HEARTBEATS #1: PROM Night

words and photos by Shabnam Ferdowsi

Introducing a new series... Heartbeats: Portraits of the Passionate Heart.  

There are a lot of cool things going on around us, and this series will shine a [beating] light (see what I did there?!) on the faces behind the various passion projects we'll be featuring. 

We're so excited to get the show started!

Who: AJ Frydman and Harris Mayersohn

What: Prom Night,  a bi-weekly stand up show featuring some of the best comics around held at Nature's Brew in Downtown Los Angeles.

If you've ever been to a stand-up comedy show before, you know it takes a lot of resilience to get on that stage. Crowds can range from super energetic and responsive to just downright apathetic, and it takes a certain amount of dedication, and rather, passion, to keep getting back up there. 

AJ Frydman and Harris Mayersohn, respectively current student and alumni of USC's School of Cinematic Arts, have been hosting a  bi-weekly stand-up show at a local coffee shop since this past February. Every show, they curate a line-up of talented, local comedians, while bringing their own bits to the table every now and then. It's not easy with a crowd of students whose opinions and tolerance levels you can't predict, whose sense of humor you can't quite gauge, and night classes that prevent some friends from making it out.

I met up with them before their last show on October 23rd to chat for a bit. As I got there about an hour before showtime, they were only just talking about what their intro would look like. Procrastination seems to be a part of their process, and personally I think it's working! Improvisation is what makes stand-up performers stand out (not to be redundant), and as the two put it, there's no way to practice than by throwing yourself into it. 

It's a no-pressure space, and the hosts often try  new bits between acts, or occasionally taking their own set-times. Depending on the crowd, any bit is a hit or miss...And if it's a miss, AJ loves the failure, Harris hates it. But like I said, no pressure! They just hand it back over to the next comedian if everything really hits the ground. 

Every show is different than the last because every crowd is different, and every line-up is different. I've been a few times at this point and I've only ever had a good time. Who doesn't like to laugh, right?! The comedians are hilarious, and it's always fun seeing what AJ and Harris come up with something new.  Sure, sometimes I don't get the jokes, sometimes I can feel the crowd cringing at the raunchier bits, but that should be expected: we don't all have the same sense of humor.

As Harris put it perfectly, "you just gotta suck" sometimes to see what does and doesn't work. And the way I see it, not getting a laugh or two is part of the whole process. Like writing a blog post and getting no reads, or releasing a video and getting a measly 15 views... 

Not trying at all would be true failure.

PROM Nights happen every other Thursday night in Downtown LA,  so make sure you like their Facebook page to stay updated!