The Laugh Tract — Who's Bringing the Funny

It's not Oddball, but it's still impressive.

Last week's Oddball tour was a full slate of headliners on one show. This week the names are spread out across the Tampa Bay area, but the stars shine just as bright. Monty Python and Mel Brooks fans will rejoice at a rare opportunity to see their heroes on stage, and the other venue headliners aren't slouches, either. There are a couple of free shows you can catch as well. Just pick what's best for your sense of humor (and budget) and get ready to laugh.

Here's the lineup: 


Theaters and Special Events

Mel Brooks at Straz Center (Carol Morsani Hall). Director, writer, actor and comedic legend Mel Brooks will be on-hand for a special creening of his classic film, "Blazing Saddles." Afterward there will be a discussion and audience Q&A with the man himself. The movie is funny enough, but the nostalgia and good times with Brooks makes it a special event for any comedy fan. Showtime is Wednesday, Oct. 14, at 7:30 p.m. $59-$99. 1010 N. MacInnes Place in Tampa. Info: strazcenter.org or 813-229-7827. 

John Cleese and Eric Idle at Ruth Eckerd Hall. Yes, that John Cleese and Eric Idle. The Monty Python vets are in town for two shows, which will include sketches, improvisation and audience Q&A. We're not going to describe the performers or their style of comedy. If you don't already recognize their comedic brilliance and appreciate the classic material that still maintains a loyal fanbase, maybe you don't deserve to see these guys live. Go spend time with your dead parrot instead. Showtimes are Wednesday and Thursday, Oct. 14-15, at 7:30 p.m. $59.50-$99.50. 1111 McMullen Booth Road, Clearwater. Info: rutheckerdhall.com or 727-791-7400.

Lavell Crawford at The Capitol Theatre. Remember Saul's huge bodyguard in Breaking Bad? That was Crawford. Well, not really: He's nothing like the stoic Huell. On stage Crawford has an easygoing presence, quick wit and plenty of personal material. Showtime is Saturday at 8 p.m. $25-$50. 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater. Info: atthecap.com or 727-791-7400.


Comedy Clubs

Greg Fitzsimmons at Tampa Improv. Fitzsimmons is the rare comedian who's attained both commercial success and deep respect within the stand-up community. His material is cynical without being too negative, and clever without being too complicated. It's relatable, witty and funny. 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. $20. 1600 E. Eighth Ave., Tampa (Ybor City). Info: improvtampa.com or 813-864-4000.

Poetry and Punchlines at Tampa Improv. A mix of spoken word and funny jokes is on tap at the late Sunday show. Expect casual laughs mixed with some serious topics. Showtime is Sunday at 9:30 p.m. $15-$20. 1600 E. Eighth Ave., Tampa (Ybor City). Info: improvtampa.com or 813-864-4000.

Guys & Dolls at Tampa Improv. This show case of comedians involves a lot of New York memories, life observations and maybe a little adult content. Long Island Mary, Akeem Woods, Heather Shaw and Jeff Jones are scheduled to perform. Showtime is Wednesday, Oct. 14. $5. 1600 E. Eighth Ave., Tampa (Ybor City). Info: improvtampa.com or 813-864-4000.

Gilbert Gottfried at Side Splitters You know Gottfried's voice. You can't avoid it. Even when he's whispering, he's kind of yelling. But he also has an acidic wit that he uses for absurd premises and harsh jabs. Expect that kind of material this weekend. Showtimes are Thursday at 8:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m. and 10:15 p.m., and Saturday at 8 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. $23-$27. 12938 N. Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa. Info: sidesplitterscomedy.com or 813-960-1197.

Frankie Paul at Side Splitters. Paul looks and sounds like a stand-up comedian. That's a good thing, considering his chosen profession. But his material lives up to the part as well, with plenty of premises, an animated personality and enough stories to keep audiences entertained. Sunday's show is a fundraiser for Selah Freedom, a non-profit that assists victims of human trafficking. Showtimes are Saturday at 6 p.m. and Sunday at 7 p.m. $10-$12. 12938 N. Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa. Info: sidesplitterscomedy.com or 813-960-1197.

Tom Dustin at Snappers Grill & Comedy Club. Dustin almost looks like your likeable neighbor who's working his way through college, except he's majoring in inappropriate behavior and witty punch lines. Maybe a minor in adult language, too. 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. Highway 19 N., Palm Harbor. Info: snappersgrill.com or 727-938-2027.

Mark James at Coconuts Comedy Club (at MJ's). Ventriloquism offers a different kind of comedy show. It's all about the puppets and characters, with James serving as comedy ringmaster. Showtimes are Wednesday through Saturday at 9:30 p.m. $18-$25. 5501 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach. Info: coconutscomedyclubs.com or 727-360-5653.

Steve Netta at 2 Palms. Netta's quick wit is on display throughout his set, which is accented by his Italian heritage, quick speech and clever wordplay. One night only. Showtime is Saturday at 8:30 p.m. $10. 2950 Gulf To Bay Blvd., Clearwater. Info: 2palmstampabay.com or 727-400-6920.


One-nighters and Independent Shows

Broad Comedy at [email protected] While Mel Brooks hits the Straz and the Brits from Monty Python invade Ruth Eckerd Hall, a handful of local female writers will be sharing their twisted sense of humor in a benefit for CASA, co-organized by Wordier Than Thou and the Pinellas County chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW). Performers include Julie Garisto, Kat Lynes, Tiffany Razzano, Christina Crall-Reed, Lisa Lanser Rose, Robin Savage and Cathy Salustri.  Showtime is Wednesday, Oct. 14 at 7 p.m. $10-$12. 620 1st Ave. S., St. Petersburg. Info: 727-895-6620 or wordierthanthou.com.

Reformed Whores at Crowbar. Like dirty country comedy songs? Never heard a dirty country comedy song? Either way, check out the Reformed Whores (Marie Cecile Anderson and Katy Frame) and their setlist of gospel-sounding, folksy, twangy, raunchy comedy tunes. There's nothing else quite like it this weekend. Showtime is Sunday at 7 p.m. $8-$10. 1812 N. 17th St., Tampa. Info: 813-241-8600.

Mike Rivera at Niagara Tap (free show). ABC’s “The View” named him America’s Most Hilarious Teacher in their national contest. Now Rivera will perform in Largo with a fast-paced set full of adult-oriented teachable moments.
Showtime is Friday at 7 p.m. Free. 11950 Seminole Blvd. in Largo. Info: theniagaratap.com or 727-581-5331.

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 Steve MillerShowtime is Thursday at 8:30 p.m. Free (donation). 223 S. Howard Ave., Tampa. Info: cigarcitycomedy.com.


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