It’s been said many times—laughter is good for the soul. That little tickle in our funny bone just makes everything better—all your stress and worries seemingly melt away at a stand-up comedy show. In fact, these acts offer everyone in the room the common bond of happiness in that moment.
Wouldn’t it be great if there were a gathering point for comedy fans to come together and witness multiple acts while having some good ol' fashioned fun? Well, thanks to Riot LA, there is. And it’s the king of all block parties.
As the brainchild of the ever-so-talented Abbey Londer, you’d expect nothing less than the very titans of comedy to grace this festival’s multiple stages. In fact, some of the big names include Mel Brooks, Ali Wong, Bob Saget, Andy Kindler, Whitney Cummings, Anthony Jezzleneck, and oh so many more. Did we mention there’s a carnival involved too? Yeah. There is. I’m talking access to rides, games, and food trucks!
If you plan on kicking back next Thursday the 19th through Sunday the 22nd—think again. Riot LA is the annual gathering you absolutely should not miss.
The Humble Beginnings of Riot LA
Abbey Londer: I came up with the idea in 2012. It was originally launched on a Kickstarter campaign. I figured if the Kickstarter campaign got funded, that it was a sign the LA community wanted it to happen. The LA comedy scene is already huge here, so I wasn’t really sure that the city needed it. It ended up getting funded in less than 10 days. It was an amazing response.
Channeling Her Own Funny Bone
I’m originally from Michigan but I lived in Chicago for five years as I went to school there. I did Second City, The Improv Olympic, and The Annoyance, so I was really heavily involved with the improv and sketch comedy scene there. In 2009, I moved to Los Angeles and starting doing stand up as well as producing my own shows around town. I got really good at it and created a lot of relationships from it. From there, I started producing bigger shows more like event-type shows rather than the weekly run-of-the-mill show. I even did a show on a loading dock in Downtown once. Then I created LA Riot.
A Nod to The Showstoppers
We have Mel Brooks doing the Blazing Saddles live screening and Q&A—he’s 90-years-old by the way. He’s never done this show live in Los Angeles before, so we’re really excited to have him in the grand opening ceremony for our festival. Ali Wong is exciting to have in the lineup. Her shows are sold out; she has six nights at The Ace. And, for the first time ever, Jonathan Katz is doing a live version of the show, Dr. Katz, on the West Coast. That lineup is phenomenal: Thomas Middleditch, Maria Bamford, Tig Notaro, and David Wain. That’s going to be a crazy, crazy show. Literary Deathmatch is on there too, which includes Whitney Cummings, Sam Richardson from Veep, and Mary Lynn Rajskub—that show will be fantastic.
On Throwing the Ultimate Block Party
When I created the festival, it wasn’t my goal to do a comedy festival that was spread throughout the city. I wanted to make everything very centralized and close to make it feel like a block party. The larger venues include The Ace, The Orpheum, The Novo, and Microsoft Theater. But the smaller venues are actually located within those venues. The North Hall and The Cigar Lounge are in The Orpheum. The Segovia Lounge and The Pickford are inside of The Ace. All of these venues are on the same block. You can literally walk to all of them. It’s a big, block party, comedy festival!
The Best Bang for Your Buck
The larger shows are obviously in The Orpheum, Microsoft, and The Ace. But if you’re looking for a great deal, you like comedy, and you don’t necessarily know a lot of people on the ticket, get a Stand By Pass. They are $49.50, it’s good for the whole weekend, and it gets you access to all of the shows at the festival if they’re not at capacity. Let me say that you can easily check out at least four shows on Saturday, and Sunday you can at least see three shows without a doubt. It’s a great opportunity to find more comedians you’ll love.
Veering Into the Unconventional Comedy Lane
Some of the more alternative shows are located in The Cigar Lounge and The North Hall. The Pickford and The Segovia are mainly for showcases or the new faces of comedy for 2017. There’s also a show called My Diary where a bunch of comedians read actual diary entries from their old diaries. It’s super funny. Also, if you’ve never seen Andy Kindler—you need to see him. He’s one of my favorite comedians of all time. He’s an amazing riff master and he puts together a really offbeat lineup.
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The Heart of the Festival
We have this parking lot, called The Lot, behind The Orpheum that is available to any festival pass or ticket no matter the price. There are food trucks, skeeball, shuffleboard, free arcade games, free VR games, free programming sponsored by Super Deluxe, photo booths, there’s a pop-up animal adoption from NKLA, a Ferris Wheel—it’s the beating heart of the festival!
Plans for Future Riots
We’re going to see how this year goes. I mean—we tripled our size! I’m not sure how much bigger we can get (laughs). But you never know. We’re always trying to do unique and creative stuff. I think it’ll expand on to other cities in the future.