Leah Lamarr is not only one of the funniest women I have had the pleasure of watching on stage, but she is also one of the smartest working actresses in Los Angeles. Yes, I know that is saying a lot, and I am sticking to that statement. We were lucky enough to sit with Leah and discuss her instant-hit live show called Nominees, at The Nerdist Showroom at Meltdown. The Nominees show is unlike any show I’ve witnessed. It gives a chance for comedians and actors to put their years of acting class to the test, with challenging acting games, monologues, cold reads combined with improv, commercial copy, and dramatic scenes. The panel of celebrity judges decide who will win and who will never work in this town again! Just kidding, but it really is appropriately dramatic and intense, and we wouldn’t want it any other way, darlings. The Facebook page describes it as if “The Hunger Games” and The Oscars had a baby, so put on your most glamorous gown and don’t f*ck it up.
ALAG: What gave you the idea for Nominees?
Lamarr: I started doing stand-up two years ago, and through the experience of doing shows and [open] mics, I realized that I wanted to have my own show, but I knew that I wanted it to skew from the traditional live show experience. There are a lot of unique comedians and show concepts out here, but I wanted a show that was specifically mine, that had a different format.
Leah’s acting background is well seasoned to say the least. Starting out a dramatic actor, she has been on shows such as How To Get Away With Murder, Code Black and Jean-Claude Van Johnson. It’s no wonder she chose this competitive live show to bring out the best (or the worst) in some of the most talented performers in Hollywood. Lamarr describes developing her niche, after an interesting meeting with a casting director.
Lamarr: …I met with a casting director for a meet and greet, we laughed and joked and talked for an hour. After the
meeting, she said, ‘I just want to let you know, you are more funny, less pretty.’ At the time I thought, ‘damn, I thought people in New York were blunt.’ It was hard for me because I had just moved here and I didn’t know what she meant. I later realized, what she was saying was, If you’re a funny woman in Los Angeles, that’s an asset and you should try to capitalize on that. I didn’t even know I was funny.
Born and raised in New York, Leah has been through improv training and other competitive outlets such as modeling and dramatic acting, but after experiencing these classes and workshops, Leah realized that she loved writing and creating her own material. She has written, starred in, and shot dozens of hilarious sketches and commercials. Through creating her own contentt, Lamarr fell in love with writing, performing stand-up, getting dolled up, and being in charge of her own career. Take notes boyz.
Lamarr: So, coming full circle, I wanted to make a show that was special and important to me, and since I’m not just an actor and I’m not just an improviser and I’m not just a stand-up comedian, I wanted to combine all the elements of my favorite ways to perform and put them into one show.
We know that the film industry rarely provides us with opportunities that we really want to do, and Leah is certainly not one to sit around and wait for those magic moments. We see other actresses, like Lena Dunham and Rachel Bloom, doing the same.
Simply describing the formula for Nominees makes any entertainer perk up with excitement. The show starts with the actors reading commercial copy as a movie scene, then heads to cold reads while their partner completely improvises the rest of the scene. After this cluster of hilarity, the first round of eliminations ensue. Dun, dun dun. After the fat is trimmed (lol I’m such bitch), we move on to dramatic scenes, and my personal favorite portion. After there are only two nominees left, they must go head to head in an improvised monologue competition. They perform their improvised, would-be Oscar winning performance. If this doesn’t make you bite your nails on the edge of your seat, then go back to being boring and NOT crying while listening to The Climb you f*cking sociopath.
Although the show is so much fun, this show is getting wildly popular, so the pressure is real. The last show featured the creators of Search Party as judges, and members of SNL as performers, so if you are on this show, chances are you will be seen by some key figures in the industry. The performers and judges are dressed to the nines in actual suits and gowns, in front of a completely sold-out room of people, so it’s no surprise that the players get to show the crowd their best selves.
Lamarr: …people can get work out of this show, it’s not just fun anymore, although it is fun and that’s the main goal, but also the goal is to get seen in every way….it allows people to be their best self on stage. You [the actors] look like a million bucks because you come in Oscars attire, and you’re on stage in front of a packed room of people, so I think it’s a really great opportunity for people to showcase their talents.
So much preparation goes into this show that we will not list because we want to portray an air of mystery…and I don’t want to make this article five pages. In a nutshell, Leah conducts the entirety of production: the copy, booking performers, directing actors, location, multiple cameras, photos, red carpet and it is even sponsored by an evening gown company called Mac Duggal! Get crafty out there, ladies and gentlemen!
Lamarr:…I am blown away by all of the love and support that people have given to me around this show. I’m truly humbled by it, it’s an honor. I also believe that it’s important to make this show diverse, It’s my responsibility to create that type environment, and there are so many people I want on this show! My goal is to always cast six very different, diverse types of actors with varying skill sets on my show. Of course this is always subject to availability. Due to the nature of the show, often times I will have to re-book performers at the last minute, as they are working actors and have booked a tv show or movie. I’m lucky to know such talented people and I encourage those who are interested in performing on the show to reach out to me and introduce themselves.
ALAG: What does feminism mean to you?
Lamarr: To me, it means supporting other women and believing other women. I know so many amazing women in the art’s community, and when I see someone post about needing support or help with a project, I’ll share immediately because I believe in them and I trust them, and I know they’re incredible people who need more people to know about them. That’s the whole point of my show, to allow brilliant artists to shine.
We are so lucky to have someone like Leah on the scene, being our, more fabulous, real life Mrs. Maisel! Check out the next Nominees show on Friday, January 26th 9pm at Nerdmelt. Did I mention that KEL MITCHELL IS A JUDGE?! YES! Orange-soda-drinking-mother-effing-Kel! Get tickets in advance or you seriously won’t get in!