When I first moved to Los Angeles, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do – performing-wise.
I started by picking up The Dramalogue (which sadly no longer exists). The Dramalogue provided all the local non-union auditions.
It was there that I spotted an ad for a store-front comedy venue called “John’s Place.”
And I went for my first LA audition.
And I stunk up the place.
No, seriously, I was awful.
But I did have a great time chatting with the other cast members and the owner/star of the “club” John Deaven.
And I got it.
Turns out I was the only one who showed up to audition.
Some things are meant to be!
John was from Ohio. Boy was he from Ohio. Son of a minister, he reeked of wholesome Midwest.
His humor was incredibly corny.
We had many arguments about what is funny and what is not. (John and I argued a lot!)
But some of his ideas were (imho) genius.
Most were not, which made his genius ideas even more stunning.
John’s Place was a teeny little storefront on Melrose – but way the fuck East on Melrose, well past all the trendy places.
In between a gay bar and the baths.
The place was cozy – not only because of the small size, but because John had furnished it with a bunch of sofas he had gotten his hands on (somehow/somewhere).
So the audience sat in homey (and homely) comfort on sofas with little tables in front of them for their coffee.
One amazing thing about the place, John made his own little short home movies to show at the club.
One even starred Maila Nurmi, the original Vampira, who had the little thrift store next door to John’s Place.
My personal favorite was one of John eating an entire 2-layer cake, in one sitting.
(John loved cake, and when you went to a party, you had to keep an eye on him, or after the cake had been eaten, he would, literally, pick up the platter and lick it clean.)
At John’s Place a group (generally 2 women and 2 men) performed original sketch comedy.
The stage was so teeny – and part of it was taken up by an upright piano.
And as if it wasn’t hard enough to work in such little space, John was the king of prop comedy.
God he loved his props.
Like a puppet theater where we would do a song about the pilgrims and the Mayflower, starring “Sammy Shark” who ate the Pilgrims who fell off of the ship.
(Later Sammy got his own tap dancing number.)
And, of course, the “Big Roller Skating Number”! Yes, four people in roller skates trying to remain upright and singing on that teeny stage!
But that was part of the magic of John’s Place.
Where is he now? John eventually got married, had 2 kids, and died way too early in 2002 at the age of 54.