Editor’s Pick: Santa Barbara LOL Comedy Festival


I was so excited to hear that Santa Barbara LOL Comedy Festival is back (Oct. 8–17) for a second round of amazing comedy performances. Highlights last year included laugh-out-loud performances from Brad Williams, Jay Mohr, Kirk Fox, Andrew Dice Clay and Rachel Bradley, to name a few. I can’t wait to see what they’ve got up their sleeves for 2015.

Originally published in the Fall 2015 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.

—Leslie Dinaberg

EXPLORE: Comedy Hideaway | Laugh it Up

By Leslie Dinaberg


Maz Jobrani at Santa Barbara Comedy Hideaway, photo by Mercedes Lowe

Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the comedy club, of course! Chickens know how to cluck it up, and now you can, too, at the Comedy Hideaway. Andrey Belikov launched the venture in 2012, with a single show per week in Goleta. Now the entrepreneurial comic and promoter puts on six comedy shows a week in Goleta and Santa Barbara, and has additional venues in Ventura and Oakland.

“We’ll frequently book comics to all three places together,” says Belikov. The reception in Santa Barbara has been really good. “People love our shows; they give them 4.5 or 5 on Yelp,” he says. “A lot of clubs in other places are really dated with a two drink minimum, long lines and bouncers—it’s not the best experience. Here in Santa Barbara, we’re more laid back.”

That laid-back vibe attracts top-notch talent. Recent performers include Iliza Shlesinger (winner of Last Comic Standing), Taylor Williamson (second place winner of America’s Got Talent), Carlos Alazraqui (Officer James Garcia on Comedy Central’s Reno 911) and Bryan Callen (comedic actor in The Hangover 1 & 2, Mad TV, Ride Along and Old School).

“A lot of our headliners will use Santa Barbara as a place to try out material when they know they’re going to appear on Letterman,” says Belikov. “They’ll do seven shows just to get ready for a five-minute appearance on The Late Show With David Letterman, which is great for us.” The lineups are usually announced on Sunday night before the Thursday shows and typically include four to six comics: a host, special guests and a headliner—and a lot of special guests are also headliners.

Goleta Comedy Hideaway is every Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. (inside Petrini’s, 5711 Calle Real, Goleta). Santa Barbara Comedy Hideaway is every Friday and Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. (upstairs at Apero, 532 State St.). “The later shows tend to attract a younger crowd (guests must be at least 18), while the earlier 7:30 p.m. shows get all ages,” says Belikov. “It really depends upon the headliner. It just keeps growing and growing. It’s been great.” No joke! For more information or to purchase tickets, visit sbcomedy.com. 

Originally published in the Fall 2014 issue of Santa Barbara SEASONS Magazine

Christopher Titus’ “Angry Pursuit of Happiness”

Christopher Titus, courtesy photo

Christopher Titus, courtesy photo

Kids learn that “honesty is the best policy” at an early age, but for comedians to learn that lesson can take a little longer.

Before his breakout one-man show “Norman Rockwell is Bleeding” in 2004, comedian Christopher Titus admits, ” I had done comedy for about 12 years, and I was just kind of a crappy comedian. Nothing happened in my career until I threw all of my material away and wrote that show, which is the first time I was really honest about my life on the page.”

Drawing on dark, personal stories from “my mom’s suicide, to my dad’s alcoholism, to getting punched in the face by my ex-girlfriend, to all kinds of stuff,” that one-man show led to his dark comedy TV series Titus on Fox. The show also earned him a Writer’s Guild nomination and an Emmy nomination, and Newsday called him “TV’s most original voice since Seinfeld.”

Titus describes his comedy storytelling as, “hard funny …. Like if you put Bill Cosby in a horribly abusive home and he fell into a bonfire when he was 15.”

Whatever it is, it’s working.

“Norman Rockwell is Bleeding” paved the way for Titus’ future comedy albums/specials, “The Fifth Annual End of the World Tour” (2007), “Love is Evol” (2009), “Neverlution” (2011), “The Voice in my Head” (2013), and now his newest show, “The Angry Pursuit of Happiness,” which comes to the Lobero Theatre on Saturday, September 27 and will be filmed for a television special.

“This will be my sixth comedy special and this one is the best one I’ve ever done,” says Titus. “There’s a bit called this how life goes. There’s a bit called arm the children, a very funny bit, but it’s kind of a big FU to the NRA, actually to be honest … I even do my own eulogy in this special.”

He continues, “In comedy you have to make people question what you’re talking about. … A friend of mine calls it ‘the last bastion of freedom in America.’ So that’s why they can tell you on a TV show you’ve got to do it this way and this way or our advertisers won’t take it, but on the comedy stage they can’t do that to you.”

Titus speaks from personal experience on the TV show front: his Fox show was infamously cancelled when he spoke his mind to a network executive. “Yep, tell the network president they didn’t know what the hell they’re doing. It turns out if you tell your boss they’re stupid long enough they will fire you. Write that down. One of those rules of life. If you tell your boss they’re stupid long enough they will fire you. I said one sentence that cost me $30 million dollars. You feel better about your life now?”


Unlike his previous shows, Titus says, “‘Angry Pursuit of Happiness’ this was a hard one to write for me, because my entire comedy thing has come out of pain and anger and my divorce and my crazy mom and my alcoholic dad. I got married again, I met this great woman after my horrible divorce and I got happy and I got really scared I’ve never been more uncomfortable in my life because everything was going well. So I had to deal with that in my life,” he laughs.

“That’s a rich white lady’s problem. You should just call me Miss Daisy. But if you’ve never had happiness and ease in your life, when it happens it’s unrecognizable. This show was about we’re all going to die. No one really believes they’re going to die. Deep down we all think we’re highlanders. I eat more broccoli than anyone, I take many supplements, and I will live forever! … But we’re all going to die and no one thinks about that and this is kind of about finding a different place in your life. ”

The cast of Pawnography, courtesy photo

The cast of Pawnography, courtesy photo

Life is indeed good for Titus these days. In addition to a happy home life, a busy career as a stand-up comic and writer and a new gig as the host of Pawnography on HISTORY, he’s also directing a film, Special Unit, about four disabled detectives. Titus describes it as “The Shield with handicapped people. …. basically due to the fairness and disability law the LAPD has to hire more the handicapped undercover detectives.” The cast includes Titus, as well as Brad Williams, a stand out in his performance at the LOL Comedy Festival at the Lobero earlier this month.

When asked if there is anything left on his career bucket list, Titus says, “you know, I love doing stand-up so much. George Carlin did 21 albums and 14 one-hour specials. There nobody currently even near that. but I’m gonna keep going till I croak on stage and people will think I’m doing a bit. They’ll think I’m doing a piece of material and watch me die and think that’s funny.”

Knowing Titus, it probably would be pretty funny.

He promises, “The show in Santa Barbara will be great. “There is some swearing in it but if you have a 16-year-old kid you could bring them. Any younger than that, I wouldn’t. … The truth can be painful, but the truth is really funny.”

Christopher Titus’ “Angry Pursuit of Happiness” is at the Lobero Theatre (33 E. Canon Perdido St.) on Saturday, September 27 at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. For more information or to purchase tickets click here.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on September 22, 2014.


LOL Comedy Festival presents Brad Williams

Brad-Williams, courtesy photo

Brad-Williams, courtesy photo

Brad Williams has appeared on numerous TV shows including Legit, Live at Gotham, The Tonight Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Mind Of Mencia, and Pitboss. Williams has also performed for the troops all over the world. Williams’s show is high energy. Robin Williams called him “Prozac with a head.” Williams’s ability to make humorous observations on disability, relationships, sex, and race are winning over audiences and proving that anyone can overcome their shortcomings.

Williams appears at the Lobero Theatre on Sept. 5 at 10 p.m. as part of the LOL Comedy Festival. The Lobero is located at 33 E. Canon Perdido St. For more ticket information, and the full LOL Comedy Festival schedule visit SBLOLFEST.com.


—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on August 27 2014.