Comedians bring laughs to La Verne brewery

Comedian Matt Jones performs his set at the La Verne Brewing Company on Friday night. Jones was accompanied by other comedians such as MTV star, Geoff Keith, “ichiban mom” Michelle MaliZaki and the multi-faceted Stuart B. Thompson.
Comedian Matt Jones performs his set at the La Verne Brewing Company on Friday night. Jones was accompanied by other comedians such as MTV star, Geoff Keith, “ichiban mom” Michelle MaliZaki and the multi-faceted Stuart B. Thompson. / photo by Lindsey Pacela

Michael Roccia
Staff Writer

Right down the street from the University, at 2125 Wright Ave., The La Verne Brewing Company held a Comedy Night event on Saturday, which was presented by comedian and organizer Blake Bartee. 

About 35 people attended the event and were treated to a hilarious line up of talented comics who were excited to showcase and workshop their material. There were five featured comics who performed 10 minute sets at the event before the headliner of the night Geoff Keith stepped on stage and stole the show, leaving guests reeling with laughter.

Bartee, who hosted for the entirety of the evening, originally went to the La Verne Brewing Company as a patron and thought the atmosphere would be perfect to host a set of comic acts.

He had always been drawn to comedy from a young age, but it was not until life gave him a reality check that he got serious about his craft and took the leap to start performing and giving other comics an outlet to impress as well.

“Standup comedy is the one thing I always wanted to do, but I chased a career first because I was scared to fail,” Bartee said. “Finally, I had a cancer scare and just said, screw it. I started getting up on stage and it’s been a blast ever since. And now I also produce the shows to give myself and my friends stage time to work out our material.”

One of the friends he invited to perform at this show was Geoff Keith. He headlined the show and had the crowd in stitches from laughing so hard throughout his act.

He was working the crowd throughout his performance and even mentioned the University of La Verne in a couple of his jokes as he reminisced on his days playing basketball at Redlands University. Connecting and getting to know his audience is his favorite part of performing.

“I don’t sit in the back and go, ‘Oh, I’m gonna say this. I’m gonna plan this out,’” Keith said. “I just like being completely present and being in the moment. If you’re too scripted, the audience can tell. They know when they’re living through an organic moment.”

Keith hopes he inspires others to take up the microphone and perform, but he hopes they know that there is more than one way to approach the art of comedy.

“I told my friend once who was interested in comedy, ‘Look, there’s a gazillion and one ways to do stand up. The way I do stand up, is not the way you should do stand up,’” Keith said. “I told her, ‘Figure out when you’re being funny in real life throughout the day and that should be your persona on stage.’”

Keith was not the only one who kept the audience entertained with laughter throughout the evening. Another comic who performed at the event was named Stuart Thompson. He believes there is no better feeling in the world than doing comedy.

Stuart B. Thompson, a comedian, writer and actor, performed at the La Verne Brewing Company on Friday night. Thompson was accompanied by other comedians such as Geoff Keith, Michelle MaliZaki and Matt Jones. / photo by Lindsey Pacela

“I don’t know if there’s a better feeling,” Thompson said. “I figured out a way to express my thoughts concisely and in an entertaining way to enrich a large group of strangers evenings. And then for those thoughts, I got money. It’s kind of hard to beat that feeling, it’s intoxicating.”

Matt Jones was another comedian who performed at the Comedy Night on Saturday and believes you have to be cut from a certain cloth to do this job. He agrees that it is the best feeling in the world, but for one reason.

“I love it because I’m able to give people a break from life,” Jones said. “Laughter is the gateway to the soul, so in a weird way, I get to lift people up. You gotta be a little nuts and like a megalomaniac to do this but then at the same time you care about people and that’s what keeps you away from being a sociopath. It’s a good balance.”

Ryan Stevenson was one of the guests who attended the show and had a blast drinking brews and watching funny dudes. He also could not believe the amount of bang for his buck as he laughed all night at some great comedians for no charge.

“People should come and see it, especially given that you don’t have to pay for it,” Stevenson said. “It’s like a no brainer. I’m shocked that there were such good comedians and they don’t charge you anything. It almost doesn’t seem fair. I’m having a good time, I’m hearing some really good comedians and the whole time I’m like, ‘Who’s paying them?’”.

Michael Roccia can be reached at michael.roccia@laverne.edu.

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