A rare outlet for commercially sanctioned laughter in downtown Los Angeles, Garrett Morris’ Downtown Blues and Comedy Club helps visitors escape the stresses of the workweek with a rotating stable of top-tier standup talent every Friday and Saturday. Comic legend Garrett Morris, now seen as Earl on CBS’ 2 Broke Girls, hosts showcases of comic talent with charming wit and tales of how he outlived the original cast of Saturday Night Live. The bill remains consistently loaded with fresh-faced and seasoned funny folk, with past luminaries including George Lopez, Margaret Cho, and Wayne Brady, along with aspiring stars in the twilight before their first mismatched-marriage sitcom.
Keeping true to its name and Morris’ roots in the New Orleans music scene, the venue often punctuates its comedy shows with performances from top blues artists—including Morris himself, who has lent his soulful pipes to the Harry Belafonte Singers—that add melody to the mirth. While weekend shows feature Garrett’s hosting and harmonies along with the headlining acts, the Thursday Night Experience allows youthful burgeoning comics and musicians to hog the spotlight.
Canadian electrofunk duo Chromeo exhales party-starting inertia, kicking off its Night Falls Tour by rolling out a carpet of dance-floor passports. Melding the talents of guitarist, vocalist, and French-literature buff Dave 1 with the dexterous fingers and throwback savvy of synthmaster P-Thugg, Chromeo has earned reverence from funkophiles for its slick grooves and mastery of jam architecture. Fans can expect congenial beats, riffing Moogs, and songcraft that father-and-son yachts can enjoy together in support of the band's latest album, Business Casual. Inflating the soulful evening, singer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Mayer Hawthorne channels wandering Motown spirits with a retroactive Detroit sound, and mustachioed party maestro DJ Sammy Bananas sets the scene with genre jumping and remixes that rumble like tubas in a Cuisinart.
San Jose Improv, part of a national network of chuckle clubs, features an ever-changing lineup of jesters and laugh inducers on its stage. Today’s deal gets fans of funny two trips to improvised hilarity: enjoy the Improv stand-up comedy competitions on select Tuesday nights at 8 p.m., or save your tickets for shows featuring Doug Benson (a $20 per-ticket value), Todd Glass, who competed in two seasons of Last Comic Standing (a $10 per-ticket value), or the multilingually amusing Sugar Sammy, who was recently named one of the top-10 rising comedians by the Hollywood Reporter (up to a $17 per-ticket value). If all the mirth makes your mouth unmoist, water it with a drink from San Jose Improv’s bar, which is loaded with premium liquors, beers, and California wines.
The Name: Pisco is a Peruvian grape brandy, popularized in San Francisco for its use in sweet punches.
The Chef: James Schenk’s mother is originally from Peru, and he draws on that culture to create menus at Pisco Latin Lounge and Destino, the larger restaurant next door.
Awards and Accolades
Churrascaria: Brazilian-style barbecuing where the meat is skewered and cooked over an open flame or on a grill; the meat itself is called churrasco.
Gomme syrup: a simple-syrup-like mixture of sugar, water, and gum arabic, commonly used as a sweetener in mixed drinks.
While You're in the Neighborhood
Before: Browse mid-century furnishings, collectibles, and apparel at Stuff (150 Valencia Street).
After: Belt out tunes at The Mint karaoke lounge (1942 Market Street).
Founded to showcase up-and-coming Asian-American musical talent, the International Secret Agents Festival delights euphony lovers with a 14-act concert in an outdoor, party atmosphere. Far East Movement energizes bodies with such chart-topping electropop hits as "Like a G6" and "Rocketeer," inspiring concertgoers to shake it on the dance floor or buy tickets to the robot ballet. B.o.B brings his verbal dexterity to bear on waiting eardrums, tickling aural centers with mellifluous flow, and newcomer Sean Kingston deftly mixes reggae and hip-hop. Between sets, concertgoers can wander throughout Queen Mary Events Park, snapping shots in photo booths, chowing down on food-truck fare, and buying artist merchandise to signal fandom and clothe indecent scarecrows.
The Future of Rock Music Fest’s lineup of established Modesto performers and youthful up-and-comers tests the integrity of the stage with an amp-rattling evening of rock 'n' roll. Steely Dan tribute Kid Charlemagne, accompanied by local cover-band masterminds Johnny and Kelly, regales audiences with lively renditions of songs by their inspiration. Hari Kari, meanwhile, will whisk aural synapses back in time, exposing ears to an eclectic selection of hits from the ‘80s like a disco crystal ball. Fresh-faced teen group The High Voltage Band takes the stage to show off their precocious musical talents before California rockers Offshore coalesce around the soaring vocals of lead singer Genesis, essaying a program of original songs and punk covers of such bands as Taking Back Sunday and Blink 182. Finally, Neil Buettner and Matt Harrington band together and eschew modern electric-rock innovations in favor of acoustic guitars and steam-powered amps.