The Comedy Wars: New York vs. LA - A Tale of Two Cities and Their Stand-Up Comedy Scenes

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The Intriguing Rivalry Between LA's Comedy Store and New York's Comedy Cellar

Date Posted:August 15, 2023

Author:Grace Hilarity

In the illustrious arena of stand-up comedy, two venues stand head and shoulders above the rest: 'The Comedy Store' in Los Angeles and 'The Comedy Cellar' in New York. Despite their individual prestige, they are bound by the competitive spirit and culture of their respective coasts.

The Legacy of Iconic Comedy Clubs:

Both The Comedy Store and The Comedy Cellar are behemoths in the world of live comedy. Their importance can be discerned from the sheer number of modern comedians who, at some point in their careers, were regular fixtures at these venues. For a stand-up comic, performing at either of these clubs is more than just a gig—it's an acknowledgment, a stamp of approval from the comedy community.

A Surprising Dichotomy in Stand-Up Comedy:

Counter to the prevailing stereotypes, New York's Comedy Cellar comes across as warm and inviting, whereas LA's Comedy Store, in recent times, seems to be wrapped in layers of bureaucracy and unwritten rules and changing of the guard. This unexpected role-reversal was candidly discussed by Bobby Lee and Andrew Santino on a recent episode of their comedy podcast, "Bad Friends," with both expressing admiration for the Comedy Cellar's welcoming ambiance. They draw a comparison between the rap wars of the East Coast vs. West Coast, hinting that such differences shouldn't exist in the world of comedy.

Tumultuous Times for The Comedy Store:

Historically, The Comedy Store has witnessed several ebbs and flows. It has seen its golden days with legends like Richard Pryor lighting up the stage. Fast forward to a few years ago, the Comedy Store saw a renaissance with the return of post-ban Joe Rogan and a subsequent comedy boom. The atmosphere was electric with top comedians queueing up for spots.

However, with the departure of key figures and the shifting epicenter of live comedy to Austin, Texas, and New York City, the Store's luminosity seems to have dimmed. Ari Shaffir's scathing criticism of the LA comedy scene and its stalwarts serves as a testament to this sentiment. The Comedy Store's once heralded system now seems to be in question, with the exit of influential figures leaving a vacuum.

New York Comics and the LA Struggle:

It's bewildering that top-tier New York comedians like Mark Normand and Sam Morril face challenges in securing spots at the Comedy Store at this stage in their illustrious careers. At its peak, squeezing in an outsider amidst lineups featuring giants like Tom Segura, Chris D'Elia, Anthony Jeselnik, and Joe Rogan would have been a daunting task. But with many of these names having moved on, there seems to be no logical reason for such hurdles, especially when these comedians can add immense value to any lineup.

The disparity in sentiments between coasts is evident when Andrew Santino, a stalwart of the LA comedy scene, contemplates moving to New York. His conversation with Andrew Schulz on Flagrant encapsulates the undercurrent of restlessness among comedians regarding the LA comedy scene.

The Way Forward:

Bobby Lee's interaction on 'We Might Be Drunk' sheds light on the complexity of navigating the LA comedy landscape. While he seems to offer a solution to the problem, his promises of simplifying the process sound far-fetched, almost echoing the daunting process of acquiring comedy tickets for top shows. However, his acknowledgment of the system's flaws might be the first step in bridging the chasm.

The rift between LA's Comedy Store and New York's Comedy Cellar underscores the broader nuances and complexities of the world of stand-up comedy. As comedians navigate these tumultuous waters, it becomes evident that beyond the laughter and jokes lies an intricate web of rivalries, friendships, and ever-evolving dynamics. As the world tunes in, eager for a laugh, the story behind each set, each joke, and each comedian becomes a narrative of its own—a narrative of dreams, struggles, and the relentless pursuit of making the world laugh.

In brighter news, ‘The Regz’ podcast, featuring established New York comedians Bobby Kelly, Dan Soder, Joe List, and Luis Gomez, is a shining testament to the city's thriving comedy scene. A spin-off from the famed ‘You Know What Dude’ podcast, 'The Regz' is already enjoying early success, signaling a promising future.

Rolling Credits: Who appeared on comedy podcasts this week?

Some of the clips used in this video are from these comedy podcasts:

New(-ish) stand-up comedy specials out recently include:

  • Dark Pale by Jim Gaffigan on Prime Video

  • Speed of Light by Matt McCusker on YouTube

  • Absolutely Wonderful by Nick Griffin on YouTube

  • Soup to Nuts by Mark Normand on Netflix

  • Trevor Wallace has completed filming of an upcoming comedy special

  • Joe List has an upcoming comedy special available on YouTube August 18

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