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.
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.
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.
What?s now known as The Comedy Store was once called Ciro's, a nightlife hotspot in the 1940s and '50s. Playing host to glitzy stars and shadowy mobsters, the club's history is shrouded in rumors of mafia assassinations and untimely deaths. However, the joint buried its seedy past by converting to a comedy club and helping launch the careers of such legends as Richard Pryor, Jim Carrey, George Carlin, David Letterman, and Dave Chappelle. The younger La Jolla location lets laugh-starved patrons bask in the same high-powered comedic atmosphere as its progenitor.
At Irvine Improv, comics lure laughs from deep within bellies while following in the footsteps of standup legends such as Ellen DeGeneres, Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, and Dave Chappelle, all of whom have graced the Improv club stages. The club's calendar schedules comedians as often as six nights a week, alternating between big-name headliners and up-and-coming performers. Audience members munch on a savory menu of appetizers, entrees, burgers, and deserts while sipping specialty cocktails to avoid eye contact with the giant rubber chicken sitting at the next table.
Comfy leather booths surround a bumping dance floor at M15 Concert Bar & Grill, making the club?s prerogative known from the get-go. If it wasn?t clear, though, a rich menu of classic grill fare such as rib-eye steaks and shrimp scampi shows off the kitchen?s devotion to food, whereas a weekly lineup of musical and comedy acts demonstrate the venue?s commitment to entertainment. Tribute acts regularly wind back the clock onstage, whether yowling like Axl Rose or sporting the invisible reptilian crown of Jim Morrison. Actual stars of yesteryear have been known to make appearances as well, including Tommy Tutone and Bow Wow Wow. M15 Concert Bar & Grill?s dance parties might be themed around the music of decades past or be soundtracked by DJs spinning dub step, hip-hop, and electronica?whatever it takes to get guests shaking their hips into the night.