Seeing Stars: Live on Stage

1018 Hermosa Avenue,
Hermosa Beach, CA. / (310) 372-1193

The Comedy & Magic Club has been around since 1978, but given its location out in Hermosa Beach (a small beach town in the South Bay, a good 15 miles southwest of Hollywood), you might assume that the club would feature only minor comic talent here.


You never know who you're going to see at this little (225-seat) comedy club. It has long been a favorite spot of major Hollywood stars who like to drop in unexpectedly and try out their new material on a "real " crowd.

Robin Williams popped up on stage (to the delighted roar of the surprised local crowd), for a week-long booking that wasn't even publicized. He wanted to prep for an HBO special. That same night, comic George Wallace also performed, warming up for a "Tonight Show" appearance.

Other drop-in stars have included Jerry Seinfeld, Paul Reiser (star of "Mad About You") who was preparing to host the Grammy Awards show, Jim Carrey ("The Truman Show"), Garry Shandling (who was tuning up for an HBO special), Tim Allen ("Home Improvement"), Harry Anderson ("Night Court" & "Dave's World"), Billy Crystal, Rodney Dangerfield, Dana Carvey, Dennis Miller, Elayne Boosler, and even O.J.'s former houseguest Kato Kaelin.

Former "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno still appears here to try out his material, almost every Sunday (about 46 shows a year), at 7 PM, and he has been performing here for over 18 years. His shows cost a reasonable $30, a price set by Leno himself.

David Letterman, George Carlin and the "Unknown Comic" all did turns here in the club's early days.

These famous comics like to try out their new material at the Comedy & Magic Club because the suburban South Bay audience is made up of sober, "normal" people, (instead of jaded West L.A. types) whose reactions are considered more like that of a general TV audience.

The comedians also say that they like the club's owner, Mike Lacey, who treats them well and seems to be an all-around nice guy. (His uncle wrote the book for the Robert Preston-Shirley Jones musical "The Music Man.")  Regulars call it "Mike's Place"; they like the friendly audience, the fun atmosphere, and they also enjoy the club's free food, which is a cut above the usual comedy club cuisine. Garry Shandling calls it his favorite club in the country.

And expect the unexpected. One night, when Gary Shandling was on stage, Jay Leno drove his Harley-Davidson motorcycle right through the front door. Gallagher (the watermelon-smasher) used to stop traffic out on Hermosa Avenue with a flashing red light on his helmet.

The admission is usually $13.50 to $20 on weekdays, going up on weekends for special shows like Jay Leno, with a two-drink minimum for all shows. Tuesday through Thursday, there is one show only, which starts at 8 PM. On Fridays & Saturdays, there are two shows: at 7:00 and 9:15 PM. And on Sunday, it's Jay Leno at 7 PM. Reservations required. 18 and over.  (There's also live music on Friday nights, at 8:30 PM, next door at "Live at the Lounge", a 90-person theater owned by the same management.)

 Getting there: The Comedy & Magic Club is located in the South Bay region of L.A. County, far from the Hollywood area. / From the southbound San Diego (405) Freeway, take the Artesia Boulevard exit and go west (about three miles) to where it becomes 27th Street. Turn left (south) on Hermosa Avenue, and go about one mile south (past Pier Avenue).

[For more information, you can access the Club's official website at:]

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