This Week’s L.A. Happenings: Trois Mec & Bronzed Aussie Open, Jack Black At Largo

NOW: Trois Mec
Get familiar with Trois Mec’s web site. In fact, bookmark it now. It’s the only way you can get "tickets" to Ludo Lefebvre’s new restaurant inside a former pizza joint. The French king of pop-up restaurants and the familiar face on any of those food shows (Top Chef Masters, The Taste, his own Ludo Bites America) is dishing out a prix-fixe tasting menu for a maximum 26 guests a night.

Tickets to Trois Mec (716 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood) are $75 per person. Tickets must be bought on the web site every other Friday for the immediate following two-week period. For more information on Trois Mec, visit the BlackBook Guides.

MONDAY: Bronzed Aussie Opens Downtown
How to speak Australian: eat a freakin’ meat pie. Apparently it’s a thing in the motherland, and now Angelenos can get their hands on savory, puff pastries with the opening of the new, tiny joint Bronzed Aussie. Expect plenty of meat (pepper steak, lamb, etc) with veggie options to boot. 

Bronzed Aussie (714A S. Los Angeles St., Downtown) is now open. For more information, visit the listing at BlackBook Guides.

SUNDAY: Jack Black At Largo
The second annual “A Night of (At Least) 18 Laughs” at Largo features top comedians like Jack Black, Dana Gould, Will Forte, Jeffrey Ross, and surprise guests (rumors include Kristen Wiig). Proceeds go to OneKid OneWorld.

Tickets to “A Night of (At Least) 18 Laughs” at Largo (366 N. La Cienega Blvd., W. Hollywood) are $100/$150 for VIP tickets. For more information on Largo and to buy a ticket, visit the listing at BlackBook Guides. 

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Comedian and Cancer Survivor Tig Notaro Knows How To Tell a Good Story

Comedian, actress, and writer Tig Notaro gained a following in the comedy world for her goofy, sometimes self-deprecating, all-the-while engaging yarns about her family, growing up in Mississippi, a gentleman’s comments about her "little titties," and her experiences at hotels in Mexico. This was the sort of material fans who attended her live "Tig & Friends" show at LA’s Largo Theater back in August were probably expecting.

What casual (or not-so-casual) comedy fans were not expecting was Notaro beginning her set by saying, “Thank you, I have cancer, thank you.” She then proceeded to recount her diagnosis of Stage Two breast cancer, the most recent in a laundry list from Hell: a breakup, the sudden passing of her mother, a battle with a bacterial infection. Her candor and humor (often self-deprecating—one of the most oft-quoted one-liners of the night is “You have a lump.” “No, doctor, that’s my breast.”) brought the audience to attention. Ed Helms called it one of the best he’s ever seen. Louis C.K. called it "masterful."

Notaro says she’s grateful for her audience at the Largo that night. “Thank you for being exactly who you are and for being at that show,” she says. “Every person in the audience was the perfect person to be there.”

Notaro is now cancer-free following a double mastectomy and is preparing for a lot of writing in the months ahead. She’s got a number of projects in the works addition to her standup, including an upcoming book via Ecco, appearances on This American Life, working on a new television show with Amy Schumer, and a short film, “Clown Service,” about a lonely woman who hires a birthday party clown to cheer her up. And today, the Largo set will be available on Louis C.K.’s website, with a portion of the proceeds going to charities in the fight against breast cancer.

Notaro took some time out of her crazy schedule (the day before a cross-country move) to talk about the after-effects of that night, moving to New York, working for Xena: Warrior Princess, and feeling like a badass.

Let’s talk about the Largo show. What was the turning point that made you decide that you were going to open up to everybody like that and that was the time and place you were going to do it?
I had been working on a piece—I was going to work this material out possibly for This American Life before I was diagnosed with cancer. And then after I got diagnosed with cancer, I just couldn’t stop writing. I had this show set up, so I went on stage and I went for the material. I was recording it that night just so I could reference the material and see if it was in a good place to send to Ira Glass. I felt like I did have something that maybe he could use.

What has the response to that performance been like so far?
People have been nothing but positive, and I’m just blown away at how supportive and positive everybody has been. Not that I thought everybody would be a jerk to me because I had cancer, but they really lifted me up during this time, and the performance was something that the audience and my peers really have been so supportive and vocal about, which feels nice.

How has the Largo performance impacted your comedy? Have you found yourself changing your style or anything as a result?
I haven’t performed since that night. I had surgery; I literally got diagnosed, did that show, and then I’ve been dealing with doctors and being cut open and healing. So I haven’t really been doing anything. I just got my bandages off, so it’s still all very fresh. But I imagine this will change me forever as a human and as a comedian in turn.

You’ve dealt with a lot lately, good and bad. How do you use comedy to relate to what’s happening?
The only thing I’ve really written is what happened at Largo. I haven’t really been doing anything. The material from that night—there’s probably only a couple of bits from that night that I will continue with. The rest of it was kind of time and place. But I have no idea. I’m curious and there’s no way for me to know until I get on stage again what this has done and what’s coming. It’s really an interesting time because certain things seem ridiculous to talk about, certain topics in comedy. But it’s exciting and it’s completely unknown to me until I get out there and start again.

It’s so ridiculous but I feel like a badass. I feel like I can deal with anything in the world. It’s so cliché to talk about turning bad things into good, but every bad thing that’s happened to me has turned into something great and I didn’t see that coming at all. At first, I just thought, "Oh my gosh, I’m just going to be beaten into the ground."

It’s almost a literal interpretation of the old cliché about how tragedy plus time equals comedy.
Absolutely, and I talked about that in my show that night. And I talked about how I didn’t have time. I was just on stage talking about tragedy. Time was not something that had really passed that.

Was there a moment in the show where telling your story clicked, where it felt like the right time?
I’m not sure where it was, but there was definitely a moment in time where it felt like there was definitely a special moment that was happening. But I’m not quite sure when that was.

What advice would you give to people going through the same things you’ve gone through in the past few months?
I
t’s mind-numbingly painful, but pushing through was what now makes me feel like a badass and be able to see these positive things that have come from it. It’s so worth it, but it’s a rough journey, to say the least.

What, for you, are the most important rules of telling a good story?
I think being the most personal and true to what happened, because it feels like even if you exaggerate on that, as long as it starts with that nugget of truth to begin with. I feel like that’s so necessary to spring from truth regardless of where it ends up going.  My “No Moleste” bit, that’s a truth. Every time I check into a hotel room, I hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door. That’s true, but I exaggerate beyond there.

You recently landed a book deal with Ecco. What will that look like?
I think anything I want, is my understanding. I meet with my editor next week in New York, but I think anything I want. I’m going to write about these four months of hell that I went through, my childhood, my mother. I think my comedy career, all that kind of stuff is definitely going to end up there.

What are your hopes for the change of scene with your impending move to New York?It’s gonna be a whole new world. Everything in my life right now is New York-centric. My job working on Amy’s show takes place there. Ira Glass from This American Life wants me on the show regularly and he’s out there, and my publishing company is out there. I think I have a lot of writing ahead of me. I have a lot of stand-up to work on. I think it will be a nice change of pace. I have so much writing coming up that it’s just blowing my mind to think about. Everything is just writing, writing, writing. I’m anxious to be knee-deep in all of that.

You’re involved in so many different disciplines of comedy—writing and directing films, acting, stand-up, as well as this new book. How do you go about approaching each of these?
I do most of my writing on stage. I’ll have a concept and work it out in front of the audience, whereas I haven’t started writing the book, so I can’t imagine how that’s gonna happen, but I’ll probably do that from home. It’s such a solitary thing, writing a book, whereas with stand-up, you’re right there in front of everybody, working things out. I’m writing on Amy Schumer’s TV show, which I’ve been doing over the phone and email, and I’ll be in the office, and that’s so collaborative. They’re all very different things.

I was looking through the bio on your website and it says you were once an assistant on Xena: Warrior Princess. Please, please tell me more about that.
I was the world’s worst assistant. I’m still friends with Lucy Lawless and, I don’t know. They claim they kept me around because I was entertaining to hang out with, but certainly not because I was good at my job. I answered phones and I would take Lucy’s daughter to amusement parks when Lucy did photo shoots, or her sister would be in town from New Zealand and I would take her out to lunch. It was a good job for the time and it was kind of silly too, but I’m glad I had it, for sure. But it was so long ago, almost fifteen years ago that I worked there. But she’s still a friend. 

Photo by Ann Johansson

Comedian-Turned-Musician Ed Helms to Release Bluegrass Album

We weren’t kidding last month when we lauded the musical talents of Jeff Who Lives at Home star Ed Helms. Like Steve Martin (and, uh, Rick Moranis?) before him, the funny guy is branching out into the world of music along with his bluegrass band, The Lonesome Trio.

The Hollywood Reporter reveals that Helms, who will be performing tomorrow evening at Largo during The L.A. Bluegrass Situation (a festival which he co-founded two years ago), has announced his band’s debut album. "We’ve been laying down some demos and kicking them back and forth," he says. "We’ve been been playing together so long, we have so many original tunes. We’ve made recordings for friends and family for years but we’ve never done a proper album."

If you didn’t manage to get ticket to tomorrow night’s sold-out show, take a listen to some of The Lonesome Trio’s tunes below.

Singer Anya Marina’s Seduction Phase

You may have already been exposed to the charms of Anya Marina and not been aware of it. The Michigan-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter has not only had her songs featured on television shows like Grey’s Anatomy and Gossip Girl, but has also had an acting stint in the film 100 Girls, a role which the pixie chanteuse had to appear in sans eyebrows. Her sophomore album, Slow & Steady Seduction, Phase II, was produced by Spoon’s Britt Daniel and Louis XIV’s Brian Karscig and, with Marina’s breathy vocals and sharp lyrics, is best enjoyed with a snuggle companion and a glass of something tasty in hand. Marina is currently on tour with The Virgins and Lissy Trullie, but she took some time out to talk with us about getting topless while recording, her Roman Polanski-inspired video for the single “Move Me”, and gender play when covering T.I.’s “Whatever You Like.”

When did you first decide that you wanted to pick up an instrument? Truth be told, I didn’t ever want to pick up an instrument. My father insisted that I take piano lessons. And that went abysmally. And then he insisted that I take flute and/or clarinet, both of which I failed miserably at. I just had no interest in playing instruments at all. I always really liked singing. I love melodies, I love sitting by my record player and listening to music. And I was always coming up with little melodies and singing to myself.

Do you have memories of your early attempts at songwriting? I never even thought about that until recently, but I used to walk every day on this little route, and it was only about five blocks, but I remember looking forward to that time every day when my mom would drop me off at this particular place every day and I would walk the rest of the way to school. I would always make up a song that would go with the beat of my feet, and I I must have been like, eleven. And every day I would write a new song to a new beat, however fast.

What was the first song you learned all the lyrics to? Do you mean a popular song? The first song I learned on guitar was Freedy Johnston, “Bad Reputation.” I just love singing it from my point of view. I’ve loved doing that ever since — singing songs written by men and not singing the gender when I’m singing it. I’m doing it right now with this T.I. cover I’ve been doing every night, and the crowds seem to love it.

What song? It’s called “Whatever You Like.” I’m sure you know it.

I read somewhere that when you were recording a few songs on this album, you decided to take your shirt off while recording. Why did you feel that you needed to do that? I think it was hot. It was in the middle of summer, and I had the entire studio all to myself, and the engineer was in the other room.

Can you discuss your relationship to Jungian psychology and how it relates to the song “Move You”? Well, my dad is a Jungian psychologist. I read a lot of Joseph Campbell growing up. I don’t know a whole lot about Jung, but I do love that one quote that I read of his, “Often the hands will solve a mystery that the intellect has struggled with in vain.” I just really like that notion, and I just ruminated on it for a long time, and it got me thinking that sometimes the simplest physical task can help you out of a jam that your mind is struggling with. And then I started thinking about how physically, sometimes getting it on can help you get through it. Everybody knows make-up sex is the best, right?

True. So how did the video come about? It wasn’t my concept but I was thoroughly won over by the concept. Scott Coffey directed it and he sent me this treatment for it which was based on this Roman Polanski film Repulsion. And it had all these beautiful textures in it. I knew his work because I’d seen his film with Naomi Watts called Ellie Parker, which was so good.

The video is beautiful, and you seem really comfortable in front of a camera. Is that because you have an acting career as well? Is there anything coming up that we can look for? I started acting when I was about 17 or so, just trying to go out for things. It never really took off. I have a one-line role in this Kevin Spacey film called Shrink that’s coming out. It was at Sundance, and it was directed by Jonas Pate, who is an upcoming and fantastic director, and it’s written by this guy Thomas Moffett, who worked with Wes Anderson for years. He’s an incredibly gifted writer.

Your song was on the soundtrack to Grey’s Anatomy. Any other TV shows you would love to be associated with? Mad Men would be amazing but that’s highly unlikely. I would love Anthony Bourdain to have me on his show. I know he had Queens of the Stone Age for a Christmas special. But I think he only likes dude rock.

You were a radio-station DJ for a while, so I’m going to appeal to your musical expertise. You’re living in L.A. now. What are the best places to check out live music out there? I love the Hotel Café, and when I can get out to the Troubador that’s always a great room. Sometimes you can catch some great stuff at Tangier and I just played the Echoplex when I was filming this TV show Rockville, CA, which I am going to be in with my band. But you know what, I go out a lot to see more comedy shows. I love going to Largo.

Finally, say I’m looking to have a slow and seductive kind of night. What’s the best drink to pair with your record? If you’re going to listen to my record and get your drink on, I think a nice Beaujolais, and if you’re in the mood for spirits, a vodka martini. Dirty.