Laugh Tract: Comedy at Christmastime

'Tis the season for some funny.

'Tis the season for some funny.

Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha, Ha Ha Ha Ha.

OK, sorry. That was ridiculous. But when there have been Christmas trees in stores before Thanksgiving, and they pipe in holiday music for weeks on end, it kind of gets to you. This entire month is an all-out assault on your holiday nerves. Is it really the most wonderful time of the year with shopping crowds, endless errands, parties hosted by people you don't even like and multiple stops at family gatherings? Well, taking the time for some comedy will help keep you sane. If you don't laugh at something this month, you're liable to cry when the boss takes their turn at the karaoke machine and your cousin criticizes your home in between beer runs.

Fortunately, there are a number of fun shows coming up this month. So plan some breaks from the holiday rush and enjoy some actual cheer.

Here are your best bets for December:

Bridget Everett. Have you ever been to a party, and there's one lady who gets a little out of control? Dancing with abandon, telling unfiltered stories, sharing brutally-honest dialogue? She might not be a size-zero model, but she struts around with supreme confidence, commanding everyone's attention?

OK, now imagine that lady being obnoxious in a funny way. Imagine she's a carefully-crafted character that provides a vehicle to deliver a unique comedy experience. Instead of cringing, people are clapping. That's sort of what you get with Bridget Everett.

This is a cabaret-style show, with bawdy comedy, singing and impromptu moments. And it all revolves around Everett.

So you're prepared, here's a clip.

The Straz Center, Jaeb Theater, 1010 N. W.C. MacInnes Place, Tampa. Dec. 9, 7:30 p.m. $30-$35. 813-229-7827.

Here Comes the Funny Tour with Adam Sandler, David Spade, Rob Schneider and Nick Swardson. Saturday Night Live might not have survived the 90s without these guys. Sandler's guitar and arsenal of characters are still memorable, somebody in your office still probably mimics Schneider's "makin' copies" sketches and Spade gave everything a sarcastic edge that sometimes bit so hard it actually got him in trouble. Together, they wrote and starred in some of the program's best sketches that decade, and all launched notable film careers as well. All three of them will be performing on the Here Comes the Funny Tour, along with Nick Swardson. He's not a SNL alum, but fans of Reno 911! will recognize the flamboyant Terry in an instant. An accomplished comedian, he fits right in with this funny fraternity.

The cheaper seats are gone, but television fans will have plenty to laugh about at the area's biggest comedy show this month. And in case you live under a rock, here's a holiday song you might already know.

The Straz Center, Morsani Hall, 1010 N. W.C. MacInnes Place, TampaDec. 11, 7:30 p.m. $175-$353.50. 813-229-7827. 

Garrison Keillor. Keillor isn't really a stand-up comedian, per se. He's an essayist and radio personality, and his live show is a bit different than a regular stand-up act. By that we mean he's not a setup-punchline-tag guy. He's more of a humorist, with thoughtful, interesting stories.  But he does stand up and talk, and the audience laughs a lot. So who are we to judge with silly labels?

This is definitely more thoughtful humor, though. So if you like stool-humping gags, gratuitous cursing and bathroom-oriented comedy (nothing wrong with any of that), this isn't the show for you. Keillor's fans know what they're getting, and there will be plenty of them at Ruth Eckerd Hall on Dec. 12.

If you're not familiar with him, here's a bit of Keillor's storytelling.

Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 McMullen Booth Rd., ClearwaterDec. 12, 7 p.m. $40-$65.  727-791-7400. 

Bill Bellamy. Bellamy's successful jack-of-all-trades career (comedian, actor, producer) has kept him in the public eye for decades. Prime spots on MTV led to a movie career (including this month's The Bounce Back), which led to hosting Last Comic Standing and producing his own comedy competition show. But at the heart of all his work is the ability to be funny, and the live stage lets him display those talents without television censors or script limitations. Expect plenty of adult humor served up with a delivery that can be both casual and animated, depending on what the premise demands. The experienced comedy vet is in town for a run of special engagement (no passes) shows.

Here's a sample of his stand-up.

Tampa Improv, 1600 E. Eighth Ave., TampaDec. 16, 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.; Dec. 17, 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.; and Dec. 18, 7 p.m. $25. 813-864-4000.


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