After a few weeks without a major comedy show, Tampa Bay's back on the stand-up comedy map.
That's not to say it hasn't been a funny summer. But there have been fewer theater shows recently, with most comedy being found in clubs, bars and restaurants.
But not anymore. Nationally-known performers are headed to big venues, with others on the way. The comedy clubs and smaller locations still have their shows as well. So August will be a good time to laugh.
Here are your best bets this week:
Chris Hardwick at The Straz Center (Ferguson Hall). Hardwick trades in current pop culture events, with a determined demeanor that proves he's a true fanboy of whatever topic he's discussing. His wit and authenticity has made him popular on television, and it carries over to material designed for comedy stages as well. Showtime is Saturday at 8 p.m. $37.50. 1010 N. MacInnes Place in Tampa. Info: strazcenter.org or 813-229-7827.
Sinbad at The Capitol Theatre. Sinbad's been doing comedy for nearly 35 years. Through television roles, movies and stand-up, he keeps chugging along. You don't get to do stand-up that long without versatility and wide-ranging appeal, and his relatable observations have kept audiences coming back for decades. Showtime is Saturday at 8 p.m. $35-$132. 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater. Info: atthecap.com or 727-791-7400.
Ken Miller at Tampa Improv. Miller, a previous winner of the annual Florida's Funniest Comedian contest, makes his way from Orlando to headline a couple of shows in Tampa. His family stories and no-nonsense opinions are accentuated by a calm demeanor and likable personality. Showtimes are Wednesday at 8 p.m. and Thursday at 8 p.m. $5-$12. 1600 E. Eighth Ave., Tampa (Ybor City). Info: improvtampa.com or 813-864-4000.
Dave Coulier at Tampa Improv. Coulier, best known as Uncle Joey from "Full House," delivers what his fans want in a stand-up set. That means plenty of voices weaved into his observations, a comfortable stage presence and more material than Joey Gladstone could ever write. Showtimes are Friday at 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. $20. 1600 E. Eighth Ave., Tampa (Ybor City). Info: improvtampa.com or 813-864-4000.
Bill Zapf at Tampa Improv. You'll have to excuse Zapf if he doesn't stand up during his stand-up. He's in a wheelchair, and he uses it to maximum comedic effect. The local performer is supported by other bay area talents such as Sloan and Lazlow. Showtime is Sunday at 7 p.m. $7. 1600 E. Eighth Ave., Tampa (Ybor City). Info: improvtampa.com or 813-864-4000.
An Evening with Kevin Smith at Tampa Improv. Smith isn't a stand-up comedian, but he's still hilarious. His Q&A sessions are candid and provide the kind of behind-the-scenes info that most celebrities never share. He's also a great storyteller. You knew that from Clerks and his other movies, but it's also apparent when it's just him sharing true tales with a microphone. Showtime is Wednesday, Aug. 12 at 8 p.m. $30. 1600 E. Eighth Ave., Tampa (Ybor City). Info: improvtampa.com or 813-864-4000.
Quinton Greene at Side Splitters. Greene (also known simply as "Q") is a local comedian with a lot of positive energy. Whether he's talking about being a father, relationships or other observations, he does it with a little animation and strong punchlines. Showtime is Saturday at 6 p.m. $10. 12938 N. Dale Mabry, Tampa. Info: sidesplitterscomedy.com or 813-960-1197.
Pete Correale at Side Splitters. Correale's fresh spin on everyday topics has made him a late-night favorite on the talk show circuit, and he has a new special coming out toward the end of the year. His style is bold and direct without being obnoxious, like a frustrated friend who's saying what we're all thinking— except he does it with the creativity and timing of a talented stand-up comedian. Showtimes are Thursday at 8:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m. and 10:15 p.m., Saturday at 8 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. and Sunday at 7 p.m. $10-$16.50. 12938 N. Dale Mabry, Tampa. Info: sidesplitterscomedy.com or 813-960-1197.
Tampa Bay Underground Comedy Fest at Snappers Grill & Comedy Club. Snappers hosts a festival of local and traveling talent, with 20 performers taking the stage over three nights. Regular headlining talent like Steve Arik, Chris Gorges and Carole Montgomery are just a few of the comedians sharing their wares. Each show will have 10 performers or more, so if you like variety, this is the weekend for you. Showtimes are Thursday at 7:30 p.m. and Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. $12. 36657 U.S. 19 N., Palm Harbor. Info: snappersgrill.com or 727-938-2027.
Bull at 2 Palms Comedy Club. Bull is a local favorite and family man. He looks kind of mean, but he's actually one of the cleaner, more positive comedians you'll find on stage. There's plenty of self-deprecating wit, too. He's funny; he's just not dirty. Showtime is Saturday at 8:30 p.m. $10. 2950 Gulf to Bay Blvd., Clearwater. Info: 2palmstampabay.com or 727-400-6920.
Costaki Economopoulos at Coconuts Comedy Clubs. Okay, maybe you won't pronounce his name right. It doesn't matter. You can still enjoy his comedy, which often includes political observations and family anecdotes. He's not the most animated performer, though; his energy goes into sharp writing, which comes out in the focused material.
Showtimes are Wednesday through Saturday at 9:30 p.m. $18-$20. 5501 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach. Info: coconutscomedyclubs.com or 727-360-5653.
Disgruntled Clown at Joke Factory. A clown in black and white makeup in your face for 45 minutes? It sounds like the stuff of nightmares, but laughter is the goal with this unique show. And, for the record, he truly is a disgruntled clown. So don't expect family-friendly comedy, sunshine premises or rainbow punchlines. Showtime is Thursday at 7:30 p.m. $5-$7. 5015 U.S. 19, New Port Richey. Info: nprjokefactory.com or 727-807-6974.
One-nighters and Independent Shows
Cigar City Comedy at Wicked 'Wiches. This weekly free show (donations accepted) includes a few shorter sets followed by a featured closer, usually delivering adult material. This week's closer is Chris Gorges. Showtime is Thursday at 8:30 p.m. Free (donation). 223 S. Howard Ave., Tampa. Info: cigarcitycomedy.com.
Kava Komedy at Bula Cafe. 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 Stick Martin. Showtime is Thursday at 9 p.m. Free. 2500 5th Ave N., St. Petersburg. Info: 727-498-8913.