The PCH to the VCF

by Brian McKim & Traci Skene on October 1st, 2012

The Male Half scheduled a spot at the Comedy & Magic Club in Hermosa Beach on Friday night. He also had to be in Ventura to do two “Headliner Showcase” spots as part of the Ventura Comedy Festival. We planned a quick, in-and-out trip to SoCal.

Just a couple days before we lit out across the desert, we found out that the folks in California who fix things were planning to shut down ten miles of the 405 Freeway in Los Angeles so they could demolish (and eventually fix) the Mulholland Drive Bridge. And, since the 405 is a main, main, main traffic artery in Los Angeles, the media and the politicians were convinced that everyone in Los Angeles was going to freak out. They called it “Carmageddon II!” (Carmageddon I was a year ago July.) They advised everyone to “stay local!”

Of course, none of the predicted chaos and mayhem occurred. We overnighted Friday at a motel near LAX, then headed up the legendary Pacific Coast Highway to check in to our Saturday night lodgings in Oxnard. (Oxnard! How utterly appropriate that we stay in Oxnard– familiar to many who watched Johnny Carson-hosted Tonight Shows, as Carson’s imaginary tailor was “Omar of Oxnard.” It never failed to get a laugh!)

We dined at Henri’s of Oxnard, but we didn’t find any Omar’s.

Safely 35 miles west of the traffic anxiety of the Los Angeles basin, in the heart of the strawberries and lima bean fields of Oxnard, we focused on Saturday evening’s festivities.

In addition to being a comedian Randy Lubas is also a partner in the Ventura Harbor Comedy Club (VHCC) and, for the past coupla years, he’s organized the Ventura Comedy Festival (“Laughter By The Sea”) which boasts more than 100 comics in six venues over 27 shows.

The harbor is a classic California crescent of shops, restaurants and free parking overlooking an eye-popping array of sailboats, peppered with pelicans and seagulls and happy tourists and locals. The VHCC– a high-ceilinged, second-floor rooom that holds 150 or so– has been a comedy venue off, and on, for at least 20 years. And for good reason– it’s got some sort of standup mojo and perfect dimensions that magnify the laughs and practically guarantee a great show. When we arrived, the TV Showcase was causing a stir. The Male Half poked his head in the room, just to get a handle on the space. Twenty minutes later, he realized that he had done a show there waaaay back in 1992 or so, when it was called Hornblowers… or was it The Golden Sail?

After an 8:00 show at the tiny, wine and tapas bar that served as one of the six Fest venues, we headed back up to the VHCC for the second of the evening’s Headliner Showcases.

Festivals, no mater how large or small, are tremendous opportunities to establish relationships and renew old connections. (Sounds cliched, but it’s damn true!) We were tickled to be able to meet/hang with/re-connect with folks like James P. Connolly, Grant Cotter, Warren Durso. Bill Kalmenson, Andrew Norelli, Erik Passoja. David Race, Aldo Juliano, Rondell Sheridan, John Mendoza, Sid Davis, Paul Steocklein, Lisa-Gay Tremblay and Johnny Walker. Interestingly, there were four people in the house– The Female Half, The Male Half, Aldo Juliano and David Race– who all had an intimate connection to the Philadelphia comedy market at one point or another over the past 20 years… but had never met! It is at such festivals as this that those dots are connected. Also in the house– XM/Sirius Radio. Also in the house, due to his connection to XM/Sirius– star of stage, screen, television and radio (terrrestrial and satellite), Jay Thomas!

Lately, we’ve been just dreadful at taking pictures. In the past, we would have been snapping away and we would have supplemented our words with images. We’re always forgetting to document our exploits visually! We think it’s because of the fact that we’re carrying around smart phones with cameras built into them. It’s a paradox. One would think that having a reasonably sophisticated camera in one’s pocket or pocketbook would mean that more photos are taken. Well, that may be so with other, normal people. It works quite the opposite with us. (We even went out of our way to purchase a kinda costly “bridge” camera about a year ago, in hopes of upping our photo output. It has resulted in FEWER PICTURES! We have to work on that.)