Angelenos love a rooftop—especially one with tropical foliage, expansive views, and technicolor cocktails. Add food and entertainment, and it becomes an irresistible place to sip sangria while the sunset clouds are blushed with pink and coral streaks. That’s the ambiance at Caitlin and Maxwell Benson’s Can’t Even Comedy, a stand-up event with live music held every Tuesday and Thursday at the Mama Shelter Hotel in Hollywood. The woman and man team envisions a new kind of environment for stand-up, a far cry from the somber, somber and often intimidating atmosphere of comedy clubs.
“We provided an experience,” says Maxwell, whose work as a producer of music, concert films and documentaries lends itself to the production of Can’t Even Comedy. “You go to most comedy shows and it’s like, ‘Here’s the show. Now go outside.’ At Mama Shelter it’s free, you sit on sofas, you’re relaxed. It’s on a roof. There is good food. I book some of the best DJs to open and close the shows.”
“And there’s no drink minimum,” adds Caitlin cheerfully — although neither she nor Maxwell drink.
Caitlin, the duo’s stand-up comedian, began her career more than seven years ago with burgeoning shows at the Comedy Store. Enthusiastic about the art form, she performed wherever she could – in small clubs and backyards – and hosted open mic nights. But as the pandemic engulfed LA, many comics were left without a stage. . Caitlin wanted to create a performance venue and even considered hosting open mics in her backyard. It was around this time that she met her future husband.
“We literally met next to a dumpster behind a 7-Eleven,” she says, laughing. “Then he came to the open mic night that I was hosting and it was like a degenerate city. That’s when I decided to start my own open mic.”
Caitlin and Maxwell’s relationship quickly blossomed when taking walks to Delicious Pizza on Sunset together became their pandemic pastime. On one such outing, restaurant owners Mike and Rick Ross, friends of Maxwell’s, mentioned the financial strain their businesses were facing. They decided to have open mics in the Delicious Pizza parking lot instead of Caitlin’s backyard. Combining the appeal of entertainment and pizza, Can’t Even Comedy was born.
“We tried to create something different,” says Caitlin, adding that Can’t Even Comedy “curates culture and community. Here a woman runs the show. The energy is positive. When you’re funny, you’re funny, and you deserve validation. Word got around that it was an open mic, which made you feel good as opposed to feeling worse than when you walked in – it just went off.”
The couple’s monthly event at Delicious Pizza-Events frequently sold out. When Mama Shelter General Manager Andrew Jay came to an event, he immediately saw its potential and in March 2021 they moved to the hotel’s rooftop. Now the twice-weekly event sees a potpourri of burgeoning and prominent comics, such as Willie Macc, Ian Bagg, Erik Griffin and Iliza Shlesinger, who were particularly intrigued by their ethos.
“I’ve done a lot of independent shows and I’d put Caitlin and Max at the forefront in terms of professionalism,” says Shlesinger. “They have a passion for not only creating a wonderful environment for comedy, but for treating comics with respect. They have also done a great job of curating the experience over time so when you come to their show you know you are getting a professionally run show in a beautiful setting. It’s an elevated experience.”
Can’t Even Comedy has also held events in Austin and New York. At the end of 2022 the 100th show will take place at Mama Shelter. Aside from stand-up shows, it has also partnered with Annenberg PetSpace and hosts pet adoptions on the first Tuesday of every month. It’s hosting a ticketed event Wednesday at the Regent co-chaired by Shlesinger and Trevor Wallace. There will be musical performances by A Tribe Called Quest’s DJ Ali Shaheed Muhammad, DJ Anna Krylova and R&B singer Luck. The same day will premiere Caitlin’s first 30-minute special, which will be released on The Can’t Even Comedy YouTube channel.
“So many people didn’t understand our vision,” says Caitlin, describing the event’s growth. “It didn’t benefit immediately, but we knew it would come in the long run. Now we’re on the other side of the hump to build it and it’s paying off.”
https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/story/2022-08-15/cant-even-comedy-rooftop-mama-shelter-hotel Can’t Even Comedy elevates L.A.’s stand-up at Mama Shelter