Magic Bag Recap 2/11/2012 Saturday 10pm The Little Modern Theater

by Comedy Recap

Magic Bag is a weekly show on Saturdays at 10pm (9:30 doors) in The Little Modern Theater in Los Angeles, California.

I haven’t seen this show since it moved from the Underground Annex Theater to the Little Modern Theater.  I think both theaters could be described as black box but the The Little Modern has some amenities the Underground Annex didn’t have, (namely an actual stage to elevate the performer, a bathroom that isn’t directly behind the “stage” and a liquor store two doors down).  I like the new location better.

The structure of this show is unique.  It’s hosted by Eliza Skinner and DC Pierson who come up as a comedy duo at the top of the show and discuss whatever is on their minds. They’re old friends, they’re very animated, and it’s all spontaneous. After about ten or fifteen minutes as a duo they bring on the first performer. During the show, in between comics, Eliza or DC perform solo sets.

I attended  the February 11th 2012 show.  It started at about 10pm and featured Myq (pronounced Mike) Kaplan, Whitmer Thomas, Anthony McBrien, Lisa Beth Johnson, and Hampton Yount.

Eliza and DC come up and the first thing they talk about is how they didn’t have time to do sound check so they ask the-guy-in-the-booth to tweak the lights and mics a little. Then they talk about how they haven’t had a chance to catch up so this’ll make for some good catching up in front of an audience banter. They saw the movie “The Grey” together, so they start talking about how they find it disturbing that such a gruesome movie has been number one at the box office for a few weekends in a row.  They also talked about Eliza’s fear of turning into a bag lady. It’s not scripted dialogue like the Smothers Brothers or the Sklar Brothers. Eliza and DC as a duo feels like a podcast because its real conversation.

Next they brought out Myq Kaplan. Myq is a brilliant joke writer.  He was preparing a set for some late night talk show that he didn’t name. One of his jokes didn’t get a big laugh, so he asked the audience how he could make that joke better. Then he asked the performers backstage if they had any ideas about how to make the joke better. Then he moved on to the next joke, it went over well. He then asked the audience how to get that kind of response on the joke that didn’t go over well. Myq is a brilliant joke writer.

DC came out after Myq and without doing much material, brought out Whitmer Thomas.

Whitmer started with a story that was half-assed and he immediately tells the audience that it’s bullshit and he made it all up. I’m not really sure why he does this, but I think it’s to get the audience used to his mode of thinking. He does characters and tells stories that seem to be simultaneously personal and fabricated. It’s an interesting juxtaposition in storytelling that you might only see used by snake-oil salesmen, so it’s strange to see it employed by the good-natured Whitmer. He floored me.

After Whitmer’s set Eliza brought up Anthony McBrien.

Anthony was in town from Chicago. I’ve known him for a few years and his personality off-stage really shines through on-stage. He’s very friendly, good-natured, happy to be there, and you can tell. He’s a story teller. He started by talking about how the weed in California is too strong and it’s a problem. Then he talked about a scare with MS where he confused MS with scoliosis and wasn’t scared at all until he went home and googled MS. I like Anthony because he’s a man that’s not afraid to tell you he cries.

After Anthony’s set I think DC came on stage and did some time but I can’t remember what he talked about. I think this is when stepped out to grab another beer, back in time for the next performer, Lisa Beth Johnson.

Lisa Beth’s tells very personal stories about divorce, and relationships with her family, among other things. Her grandma paints gourds to look like people. Lisa Beth brought out one of the gourds that her grandma had painted for her. The gourd-man was painted to look like he’s holding a beer mug to comment on her granddaughter’s drinking problem. She’s very open on stage and I admire that. For the most part she sticks to stories and she’s very good at it.

After Lisa Beth Johnson’s set, Eliza came up and did about ten or so minutes of material.  Most of it was new to me, but she closed her set by dissecting the intricacies of a Ke$ha song, in a bit I’ve become fairly familiar with. It’s good.

After her set, Eliza brought up the final performer, Hampton Yount. Hampton got his start in Washington, D.C. and has the chops of a seasoned vet. He’s high energy and uses the large stage at Little Modern Theater to his advantage (probably the most animated performer of the night.) I loved his set but was a little drunk at this point in the show and can’t really remember much of what he talked about, just weird chunks. But Hampton was a delight. He has a free album out now that you can listen to here

You can follow all of these performers on Twitter: (Lisa Beth Johnson) (Anthony McBrien)

Thanks for reading! I wrote this recap without taking any notes. For the next show I recap I’ll be sure to take notes, so there aren’t so many blank spots. Please submit your own recaps!