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THE CREME DE L.A. CREME | Comedy

For Good Laughs From Big Names, Try These Clubs

August 10, 2000|PAUL BROWNFIELD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Every Sunday, Jay Leno heads to Hermosa Beach--not to relax but to perform an hour of stand-up comedy, during which he workshops potential jokes for upcoming "Tonight Show" monologues.

Leno performs every Sunday night on a show that begins at 7 at the Comedy and Magic Club. The show is among the best bets for visitors who want to take advantage of the area's role as the center of TV production to see a favorite comic live.

Drew Carey puts on an improvisational comedy show every Thursday at the Improv in West Hollywood, while regulars at the nearby Laugh Factory include Bob Saget, Rodney Dangerfield, Damon Wayans and Paul Rodriguez. A hop, skip and jump to the west is the famed Comedy Store, the former haunt of Richard Pryor, David Letterman and Jim Carrey, although it's not nearly as hot as it once was.

Headliners around town this week and next include Brian Regan, at the Irvine Improv Aug. 16-19, and "Tonight Show" regular Willie Barcena, at the Ice House in Pasadena Aug. 16-19. Sandra Bernhard plays the Sun Theatre in Anaheim Aug. 18.

If you prefer more free-form comedy, there is no shortage of options, from the Sunday night Uncabaret performances at LunaPark in West Hollywood (whose regulars include "Saturday Night Live" alumna Julia Sweeney, among others) to the hip Monday night Largo shows in the Fairfax District. Cafe comedy is also popular, and the more atmospheric spots include the Hollywood Hills Coffee Shop, which does comedy Thursday nights, and the Martini Lounge in Hollywood, which has comedy on Tuesdays and Sundays.

The Acme Comedy Theater has a weekly lineup of improv and staged comedy, including a quirky live talk show made quirkier by the fact that it's held in a theater, complete with a monologue, guests and a musical act.

Graduates of the famed Second City in Chicago often make their way to L.A. for film and TV work and some put on live shows, including the "Second City Alumni Jam," Wednesdays in Santa Monica.

L.A. is also home to the Groundlings, an improv and sketch comedy school and theater whose alumni include Phil Hartman, Pee-wee Herman and Kathy Griffin.

Addresses, prices, dates. Page 24.

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"L.A. has become a theater city that is second to none. On any given night, visitors can choose from a huge variety of plays and musicals, both classics and world premieres, here at the Playhouse, the Geffen or at the Taper, created and performed by world-class theater artists." SHELDON EPPS, Artisitc director, Pasadena Playhouse

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