How to find great comedy and improv in your city!
By Josh Hillinger, Moishe House Regional Director — Southwest
The comedy scene is in your city and you probably don’t even know it’s there. Trust me, I’m a comedy junkie. Between stand-up, improv, and sketch comedy, you could probably catch over 20 shows a week. And any one of these comedy shows would make a GREAT Moishe House Without Walls program. It doesn’t take too much digging to find something fun and funny to do on a random night of the week.
To illustrate my point, I’ve set out to find the funny in three cities I’ve never heard of but that have a MHWOW presence.
- Huntington Woods, MI
- Coconut Creek, FL
- Krivoy Rog, Ukraine
Let’s first take a look at the comedy genres that are out there.
Your town has stand-up comedy. It’s just a fact. You ever hear “everyone wants to be a comedian?” It’s true. But then there are people who take it seriously, and look for a place to practice their comedy every night of the week. You can find them at the open-mics, usually at a bar or coffee shop, or laundry mat if you live in San Francisco.
Beyond open-mics, there are road comics, comedians who take their act on the road to get more fans. Chances are they’re heading your way and playing at a small venue or theatre near you.
Finally, there are headliners, big name comics you’ve probably heard of like Amy Schumer or Louis CK. Sure these tickets will cost you more, but it’s polished material that will definitely be worth it.
Tips and Etiquette: Many stand up shows require a minimum purchase of beverages, but don’t talk to the comedians during their performance. If it’s bad, laugh at how bad it is but don’t say anything.
Improv comedy is the art of making people laugh with material and scenarios made up on the spot. Most improv shows are somewhat rooted in the practice of theatre sports, developed in the 1970s, and most schools and classes today are taught by former students of The Groundlings, Upright Citizens Brigade, Second City, or Improv Olympic.
The two types of improv shows you could see on any given night are long-form and short-form. Short-form is game-based, like Whose Line is it Anyway: 3–5 minute scenes based on rules and suggestions from the audience. Long-form improv is usually a medley of scenes that come together in a narrative or theme based again on an audience suggestion.
Tips and Etiquette: Improv comedians often ask you for suggestions to guide their scene. Do not make the following suggestions: jello, disneyland, doctor’s office, pineapple, bathroom, donald trump, or dildo. You never know what you’re going to get with an improv show, unless you make these suggestions, in which case you’ll get annoyed actors.
Sketch comedy is the performance of written scenes, hopefully tested, edited, and rehearsed. Think Saturday Night Live or The State.
Tips and Etiquette: Look up and watch every episode of The State.
There are plenty of other genres that undoubtedly fall under the comedy category: plays and musicals, burlesque, cabaret, vaudeville, puppetry, children’s theatre, clowning, fiasco and more.
START YOUR SEARCH
You might be asking yourself, “Self, how do I find these shows?” to which you should respond, “Wow self, that’s a really great question!”
search is the best first step — pick a genre, add your city, or just type “comedy near me” and open google maps.
In Huntington Woods, MI, I immediately found Mark Ridley’s Comedy Castle (stand-up), Go Comedy Improv Theater (improv), The Magic Bag (stand-up), and Tony Roney’s Comic Vibe (some guy). The Go Comedy Improv Theater looks like your standard improv venue, 2–3 shows a night, four nights a week, while the Comedy Castle is your local road comic venue.
And Krivoy Rog, Ukraine yielded no immediate results. I will dig deeper.
Another helpful tool for finding shows near you are
composite sites that collect info on as many venues they can find.
It’s here I found The Masonic Temple, The Fillmore, The Royal Oak Music Theatre, Detroit Opera House, Andiamo Celebrity Showroom, Fox Theatre, and the Ford Community and Performing Arts Center, in or near Huntington Woods, MI.
In and near Coconut Creek, FL, I found Improv at Center Stage Performing Arts, Cocktails and Comedy at ArtServe, Brew and Wit Comedy Show at Brew Urban Cafe, I-rish You Were Here Comedy Showcase at Kelly Brothers Irish Pub, Bat Shit Crazy at Sunshine Cathedral, and Danny the Jew at Grand Tavern.
And I found nothing in Krivoy Rog, Ukraine.
Next, I recommend
- meetup.com — where community organizers are already finding fun stuff for you to do. Type ‘comedy’ into the search bar within 25 miles of Huntington Woods, MI, you’ll find stand-up at the Redford, improv, more improv, and laughter yoga! Near Coconut Creek, our first open mic, a stoned drunk comedy tour, another open mic, improv, sketch, and Art Walk Comedy(?).
And I’m starting to worry about Krivoy Rog, Ukraine.
Did you know you could search events near you on
? The search bar is more than for finding friends. Click
in the lefthand menu of your facebook home page, and suddenly every public event is a MHWOW program waiting to happen!
Tips and Etiquette: Copy and paste the following, and post as your facebook status: Looking for a great comedy venue near me — any suggestions?
So grab some friends, and hang on to your butts, cause you just might be about to laugh your asses off.
And before we go, I have some very good news. It turns out Krivoy Rog can also be spelled Kryvyi Rih! And Kryvyi Rih is LIT with theatre and comedy! When visiting in or around Kryvyi Rih, be sure to check out Taras Shevchenko Theatre, Theatre Black Square, the MAMAKHOTHALA musical comedy show, plenty of options on the Kontramarka, Shadow Theatre with TEULIS, comedian Valery Zhidkov, or maybe just crash on this person’s couch cause she says she likes comedy.
I’m not promising everything out there is hilarious, or even entertaining, but gosh darn, it’s important to support live theatre and who couldn’t use a laugh. Ha-ha-happy hunting, and guffawlow your heart.