Friday, March 16, 2007

L.A. comedy, wining and dining

After GDC I flew to Los Angeles (CA) to visit my brother and his girlfriend Julia. They have a house in Studio City and a bunch of cats, despite my brother being allergic, which means that Julia cleans the place basically every day and it’s spotless. Cats are lovely but there are currently seven of them (!) and Julia’s mother aims to bring another two to the house… She is a cat rescuer, you see. Fortunately the house is quite big and there is a nice backyard so there is enough space for all these cats. Besides, they were very well-behaved so you hardly noticed them except for when they jumped on your lap to be patted.

On the night of my arrival, Urban and Julia took me to a nice Mexican restaurant in the Valley called Casa Vega. This was a very popular spot with excellent food and a singer walking around among the tables with his guitar, performing old Gipsy Kings melodies. I learned that you always have to wait at the bar, sipping huge margaritas or some other drink, for quite a while before you get seated, due to the restaurant’s popularity.

On Friday night a friend of Julia’s took us all to see a stand-up comedy show, Ester Goldberg (you can also read more here), at the Comedy Store on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood. It was promoted as "the Hilarious Outrageous Big Swanky Musical & Comedy event of the year", and I must say that he/she (a drag character similar to Dame Edna, named Ester with a huge, red hair-do, performed by Michael Airington) deserves a much bigger audience than what was attending this show. Ester did a combination of jazz, cabaret and comedy improv acts with Jewish-American slur. She shamelessly made fun of people in the audience and was probably grateful for an older couple from Oklahoma who were good sports and laughed heartily when she referred to cowboys, UFO spotting and homofobia. I was quite impressed that one person can captivate and entertain a whole audience for a couple of hours. There were only a few moments where Ester lost me. Urban & Julia knew several musicians in the Archibald Leeches Orchestra supporting Ester with sound effects, comments and accompanying her singing. If you get a chance to see Ester Goldberg perform - don't miss it! It was hilarious!

Chris, Julia, Urban and I at the Comedy Store

Following the comedy show, we went to Red Rock, a popular bar further down on Sunset Strip. The review of this place by Stephanie L. Smith on Citysearch is spot on. But we actually got an incredibly fast (and rather good-looking, I must say!) waiter who took our drink orders and delivered them in a heart-beat. As we walked in I remembered having drinks here after a dinner date with a Swedish game producer a couple of years ago when I was in town for the E3 tradeshow. The place was very lively and loud also then.

The weather was lovely in L.A. during my visit. On Saturday, we went to lunch with one of Julia’s friends, a first-time film script writer and novelist, at a combined bookstore and café in a quaint neighborhood – don’t remember exactly where it was but it had a café at the front serving among other things really nice salads, a bookstore at the back and an outdoor patio with 10-15 tables. It was not until late afternoon that Urban and I finally took off for our annual skiing tradition in Mammoth.

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