The Comedians Cinema Club has made the Nerdmelt Showroom at Meltdown Comics in Hollywood their home for nearly two years, taking classic, cult-y favorite films and mixing equal parts improv, movie-lore, music, and audience participation, stirring with alcohol to create a magical concoction to melt away the remains of any bad day, or top off a good one.
Their current improv version of the movie “Labyrinth”—featuring bilingual French-British stand-up comedian and troupe founder Eric Lampaert doing his best, well-endowed, drunken, and bewigged version of Bowie's Jareth, the Goblin King, along with troupe regulars Bryan Vokey, Caitlin Gill, Jeffrey Baldinger, Kara Klenk, Kevin Tienkin, Jared Logan, Ryan Singer, and show narrator, Caitlin Durante—takes the not-so-subtly sexualized film, and its audience, to new literal highs.
It's BYOB, the cast drinks, sometimes they share, nothing is off limits, the audience participates, some people get wet, a few win prizes, everyone laughs, the humorless stay home, the show ends on time (which was most unfortunate) and only designated drivers leave sober.
The improv club's version of the 1980's film “Labyrinth”—the David Bowie and Jim Henson vehicle that simultaneously applied the layered demographic appeal of Muppet fans, glam rockers, pre-teens, and Bowie fans—sold-out so quickly after its initial Facebook event announcement that the group needed to add three or more additional shows at their current Nerdmelt home within Meltdown Comics in Hollywood, all of which have since sold out at Nerdmelt.
But last week, all of it changed. With Meltdown Comics announcing it would be closing its doors “for the last time” on this coming Sunday, April 1, 2018, the closing leaves the Comedians Cinema Club with the dubious honor of hosting the venue's final closing show on Friday night.
Nerdmelt was born from a “recording studio in the building's attic” per a posted letter at their site, and a space which served as the springboard for Chris Hardwick's “sprawling media empire” and his podcast show, “The Nerdist.”
A “shared community of creative, nerdy, wonderful people who came together to wear their passions on their sleeve in what felt like an oasis. As a cultural institution and a community center, Meltdown will be sorely missed,” said The Nerdist of Meltdown's closing.
Lampaert, said that the cast heard about the pending close through Gill, and the troupe wasted no time in finding a location for the forth “Labyrinth” show, with hope for their other pending shows.
The show this coming Friday, March 30,—which serves as a default goodbye party to Nerdmelt and Meltdown—will then head to the Dynasty Typewriter at the Hayworth for their April 21, 2018, show.
The show was initially borne out of what Lampaert found to be the lonely aspect of stand-up.
"My main job is stand-up, which is quite a lonely job. So I just decided to do something where all my friends just fuck around with each other,” he said of the move to a group improv format. “And I love movies. Like a lot. My second love, or equally important love, is movies. So I decided to combine the two. And in the U.K., improv is not that big of a thing."
The addition of the alcohol element to the show stemmed from a need to liven and warm-up U.K. audiences to improv.
"[Improv] is not respected like it is in America. In the U.K., they really don't give a shit,” laughed Lampaert. “But the concept is fun enough in the U.K. because of the chaotic and alcoholic element," where Lampaert admits he has found to be much milder here in the U.S.
"As comedians, we'd get smashed doing it. That was the really fun bit, which was seeing people out of control,” he continued. “Essentially it's just an adult panto."
Lampaert, as well as Vokey—who also performs at The Improv's Adrenaline—indicated that the movie quiz portion of the show will separate, perhaps expanding to “an hour or hour and a half show” where it will go to another venue, such as The Improv's The Lab Room.
Planned Comedians Cinema Club shows on movies like "The NeverEnding Story" and "The Nightmare Before Christmas," are still looking for a venue, as they too are now canceled with Meltdown/Nerdmelt's pending close.
Whether or not the drinking aspect of Comedians Cinema Club's improv'd movie shows will continue is also unclear.
Vokey, who's done stand-up at the Dynasty Typewriter, is hopeful on the potential in the new, larger space for “Labyrinth,” and possibly other shows, finds the move bittersweet.
"It has been one of the most reliable non-club places to do comedy,” said Vokey of Nerdmelt at Meltdown. “They 'get it' because so many comedians work there. They are easy to work with. It's nice to not have the corporate feel that the Comedy Store and The Improv have, so it's sad to see it go."
4-1-18 Story updated to correct that the closing night show was Friday night and not Saturday.