by Meera Eragoda
If you are a comedy lover, the comedy scene in Vancouver may seem quite elusive. The recent closure of Comedy Mix leaves us with Yuk Yuks as the next big comedy venue — which, in my opinion, yuck. But fear not, there are many smaller comedic joints filling the void, one of which is the Little Mountain Gallery (LMG) Comedy Club located on Main and East 26th Avenue.
Entering LMG feels like being given access to a cool underground event, which makes sense given that the building’s literal origin was as an automotive garage. The first time I was invited by a friend, I walked past the entrance twice before realizing it was there, and every time I invite someone new they do the same. LMG’s interior is all black, slightly run-down in a way that makes it edgy. In addition, the small stage makes it a very intimate environment that can seat approximately 60 people. The location and interior give LMG an only-discoverable-by-word-of-mouth feel to it. It manages to exude this vibe and retain its hole-in-the-wall status despite winning two different best comedy venue awards.
Unlike most comedy clubs, LMG is a completely volunteer-run collective, with the goal of uplifting independent and local comedians. They run a variety of shows from Jokes, Please (stand-up) and Little Mountain Improv to more eclectic ones like Phantom Signal.
In fact, Phantom Signal (a once a month, old-school radio comedy horror show) is one of my favourite shows at LMG. It’s a hilarious, over-the-top show that will appeal to anyone who grew up with old-school radio shows and anyone who cannot imagine a time before television.
It is usually hosted by Jayson McDonald, Tara Travis, and Andrew Bailey. However, during their last performance on January 4, Val Cotic subbed for Tara Travis and was delightful. In addition, Mark Haney played the double bass, though every show features a different musician and instrument.
The appeal of Phantom Signal lies not only in their story-telling, but also their audio creations. Besides musicians such as Haney, they also use props like noise-makers and a wide range of highly entertaining voices to bring their stories to life. And of course, it’s hard to overlook Travis’ incredibly evocative facial expressions. Phantom Signal is a wild ride for anyone into smart, quirky comedy, and you can catch them on the first Saturday of every month. The best part is that each Phantom Signal is different, meaning you can attend without having to be caught up on previous shows. Trust me, it’s unlikely to be similar to anything you’ve seen before.
LMG is a cash only venue. Each comedian puts on their own show so prices vary, however, most are consistently $10 or less with drink prices ranging from $4–6. Supporting places such as LMG, which are few and far between in an increasingly gentrifying city, helps both comedians and Vancouverites hold onto spaces where independent and local talent are able to practice their craft. Plus, you’re guaranteed at least a laugh or two for an incredibly low entry fee.