Laugh Tract: A Wayans brother, Mr. Funches' Neighborhood and more...

Marlon Wayans, Ron Funches and Tone Bell head the list of stand-up comedy talents this week.

What's in a name?

When it comes to comedy, it depends. A name can be a calling card, almost a seal of quality that guarantees a lively crowd and high expectations.

Or, it can be a faint recollection, like someone you think you know but can't quite place. That and a couple of credits can get a comedian the ear of an audience, but it's up to them to deliver at that point.

Some comedians aren't known at all. You've never heard of them, they aren't famous and they don't have any credits worth mentioning. But you know what? They can still be funny. That['s the thing about stand-up comedy. You can have a great time and enjoy a show but not really know much about the person on stage until you get there. Like a good film without any A-list actors, it's still a good film.

This week we have a little bit of everything (or everyone) performing this wekeend. Whether you're in search of a popular name, or just a fun time, there's a show for you somewhere.

Here are this week's highlights:

Marlon Wayans. You can be forgiven if you didn't immediately know which Wayans has an upcoming show at Tampa Theatre. Few families have developed so many writers, producers and comedians. Actually, we can't think of any who have more. And quite a few of them have the kind of fan base to support a theater performance.

Just know that Marlon, who will be in Tampa on Saturday night, regularly teams up with brother Shawn on television ("The Wyans Bros.") and silly movies ("White Chicks," "Little Man"). Those films were never going to get any Oscar buzz, but they delivered the kind of low-brow camp that garnered plenty of laughs and built a loyal fan base. Very loyal, in fact: "White Chicks 2" is currently in development.

He's also been out in front of the parody movie craze, lending his producing, writing and acting talents to the first two films in the "Scary Move" series, the "A Haunted House" series and this year's "50 Shades of Black."

Oh, yeah. He also does stand-up comedy. It gives him a chance to take center stage in a different way, sharing his thoughts and off-the-cuff observations in front of a live audience. With fans out in full force, he'll deliver the kind of theatrical, animated performance befitting his famous name.

$42.50-$50. Saturday, 8 p.m. Tampa Theatre, 711 N. Franklin St., Tampa. 813-274-8286 or


Ron Funches. Funches' delivery is probably most reminiscent of Mr. Rogers. That sounds weird, but let us explain. Rogers wasn't a large African-American, an experienced comedian or a clever wordsmith. But he had a slow, pleasant cadence that had a soothing tone while keeping the viewer engaged. That's how Funches talks. But instead of teaching children how to be good neighbors, he's sharing his observations and personality traits in a funny way. And he'll do it during a run of busy shows in Ybor City.

Here's Funches on "Conan."

$22-$25. Thursday, 8 p.m.; Friday, 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.; Saturday, 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. Tampa Improv, 1600 E. Eighth Ave., Tampa. 813-864-4000.


Tone Bell. Bell has a casual-but-direct style, like the friend you can count on to tell you the truth. he doesn't pull punches, either. The difference is, while your trusted friend can be annoying at times, Bell's sharp comedy has you laughing as you acknowledge the bizarre logic of his premises.

Here's a little preview from a previous visit to Side Splitters.

$10-$16.50. Thursday, 8:30 p.m.; Friday, 8 p.m. and 10:15 p.m.; Saturday, 8 p.m. and 10:15 p.m.; and Sunday, 7 p.m. Side Splitters, 12938 N. Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa. 813-960-1197.


Comedy Night on the Rooftop. Cigar City Comedy's annual show is pretty much self-explanatory. There's comedy, and it's on a rooftop. What more do you need to know?

Well, you should know that bringing a chair, food and drinks would be a smart move. And you should know that the lineup includes a number of funny comedians with plenty of stage experience around the country. Finally, you should know that the whole thing is free. That last part is pretty important if you like to laugh but don't have the budget for an expensive night out. So grab some snacks and chairs and bring your friends. Funny things don't normally happen on the roof of a parking lot, but this will prove to be a worthy exception.

Free. Thursday, 8 p.m. Visconti Luxury Apartments at International Plaza, 2021 N.Lemans Blvd., Tampa.


Chris Heist. Heist spins dark, raw premises into dark, raw comedy. Sometimes it's political, sometimes it's conspiratorial, and sometimes it's just observations. If you like slightly-twisted comedy, this could be the show for you. Oh, and it's free, too.

Free. Sunday, 8:30 p.m. Pegasus Lounge, 10008 N. 30th St., Tampa. 813-971-1679.

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