Founded in 1999, Just The Funny Theater hosts a rotating roster of improv and sketch teams, and also opens its stage to standup comedians. The theater’s comedic cast members have numerous credits from local theater productions. Just The Funny also offers classes in the improvisational arts and sketch writing, during which instructors dispense the comedic skills they’ve learned from their own training with such groups as The Second City, Upright Citizens Brigade, and The Groundlings.
Miami Takeover unites South Beach's comedians, parties, and clubs into a single, multiday itinerary. But the guest list includes folks from across the country. The destination party experiences include the whole package: all-access passes to the festivities, air fare, hotel accommodations, meals, and even drinks. And local residents can get in on the fun, too, as they also offer tickets sans travel packages. Residents and transplants alike will have the opportunity to mingle at the Meet and Greet, which kicks off the festival.
This year's four-day extravaganza includes a comedy show at the Miami Convention Center—hosted by funny man Eddie Bryant—the Sexy on the Beach Day Party, and an all-night Shorts and Sandals event at Nikki Beach. The weekend culminates in the Cirque du Wylie, a five-hour dance party at Mansion Night Club featuring tunes by VYBE, Sugar Bear, and Dee Jay Casper, the world's only ghost DJ.
Back in 1950, when it was still known as the Miami Beach Municipal Auditorium, Bob Hope, Jack Benny, and Frank Sinatra could be seen in the audience acting like average Joes while enjoying song-and-dance shows and boxing bouts. Throughout the following decades, the entertainment mecca has remained a magnet for famous entertainers. In 1964, when the city of Miami asked famed funnyman and honeymooner Jackie Gleason to move his television variety show from New York to Miami Beach, he relocated in a bang-zoom, declaring “Miami Beach audiences are the greatest in the world,” then muttering under his breath, “and New York audiences smell like Art Carney’s hat.” Rechristened as The Jackie Gleason Theater of the Performing Arts in 1987, the theater hosted the best in Broadway shows, dance and classical-music performances, and concerts throughout the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s. In 2007, the venue underwent a multimillion-dollar face- and body-lift, adding even more glitz to the sleek columned entrance and the spacious multichandeliered auditorium. Now merged with California’s famed Fillmore chain, the theater has inherited a rich rock ‘n’ roll history to add to its already lofty annals.
The area’s newest comedy club, Bonkerz facilitates human laughter with a changing lineup of jokesters whose hijinks have appeared on Comedy Central, CBS, and HBO. Cackle at the self-deprecating humor and collection of medieval whoopee cushions of Dave Williamson—Bonkerz’s featured comedian, who has earned high ranks in national comedy competitions and opened for renowned funnymen such as Gilbert Gottfried, Jimmy Fallon, and Christopher Titus. Other performers include former marine biologist Forrest Shaw, master of sarcasm Pedro Lima, and Erik Myers, known for his machine-gun-like delivery. During the performance, patrons can transform belly grumbles into belly laughs with award-winning Cuban-Thai fusion cooking, or use their drinks to see who can do the fastest spit-take (food and drink are not included in this Groupon).
Florida Comedy Club releases trapped guffaws with weekly shows featuring veteran comics and newbie-friendly open mics. Upcoming laughmeisters include Tom Segura, a veteran of late-night TV, Comedy Central, and a slew of international comedy festivals who chucks chuckles on October 27 to benefit breast-cancer research. After each show, the club invites performers of all stripes to regale audiences with standup, music, and poetry. The Playwright Irish Pub ensconces guests in Celtic elegance, with drink specials and a full menu to restore energy burned while riotously laughing or performing between-set medicine-ball tosses.
The French Quarter, the signature restaurant of the Mardi Gras Casino, features an upscale menu brimming with sandwiches, steaks, and seafood. Sandwiches such as the portobello burger, marinated and grilled with roasted red peppers, silence stomachs begging for breaded bliss ($7.95), and fans of beef and silent t's sink their incisors into 8-ounce filet mignon ($23). Pan-seared mahi mahi covered in fresh mango salsa ($13.95) swims into the bellies of seafoodies not already noshing on an 8-ounce sirloins accompanied by jumbo shrimp ($20.94). Live dog races and panoramic views of Fort Lauderdale also entertain diners from the comfort of their tables or the discomfort of their mohair unitards.