as big as David Cross, Patton Oswalt, and Maria Bamford, and some that you’ve probably never heard of but that you should know.

Oh yeah, I was going to tell you that I love that you’re doing several “Comics to Watch” shows as well. Kind of like paying it forward.

Totally! Those are kind of like my pride and joy because those are the line-ups that we personally curated. We truly believe those will be the people that you’re going to say, oh my god I saw that person in this crazy tiny, 60-seat venue way back when they were just getting their start. That kind of discovery is definitely why this festival was started. We live in a city where all of the industry is here and it seems so silly to not expose the talent that we have here and give them the opportunity that they need.

Grab your tickets now so you can get into Riot LA January 29th-31st by going to wwwRiotLA.com. You can also get more info by checking out their Facebook, Instagram, and by following along on Twitter @RiotLA.

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