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Netflix Is a Joke Made L.A. Laugh For 2 weeks Straight. Here’s The Funniest Stuff We Saw

Clients: Ever Mainard – Comedian; Irene Tu – Comedian

In a short time (literally by year No. 2), the biennial Olympics of laughter known as Netflix Is a Joke has shined a global spotlight on the L.A. stand-up scene. Whether it was shows at our biggest venues, most respected clubs or a pop-up fun zone in the Palladium’s parking lot, the streamer-backed festival put our commitment to comedy to the test. This year, NIAJ inspired Times staffers to fan out across the city to take in dozens of shows over 12 days. Yes, we obviously had our agenda going into it for things we wanted to see — ah, how cute and optimistic we were two weeks ago. But one of the best things about this kind of sprawling fest has been stumbling onto different showcases, finding rare surprises and changing our plans at the last minute to check out something new. We stayed out late, we laughed hard (most of the time) and went all out for this smorgasbord of comedy craziness, sometimes at the expense of our brain cells the next day. Here are the highlights of the funniest stuff that caught our attention at this year’s festival.

Ever Mainard, UCB, May 9, 9:45 p.m.

Nervous laughter, Texas trash fires and a father determined to love the hell out of his kid in the face of red-state bigotry. Mainard’s second one-person show “Ottis” — titled after their dad’s middle name — parallels the emotional process of gender-affirming top surgery with coming out to the people that matter most. Discomfort stands side by side with determination, meaning identity, “cool Christianity,” Van Gogh tramp stamps, state shot put matches and strap-on tips comprise a near-future special that improbably makes awkwardness uplifting and wholly heart-warming. (For the record, Mainard warns, don’t buy a Velcro strap-on. Too noisy and eventually loses all grip.)—J.S.

Irene Tu, Improv Lab, May 10, 9:45 p.m.

Irene Tu’s sold-out evening in the Improv Lab proved a slow-burn meditation on the true emotional load inherent in taking it all on, from effective activism (Hollywood Strikes, Israeli/Palestinian) to climate crisis and pronouns. “I have big ‘they’ energy,” she explains. “I’ve gotta figure my gender out soon. So I can post it online for likes.” When it comes to her traditional parents’ wishes, “’Our son is a comedian,’ is still better than ‘Our daughter is a doctor.’” Even after a gorgeous chunk on suicidal ideation — “If you’ve never thought about killing yourself, what’s wrong with you?” — it was ironically Tu’s detailed stool sample description that prompted the crowd’s loudest shrieks of existential horror.—J.S.


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