The Laugh Tract — who's bringing the funny

Five comedy stars highlight a stellar week for stand-up comedy in Tampa Bay.

  • Lisa Lampanelli is at Ruth Eckerd Hall this Saturday.

Like your comedy with a little edge? This week we have the "Queen of Mean" and a "Pitbull" performing in the area. You'll need some thick skin at those shows.

Of course, there are other solid options, including some household names in town for one night only. So however you get your laughs, there's something for you this weekend. There's a lot to choose from, so here are your best bets:

Theaters and Special Events

Louie Anderson at The Capitol Theatre. Anderson's been a stand-up staple for decades, in addition to hosting game shows, having his own animated series and making other television appearances. His comedy often involves family and draws from his personal experiences, turning even challenges into funny premises. Showtime is Thursday at 7:30 p.m. 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater. Info: or 727-791-7400.

Lisa Lampanelli at Ruth Eckerd Hall. Lampanelli's known as the "Queen of Mean" for her acidic barbs on various celebrity roasts. Her stage show isn't much nicer, with plenty of witty jabs for everyone she mentions and no room for political correctness. Showtime is Saturday at 8 p.m. 1111 McMullen Booth Road, Clearwater. Info: or 727-791-7400.

Ron White at The Straz. A glass of scotch, a cigar, and a down-home, no-nonsense attitude. Who else could it be but Ron White? The "Blue Collar Comedy" alum is in town for two shows, with plenty of his trademark stories to entertain capacity crowds. Showtimes are Saturday at 7p.m. and 9:30 p.m. 1010 N. MacInnes Place in Tampa. Info: or 813-229-7827.

Comedy Clubs

Florida's Funniest Comedian semi-finals at Tampa Improv. The next round of this annual competition takes place at The Improv. All participants made it through the first round last month, so they'll bring their best material as they vie for a spot in the finals. Showtime is Wednesday at 8 p.m. 1600 E. Eighth Ave., Tampa. Info: or 813-864-4000.

Harland Williams at Tampa Improv. Williams has played some weird characters in movies, and his on-stage persona is also unusual. He has a down-home likeability, but his comedy is anything but simple. There should be plenty of material that might be considered absurd, layered, thought-provoking or all of the above. Showtimes are Thursday at 8 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. and Sunday at 7 p.m. 1600 E. Eighth Ave., Tampa. Info: or 813-864-4000.

Bobby Slayton at Side Splitters. The "Pitbull of Comedy" has 30 years of experience under his belt, but they haven't softened him or diverted him from his energetic, unapologetic material. Expect more of the same (to the delight of his fans) all weekend long.  Showtimes are Thursday at 8:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m. and 10:15 p.m., and Saturday at 6 p.m., 8 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. 12938 N. Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa. Info: or 813-960-1197.

AJ Finney at Side Splitters. Finney is a storyteller, with a confident wit and creative energy. He takes the headlining spot in the final show of the weekend. Showtime is 7 p.m. 12938 N. Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa. Info: or 813-960-1197.

Tracy Smith at Snappers Grill & Comedy Club. Smith is clearly comfortable in her own skin, sharing life experiences with the kind of easy-going banter you'd find at a local watering hole. She's also confident in her delivery, which enhances her witty observations. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. 36657 U.S. Highway 19 N., Palm Harbor. Info: or 727-938-2027.

Ryan Singer at Coconuts Comedy Club (at MJ's). Singer sometimes looks a little disheveled, but his comedy is well-groomed and razor-sharp. His energetic style provides solid delivery for his thoughtful premises.  Showtime is Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. 5501 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach. Info: or 727-360-5653.

Darryl Lenox at Coconuts Comedy Club (at MJ's). Lenox is visually-impaired, but he's not about to let that stop his comedic rise. If you had any notions of pity for the clever comedian, leave them at home. He puts that to rest early on, replacing it with solid jokes, laughter and creative observations. Showtimes are Thursday-Saturday at 9:30 p.m. 5501 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach. Info: or 727-360-5653.

Larry Lee Lewis at 2 Palms Bar & Bistro. Larry Lee can play like Jerry Lee, but "The Killer" isn't a comedian like Larry is. Music-themed comedy (or maybe some comedy-themed music?) should be on tap in Clearwater. Showtime is Saturday at 8:30 p.m. 2950 Gulf To Bay Blvd., Clearwater. Info: or 727-741-8014.

One-nighters and Independent Shows

25 To Life at Firehouse Cultural Center. This showcase features local comedians with at least 25 years in the business. Al Romas and Alan Schubowsky are touring headliners who will come together for this special show. Expect plenty of A-material from comedy vets who have mastered their timing and delivery over the decades.
Showtime is Saturday at 7:30 p.m. 101 1st Ave. NE, Ruskin. Info: or 813-645-7651.

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