Comedy shows in LA: The city's best comedy clubs and improv spots

From iconic Sunset Strip comedy shops to hole-in-the-wall improv spots, here are 10 great places to see comedy shows in LA.

Photo courtesy Liezl Estipona
Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre
With all the city's open-mic bars and improv theaters, it may seem like comedy shows in Los Angeles are plentiful. But we all know the pain of an awkward improv group or a stand-up performing for crickets. Avoid obligatory applause and courtesy laughs with Time Out's list of the best comedy shows in LA. We take no responsibility for future pants-wetting.

Hollywood Improv

Critics' pick

The flagship Improv on Melrose is one of the most legendary clubs in Los Angeles, as well as all of America. It’s not just a club. It's a scene. On any given night you can walk in to see one of your favorite comics from TV sitting at the bar, and the main room acts are never a letdown. Comedians such as Dane Cook, Louis CK, and Steve Byrne have all been known to make appearances. You know when you go to see a comic perform at the Improv, they're bringing their A-game and delivering the goods. But come early as seats fill up fast. Next door, at the Lab, you are privy to some of the finest up-and-coming talent in the industry. The shows are an eclectic mix of experimental and independently produced, often boasting appearances by well known and respected comedians. Did we mention that it's dirt cheap? Shows there are typically around the $5 price range.

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Hollywood

Laugh Factory

Critics' pick

This Sunset Strip staple is where Dave Chappelle and Dane Cook once had a competition to see who could perform the longest. It's where an audience member captured Michael Richards and his racist rant on video. It’s the home of Kevin Nealon's weekly talk show. In a nutshell, the Laugh Factory is where to go if you want to see comedy celebrities. Its round glowing orange sign is an iconic image synonymous with LA comedy. The Laugh Factory itself, at this point, is almost a celebrity, as is its owner, Jamie Masada. You'll need to spring for VIP tickets to guarantee a seat.

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West Hollywood

Nerdmelt Theater

Critics' pick

Since opening in the back of Meltdown Comics in 2011, NerdMelt Theater—the lovechild of Meltdown, the Nerdist's Chris Hardwick and Nerdist Industries—has become one of the best spots in LA to catch live comedy. The Wednesday night Meltdown shows, hosted by Jonah Ray and Kumail Nanjiani, are a must for anyone looking for belly-laugh-funny from both up-and-coming and established comedians. Louis C.K., Aziz Ansari and Robin Williams are among those who've turned up for the weekly gig. This is also our pick for the best place to attend a live podcast recording. Although stand-up is performed here, NerdMelt is well suited for nontraditional comedy. Shows such as Harmontown, Risk!, and Alison Rosen Is Your New Best Friend have recorded at NerdMelt, and the theater is continuously adding new podcasts. So go get your nerd on.

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West Hollywood

Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre (UCB)

Critics' pick

UCB offers three or four shows per night across a variety of disciplines: There's stand up, improv, sketch and off-kilter comedy. Many shows sell out weeks in advance, and fans wait in long lines just to get in the door. Highlights include the flagship ASSSSCAT improv show ($10 on Saturdays but free on Sundays), Death By Roo Roo, Diamond Lion and Harold Night. As well as the consistently star-studded Comedy Bang Bang (Tuesdays, 8pm), where you might find Sarah Silverman, Aziz Ansari and Patton Oswalt on the same bill. There's no bar, but you can BYO from the nearby Gelson's market.

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Franklin Village

The Parlor

Critics' pick

The energy at the Parlor's weekly comedy show is electric. Booker and producer Jay Davis, of Tourgasm fame, knows how to put together a solid lineup, often getting his famous buddies to come down for a show. But he also gives chances to funny unknowns on the same stage. If you stop by this upscale bar on a Monday, grab a cocktail, sit back and enjoy the show.

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West Hollywood

Comedy Store

Critics' pick

The site that once held the notorious club Ciro morphed into the Comedy Store in 1972. It's a must visit just for the history alone. Three separate stages host a monstrous array of stand-ups more or less every night of the week. (Check the website for precise times.) Sometimes the acts reek of comedic desperation, but that smell is never sweeter than in the place where it belongs. It's the heart of Hollywood on the Sunset Strip, and where many comedians launched their career. The show rooms are haunted by the ghosts of Sam Kinison, Richard Pryor and Andy Kaufman. Marc Maron was the door man there. 'Nuff said.

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West Hollywood

Ha Ha Cafe Comedy Club

Critics' pick

Watching comedy at the Ha Ha Cafe Club in North Hollywood (ehem, NoHo), is like sitting back and relaxing in your own living room. It's one of the most comfortable rooms in town, and a place where you can see beginners trying out fresh material. There’s a no-pressure vibe. And while they do drop by on the odd occasion, don’t expect to see any celebrities here. But for a night of relaxation and laughs, check this club out.

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Jon Lovitz Comedy Club

Critics' pick

Located at Universal CityWalk, amid Starbucks, Johnny Rockets and the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., is the comedy gem Jon Lovitz Comedy Club. It's a hotbed for podcasting, but also a good place to catch a classic standup show. The stage is huge, giving comics a nice amount of space to explore while doing their routines. Despite its size, the club feels intimate because the seats are so close to the performers. Audience members can't help but feel up close and personal with the acts. If you feel like being tourist for a night, check out the Lovitz—and always remember to wear a Hawaiian shirt.

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Universal City

Hollywood Studio Bar & Grill

Critics' pick

The Hollywood Studio Bar & Grill isn't a comedy club per se, but it’s home to one of LA's biggest independently produced shows, What's Up Tiger Lily? We love this place to see comedy because the spacious room provides a laid-back environment. The show is produced by two very funny comics Maria Bamford and Melinda Hill who know what makes for a good space for telling jokes. Factor in a nice menu selection and you've got a great place to watch some of comedy's seasoned veterans trying out their new material.

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Hollywood

Flappers Comedy Club

Critics' pick

In this converted Macaroni Grill in beautiful downtown Burbank, you can stop in at about any time of night, any day of the week (save for Mondays), and see comics at all levels: From celebrities (Greg Proops, Brad Garett, Harland Williams), to features and beginners. Unlike most clubs, parking is simple and free, and in a complex right next door. There are multiple shows going on in the different rooms, and the waitstaff is friendly and efficient. Because it’s a former corporate chain restaurant, Flappers is spacious, and the 1920s ambience brings its own special vibe conducive to watching comedy. Dinner & Show packages start at 6 pm. The menu features classic Americana cuisine: from salmon and rib eye to burgers and wood-fired pizzas. Shows Tuesday-Sunday between 6pm-midnight. Happy Hour auditions on Weds & Thurs from 5-7pm.

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Burbank

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