If Sarah Silverman walked onstage Tuesday night looking more like a rock star than your average comic, she had good reason: Silverman was headlining a local gem called The Goddamn Comedy Jam. A little bit comedy, a little bit rock and roll, GDCJ is alone in its genre. Once a month at the Lyric Theatre in Hollywood, stand ups do 15 minutes inside their comedic comfort zones, then drop the satire and share a personal, often tender story from their past. The story sets up a song of their choosing, which they then belt out to the delight of the effusive crowd. It’s a no-fail model; If the comic sucks, they get laughs, and the audience loves it. If they rock, they get laughs, and the audience loves it. Ticket holders feel like they’ve gained access to a live karaoke speakeasy frequented by comedy’s finest. “There’s a saying among comics,” says comedian Jo DeRosa, who nailed “Spirit of the Radio” by Rush. “Every rock star wants to be a comedian and every comedian wants to be a rock star. This show makes that possible—at least for us.”
Since its inception in June 2014, the show has developed a better roster of comics than almost any gig in town. Host Josh Adam Meyers, a dually talented stand up and musician, came up with the idea along with his friends in the outstanding Elemenopy band (say it out loud), who have since become the house band for GDCJ. Their success can be credited in part to Bill Burr, who became an instant fan. Burr headlined the very first show in 2013 and, for the first time in ten years, got butterflies in his stomach walking out on stage. Tickets are $20 for seats, $10 for standing room, and the show sells out each month.
After a fabulous Frank Sinatra/Sid Vicious Mash Up by Matt Fulchiron, Silverman did 20 minutes of jokes worthy of an HBO special. It felt intimate, as though she were confiding in an oddly large group of close friends. Silverman sang Billy Joel’s epic “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant.” We knew she could carry a tune from that time she was “F@$*ing Matt Damon,” but we’ve never seen her positively dominate with song in this way. She simply rocked out. Finally, just as they were about to close the show, Meyers announced that Louis CK had dropped in. After a spontaneous set, CK shared a poignant anecdote about his childhood predisposition for high fevers and then sang Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb.” As the grand finale, all the comics (save for Silverman, who had slipped out the back) came onstage to sing “Hey Jude.” It left the audience teetering on the edge of a collective adrenaline overdose.
CK’s cameo raises the question: Why are the greatest comedic minds of our time doing this little show? It’s not for clout, and it’s certainly not for the nominal amount of money they’re paid for the appearance—they want to be there. “Great comedians love taking big risks,” says comedian Bert Kreischer. “This is the perfect place to do that.” Having performed a Stone Temple Pilots song in assless chaps (to thunderous applause), he should know. “I feel very blessed to be here in the infancy stages,” he says. “Five years from now when GDCJ is my kids’ favorite show on NBC, I can say, ‘I was on that show!’ and they can be like, ‘Yeah, right. Dad, you were not on that show.’”