Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre
Several shows run nightly and some of them are free while the vast majority require a payment of $5, $8 or more (cash only). It’s recommended you make reservations well before the show as seats fill up quickly (it’s a 92-seat theater). You can try your luck with getting a seat the night of the show, but arrive early as standby seating is on a first-come, first-serve basis. Prepare yourself for a night of cheap, unforgettable fun.
The Groundlings, quite similar to the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, not only produces shows but also runs a comedy school with plenty of their alums making regular appearances on “Saturday Night Live.” In addition to special performances, the Groundlings usually has a handful of regular sketch shows that run from Wednesday through Sunday starting at 7:30 p.m., 8 p.m. or 10 p.m. Ticket prices range from $14 – $18 depending on which show you attend, but discounts are offered if you purchase your tickets in advance online. This place is a hit for its sketch and improv shows and intimate setting (read: small space).
Popular Show: “Cookin’ With GAS” is favorite improv act that has been running since 1992 and involves the Groundlings players incooperating audience suggestions. It runs Saturdays at 8 p.m. and costs $17.
Shows at the Improv Space run from Wednesday through Sunday with Thursday and Friday being the busiest nights with three to four features. Show prices range from $5 to $10. The Improv Space also occasionally hosts live music performances and open mic nights. Visitors can expect lasting laughs for a low price at this growing improv theater.
The Laugh Factory
With a name like the Laugh Factory one would expect nothing but the best in comedy, and the venue has shown in the last 30 years that it is exactly what it provides. Originally founded by Joe Masada, the Laugh Factory has been one of the places to go for the best in stand-up comedy. There are shows every night, including open mic and college nights where students with valid IDs get half-off the general admission price, which is $20. VIP tickets are also available for $30 and both forms of admission require a two-drink minimum. With the Laugh Factory, patrons definitely get their money’s worth and are sometimes treated to special, unannounced guests like Dave Chappelle or one of the Wayans brothers.
The Second City
This improv and sketch comedy company puts on shows almost everynight (Sundays excluded) with shows consisting of “short scenes, songs, and comedic improvisational sketches.” Also, they feed you — cocktails and food are available throughout the show. Admission for shows start at $10 and patrons can expect an intimate setting for every show.
The Ice House
The Ice House, around since the 1960s, has shows nearly every night with general admission starting at $10.00 for certain shows. Of course there is a two-drink minimum, with prices starting at $3.95 (for bottled water). It’s recommended patrons arrive about an hour before showtime even with a reservation, which are canceled 30 minutes before the show. The seating may be a little tight for some, but once the show starts that won’t matter too much.
iO West Theater
The improv comedy starts at 8 p.m. every night at iO West Theater (previously known as Improv Olympic West) and admission for shows is usually $5 or $10 and sometimes they are totally free of charge — and that’s just for the Main Stage. If your drinks are as important to you as getting good laughsk, iO West covers both pretty well.
The Jon Lovitz Comedy Club
This wouldn’t be the Jon Lovitz Comedy Club if Lovitz didn’t make an appearance, which the “Saturday Night Live” alum does most Wednesday nights ($20). The club doesn’t put on as many shows as other clubs, but other clubs don’t feature an act just for kids. Every Saturday through September 12, the whole family can come out (for $12 per head) to enjoy the 2 p.m. performing arts show (two item minimum required) called “Jokes 4 Kids.”
ComedySportz is for those looking for a good time without all the colorful F-bomb-laced language one might hear at other venues. Improv shows run daily with admission prices starting at $8 and incoperate audience interaction. As the company explains the concept of ComedySportz: two teams battle for laughs and points as they make up scenes, games and songs on the spot.
The J. Spot Comedy Club
The J. Spot is owned by funnyman J. Anthony Brown, who makes an appearance at the club every Wednesday night. The J. Spot Comedy Club hosts a heavy rotation of black comedians — many of whom patrons might recognize from BET’s popular “Comic View,” which Brown hosted for two seasons. Shows run Wednesday through Saturday at 8:30 p.m. and admission is usually free for those who arrive 30 minutes before showtime ($10 – $15 for those who arrive later). If you plan to arrive by 8 p.m., it’s recommended you put your name on the guest list.