This is part II of an interview with stand-up comic Dave Ross, who's the host of Holy Fuck, a free comedy show you can find at the Downtown Independent theater. You can read part I of the interview right here.
Aside from Facebook, your show has also gotten popular because of standard-issue, O.G. word-of-mouth communication. Is that easier, now that so many people know about it and you don’t have to promote the show as much as when you first started?
It’s really nice. The two-year anniversay was so big. We had Maria Bamford, Nick Kroll, Jesse Case, Cornell Reid and the show was hosted by Jeff Waughner. People were telling me, “Wow, that lineup is insane, I can’t wait to see it!”
Having Jesse Case there was amazing. He’s one of my best friends. He’s been at it for five years. He’s done Last Comic Standing, and he's also a road comic.
Maria and Nick and the rest have some heat behind them, too, and during the show all of them just murdered in front of an audience of nearly three hundred people.
For Holy Fuck’s second anniversary there were people standing on the side on the hallway and there were people sitting Indian-style on the ground. It was way more than I could ask for.
What was that show like, compared to your very first one?
Fifty people came out the first night. I was lucky to get that. It’s just hard to get people to go to any show in L.A. I was lucky because I had just started comedy, and although I was going up every night I wasn’t so obsessed with working at the time that I wasn’t hanging out with my friends.
I’ve interviewed a lot of professional comics, and they always mention how lonely it can get because of the work schedule.
That’s how it is. You get obsessed with working all the time and then your friends stop showing up to see you. I had lived in California for ten years, and back then my friends all came out to support my show.
I was really worried about the first Holy Fuck. I didn’t want to take the show to the Downtown Independent theater at first because it has 220 seats. I felt that any crowd would feel tiny, but about 60 people showed up on the first night. That really helped get the ball rolling.
Offering a free stand up comedy show while the recession is still raging is a very cool thing to do.
I’m escastic we could help with that. There are a wealth of great comedy shows in this town. There is another show downtown called Hand Clown. They are celebrating their one-year anniversary, and it’s on the last Thursday of every month.
Jake Weisman hosts a show at the Park Restauraunt every other Monday. Maria Bamford goes up there every show, too. Weisman also runs a story-telling comedy show with me called Two-Headed Beast.
Barbara Gray puts on another show called Space Boners that’s free. She also runs a show called One-Two Punch that’s totally free. Mark Maron has peformed there, along with some other huge names.
There are a lot of great free shows in this town. Comedy has to be the cheapest type of entertainment. You could name any day of the week, and I could tell you where to go to see comedy and get drunk for $10.
There are just so many shows. We all just want stage time. For every show that costs money, there are three or four free shows that you can see for free, and they are all amazing.
Have there ever been some bad shows that just didn’t work out?
At one show there were twenty people, and that felt like no one was there. That was the seventh or eighth show that Mark Maron came to. It was raining, and I just felt so horrible because I look up to him immensely. I just felt like I had shit on one of my idols. Cut to a week later, we had a sold-out crowd.
There have been tough nights. The one thing about running a free show where you can’t pay the comics is that when you are booking big names, if they get a gig that pays them money, I can’t get upset if they have to drop out. On some days they’ve dropped out and I have to tell the audience at the last moment.
What’s amazing is that pretty much every single time the audience just stays, and the lineups are always good. There’s always a few stragglers who get up and leave, but most of the time they stay.
Didn’t you have the show on the roof, once?
That was a really tough night which turned out to be our best show. I ran the show twice a month up until July of 2011 I started running the show with two co-producers, Jessica Ruiz and Jeff Swatthoffer, which allowed me to put on the show once a week.
Because it was going weekly we were concerned. We had been getting good crowds, but we were afraid that putting on the show that much would thin out the crowds. We focused on making sure the first six shows were huge.
So one night the show is at 9 pm and I get a call at 7 pm from the house manager at the theater. She tells me there was a calendar mishap. There was an event going on at the theater that was booked months ago from 7 pm to 11 pm, and they had paid a bunch of money.
We had promoted the hell out of the show, too. So I got to the theater and tried to talk to the guy, but he was not helpful. He had paid money and I hadn’t so he was on his high horse about it. Abbey Londer was going to be on that night, too. The woman who manages the building suggested that we throw the show on the roof, but we had no chairs.
So all of us thought it over, and at 8 pm we finally decided to throw it on the roof. Before I even started to try it all just figured itself out. The audience started showing up and helping us out. We got some folding chairs from a place down the street, and then we went into the gym next door and got a construction light for a $30 deposit.
A couple of other people set up the stage and the sound. Two hundred people came out and watched the show on the roof. I’ve never seen a crowd of people so positive…so into it. They were totally on board. We were under the night sky and every comic killed that night. We had a blast, that and it felt like a community. Everyone pitched in. It was just like making lemons into lemonade.
We’ll never do it again, though. There was just too much stress.
I know that you are very busy performing on the road right now, so thank you for the interview. Is there anything else you’d like to add before you go?
I’ve already said it, there are so many cheap or free shows… the comedy scene out here is huge. All you have to do is show up. Holy Fuck is quite literally the most satisfying thing I’ve ever been a part of. If you are looking for entertainment and great people to hang out with, go to any comedy show.
My favorite show right now is Meldown, at Meltdown Comics. Pretty much everything that happens there is amazing.
If you send me a message on Facebook, I’ll tell you where I’m going that night. There’s so much and it’s so diverse. No one should ever think they can’t afford to go out for comedy.
Holy Fuck, 9 pm every Tuesday at the Downtown Independent, 251 S. Main St., Los Angeles, CA 90012.