Laughter fills the room of York Boulevard’s new comedy speakeasy

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The York Manor in Los Angeles, CA. Feb. 3, 2022. Theodore Tang/The Occidental

Each Thursday, “Comedy at the Manor” brings laughter to York Boulevard with tickets at just $10 online and $15 at the door. Located in a speakeasy below the rest of the building, “Comedy at the Manor” was founded in November by comics Molly Kearney and Michael Joyce. Since its debut, the shows have featured stand-up acts from prominent comedians including Liza Treyger, featured on Comedy Central; Joel Kim Booster, co-host of the MTV dating show “Singled Out”; and Nori Reed, featured on HBO Max.

Kearney and Joyce are both Cleveland natives who started doing comedy in college. Kearney started in their sophomore year when they made a bet that they couldn’t tell jokes without laughing at themselves. Fast forward to this week’s show and they still couldn’t resist.

At the Feb. 3 show, comedians Carly Kane, Taylor Ortega and Nick Vatterott performed onstage for a modest audience at the intimate venue.

“You can have 20 people and it feels packed,” Kane said.

According to Joyce, he found out about the basement area on a wedding blog before seeking to make it a comedy space.

“[The York Manor] is a beautiful, gorgeous venue,” Ortega said. “I had no idea this basement space was even here, and it’s really cool that Mike and Molly found it. I’m really proud of them.”

Kane said the small space, outfitted with tables, chairs, a few couches and a bar is an ideal environment for stand-up.

“It’s cozy,” Kearney said. “And you really feel special because it’s a smaller room.”

According to Joyce, a venue of this size also allows the comedians to be more approachable. Comedians regularly sit with the audience while they are not on stage. Those who stay after the show are able to mingle and chat.

Vatterott said having a feeling of comfort between the comic and the audience is vital to stand-up.

“We laugh hardest when we’re with our best friends,” Vatterott said. “A comedy show is trying to recreate that sort of rapport with a bunch of strangers on the spot.”

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Nick Vatterott performing at The York Manor in Los Angeles, CA. Feb. 3, 2022. Theodore Tang/The Occidental

Audience interaction is a mainstay of Comedy at the Manor performances. Comics often choose to incorporate crowd work into their sets, singling out audience members to ask them questions — like about their star sign or relationship status — and then riffing off the answer.

Both Kearney and Joyce said having a variety of different comedic styles is an important factor when choosing the lineup each week.

“You just want a good balance,” Kearney said. “It’s kind of like building a nice, delicious sandwich. You don’t want too much of something or too little of something.”

Joyce said diversity of race and gender is also a priority for him and Kearney.

Both Kearney and Joyce said since they got into comedy, it has been an important presence in their lives.

“It’s kind of like a compulsion,” Joyce said. “I don’t think I would live without it.”

Ortega said she believes comedy can be a valuable avenue for independent expression.

“Comedy, especially live comedy — when you’re a performer in general, or a writer or anything like that — is really an opportunity to have autonomy in your creativity,” said Ortega. “There’s something really nice about doing shows like this because you don’t necessarily get anything from it. You’re here to do it because you like it.”

According to Kane, stand-up can also be a means to connect with others.

“It’s been a really great way to really be in touch with whatever city or community you’re in,” Kane said. “It expedites getting to know people and places along with doing something you really love.”

As for what is next for “Comedy at the Manor,” Kearney said they and Joyce are really just trying to find their audience within the community.

“We want to be a safe, fun place for somebody to come every Thursday,” Kearney said. “Tickets are cheap, and comics are funny.”

Comedy at the Manor is held at 4908 York Blvd. every Thursday from 9–11:30 pm. Tickets are $10 online and $15 at the door. Use the coupon code IMCOOL at comedyatthemanor.com for $5 off of tickets.