Best Comedy Shows

The city is alive with humor. Here’s where to get the last laugh

Between quippy Twitter feeds, Funny or Die skits, and jokester-as-auteur podcasts, we’re awash in talented comics. Traditional two-drink-minimum clubs can’t keep up, which is why new humor hot spots have emerged at some unlikely venues—neighborhood bars, video stores, comic book shops. Rest assured, the laughs come easy. 

Best Coast
After seven years in New York, Kristen Schaal and Kurt Braunohler decamped to Los Angeles, bringing their exuberant Monday-night variety show with them. Hot Tub with Kurt and Kristen features local and out-of-town performers at the Virgil, a low-key Silver Lake bar. The two hosts—she played Kenneth’s fame-hungry girlfriend on 30 Rock; he’s contributed to This American Life—also roll out their own material. » 8 p.m. 4519 Santa Monica Blvd., Silver Lake, 323-660-4540.

In the Vanguard
The Hollywood outpost of Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre has become an alternative comedy juggernaut, presenting nearly 30 sketch, improv, and stand-up events a week. Put Your Hands Together on Tuesday nights is a winner. Cameron Esposito, one of the evening’s rotating emcees, is so good, she could hold the stage all night, but that would be a shame because there’s an impressive lineup of under-the-radar newbies. » 8 p.m. 5919 Franklin Ave., Hollywood, 323-908-8702.

Behind the Velvet Rope
In the scruffy 140-seat back room turned theater of Meltdown Comics, the atmosphere is more clubhouse than comedy club—and everyone’s invited. The schedule is jam-packed with all manner of shows and podcasts that appeal to the Comic-Con crowd. Every Wednesday at The Meltdown, Jonah Ray and Kumail Nanjiani seamlessly introduce big names—Marc Maron, Dana Gould, and Maria Bamford have all dropped in—while working the crowd. » 8:30 p.m. 7522 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, 323-851-7223.

Top Shelf
On the second and fourth Thursdays of the month, quirky and kinetic local comedian Josh Fadem hosts a free stand-up show at Cinefile Video. The indie movie haven pushes aside shelves of DVDs and sets up folding chairs for a laid-back evening with a communal vibe and an in-the-know cachet. » 9 p.m. 11280 Santa Monica Blvd., West L.A., 310-312-8836.

Off The Cuff
The venue that launched the careers of Phil Hartman, Lisa Kudrow, Will Forte, and Kristen Wiig is the perfect spot to catch Saturday Night Live’s next breakout star. On Friday and Saturday evenings you can watch the company’s polished performers mix it up during the Groundlings Main Company Show, which blends written sketches with audience-inspired improv. This is where a young Paul Reubens developed his most famous creation, the bow tie-wearing Pee-wee Herman. » Fri. at 8 p.m.; Sat. at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. 7307 Melrose Ave., Hollywood, 323-934-4747.

Not Ready for Prime Time
There might be magic tricks or jazz tunes, a makeshift time machine or a faux Borscht Belt tummler at Tomorrow!, which is put on by comedian Ron Lynch, a veteran of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! and The Sarah Silverman Program. Trepany House at the Steve Allen Theater is known for its oddball comedy and eclectic musical performances; this Saturday-night staple combines both. » Midnight. 4773 Hollywood Blvd., Los Feliz, 323-666-4268.

Dinner Theater
After more than two decades, local storyteller and funny lady Beth Lapides still knows how to deliver, lining up talented friends for her popular UnCabaret, which plays on Sunday nights at First & Hope, the snazzy downtown supper club. You’ll sit elbow to elbow with patrons while Karen Kilgariff sings one of her jokey pop songs (which are often better than real ones) or Andy Dick jumps onstage. » 8 p.m. 710 W. 1st St., downtown, 213-617-8555.