In the entertainment capital of the world, Los Angeles stands as the largest stage of its type on the planet. It is here where amateur singers, rappers, musicians, comedians, jugglers, dancers and even fire swallowers have taken to the streets within congested tourist sites to show others how special they are. Top performers, including pop violinist Josh Vietti, have actually reached fame by utilizing the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica as their primary stage. Others have moved on from the Venice Beach boardwalk and Hollywood Boulevard to taste the sweets of stardom. Whether you possess fleetly fingers on an instrument or wield a pugilistic pen, there is a performance platform in LA with your name on it. Here are some unique stages that welcome amateur entertainers.
Cafe Brass Monkey
3440 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90005
Between Monday and Friday at 4 p.m. and on weekends starting at 8 p.m., singers take to a lively stage at this venue in Koreatown for an evening of karaoke. If you think this setup is for those who normally exercise their vocal chords in the shower, think again. This place, that boasts more than 75,000 songs from which to choose, attracts amateur singers, established performing artists and celebrities that dare to step into the spotlight before a rousing audience to showcase their skills. Don’t be surprised to see actor and producer Vince Vaughn or comedic actor and film director Ben Stiller in attendance on any given night of wild fun. Thanks to a supportive staff and encouraging DJ, Cafe Brass Monkey presents a stage that is friendly and accommodating for the talented timid.
2220 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90057
On the second Monday of each month, this venue hosts Write Club Los Angeles, spoken-word championship bouts between two writers with opposing views. Dubbed “literature as bloodsport,” contestants are smacked with differing ideas for a seven-minute read-off in this 1930’s warehouse. An audience consisting of fellow writers and television personalities voices its approval or disapproval, creating a rough-rousing atmosphere similar to viewing a boxing match. Some popular competitors have included the likes of acclaimed writer and film producer Mike O’Connell; philosopher and mystery solver Greg Karber; celebrated voice actress Paula Killen; and Write Club founder Stephen Walker. Bootleg Theater is an ideal place for amateur scribes to test their wits with the pros and hopefully get discovered.
All Star Lanes
4459 Eagle Rock Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90041
For emerging comedians not yet ready to take the stage at the Improv might want to consider cutting their chops at this bowling alley. Located in northeast LA, this entertainment center offers a free comedy show every Tuesday night at 8 p.m. The All Star Lanes Comedy Show highlights some of the region’s more engaging stand-ups that utilize the stage to test new material before an audience that’s looking for fresh laughter. The cocktail lounge seats 100 guests, with restaurant accommodations provided as well. If cracking jokes on stage in front of a crowd of strangers is not your cup of tea, you can exercise your vocal abilities another way each Friday and Saturday at 9 p.m. on karaoke night.
The World Stage Performance Gallery
4344 Degnan Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90008
Every Thursday from 9 p.m. to midnight, neophytes of all ages flock to this not-for-profit stage in historic Leimert Park to hone their musical skills and perform with professional artists. Established in 1989, this venue allows up-and-coming artists to work under the tutelage of some of the greatest names in jazz. The stage also offers a drum workshop that allows children to learn from the masters of percussion. Each Sunday, this arts program sponsors a drum circle at the fountain in the park that showcases some of the best drum artists in the region. One of the many benefits of working with this organization is for a chance to participate in its Summer Benefit Concert Under the Stars musical extravaganza, which takes place this year at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre in Hollywood.
2101 Lincoln Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90405
A strong supporter of local music, this neighborhood bar and grill provides a stage for bands, singers and songwriters. In addition to its ever-changing slate of touring artists, TRiP hosts open blues jam sessions each Tuesday at 8 p.m. Open mic jam sessions are also offered on Saturday from 2 to 6 p.m. Presenting live music seven nights a week, this intimate setting often seeks new groups and DJs. All bookings are arranged through email correspondence. Performers that have taken the stage at TRiP for an evening of free concerts include the Brian Rogers Band, Dustin Robinson and Owen Plant. This venue’s styles of music range from punk rock and alternative to R&B and country. This is an advantageous place for independents to take center stage and have their performances streamed live on the Internet.
Sharon Raiford Bush is an award-winning journalist who covers topics of social interest in greater Los Angeles. Some news articles she has authored have been archived by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Sharon also contributes to Examiner.com.