Los Angeles’ own Alt comedy festival RIOT LA is just a few weeks from beginning its second go-round. Coming off an impressive inaugural run, the festival promises has lofty ambitions to become a premiere event for the Los Angeles comedy scene. The festival is the result of a lot of hard work from founder Abbey Londer who started everything from a Kickstarter campaign and ended up bringing in some of the best names in comedy.
Londer told The Laugh Button that she decided to go for Kickstarter for a few reasons, one to get capital, but in addition “we wanted to see how much interest there was for something like this in Los Angeles. LA is an interesting market, there’s already so much exposure here for comedy and live performance. We weren’t sure really if this was something people would be super excited about.” The goal was to see if there was interest, and boy was there, for RIOT LA’s first season was fully funded by around $20,000 raised and Londer and co. raised nearly half of that money in about ten days. No maxing out of the credit cards needed.
This year Los Angeles’ premiere non-commercial radio station KCRW was a sponsor and this year they got even more involved becoming the official presenting sponsor for RIOT LA. “Last year we did a KCRW storytelling show that had Stephen Merchant, Maria Bamford, Marc Maron, Nick Kroll, and Michaela Watkins.” stated Londer, “They were probably one of the biggest investors at the festival.” KCRW will host more comedy shows during the festival and they even brought on Londer in a freelance position to help produce events for the station up until this past October when Londer stepped away because she was, “in the land of festivals and it is busy.”
The festival also moved to January instead of the fall, because of this it technically didn’t have a 2013 season but the move allowed for Londer and KCRW to focus on delivering a terrific fest and not interfere with other major events that were held at the time. Londer joked, “At the same time, it was like 109 degrees last September and it was just really, really, really hot. As you know, comedy does not really work well in hot weather [laughs].”
Not only did the date of the festival move but it’s expanded from three to four days in addition to five venues, up from three. There’s almost 50 shows this year and last year was around 32. There will be about 130 comedians performing over the course of the four days. Londer and her crew have worked to hand pick the talent appearing on the fest that fit both the relatively intimate venue sizes and appeal to those attending. Londer has also worked hard to make sure all comedians were compensated for their talents, something not always usual at a festival.
Though it has national acts, it’s still very much a local festival pulling a lot of local talent. But with the first season’s success they’re starting to get interest from non-locals. But that’s just fine for Londer, since the only requirement for comedians is to be funny.
In addition to stand-up comedy, there’s a lot of other comedy for fans to experience more with the festival incorporating podcasts but Londer doesn’t expect podcasts to ever completely take over since there are a lot of other podcast festivals that already do a great job. So Londer is sticking to a stand-up focus and unique experiences that only LA can offer, case in point, Nerdmelt, the city’s long-running show in the back of a comic book store. Londer stated, “You just feel like you’re a part of something super special. So I wanted my shows to be like that.” The city design also offers up different challenges. It’s spread out and a driving city so Londer worked to have the festival contained withing a small walking distance, keeping all to one block of LA between 2nd and 3rd on main street, allowing fans to come, park and just enjoy themselves. There’s even a hotel across the street for those out of towners.
All venues are connected by a common parking lot with a lounge area, arcade, food trucks, beer tents, and literally sandwiched in between the venues. Allowing for festival goers to see shows and then hang out with comedians and other comedy fans alike. Giving off a block party feel.
All that’s left is to get your tickets… all you have to do is pick up tickets at www.riotla.com and join in the fun. We’ll see you there.