World-class performance artist Scot Nery has been hosting a captivatingly hilarious variety show called Boobie Trap in LA on Wednesday nights, and this week the hidden gem celebrates its 100th consecutive show. You should go.
After talking to Nery last week, I tried to get a feel for the show's unique concept. Through a lifetime of performing as a contortionist, juggler and comedian, Nery's has widened his friend-base to include a perfect pool of eclectic talents and personalities of which he curates in Boobie Trap every week. He told me the style of the show is so foreign to most, that the only way many people end up coming is because their friends can't stop talking about it.
"It is impossible to sell the show," Nery said. "I can't tell people that it's something that they like, because it doesn't really relate to anything they already like in the real world."
Being that I had no understanding of the art of the variety show, I realized I just needed to see the intriguing cirque-based performance myself to understand. So last week I headed to Mid-City with my sister to check it out.
Walking into the art deco color palace of Cafe Fais Do-Do nightclub, the vibe is cast perfectly for Nery's vaudeville masterpiece. The main hall is set up bare-bones, with a stage, bar and a hundred or so folding chairs. The house band, Fire Leopard, dressed in retro-suits with a vibrant spectrum of different fabrics and patterns gears up to start the show.
I ran into Scot on the way in and the guy is hilarious and larger-than-life – before we met I had no idea a guy that tall could be a contortionist. We exchanged pleasantries (with dry wit, he even found a way to make those funny) and we made our way to the front row to grab a seat.
The entire show is broken down into 14 acts in 90 minutes. It's stuff that everyone can dig like magicians and aerialists mixed with the stuff that you'd never know you'd like until you saw it: real clowns, like the ones who seem like they were trained in French clown school, whipists (I don't know if that's a word...but people who crack whips in an entertaining way), self-deprecating jugglers who look like your neighbor, Kyle, comedy musicians, and nervous-looking buff nerds who flex their muscles to popular songs.
"These people are incredible at what they do and we give the audiences a sample of the best in the world, and they get to experience something really special," Nery said.
With efficiency, energy, and seasoned skill in the art of entertainment, Nery serves as the show's emcee. And with the help of the hilariously confident members of Fire Leopard, he manages to entertain the crowd himself too. One minute he's making fun of the lull in the show, and the next he's running around the stage stacking as many folding chairs as he can and balancing them on his chin.
Each week is different. If you're not laughing, Nery and his motley crew will keep throwing different things at you until you do. Sometimes literally. At one point they even stopped to chuck bags of chips at the audience.
Last week's line-up featured everything from a gang of colorfully-clad bodacious men and women singing "Hey Big Spender," a guy with a make-shift caterpillar outfit with a handlebar mustache yelling "TODAY IS MY BIG DAY," a woman brushing her teeth vigorously while crying, and an real authentic clown who did striptease while pulling rubber fish from as many different parts of his body as possible.
The four-minute element stemmed from the show's open-mic origins, but when Boobie Trap transitioned into the orchestration it is today, Nery decided he liked the effect of the short performance time and kept it. If a performer goes over time, they are chased off stage by Nery and two of those dancing inflatable tube worms that are outside car dealerships.
Nery compared Boobie Trap to a specialty sausage house like Wurstküche. There's that "selfie moment" factor to the show that's similar to going to the Art District to eat alligator and rabbit sausage.
"It's about the individual and about making things interesting...noteworthy...something you can't see anywhere else in the world."
I asked him last week how the show got its name and with all seriousness, fueled by his constant drive to entertain, he started telling a story from his past, one I thought would lead into the meaning behind the name.
"When I was 12 years old I worked on a farm, helping my family. We grew radishes and garlic and different root vegetables," Nery said.
He went on for a minute before laughing and admitting his impromptu life story was all a lie and that each week on stage, he crafts a different ridiculous tall-tale to tell the audience about how his show got it's name. In reality he just had the domain name for another project, and when the show started as an open mic in Echo Park almost two years ago, he needed a name had the website for Boobie Trap already.
"That's the biggest thing about the show that people really connect with, it's about them individually," Nery said.
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Boobie Trap's idiosyncratic edge, paired with Nery's passionate dedication to serve both the entertainer and the audience personally allows for an experience that truly brings a completely new element to performance.
"I think that's why Ringling Brothers, and bigger circuses and shows are having trouble," Nery said. "Everyone's getting awesome entertainment delivered to them uniquely to their phones and TVs, and these big shows don't take care of individuals."
Nery works hard to greet people as they come in, introduce entertainers and to audience members, and make overall connections. Celebrating it's 100th show on Wednesday, this week's line-up of entertainers is extra-special. Cupcakes and special drinks will be served – expected to be amazing as always.
Scot Nery's Boobie Trap is held every Wednesday night at Cafe Fais Do-Do at 5257 W. Adams Blvd. in Los Angeles. Doors open at 7pm, show starts at 8pm. Tickets are $17 in advance and $25 at the door. For tickets, click here.