Java with jokes

Romancing the Bean on San Fernando Road has put its small corner stage to good use. The spacious coffeehouse in Downtown Burbank attracts a regular audience for open-mic nights, comedy and music performances throughout the week.

Owner Kerri Crull moved the business to this location three years ago. Her previous location on West Magnolia Boulevard was smaller and consequently more difficult to put on performances, she said. She has been using the stage frequently and proudly attests that Metro Station, a now well-known pop-rock band, started there.

The newest addition to Romancing the Bean’s weekly lineup is Comedy Buzz, a stand-up comedy show featuring a mix of Los Angeles’ famous and up-and-coming comics.

Comedy Buzz’s organizer and host, Bryan Erwin, is in his third week of bringing talent to the stage.

“I will bring in people who are kind of on the rise,” Erwin said. “You’re going to come in here and see the up-and-coming generation.”

Because the show is so new, the shop has yet to attract a large audience. Many people at the coffeehouse Wednesday night were working on their laptops and meeting friends, oblivious that a show was about to begin.

Comics about to go onstage clustered in the back, preparing for their performance. The lineup featured Adam Hammer, Lang Parker, Jen Murphy, Pat Ney, Matt Baetz and Mike Black — a mix of bigger names and lesser-known faces, as Erwin promised.

The show experienced a rocky start because many patrons stopping by the coffeehouse said they were there to meet friends and business acquaintances to chat, not expecting a comedy show. However, many decided to stay and they progressively became more engaged by the end of the night, they said.

Baetz, who will appear on “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson” next week, and Black ended the show with the audience laughing.

Black realized that many people did not come to the coffeehouse for comedy, so he decided to interact with the audience instead of using his own material.

“I think people came here earnestly to just get coffee,” Black said. “So the only way I could think of to bring them into what I was doing was to talk to each of them individually.”

Audience members who came to the coffeehouse for a quiet environment warmed up to the show by the end. Many left feeling that they had stumbled across a great place to see live entertainment, they said.

Burbank resident Aaron McFarland goes to Romancing the Bean often and came Wednesday to write. He enjoyed the show and plans on returning for future Comedy Buzz performances.

“The jokes are good, and they’re testing them out,” he said. “It’s just a different audience — a coffee shop audience, so I really like that they keep going at it because it’s fun.”

Shane Schwartz, Brooke Allen and Jeremy Parker from Burbank came to the coffee shop expecting to see music, but ended up staying through the end of the show.

“The last two [comics] were really good,” Parker said.

Stephen Dempster from Woodland Hills and Grace Ilasco from Burbank came to the coffee shop to finish some work.

“I was surprised,” Ilasco said. “I don’t come in here that often, but I didn’t expect there to be a comedy show.”

However, both Ilasco and Dempster enjoyed the show.

“It’s entertainment for free,” Dempster said. “It’s fun. It’s a lot better live than on TV. But yeah, I had a great time. I thought it was funny.”


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