The Laugh Tract — who's bringing the funny

A famous Russian (sort of), a Mad TV vet, the guy from Workaholics and more ...

  • Party time! Bert Kresicher has an early show at The Improv Friday.


While you'll have plenty of opportunities to get your laughs in, you need to get your fill by Saturday night. There's a sporting event on Sunday that tends to dominate the country's attention, and comedy clubs aren't even trying to compete. So if you don't care for football, stand-up won't be much help. Sorry.

Fortunately, that still leaves quite a few comedy shows this week. Here are your best bets:

Theaters and Special Events

Yakov Smirnoff at The Lakeland Center. You might know that Smirnoff was big in the 1980s with his Russian accent and "What a country!" catchphrase. But you might not know that he still performs regularly and has his own theater in Missouri where he's made audiences laugh for more than two decades. A successful 30-year career from a burst of fame before many comedy fans were born? What a country, indeed. Showtime is Thursday at 7:30 p.m. $33-$61. 701 W. Lime St., Lakeland. Info: 863-834-8101 or TheLakelandCenter.com.

TruTV's Impractical Jokers See Leilani Polk's feature for details. Fri., Jan. 30, 7:30 & 10 p.m. at Tampa Theatre, 711 N. Franklin St.  $49.50. tampatheatre.org

Comedy Clubs

Aries Spears at Tampa Improv. The "MADtv" alum has a casual stage presence but a no-nonsense rapport with the audience. Expect unfiltered, adult conversations about family, race and relationships.
Showtimes are Wednesday at 8 p.m., Thursday at 8 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. $25. 1600 E. Eighth Ave., Tampa. Info: ImprovTampa.com or 813-864-4000.

Bert Kresicher at Tampa Improv. Comedy at noon? Well, it's Bert Kreischer: Famous partier, skilled storyteller and popular comedian. If anyone can turn lunchtime comedy into an event worth seeing, it's him. Showtime is Friday at 12 p.m. $20. 1600 E. Eighth Ave., Tampa. Info: ImprovTampa.com or 813-864-4000.

Erik Griffin at Side Splitters. You might know Griffin from "Workaholics," but Griffin is an accomplished comedian. His calm demeanor and weird topics make for a fun mix on stage.  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. $10 $16.50. 12938 N. Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa. Info: SideSplittersComedy.com or 813-960-1197.

Travis Howze at Snappers Grill & Comedy Club. Howze has been a Marine, a police officer and a fire fighter. Those don't sound like jobs for a comedian, so he found his calling on stage with good energy and sharp timing. Showtimes are 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.

Darryl Lenox at Coconuts Comedy Club (at MJ's). Don't bother focusing on Lenox's sight disability. He'll cover it himself in a funny way, but it's his creative storytelling and wit that keeps audiences laughing. 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.

Peter Hefty at 2 Palms Bar & Bistro. The show is really Hefty, a ventriloquist, and his various cast of characters. His most famous persona, Justin, is sure to make an appearance. If you like comedy with puppets, this is the one for you this weekend.
Showtime is Friday at 8:30 p.m. $10. 2950 Gulf To Bay Blvd., Clearwater. Info: TampaBayComedy.com or 727-741-8014.

Traci Kanaan at 2 Palms Bar & Bistro. Kanaan is known as the "Princess of Parodies," and her musical talents (combined with her slightly-warped but very creative comedy) will be on display Saturday night. Expect unusual renditions of some of your favorite songs. Showtime is Saturday at 8:30 p.m. $10. 2950 Gulf To Bay Blvd., Clearwater. Info: TampaBayComedy.com or 727-741-8014.

One-nighters and Independent Shows

Mike Rivera at R Beach. Rivera is a longtime teacher and a longtime stand-up comedian. Those career paths clash on stage, with the experienced comic tearing through a fast-paced set and providing plenty of adult-oriented "teachable moments."
Showtime is Saturday at 8:30 p.m. $10. 4045 Shoal Line Blvd., Hernando Beach. Info: 352-592-5556.

Cigar City Comedy at Crowbar. Three local favorites set up shop in Ybor City for an evening of comedy. J.B. Ball is the most recent winner of the Florida's Funniest Comedian contest, Matt Fernandez is known for scathing tweets that have been read on national television, and John Jacobs is a veteran of multiple MTV reality programs. Expect plenty of adult comedy by local stage veterans. Showtime is Thursday at 8 p.m. $5. 1812 N. 17th St., Tampa. Info: 813-241-8600 or CrowbarLive.com.

G. David Howard at Sporty's On The Beach. 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. Showtime is Friday and Saturday at 8:30 p.m. $15. 17093 Gulf Blvd., North Redington Beach. Info: 727-596-6725.


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