As Coachella kicked off our first music festival season in two years, some might have forgotten that April is also the beginning of another sort of springtime madness — wedding season. As countless hordes of friends and family prepare to use a couple’s nuptials as an excuse to party post-lockdown, Los Angeles-based comedian Jack Assadourian Jr. decided to combine both monster seasons, with a Middle Eastern comedy twist. Enter: Brochella.
Sure, the event’s name probably sounds like something that already happens when a bunch of frat dudes get together during Marshmello’s set at the Sarah tent. But actually Brochella is named after what Jack Jr. Describes as a time-honored Armenian greeting: “What’s up brrrrooo?!” (emphasis on the rolling R’s).
“It’s ‘Brochella’ because Armenians always say, ‘Brrrroo,’ and it’s a night of comedy, authentic Middle Eastern food and music, it’s just a one big one big party,” Assadourian says. “For any Middle Eastern or Armenian person, we’re very big on like big weddings and events and a lot of food and all that stuff. We love it.”
Assadourian’s Mexican Armenian roots have helped him book all flavors of ethnic comedy showcases at his home spot, the Haha Comedy Club in North Hollywood. This weekend he brings together a roster of Middle Eastern comedians on Friday at Vertigo Event Venue in (where else?) Glendale. Veteran stand-up comics Maz Jobrani and Nemr will anchor the night along with Assadourian, Mary Basmadjian, Melissa Soshahi and special guests. The comedy night is combined with a full Middle Eastern-style mezze of authentic dishes and an all-night dance party presided over by DJ Hye FX.
Jobrani, a seasoned veteran who created a popular Middle Eastern comedy showcase at the Comedy Store called Axis of Evil in the late ’90s, says that being part of a local comedy show post-lockdown, especially one with a Middle Eastern wedding theme, is very fulfilling — and not just when it comes to the food.
“I’ve really felt people being of the mind-set that they are ready to laugh now,” Jobrani says. “Around December of last year, when Omicron was really surging in the country, we had some shows where I could tell the audience was hesitant to even be there and I didn’t blame them for it. I was like, ‘I don’t know if I want to be in here!’ But lately crowds have been laughing a lot harder. It feels like this nationwide exhale that people are having.”
Like most comics, Basmadjian, who is Armenian American, did a lot of performing via Zoom and Instagram during the pandemic. For Brochella, she’s looking forward to performing her set as her character Vartoush, a loudmouthed, stereotypical Armenian aunt, for a live audience — especially for a crowd full of loud Armenian aunts in Glendale.
“I created this character about eight years ago on Instagram where I show up in that character, and this is the perfect place to do it because everybody’s going to be dressed up the same as me. I just go and kind of riff on them and, like, mess with them a little,” Basmadjian says.
It’s common at Middle Eastern weddings for family members to give speeches that could go on till the next day. Assadourian says this kind of long-winded torture at weddings is what inspired his event.
“Most of the time when people are making these speeches at weddings, they have no experience in public speaking, they’re just talking, they’re drunk and it’s annoying,” Assadourian said. So I said, ‘What if we put a comedian up there?’
Though this weekend marks Assadourian’s first Brochella, he said he’s hoping to pull it off twice a year, already on a mission to be as successful as the Indio mega-festival counterpart.
Regardless of how big it gets, the first Brochella will give the Arab and Middle Eastern audiences something to come together and laugh about.
“I do this joke about how a lot of these like Armenian weddings or birthdays or whatever, that they’re huge events, are basically like going to a rave but your grandma’s there,” Basmadjian says. “And I think adding the comedy show aspect to it is even going to make it better .… I think it is really elevating the tradition of Middle Eastern gatherings.”
A night of middle eastern comedy, food and music
Friday, April 22, 7 pm
Vertigo Venue Hall
400 W. Glenoaks Blvd. in Glendale
Tickets: $100 for dinner and show, $200 for VIP