The Laugh Tract: Bay area comedy

Hey, hockey puck...

Do you think you'll still be working at 90 years old? Most people are counting the days until retirement, and hope to spend a few years relaxing and putting work behind them.

Don Rickles is not one of those people.

He's still out there, and he'll actually be here this week. We have a full slate of talented comedians, but it's rare to find someone with the longevity and impact Rickles had over the years. He created the blueprint for fast-paced roast insults, he has a knack for acidic comebacks, and he's regarded as one of the nicest people off stage.

He'll be in Clearwater on Wednesday, kicking off a strong week of stand-up. Here are your best bets through the weekend:

Theaters and Special Events

Don Rickles with Regis Philbin. Technically, "Mr. Warmth" doesn't turn 90 until May. But he's going on a celebratory tour with his friend, Philbin, and it stops in Clearwater on Wednesday. Clearly, Rickles isn't the type to slow down. There's also a new boxed set of his material on DVD, and he still makes occasional rounds on late-night talk shows. To be fair, this isn't actually a stand-up comedy show (he is turning 90). It's more of a retrospective, with video clips and stories, as well as a Q&A with Rickles and Philbin. But you can expect some of the acidic comeback and insults that made him a stand-up legend for more than a generation. Rickles is still Rickles, after all.
$50.25-$153.75 (latter includes a meet-and-great), Wed., 8 p.m. Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 McMullen Booth Rd., Clearwater. 727-791-7400.

Bill Engvall. Engvall, a Blue Collar Comedy alum, has plenty of signature material ("Here's Your Sign") and there should be a good amount of new observations to keep his sizeable fan base entertained as well. Over the decades, he's developed a polished and likable stage presence that goes well with his, well, blue collar material.
$50.50-$63.40. Sat., 8 p.m. Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 McMullen Booth Rd., Clearwater.  727-791-7400.

JB Smoove. Smoove has plenty of versatility in his comedy arsenal. He was a writer for "Saturday Night Live" and had a popular turn on "Curb Your Enthusiasm." On stage he doesn't mind getting a little silly to make his points, which often involve sharp premises taken to absurd exaggerations. And Smoove is the right comedian to present them, with plenty of energy and stand-up experience.
$39-$49. Sat., 8 p.m. The Mahaffey Theater, 400 1st St. S., St. Petersburg.  727-893-7832.

Comedy Clubs

Dean Edwards. The Saturday Night Live alum always has pop culture references handy, and isn't afraid to break out in a spot-on impressions when the situation calls for it. You'll recognize a lot of the people he mentions in his material, even when they're put in absurd scenarios. Expect to hear familiar voices saying and doing very unfamiliar (and funny) things.
$5-$20. Tampa Improv, 1600 E. Eighth Ave., Tampa. Wed.-Fri, 8 p.m.; Fri. 10:30 p.m.; Sat., 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. 813-864-4000.

Comic's Night Out. Locals Rickey Pryor, Bobby J, Marlon Maxwell and Jacoby Bruton get together for adult-oriented comedy at The Improv. They'll discuss race, relationships and other sensitive subjects with the kind of no-nonsense opinions only comedians can provide. One night only.
$15. Tampa Improv, 1600 E. Eighth Ave., Tampa. Sun., 8 p.m. 813-864-4000.

Drew Lynch at Side Splitters. Lynch is a comedian with a pronounced stutter. That's no joke, and neither is his runner-up performance on last year's America's Got Talent. Lynch pokes fun at his speech impediment (which was the result of an injury just a few years ago), and his positive energy impresses reality show judges and comedy club audiences across the country.
$20. Side Splitters, 12938 N. Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa. Thurs., 8:30 p.m.; Fri., 8 p.m. and 10:15 p.m.; Sat., 6 p.m., 8 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. 813-960-1197.

Doug Canney. Canney has a confident stage presence and isn't afraid to share his opinions on stage. Fortunately, those opinions on everyday life happen to be funny as well. Expect plenty of frank talk about sex, relationships and whatever else comes to mind in a fast-paced set.
$12. Thurs., 7:30 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Snappers Grill & Comedy Club, 36657 U.S. Highway 19 N., Palm Harbor. 727-938-2027.

Terry Gillespie
. "Mr. Rubberface" uses impressions and facial contortions to accentuate his punchlines, providing a visual component to his jokes that few comedians can match. With decades of experience, his funny face is used to full comedic effect.
$15-$25. Wed.-Thurs., 9:30 p.m. Coconuts, 5501 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach.  727-360-5653.

Frankie Paul. Paul's animated personality is the engine he uses to deliver his premises and punchlines. The longtime performer has good command of the stage and the comic timing you'd expect from an experienced stand-up vet.
$15-$25. Fri.-Sat., 9:30 p.m. Coconuts, 5501 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach. 727-360-5653.

Traci Kanaan. The "Princess of Parodies" twists popular songs to her own weird style. There's audience interaction, some naughty words and plenty of familiar tunes (performed in an unfamiliar way). Not to mention some strong stand-up as well.
$10. Sat., 8:30 p.m. 2 Palms, 2950 Gulf-to-Bay Blvd., Clearwater.  727-400-6920.

One-nighters and Independent Shows

Ron Feingold. Feingold offers a little bit of everything at his show: An impression or two, some singing and plenty of jokes all wrapped up in a funny set that keeps audiences on their toes. His original vocal talents will be on full display, going well beyond traditional stand-up comedy.
$15 (advance). Sat., 8:30 p.m. R Beach, 4045 Shoal Line Blvd., Hernando Beach. 352-592-5556. 

Fox and Hounds Comedy Night. This bi-weekly showcase features a series of short, adult-oriented sets followed by an established performer. This week it's John J. Murray closing things out. And hey, the whole thing's free.
Free. Thurs., 9 p.m. Fox and Hounds, 229 E. Brandon Blvd., Brandon. 813-438-8913.

Gutterballs Comedy Cabaret Show. This regular showcase inside The Alley features a number of comedians performing shorter sets, as well as a more-polished set in the middle and at the end. This time out, Nathan Hart and Michael Murillo (hey, that's me!) will be the highlighted performers.
$7. Friday at 8 p.m. Gutterballs (inside The Alley at Southshore), 10221 Big Bend Road, Riverview. 813-672-8353.

G. David Howard. Howard's weekly residence at Sporty's features the longtime comedian drawing from his decades of stage experience. He mixes his regular material with plenty of crowd work to provide the kind of set only a true stand-up veteran can provide.
$20. Fri.-Sat., 9:35 p.m. Sporty's On The Beach, 17093 Gulf Blvd., North Redington Beach. 727-596-6725 or

Scroll to read more Local Arts articles


Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.