They are women, hear them joke

One night. Fifteen fierce female comics. And it's all premiering tonight at . . . the Echoplex? Exactly! Breaking out of the regular comedy club is part of the idea behind "Elle O Elle" (LOL), a new bimonthly comedy show taking up residence at the Echo Park music venue.

Sponsored by feminist pop culture magazine Bust and put together by the production team Comedy Is the New Black, Elle O Elle is an experiment with not only venue but also format, bringing together some of L.A.'s funniest women for an evening that combines live sketch comedy, video and stand-up acts.

"Here in L.A., I always gravitate towards the non-[comedy] club shows. They tend to have more variety," says headliner Erin Foley (Comedy Central, "Curb Your Enthusiasm"). She is immersed in the (sometimes prickly) identity politics of comedy, performing at Hollywood Improv, the Laugh Factory and the Comedy Store, as well as alternative venues such as Akbar. It's no great secret that most of the comics at these clubs are men. Foley concedes, "Yes, it is extremely difficult as a female comic. But you can probably say that about any job out there."

Up-and-coming actress-comic Jade Catta-Preta agrees that even in 2009, being a woman in comedy can be an uphill battle: "You do have to work hard to break down certain stereotypes about female comics; that's why it's great to be able to see so many different women take the stage in one night."

Elle O Elle opens with videos from two dynamic duos: Michaela Dietz and Erin Brown (thatdumshow.com) and sketch comedy collaborators Susan Burke and Hari Leigh (thecountryclubcomedy.com). Live sketch comedy follows from Alex Fox and Rachel Lewis (www.thejonandeddieshow.com). The roster of stand-ups runs deep, from Lizzy Cooperman's (myspace.com/lizzycooperman) spastic stage antics to Candace Kregg's (candacekregg.com) off-beat tales of her previous life in the adult industry.

So what do you get when you take the comedy show out of the comedy venue? "Free parking and no mandatory drink purchase!" says producer Emmanuelle Troy. Two more good reasons why comedy fans should take notice. Besides, of course, fresh laughs.

Regular bimonthly installments of Elle O Elle begin in May.

ramie.becker@latimes.com

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