Think there aren't any restaurants open late in L.A.? Residents who work late beg to differ. Comedy duo Dave Ross and Jake Weisman talk chandeliers and carpools at their favorite, midwestern-y diner.
Dave Ross and Jake Weisman are midnight snack connoisseurs. Both prolific comedians in the alternative comedy scene, there's rarely a moment when they aren't thinking about comedy. Dave (no relation to Bob) helps produce "Holy F***," called by LA Weekly "one of the best alternative comedy shows in LA." He also helps host Sex Nerd Sandra, a Nerdist production about, yep, sex. Jake hosts "Brunch," a free comedy show on Monday nights. Together they curate and host "Two-Headed Beast," a storytelling show featuring some of the funniest people in LA. In their spare time, they film comedy shorts with their sketch group, Women.
One might gather they like microphones. And that they're busy. These things are true, and thankfully, they're best friends, and they take time each week to wind down and catch up on comedy and each other.
They're already seated in the Astro Diner when I walk in at 11pm on a Thursday night. The Astro, with its leather booths and pie case, is a fifties-inspired spot seemingly plucked out of the Midwest. Amid coffee and laminate countertops, Dave and Jake talk honestly about comfort, jokes, and chandeliers.
Laurenne: You guys are best friends?
Jake: Actually, The only thing about this interview is that you can't tell anyone we were in the same room.
The waiter approaches.
Waiter: How we doing?
Jake: We're good. I'm Jewish.
Jake asks how to pronounce 'nicoise' and then orders the Matzah Brie.
Dave: I'm not going to order this, but I have a question. The Monte Cristo ... Is the whole thing dipped in egg batter and fried?
Waiter: Yes. And then grilled.
Dave: Okay. I will try that.
Laurenne: Can I get 7 prunes and 3 peaches? (Hey, it's on the menu.)
Laurenne: What is Matzah Brie? (It's spelled 'brei' in most places but the Astro Diner menu.)
Jake: It's sort of one of the reasons we come here. It's a lot of carbs. When you're eating at 11pm, you're not going for health. You're going for comfort. You've been beaten down all day...
Dave: All week.
Jake: All lifetime. And you just want to come here and get some comfort. I think that's why we pretty much only meet at diners. It's not like it's the very best food, but...
Dave: It's super low pressure here. There is literally no one to impress here. You feel like you're at a shitty Midwest diner.
Jake: We come here to talk about stuff for real. I don't want to be bothered by ordering wine.
Dave: That's the thing. This might not make sense but this place feels like a real place. His day is spent in a lamp store. Mine is spent in Nakatomi towers from Die Hard (editor's note: The FOX building). And then we go out and do stand-up, which is not a real thing. It's a fake thing. You know? You just say your brain. And people move. So it feels nice to come here and feel like you're in a real life part of the world.
Laurenne: Your days are spent in a lamp store?
Jake: Yes, I work at a chandelier store now. That is what I do.
Dave: It's the perfect job for a comedian. I'm so jealous of his job.
Jake: The idea is to have a job at which you don't think. And then you treat comedy as your second job. And you try not to think at your first job. You make a lot less money, but all you're trying to do is make enough to get by until you can get by only on comedy.
Laurenne: Do lots of people actually shop in the chandelier store?
Jake: Yes. A lot of people.
Jake: You have to understand... well, you don't HAVE to understand... but the thing about chandeliers is that you don't have to sell a ton to make a lot of money. Plus, there are sconces and...
Dave: This is real interesting.
Jake: Oh no. That is so pathetic that I just went on a thing about chandeliers. I'm so glad you caught me. I was like, 'Oh, I'm being interesting.'
Laurenne: I thought it was interesting.
Jake: There's something about the comfort of these diner places that make you feel like you can talk about the deepest stuff-- not chandeliers. Dave and I once had an hours-long discussion here at one in the morning about our families and why we think we are the way we are. We had a nature vs. nurture debate at this very table.
Dave: No. It was a few tables down.
Laurenne: Did you have the Matzah Brie at the time?
Jake: Definitely. I get it every time.
Dave: And I always order some sandwich that's going to kill me.
Jake: And then I go, 'Can I have a few fries?' and then I end up eating half of his fries.
Laurenne: You guys are so cute. Where did you meet?
Jake: We met at an open mic that Dave hosted at the Palms, a lesbian bar.
The waiter comes back wearing regret on his face.
Waiter: We are out of prunes.
Dave: Are you out or do you only have six?
Jake: We need to go out and kill some prunes.
Dave: Are you gonna finish the story? Or should I?
Jake: Anyway, so we met at a lesbian bar.
Dave: We did! We met at a gay bar. That's the real answer.
Jake: Yeah. He hosted it and I went up and said some stupid shit. And then afterward he came up and told me he really liked my stuff.
Dave: Then, I think we drove together the Sunset Grill open mic one night.
Jake: Comedians often carpool around to all the mics to save gas.
Dave: Yeah, there's something so difficult about going to an open mic where you don't know anybody and bombing and then going home alone.
The food comes. Brei is actually Matzo (unleavened bread) in eggs. Who knew? I guess Jews knew.
Jake: Carpooling is the way that comedians become best friends. You don't even realize it but you basically bare your soul in front of someone four times in one night and then you talk about bits and then all of a sudden you're incredible friends.
Laurenne: And you guys go up every night?
Dave: Pretty much every night.
Laurenne: What are three things you respect about each other?
Jake: I like that he is... kind. Ambitious. And... he's funny. That's it. Is that too sappy? Let me switch it out. I like that he likes cats. Definitely take out the "funny." Cats is better.
Laurenne: Who has a better cat?
Jake: I have two cats.
Dave: This whole article is going to be about how we're a couple.
At 1am, I can no longer hang. I sadly leave the Astro Diner, but the boys pull out their comedian notebooks and get to working on bits. If comedy gold is at the end of a rainbow made of ambition and friendship, Jake Weisman and Dave Ross will soon reach it. I foresee an imminent end to Jake's chandeliering career.
Astro Family Restaurant
2300 Fletcher Drive, 323-663-9241
[Photos by Hagop Kalaidjian]
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