As they say, “dying is easy, comedy is hard.” If that’s true then managing a comedy club must be next to impossible.
Fortunately, the following 50 venues make it look easy. Or at least they make hosting stand-up comedians, improv troupes, and sketch comedy teams look easy.
The following venues are the type that through their atmosphere, staff, bar, and food make attending a comedy event entertaining even if the act isn’t very funny. Of course, these venues also know who to book so the likelihood of that happening is pretty slim.
While reading our list you might ask where are Caroline’s on Broadway, Second City, The Improv, and The Comedy Store? Well, those clubs are so legendary they transcend lists. Besides, you already know all about those establishments.
Instead, we selected hidden gems, out-of-the-way places, and the best-keep-secrets. The following clubs may not immediately come to mind when you think live comedy but they ought to.
These really are the best comedy clubs in America.
Acme Comedy Company
Over the years the Acme Comedy Company has welcomed a number of big name comedians to its stage including Frank Caliendo, Craig Ferguson, Nick Swardson, and Josh Weinstein. Acme doesn’t have a dress code minus you need to wear clothes. Can we say “uptight?”
The American Comedy Company
San Diego, California
The American Comedy Company is located in San Diego’s historic downtown district. The club brings today’s hottest touring comics to its old world digs. Of all the comedy clubs on our list, the beautiful ACC is the one you don’t mind visiting even if there are no comics to see.
The Annoyance Theater & Bar
The Annoyance Theater & Bar offers patrons a variety of uproarious shows including Chicago’s longest running musical, Co-Ed Prison Sluts. Come here to relish musicals, plays, improv, and sketch-comedy. There’s also an Annoyance Theater in New York City, but the original is in Chicago.
Kristen Studard performing at The Annoyance Theater. Photo courtesy of Guy F. Wicke
Arcade Comedy Theater
It’s called the Arcade Comedy Theater because they have free video games in the lobby. How awesome is that! The Arcade is the Steel City’s only non-profit comedy theatre. Besides their weekend comedy shows they also hold classes and put on family friendly shows.
The Brody Theater has one main focus: entertainment and experiment. The Brody Theater has two main focuses: entertainment, experiment, and creating a space for performers to make stage discoveries. The Brody Theater has three main focuses… Well, this could go on all night. Bottom line, if you want something different, and funny, check out the Brody Theater.
Brody Theater in Portland, Oregon. Photo courtesy of Paul Sableman.
Cap City Comedy Club
Wait! Isn’t Austin, Texas THE destination for live music? It is and thanks to Cap City Comedy Club it’s also THE destination for live laughs. Besides welcoming the country’s funniest people to its stage, Cap City holds a “Funniest Person in Austin” contest. So, here’s our entry: “two cowboys walk into a bar…”
Located in a beautiful white building that looks like a cross between a castle and Creole townhouse, the Castle Theater welcomes both local and national comics to its intimate 90-seat theater. The theater is located in Kenner in its historic Rivertown. Kenner is just a 30-minute drive west of New Orleans.
Charlotte Comedy Theater
Charlotte, North Carolina
Charlotte Comedy Theater says they’re a group of highly skilled comedic performers. You think its lip service until you see them perform. Using audience suggestions, the performers create hilarious scenes and conduct boisterous games. They are truly gifted. The next best thing about CCT is their location. You’ll find them “in the back of Wet Willie's.” Even their location is funny?
Coalition Theater is an award-winning comedy venue in the Arts District of Richmond. As they like to say, “Live Comedy, Dead Serious.” Visit Coalition Theater for sidesplitting improv and utterly amusing comedy shows.
The Comedy Attic
Found in downtown Bloomington, The Comedy Attic is a full-time comedy club with an inviting and comfortable atmosphere. Comics take the stage Thursday through Saturday. Open mic night is Wednesday. The Attic first opened for laughs in 2008.
Alice Wolfson sticks her foot in her mouth at The Comedy Attic in Bloomington, Indiana. Photo courtesy of Bart Everson.
The Comedy Bar
The Comedy Bar is nestled in Chicago’s River North District on the third floor of Gino’s East River North. Shows are held Wednesday through Saturday. The Comedy Bar focuses on two things. Those two things are making people laugh and doing so at the lowest price possible. In other words, The Comedy Bar is a bargain. You can’t afford not to go there.
The Comedy Inn
The Comedy Inn is the place to go to laugh at today’s best comics. Then after busting a gut you can sleep it off. No, not in the backseat of your car, or in the alley, but at one of the club’s many rooms (they even have poolside rooms). They don’t call it “The Comedy Inn” for nothing.
Comedy Works Denver
Widely regarded as THE best comedy club in America, Comedy Works Denver hosts today’s and tomorrow’s comedy legends. Make sure you become a Comedy Works member. You can sign up on their web site. As a member, you’ll be kept apprise of every great stand-up that comes to Denver.
The Comedy Zone is located inside the Ramada Conference Center off of I-295. Rare for a comedy club, The Zone is open on Tuesdays. In fact, it’s open Tuesday through Saturday. Depending on the show, you can gain entrance for just $6. The Comedy Zone welcomes comics from every ilk making it a destination for novice comedy fans as well as hardcore stand-up aficionados.
Crackers Comedy Clubs
There are two Crackers, one in downtown Indianapolis and the other in the neighborhood of Broad Ripple. Both are locally owned. Since 1980, Crackers Comedy Clubs have been keeping Indy residents in stitches. Since opening, they’ve hosted the comedic talents of Ellen DeGeneres, Dennis Miller, and Gabriel Iglesias. We recommend splurging and getting their “preferred reservations.” You and your party won’t regret it.
The Creek and The Cave
New York City
Situated in Long Island City, The Creek and The Cave is an establishment that’s part comedy club, part Mexican restaurant, and part bar (“the best bar in comedy”). They also have eight pinball machines. We got next game on The Sopranos machine. The Creek and The Cave offer patrons a unique experience that’s funny, fun, and unforgettable.
The Creek and The Cave in New York City. Photo courtesy of Seth Thomas Rasmussen.
The DC Improv
Apparently, citizens of the District of Columbia need more comedy in their lives then the machinations of the U.S. congress. That’s why they’re served by the famous DC Improv, located on Connecticut Avenue. This great establishment opened in 1992. Their first show starred Ellen DeGeneres, Dave Chappelle, and Brain Regan. What a lineup!
The Dinner Detective
Take it from us, we know all about solving crimes. We’ve seen every episode of CSI and The Mysteries of Laura. If you want to laugh, enjoy a meal, and solve a murder, all at the same time, then you must attend The Dinner Detective. This is one of the most engaging murder mystery parties of all-time. If you solve the case you’ll be going home with a huge prize.
Every Monday night is comedy night at Duffy’s Tavern. It’s a tradition that dates back to 1986. Thursday night is live karaoke night—that’s when participants sing-a-long to a live band. That’s funny too but unintentionally so. Go to Duffy’s and check out their charming brick arches and their cool outdoor space. Their staff is top notch too.
Performed once a month at the Hampshire House, Four-Handed Illusions stars illusionists Joel Acevedo and Steve Kradolfer. Besides tickling your funny bone, Joel and Steve will amaze you by levitating objects, teleporting objects and reading minds. This is a snug show. It’s held in the Hampshire’s library which fits 50 fans of magic and illusion.
Garrett Morris’ Downtown Blues & Comedy Club
Los Angeles, California
Any comedy club named after the most underrated SNL cast member of all-time, Garrett Morris, has to be hilarious. Founded in 2007, the club books the nation’s top comics and presents Chicago style blues. You can enjoy them both in the same evening.
Greenwich Village Comedy Club
New York City
Owned by Al Martin, the Greenwich Village Comedy Club gathers the nation’s top comics, and they do so in bunches. Each GVCC show stars four national headliners. Your funny bone will be tickled by punchlines from the likes of Neko White, Meghan Hanley, Robyn Schall, Aaron Berg, Charlie Murphy, and Frank Conniff.
House of Comedy
House of Comedy, also called Rick Bronson’s House of Comedy, and in turn Rick Bronson is also called Phoenix’s Rick Bronson, is the hottest new comedy club in the Valley of the Sun. Employing a Vegas-style aesthetic, the House of Comedy is where you can see live that hilarious stand-up comedian you saw last night on Fallon or Kimmel or Colbert or Conan.
Jet City Improv
Jet City Improv bills itself as “A Higher Plane of Comedy.” Get it? “Higher” because marijuana is illegal in Washington State! Not only are their tag line writers hysterical but so is their improvisation. At this comedy venue, positioned in the city’s University District, you won’t find stand-ups. It’s 100% improv.
Halloween show at Jet City Improv in Seattle, Washington. Photo courtesy Missy Meyer.
Joke Joint Comedy Showcase
The Joke Joint Comedy Showcase has been issuing laughs for more than three decades. The coolest aspect of the Joke Joint is their guarantee. If you receive bad service, don’t enjoy the performer, or the content of the performance, you can get a free pass for a different date or your money back.
The Jokerz Comedy Club
Jokerz Comedy Club brings to Milwaukee the best in stand-up comedy and they do so 52 weeks a year. They book the comics you’ve seen on HBO, Showtime, and Comedy Central. When attendees aren’t laughing they’re raving about the venue’s atmosphere and drinks.
Just The Funny
The critically acclaimed Just The Funny is “Miami’s home for improv and sketch comedy.” Founded in 1999, Just The Funny (the troupe) has performed at numerous venues including a Holiday Inn. Their current address is 3119 Coral Way. They reside in a 100-seat venue with stadium seating. Besides improv the troupe performs sketches, musical comedy, and parodies.
St. Petersburg, Florida
Kava Komedy produces shows at both the Kula Kafe (every Thursday) and the Red Tiki (every month). Neither show has a cover charge. The Kula Kafe show stars a professional emcee, three uproarious openers, and a national headliner. The Red Tiki show is similar but with only one opener.
The Last Laugh Comedy Theater
Des Moines, Iowa
The Last Laugh Comedy Theater is Des Moines’ best improv comedy club. Granted, it’s Des Moines only improv comedy club but even if it wasn’t it’s still a great institution. Besides improv, the Last Laugh hosts stand-ups and sketch comedy acts. They also teach classes. The Last Laugh is open Wednesday through Saturday and they put on shows for people of all ages.
Laughing Buddha Comedy
New York City
Laughing Buddha Comedy is a venue for established and new comics. The new acts come from the club’s stand-up school. We have, and will, mention a lot of clubs that have a school component, but perhaps the best “comedy school” on our list is Jeff Lawrence’s Laughing Buddha Comedy. Supplies for the first day of school include a notebook, a number two pencil, and a rubber chicken.
Laughing Skull Lounge
Possessing the best name on our list, the Laughing Skull Lounge is a cozy comedy club erected in midtown Atlanta. The venue can accommodate 74 and there’s not a bad seat in the house. They like to think of themselves as a progressive comedy club. The analogy they use is other comedy clubs play Top 40 while the Laughing Skull plays jazz. Don’t worry, that doesn’t mean a comedian will wildly riff on a theme for 20 minutes with their back to the audience.
Laughs Unlimited is one of the oldest comedy venues in the country, but even more exciting than that they once hosted a set from Yakov Smirnoff! Located in Old Sacramento, Unlimited’s stage features a corner marquee over a set of double doors. It looks like something Saturday Night Live would have used in the early 1980s.
Liquid Laughs is approaching its tenth year. Billed as Boise’s greatest night spot, at Liquid Laughs you can enjoy comedy Wednesday through Sunday. Then afterwards you can shake your groove thing as Liquid breaks out the stereo and pumps out the jam. While there, make sure you check out their patio. It’s awesome.
New York City
Situated a few blocks below Madison Square Garden, the Magnet Theater is one of the best places in Gotham to enjoy improv. When they’re not presenting improv, they’re presenting sketch comedy, storytelling, or a character showcase. Want to learn how to improv? The Magnet offers classes too.
The Magnet Theater in New York City. Photo courtesy of bettyx1138
M.i. Westside Comedy Theater
Santa Monica, California
Only a comedy club would open their doors on April 1st. The M.i. Westside Comedy Theater did exactly that in 2009. Their bar opened in 2011 (never a minimum). The “M.i” stands for Mission IMPROVable, an improv troupe that formed in 1998 in Chicago. The Westside books both stand-up acts and improv troupes. Mondays are always free.
The N Crowd
Founded in 2005, the short form improv group known as The N Crowd has performed more than 500 shows. The troupe produces about 80 minutes of unscripted comedy a week. You’ll want to keep coming back because no two shows are ever alike. The N Crowd performs at The Actors Center.
Nashville Improv Company
In case you didn’t know, the Nashville Improv Company is located in Nashville. To be precise, shows are held at the Bongo Java After Hours Theatre on Belmont. Even if they only performed once a year for thirty seconds they’d still make our list. Why? They appeared on an episode of Comedy Central's Drunk History!
The Nerdist Showroom at Meltdown Comics
Los Angeles, California
As the name suggests, The Nerdist Showroom is located in a comic book store. In fact, it’s located in the back of a comic book store. The Nerdist logo invites you in to one of the most interesting D.I.Y. venues in the city. Not only will you find stand-up comedy here but readings, art shows, writer’s discussions, and podcasts. What’s more fun than watching someone record a podcast? The answer is nothing.
Pickwick & Frolic
Pickwick & Frolic sound like a folk duo from the Harry Potter universe, but it’s actually the name of a restaurant and club located on East 4th Street in Cleveland. Pickwick & Frolic is home to Hilarities 4th Street Theater. Hilarities have been welcoming the biggest names in comedy to Cleveland for more than 30 years. Pickwick & Frolic is the place to go to catch comedy and have a great meal.
SAK Comedy Lab
We’ll tell you up front. Since the SAK Comedy Lab is an actual lab you must wear a white lab coat and drink cocktails from a beaker. Now that you’re prepared, you should also know that the SAK Comedy Lab is located in downtown Orlando and can accommodate 250. Wayne Brady started here. What he started we don’t know but whatever it was he started it at the SAK Comedy Lab. Shows are scheduled Monday through Saturday. By the way, we’re just kidding about the lab coats and beakers.
The Set Up: Stand Up Comedy
San Francisco, California
Named after a technical stand-up comedy term, The Set Up is an underground comedy show. The venue used to be the green room for a legendary jazz club. That’s why The Set Up boasts that “Miles Davis used to snort coke in this room.” That’s the comedy equivalent of “Washington slept here.” Shows are held on the second and fourth Saturdays.
It sounds like a place where the galaxy’s meanest fighters come to duke it out but it’s actually the name of Birmingham’s hottest comedy club. Over the years, Stardome has greeted such icons as Louis CK, Bill Bellamy, Jim Breuer, and Jeff Dunham. At Stardome, two comics enter only one may leave (no, that’s no true but it would be cool if it was).
Sully's Comedy Cellar
Sully’s Comedy Cellar is billed as the only place in town where you can enjoy dinner and show in one building. The restaurant is upstairs and the club is downstairs (thus the “cellar” part of its name). What’s really interesting about Sully’s is you can produce your own comedy show here. You get the gate and they will take the concessions. By the way, Parkville is about 25 minutes northeast of Baltimore.
The Super Serious Show
Los Angeles, California
Each month since July 2010, The Super Serious Show has tickled funny bones with stand-up, sketch, and musical comedy. They even screen funny videos. If… you know… they’re funny. You can catch this show, as well as the pre-show party (replete with a food truck), at The Virgil.
Josh Fadem performing at The Super Serious Show in Los Angeles. Photo courtesy of CleftClips.
Unscrewed Theater is a non-profit dedicated to improvisational theater. It’s also the permanent home for the “Not Burnt Out Just Unscrewed” Improv Comedy Troupe. They perform Friday and Saturday nights. Family friendly shows go down at 7:30pm and are just $5.
Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre
Los Angeles & New York City
This entry is really four entries in one. You’ll find Upright Citizens Brigade Theatres in Los Angeles and New York (each city has two). UCB’s Comedy Central show (1998-2000) was the vehicle that gave Matt Besser, Ian Roberts, and Matt Walsh their starts. Oh yeah, it also starred someone named Amy Poehler. Upright Citizens Brigade is the comedy theatre you’d want to create if you were funny, successful, and motivated.
Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Los Angeles. Photo courtesy of Tydence Davis.
We’re not quite sure why this inviting venue is called “Villain Theater,” but there does seem to be a lot of bald men petting white cats in the audience. The Villain Theater is the first of its kind in Miami that’s dedicated to Chicago-style long form improvisation. If you don’t know what any of those words mean just know that the Villain Theater hosts diabolically funny acts.
Whodunit Dinner Theater
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Whodunit Dinner Theater is more of a troupe then an actual club. Nonetheless, if you can’t book them to perform at your venue you can see them at Cattlemen's Steakhouse, Ted’s Escondido Event Center, and The Grandison Inn. Whodunit Dinner Theater formed in 1991. They’re hilarious and very interactive.
The Wilbur opened in 1916 and then “revitalized” in 2008 by renowned comedy club owner Bill Blumenreich. Famous funny people that have performed at The Wilbur include Joan Rivers, Jimmy Fallon, and Bill Maher. Before going to The Wilbur, make sure you check out their calendar. We say this because the venue also hosts music acts.
Wiseguys Comedy Clubs
There are two Wiseguys Comedy Clubs in Utah. One is located in downtown Salt Lake City and the other in downtown Odgen. Besides serving up laughs, they also serve up food, alcohol, and caffeinated beverages.
Other comediens who regularly tour across the country include Amy Schumer, Lewis Black and Gabriel Iglesias. And the big-names in comedy are touring too. For example see Jerry Seinfeld or Jeff Foxworthy live in concert on their tours as well. And you can also enjoy the comedy of two other greats, you can buy Daniel Tosh tickets, who are both out touring this year.