The Laugh Tract: Kathy Griffin comes to town... and more funny shit

Kathy Griffin heads the list of brash comedians who will fill local theaters and clubs this week.

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Get ready for a lot of bad jokes this week.

Not from comedy shows, of course. Those events have professionals performing original, creative material. You'll hear a lot of great jokes at those shows.

The bad jokes will come on April Fool's Day, when everybody you know (including some websites) will try and trick you with phony stories. And even though people know exactly when April 1 arrives, many will fall for it. And those who don't will try to pass it along hoping you fall for it.

Do your best to bypass the amateurs trying to make a fool of you. Catch a funny comedy show instead. Here are your best bets:

Theaters and Special Events

Kathy Griffin. Griffin's New Year's Eve snark has become an annual cable television staple. She enjoys shocking people, and her salty commentary would provide plenty of gasps in polite society. But her fans don't expect politeness. They want her unfiltered, brash observations, and that's exactly what they'll get on stage in Clearwater.

$52.25-$103.75. Sat., 8 p.m. Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 McMullen Booth Road, Clearwater. 727-791-7400.

Red Green. Green had a popular show in Canada and spent two decades on television there, so even if you don't know him, he's an established comedy presence. His I'm Not Old, I'm Ripe show is more silly and family-friendly than most comedy options, and he seems to have nailed the misguided handyman persona.

$54. Wed., 7 p.m. The Palladium, 253 5th Ave. N., St. Petersburg.  727-822-3590.

Ron Feingold. Feingold's jokes are enhanced with his musical talents and some inappropriate a capella moments. The experienced stage vet puts it all together for a comedy show that ends up being a bit different than the traditional stand-up fare.

$15-$25. Fri., 7:30 p.m. Firehouse Cultural Center, 101 1st Ave. N.E., Ruskin. 813-645-7651.

Godfather Comedy Show. The Godfather Show has famous singers, famous comedians and some music. And it all stems from one guy. Joe Beddia dons many hats (including the Don himself) and is a one-man experience designed to keep the audience laughing with several familiar voices and appearances in one comedy event.

$24.50. Fri., 8 p.m. Largo Cultural Center, 105 Central Park Dr., Largo. 727-587-6793.

Comedy Clubs

Comedy Workshop Graduation. After weeks of classes, newly-minted comedians take the stage for their graduation comedy show. Expect a series of performers who are eager to show off their new talent.

$5. Wed., 8 p.m. Tampa Improv, 1600 E. Eighth Ave., Tampa. 813-864-4000.

John Witherspoon. Witherspoon is well-known from the Friday movie series and his other no-nonsense, cranky-but-hilarious characters. On stage he's uncensored and unapologetic, with the stage presence that comes with more than a half-century of stage experience.

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

David Wingfield. Technically, it's David Wingfield "and friends," which usually means something of a showcase format. Wingfield, who was the warm-up comedian for the television show "Extreme Makeover" (did you even know it had a warm-up comedian?) serves as the evening's headliner.
Tampa Improv (1600 E. Eighth Ave., Tampa) Sunday at 7 p.m. 813-864-4000 or $7.

Nick DiPaolo. Odds are you've seen or heard DiPaolo somewhere — television shows, radio, comedy specials and probably a couple of roasts as well. In all of them he offers unapologetic opinions in a brash style that mixes common sense, a sense of humor and sharp wit that resonates with his large fan base.

$25. Thurs., 8:30 p.m.; Fri.-Sat, 8 p.m.; Fri., 10:15 p.m.; Sat., 10:30 p.m.; and Sun., 7 p.m. Side Splitters, 12938 N. Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa. 813-960-1197.

Devin Siebold. The early Saturday show is a fundraiser for the Greater Tampa Sertoma Club's Hear Deaf Kids Talk project. Siebold, an Orlando comedian, will share his wit and observations culled from his experiences as a teacher and new father.

$10. Sat., 6 p.m. Side Splitters, 12938 N. Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa. 813-960-1197.

Comedy Tournament Finals. From a field that began with 64 hopefuls (like March Madness, get it?), the final four comedians (OK, it's really five: Kyle Ruse, Tom Wise, Cam Bertrand, Steve Miller and Jeff Jones) will battle it out for the top spot and the prizes, which include cash, a festival entry and future gigs. Local comedian Matt Fernandez closes the show.

$10-$12. Sun., 7 p.m. Side Splitters, 12938 N. Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa. 813-960-1197.

Tampa Bay Underground Comedy Fest. This annual event features three nights of multiple headliners for each show. Talents like Valarie Storm, Bob Burr, Carole Montgomery and Steve Arik will share a stage, providing a hefty serving of established stand-up talent each evening, at the same price as a regular Snappers show.

$12. Thurs., 7:30 p.m. and 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.

Darryl Lenox. Lenox doesn't let his visual impairment stand in the way of his stand-up. Being nearly-blind is actually part of his material, and so is a positive outlook, a likable stage presence and plenty of creative storytelling and clever jokes.

$18-25. Wed.—Sat., 9:30 p.m.  Coconuts, 5501 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach. 727-360-5653.

Johnny Oz. Oz has an easygoing style and a lot of wit, sharing his perspectives on a variety of topics. His favorites include relationships and recreational smoking, and not necessarily in that order. Fortunately, you don't have to puff or pass to enjoy his comedic premises.

$10. Sat., 8:30 p.m. 2 Palms, 2950 Gulf-to-Bay Blvd., Clearwater. 727-400-6920.

One-nighters and Independent Shows

Kava Komedy. This regular show features local up-and-comers to warm up the crowd, and a more established closer to cap things off. This week it's John Jacobs.

Free. Thurs., 9 p.m. Bula Kafe, 2500 5th Ave. N., St. Petersburg. 727-498-8913.

Johnny B. Johnny B is a regular voice on 102.5 FM-The Bone's weekly programming, but he's been a stand-up staple in Tampa Bay for more than a decade. On the radio he has to abide by strict content restrictions, but on stage it's pretty much no-holds barred, so expect plenty of adult content and inappropriate (but hilarious) commentary.

$15. Sat., 9:30 p.m. Lonzalo's Pizzeria & Ristorante, 3104 Town Ave., New Port Richey. 727-494-7615.

G. David Howard. Normally you'd find Howard at Sporty's each weekend, but this Friday he headlines a show in Hudson. Wherever he performs, he always brings decades  of material and an established stage presence. He also mixes his regular material with plenty of crowd work to provide the kind of set only a true stand-up veteran can provide.

$22. Fri., 8 p.m. Colorado, 9302 Denton Ave., Hudson. 727-863-7539

$20. Sat., 9:35 p.m. Sporty's On The Beach, 17093 Gulf Blvd., North Redington Beach. 727-596-6725.

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