As they grip the microphone and pace before the red curtain, The Comedy Palace's standups execute quips, rants, and anecdotes they've honed on such outlets as Comedy Central and late-night television. Viewers can munch on finger foods, burgers, rib-eye steak, Atlantic salmon and pages from a full menu of cuisine while watching a national headliner's set.
The bottle service and decadent cuisine attract their own legions of fans, but U-31 Bar is perhaps best known for its dance floor. That's where DJs and bands catalyze all-night parties practically every single night of the week. From Rad Karaoke Tuesdays, to live sets from the likes of The Disco Villains and Audrey Napoleon, U-31's agenda book is almost always full. This affords party lovers ample opportunities to meet, mingle, show off their new club duds, and acclimate the horses they ride everywhere to the presence of strobe lights. While nocturnal revelry is U-31's specialty, many visit for the grub, such as burgers, steak fajita nachos, and deep-fried pizza. Yes, deep-fried pizza?the slice, already topped with bacon and extra-sharp Monterey, is battered and fried to order.
At Mad House Comedy Club, audiences sip on cocktails and feast on pub grub such as house-smoked pulled-pork sandwiches and grilled cheeses stuffed with crab meat, all while nationally touring comedians split their sides with calculated punch lines. Throughout the dining room and performance area, pictures of beloved comedians inspire comics to rise to the hilarious heights of Bill Cosby, Rodney Dangerfield, and Ingmar Bergman and his angst-riddled dummy, Skippy.
Actor, comedian, and humanitarian Chris Tucker steps off the big screen and onto the massive stage of the San Diego Civic Theatre, racking up belly laughs with his raucous, adults-only standup routine. A former Def Comedy Jam all-star, Chris boasts impeccable comic timing, unpredictable delivery, and a caffeinated chipmunk voice, all of which have worked to shape a career loaded with inertial success. The performer is famous for his kung-fu verbosity in the Rush Hour franchise and his pivotal role as Smokey in Friday, both of which helped him become an A-list celebrity. Returning to his live-performance roots, Chris unloads a cannon of material, slaying audiences with lightning-fast quips, high-pitched observations, and tips on surviving brunch with Jackie Chan.
Over the course of one intensely laugh-filled week, 40 comics vie for the chance to perform across the country. The skilled performers arrive from all over North America, bringing their sharpest, most surprising, and banana peel-filled material to the stage. As the field is whittled down—nine comedians perform on Friday, six compete at 7:45 on Saturday, and the top three duke it out later that evening at 10:30—the Regional Grand Prize draws ever closer. The winner receives an all-expenses paid trip to the Las Vegas finals, where the victorious comic will receive a year-long performance contract to appear at clubs nationwide.
Although the epicenter of downtown's Gaslamp Quarter buzzes with bars and restaurants, the comedy club nestled among it all may be the biggest draw. That’s because The American Comedy Co. consistently books nationally renowned comedians and television personalities such as the Sklar Brothers, Sarah Colonna, and Christopher Titus. Yet to keep from being too exclusive, the independent establishment also welcomes fledgling comics to its stage for open mic nights, where they can practice their timing, develop their stage presence, and lift famous people’s fingerprints from the microphone stand.