Best comedy clubs in Los Angeles
Dynasty Typewriter’s revitalization of the the Hayworth Theatre couldn’t have come at a better time: The 200-seat performance space absorbed many of the top-notch shows and talent that frequented the shuttered NerdMelt and the Steve Allen Theater. Now, it’s simply the alt comedy space to hit up in L.A., bringing a steady mix of up-and-comers and shockingly huge stars. Adam Sandler and Hannah Gadsby have mounted residencies here, Dan Harmon hosts his Harmontown podcast on Monday nights and Moses Storm occasionally brings along a Team Coco showcase.
Of all the old-school stand-up rooms, the Comedy Store is the only one that’s managed to keep its lineups consistently fresh and funny while staying true to its seedy Sunset Strip roots (it dates back to 1972, when it took over a space that was once the notorious club Ciro’s). Three separate stages host a monstrous array of stand-ups more or less every night of the week, and it counts Marc Maron, Natasha Leggero, Joe Rogan and Joey Diaz among its regulars. The uproarious Roast Battle on Tuesday nights is always a winner, and its long showcases are known for headline-worthy drop-ins (just maybe cash out your two-drink minimum tab before the doldrums of the last hour of the show).
This intimate 1940s-era theater is one of the best place to see A-list comedians and storytellers. When comics like Sarah Silverman, Tig Notaro or Patton Oswalt aren’t doing stand-up, you might see live podcast tapings by Paul F. Tompkins or Paul Scheer, or long-form improv from Thomas Middleditch and Ben Schwartz. Some nights, the comics turn the stage over to (or share it with!) singer-songwriter performances. The ticketing system can be confusing for first-timers: Your advance purchase buys you an unassigned seat; if you want to be in the front row, you’ll need to check in at the club hours in advance to claim your spot.
L.A.’s original UCB location offers three or four shows per night across a variety of disciplines: There’s stand-up, improv, sketch and off-kilter comedy. Many shows at UCB Franklin sell out weeks in advance and fans wait in long lines just to get in the door; chances are, you’re going to see at least one or two current or future sitcom stars in a show here. There’s no bar, but you can BYO from the nearby Gelson’s market. Highlights include Harold Nights, Tuesday’s one-two punch of Put Your Hands Together with Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher and Doug Loves Movies, as well as UCB cofounders Matt Walsh, Matt Besser and Ian Roberts in the flagship improv show ASSSSCAT ($14 on Saturdays, but free on Sundays at the nearby UCB Sunset, which offers a more formal auditorium and classrooms for its improv school).
The flagship of the Improv chain is one of the most legendary clubs in Los Angeles, maybe the country. 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 sitting at the bar and the main room acts are never a let-down. Come early as seats do fill up fast. Next door, at the Lab, catch some of the finest up-and-coming talent in the industry. The shows, which require a two-drink minimum, are an eclectic mix of experimental and independently-produced, often boasting appearances by well-known and respected comedians.
This Sunset Strip staple is where Dave Chappelle and Dane Cook once had a competition to see who could perform the longest. It’s also where an audience member captured Michael Richards’ racist rant on video. In a nutshell, the Laugh Factory is where to go if you want to see comedy celebrities, for better or worse. The round, glowing orange sign has become an iconic image of L.A. comedy. You’ll need to spring for VIP tickets to guarantee a seat.
The long lines outside this bar aren’t just for the farm-to-bar cocktails slung in this vintage-style drinks den. Those crowds are often waiting to get into comedy nights like the long-running Hot Tub with Kurt and Kristen, hosted by Kurt Braunohler and Kristen Schaal (who bring plenty of their funny friends out each Monday), as well as variety shows like Mixtape and the Super Serious Show.
The holy hall of improvisational and character-based sketch comedy operates a popular theater alongside its extensive program of improv classes. Will Ferrell, Kristen Wiig, Lisa Kudrow and innumerable Saturday Night Live cast members have all shot to stardom from here.
Some of the most legendary names in stand-up come to this hallowed yet funky beach club miles from the Sunset Strip. Jay Leno performs here regularly, and Jerry Seinfeld often shows up when he’s in town. So basically, you get an A-list lineup without having to deal with Hollywood’s chaotic scene. Up-and-coming comics sometimes play the smaller-scale Live at the Lounge series. There is a two drink minimum and dinner on offer, as well.
Watching comedy at the Ha Ha Cafe Club in North Hollywood is like sitting back and relaxing in your own living room. It's one of the most comfortable rooms in town. Stop by to see fresh faces trying out new 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.
This Pasadena establishment has been a mainstay in the comedy scene since 1960. Surreptitiously located near a dumpster in an alley off of a one-way street, the spot has welcomed everyone from George Carlin to George Lopez over the years. A two-drink minimum is enforced, plus dinner is now on offer; if you eat before the show you’ll get saved preferred seats in the intimate theater.
You can stop in at about any time of night, any day of the week and see comics at all levels at this Burbank club. Parking is simple and free in a complex right next door. There are typically multiple shows going on in the different rooms and the waitstaff is friendly and efficient as they bring drinks and a full food menu. Flappers is spacious, and the 1920s ambience brings its own special vibe conducive to watching comedy.