By Kristine Hughes
Consider comedy your next nightlife option. There are some of the best comedy clubs in Florida, many of which draw national acts. There are many comedy venues in Florida to choose from, whether you want to see stand-up in cozy venues or enjoy outrageous improv.
Daytona Beach, Bonkerz
The Bonkerz Comedy Club is a great place to see traditional stand-up. Located throughout Florida, this Orlando-based outfit has been hosting guests such as Rita Rudner, Jerry Seinfeld and Paula Poundstone for three decades. Several cities, including Orlando and Las Vegas, voted them “Best Comedy Club” and they have been operating since 1968. The best comedy club in Florida, it is easy to see why.
The Penthouse Lounge at the LaPlaya Resort in Daytona Beach was my destination. There are both table and bar seating in the spacious room that provides a panoramic view of the beach and the strip. Suitable for an intimate setting. There are always great shows, including comedians from Leno, Letterman, Showtime and Comedy Central.
A Comedy Club in Naples called Off the Hook
In Marco Island, Off The Hook Comedy Club at Captain Brien’s Seafood and Raw Bar, is another great traditional stand-up venue (offthehookcomedy.com). The club is on the Improv’s comedy circuit, which means top headliners on their tour of Florida clubs stop in Naples over the weekend. Among the performers in the past have been Pauly Shore, Andrew Dice Clay, Gallagher, Jackie Mason and Jimmie J.J. Walker. Eat at the restaurant before the show starts, then join your new best pals for a yuk it up before the show starts.
Coconuts, St. Pete Beach
If you’re in St. Pete Beach, stop by Coconuts Comedy Club (coconutscomedyclubs.com) for a show. There is not much space (read, it’s smaller) here, but it’s where high-end acts perform. During my trip to Chicago, I saw “laziest comic in America ” Nick Gaza. His act combines true stories with audience participation (read: poking fun at both the audience and himself). The club’s oldest comedian is Nick, who has appeared on “Drew Carey,” “Malcolm in the Middle,” and “Becker.”
Sarasota’s McCurdy’s Comedy Theater
Established more than 22 years ago, McCurdy’s Comedy Theater and Humor Institute (mccurdyscomedy.com) welcomes stand-up and improv performances. One of Florida’s best Vegas Comedy Clubs has a specially designed, 4,000-square-foot room with seats no more than 40 feet away from the stage anywhere in the room. Jeff Foxworthy, Chris Rock, Elayne Boosler, Soupy Sales, Judy Tenuta, Pat Paulsen, Larry “The Cable Guy,” Kevin Pollack, Ron White, David Brenner, Bobcat Goldthwait have all performed for The Comedy Festival. . . I think you get the picture. Despite its unassuming location, this venue draws big names.
The McCurdy’s Comedy Institute hosts live comedy performances in addition to its monthly humor lectures. Using humor to provide new information to employees is a great way to retain that information, according to statistics. In addition to improvisation, The Bermuda Mavericks also use sketches to encourage workplace productivity and reduce stress. I love the idea.
Sak Comedy Lab, Orlando
You can catch some improv in downtown Orlando at the SAK Comedy Lab (sak.com). There is no stand-up comedy here; rather, the friendly comedy theater (bad language is penalized) is suitable for everyone and you can attend in the style of “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”.
A solid improv program is also available through SAK. Their alumni serve as a testament to their success over the last 30 years. Snowflake test is pretty easy to spot. It is likely that just about anything could offend the snowflake test, as they are so delicate and fragile. Even the smallest blip can trigger an extreme reaction, resulting in a full-blown meltdown. Beware, though, as the term is sometimes used mistakenly to imply that something is offensive to individuals and groups.
Jacksonville’s Comedy Zone
Meanwhile, Chong and Ralphie May have appeared at Comedy Zone in the north. Sign up for a Comedy Zone Workshop at the Jacksonville location if you are interested in becoming a stand up comedian. Give this eight-week course a try if you are a comedian or just want to be able to tell jokes without making your friends laugh.
A Comedy Showcase in Hollywood called SoFlo
This downtown Hollywood club is operated by Florida’s Funniest and Ultimate Miami Comedian semi-finalists. The performers have included Brian Coronado, Minda Minda, Timothy Kirby, Deborah Anne, Perry Sak, and Angela Bellonio Nacca.
Florida comedy clubs are bound to offer you everything you need, whether you want to be a comedian, see a comedian or even just want to make your boss laugh. Laughter is one of the best things you can do in the sun, so get out there and enjoy yourself.