“I once waited in line for an hour to meet Lou Reed,” comedian Marc Maron tells the audience at famed Los Angeles fusion club, the Baked Potato. “There were all these idiots in front of me, including a guy in a white jumpsuit playing guitar with an amp strapped to his back, doing Velvet Underground songs really loudly. I was like, ‘When I get up there, I’m really gonna make an impression on Lou. I want him to remember me. I’m gonna connect.’ But when I finally got to the front of the line and was face-to-face with Lou, all I could muster was, ‘Hi, Lou. So, um, what gauge of pick do you use, man?’”
That’s almost the end of Maron’s Lou Reed bit. The rest of it gets huge laughs, but it’s too edgy to print here. For the full experience, you’ll have to come down to Baked, a monthly night of guitar-centric comedy and music hosted by Metaloca-lypse creator Brendon Small and comedian Steve Agee at “the Spud” (as some regulars call the venue). Small, Agee, and a few guest comics each do a standup set, and then perform a song with Small’s stellar house band. Emo Philips, Margaret Cho, Dana Gould, Bobcat Goldth-wait, and even Anthrax’s Scott Ian have all participated.
Closing tonight’s show is comedian/rocker/biker Dean Delray, who caps off his set by singing AC/DC’s “Let There Be Rock” so perfectly that if you close your eyes, it almost seems Bon Scott has risen from the dead. And when Maron finishes his monologue, he grabs a Gibson ES-335 and plays a hilarious slow blues with original lyrics that, again, are far too R-rated to quote.
“Comedy is a fight for relief,” says Maron after the show. “Playing guitar is pure joy.”
The house band remains on stage at all times in case they are needed for musicrelated bits—such as when Small says, “This is my impression of Guitar Center on a Sunday afternoon,” and the musicians launch into a strident melee of clashing guitar, bass, and drum textures. “Total chaos, right?” says Small, “Now, let’s hear each guy separately.”
As it turns out, Small is playing Angus Young’s “Thunderstruck” intro, keyboardist Walter Ino is playing the standard “Heart and Soul,” drummer Joe Travers is throwing down fills from Rush’s “Tom Sawyer,” and bassist Pete Griffin is intentionally butchering the main riff to “Another One Bites the Dust.”
“Notice that Pete is playing really crappy, and with horrible time,” Small tells the crowd. “That’s a crucial part of the Sunday- at-Guitar-Center sound.”
With an audience full of guitarists, jokes like these go over well.
“Heavy musicians frequent this club, and it’s where badass players go to develop,” says Small later. “But what I didn’t know was that the Potato has a secret comedy history, as well. For instance, Redd Foxx had a residency here in the ’70s. It’s the ultimate comedy and music room in Hollywood— the perfect place for Baked, which is the result of me wanting to do a live show where I get to be both David Letterman and Paul Shaffer.”