If you’d told me six months ago rising comics from the Los Angeles stand-up scene would make that drive down the 5 to play Wednesday night shows at a bar in South Park, I might have laughed. But it would have been a short laugh, three HAs at best.

I guess Riff City Comedy is laughing now, as are the local comedy fans who’ve filled the Whistle Stop the fourth Wednesday of each month since Riff City launched there in May, to watch a parade of funny people perform in front of the bar’s big ol’ train mural.

“Our aim is to bring comedy A-listers to town,” says Daniel Delgado, who promotes the show with fellow comic Myles Magallanes and Beau Hufford. Riff City started out hosting free shows at Thorn Street Brewery until licensing issues forced them to stop. Moving to the Whistle Stop gives them a full bar, and allows them to charge a mere five bucks a head, to support bringing in-demand talent — the sort of touring comics making appearances on late night talk shows and Comedy Central.

“These are people that you would pay 30 dollars and a two cocktail minimum to see in LA,” Delgado points out, “and we’re getting them to do this intimate room.”

The comedians headlining the event are finding a great crowd. Comic Erik Griffin performed the Riff City night in May, not long before the premiere of his Showtime stand-up special this summer, and told Delgado it’s the best bar show he’s ever played. As word has spread among LA comedians about the friendly venue, and the chance to get stage time in front of fresh ears, it’s become easier to book successful acts.

In addition to a featured headliner, most shows feature 4 or 5 openers — usually a split between San Diego comedians and LA up-and-comers — and Delgado has noticed comics with shows in town later that night might drop in to see if they can score a few minutes in South Park.

“If you just have a really good room,” Delgado says, “people love to perform.”

Recent features have included Canadian funnyman John Dore — the first stand-up comic to perform on Conan O’Brien’s TBS show — and Nick Vatterott, another late night vet once dubbed “the funniest man in Chicago.” Next up on October 25th is Brent Weinbach, a stand-up who’s written for TV and appeared on Kroll Show and Portlandia.


*All photos courtesy Riff City Comedy