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A variety act in Echo Park

By Jevon Phillips

An aerialist, a magician and a stand-up comedian walk into a warehouse. …

There should be a joke attached to that opening, but it’s just a regular night at “Scot Nery’s Boobie Trap.” The variety show — held every Wednesday in an Echo Park storage facility for circus equipment and the former home of the female roller derby team the Derby Dolls — also attracts spoken-word poets, musicians, sword swallowers and contortionists.

How did this fringe entertainment come to be in gentrifying Echo Park?

“In May, my friend said, ‘Why don’t you do an open mike night and do it here?’ I said, ‘OK. Yeah, let’s do it,’ ” said Scot Nery, a comedic whirlwind with a dry sense of humor. He is the emcee of the show and keeps it moving at a brisk pace. Performers get about four minutes before they’re played off.

Nery has been performing as a juggler, magician, contortionist and comedian since he was a preteen, and through his travels he has racked up an eclectic group of friends in live entertainment. The name “Boobie Trap” just made sense to him.

“Yeah, I started performing professionally at age 11, and I’m 36 now, so that’s over five years,” he joked. “As an open mike, the idea was to get all kinds of weird people — ’cause that’s who my friends are — and get some variety in there. People really like the circus and the variety element, and it kept setting the show apart, so I kept putting more in.”

And the circle grew. An aerialist would tell a contortionist friend who would tell a fire-eating friend. The show is in its seventh month, drawing modest crowds of 30 or more people — a mixed group of curiosity-seekers who found it on Facebook and locals supporting the neighborhood.

Nery spoke about how early Vaudeville acts traveled from venue to venue under contract. He aims to follow that model and build popularity for his show. To do so, he’ll need more visibility and possibly some breakout stars. Celebrity performers and actors such as Cirque du Soleil’s Eric Newton and “Community” actor Erik Charles Nielsen come out, but having more could help the show gain traction.

“I’ve had mediocre famous people come to the show. Toby Huss, he’s on ‘Reno 911!’ and ‘Carnivàle.’ Kate Flannery, she was the red-haired lady on ‘The Office,’ ” Nery said. “But, I haven’t gotten great celebrities, like Bill Cosby or Michael Vick or anybody.”

Well, he can only hope.

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