Did you hear the one about the British knight who started a comedy club in the middle of L.A.’s largest apartment complex? As they say in the world of stand-up: “True story!”
The apartment complex is Park La Brea, the sprawling city-within-a-city. Once a month for the last three years the charming 100-seat Park La Brea Theater has opened its stage for local joke-slingers to ply their trade.
“Comedy In The Park” is the brainchild of Sir Richard Winter-Stanbridge, formerly of the London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art, and currently the co-founder (with his wife, actress Tessa Shaw) of Wintershaw Enterprises. His company is charged with programming the theater. This can take the form of classical and jazz concerts, movies (the Hollywood Indian Film League, among other private and community screenings), talent shows and even a literary salon featuring conversations between authors, called “Bookplates.”
And for those looking to have their ribs tickled, on the first Saturday of every month at 7:30 p.m., anyone with $12 to spend can enjoy some of L.A.’s top comedians, with credits including Last Comic Standing, The Laugh Factory, Mad TV, Comedy Central and HBO on their resumes.
Sir Richard’s partner-in-merriment in this enterprise is Jason Love, a comedy headliner known for his clean style and quirky wit. Jason chooses the performers with an eye towards upholding Comedy In The Park’s reputation as one of the cleanest and funniest shows in town. The result, they insist, is not “family entertainment”—it’s grown-up entertainment for adults who don’t need raunchy material to have a good time. Does it ever get rowdy? Sir Richard pauses, then laughs, “Yes, but in a good way!”
Comedy In The Park’s patrons get “bites and drinks” (wine, cheese, etc.) in a casual setting while enjoying a line-up of five topflight comics. (Some of the funny folks who have proven themselves audience faves are Don Friesen, Jim Short, Steve Hotstetter, Jackie Kashian and Flip Shultz.) The audience, ranging in age from 18 on up, is drawn primarily from the Park La Brea community and the city at large.
Tall, slender of build, with chiseled features and silver hair, producer and impresario Winter-Stanbridge looks like a knight and could come off as an imposing figure, were he not so approachable and quick to laugh. He is justifiably proud of Park La Brea’s jewel-box of a theater—a comedy club with real class—calling it “a gem in the middle of an oasis.”
The Hollywood Indian Film League is an opportunity for Indian filmmakers who live in L.A. to screen films they hope to submit to festivals. “We’re very proud of that,” says Sir Richard, quipping, “It’s what Slamdance is to Sundance.”
The L.A. Independent Film Festival Awards (LAIFF Awards) will be held on March 8. Screenings will continue afterward on the second Saturday of each month.
The event is free. Screenings will continue afterwards the second Saturday of each month.
Comedy In The Park, Park La Brea Theater, 475 S. Curson Ave. Use 6th St. for easy access to Park La Brea. Tickets available for $12 at comedyatplb.eventbrite.com or call (323) 549-5470. The next show is scheduled for Sat., March 7 at 7:30 p.m.
By Melanie Mulligan