The Laugh Tract — Who's Bringing the Funny


A police officer, a pit bull and an Amish guy all come to Tampa. It's the start of a weird joke, right?

Actually, it's part of this week's stand-up comedy lineup. The police officer is actually Billy Gardell, who plays one on

"Mike & Molly." The pit bull is the "Pit Bull of Comedy," Bobby Slayton. And the Amish guy is Raymond the Amish Comic.

They're just a few of the performers on stage this weekend. It's a diverse group, so there should be something for everyone.

Check out the candidates and find yourself some laughs:

Theaters and Special Events

Billy Gardell at The Mahaffey Theater. Gardell has well-deserved notoriety for his successful run in "Mike & Molly," but let's not limit the comedian to that role. Mike Biggs is a funny character, but not the most clever guy on television. As a stand-up, Gardell is very clever, with a confident stage presence and material that's both witty and accessible.
On both the small screen and the stage, Gardell brings a lot to the table and uses sharp comic timing to make the comedy work. If you think you're getting his character on stage for 90 minutes, you're not expecting enough. It's clear Gardell puts in the time to make his stand-up set relatable and enjoyable. Showtime is Friday at 8 p.m. $32.50-$62.50. 400 1st St. S., St. Petersburg. Info: themahaffey.com or 727-893-7832.

Comedy Clubs

Bobby Slayton at Tampa Improv. Slayton is known as the "Pit Bull of Comedy," but that might be unfair to pit bulls. Slayton's probably more tenacious and sometimes more aggressive, especially when he sinks his teeth into a good rant. But his timing is always on and each topic gets the full attention of a comedian known for his razor-sharp wit.
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. $17-$20. 1600 E. Eighth Ave., Tampa. Info: improvtampa.com or 813-864-4000.

Wendy Liebman at Side Splitters. Liebman was on "America's Got Talent" last year, but she's no newcomer. She's been telling jokes on stage for decades. While the material and life perspective has changed, her style hasn't. The jokes are still clever, with tags and misdirection that keep audiences off-balance, thinking and laughing. Showtimes are Thursday at 8:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. and Saturday at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. $10-$16.50. 12938 N. Dale Mabry, Tampa. Info: sidesplitterscomedy.com or 813-960-1197.

Maurice Jovan at Side Splitters. You can hear Jovan almost every night at his radio gig hosting programs on 102.5 FM The Bone. But he'll have more freedom to tell his stories and anecdotes on a comedy stage, where his observations won't be limited to portioned segments or FCC limitations. Showtime is Saturday at 10:15 p.m. $14-$16.50. 12938 N. Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa. Info: sidesplitterscomedy.com or 813-960-1197.

Crumpled Napkin at Side Splitters. The crew at Cigar City Comedy put on this special show, which includes traditional stand-up and audience participation. After a few sets, groups of performers come on stage to riff on topics provided by the audience. The best move on to the final round, where someone wins an ugly golden cat. But before then the audience gets a lot of improvised comedy from some of the most talented local performers. Showtime is Sunday at 7 p.m. $10-$12. 12938 N. Dale Mabry, Tampa. Info: sidesplitterscomedy.com or 813-960-1197.

Raymond the Amish Comic at Joke Factory. An Amish comic? Well, kinda. It's a character, and provides some unique perspectives and adult laughs. And let's be honest: This is probably your only chance to hear Amish-themed comedy this year. Showtime is Thursday at 7:30 p.m. $5-$7. 5015 U.S. 19, New Port Richey. Info: nprjokefactory.com or 727-807-6974.

George Carlin Tribute Show at 2 Palms. Carlin is dead, of course. So perhaps Joe Beddia's the next best thing. This tribute show gives you the look and feel of the comic legend in a live setting.  Showtime is Saturday at 7 p.m. $10. 2950 Gulf To Bay Blvd., Clearwater. Info: tampabaycomedy.com or 727-741-8014.

Ben Hamilton at 2 Palms. Hamilton's show often includes some music along with his comedy, which covers random observations and personal experiences.  Showtime is Saturday at 9 p.m. $10. 2950 Gulf To Bay Blvd., Clearwater. Info: tampabaycomedy.com or 727-741-8014.

One-nighters and Independent Shows

Lou Angelwolf at Finley's Irish Pub (free show). Angelwolf is a local performer with decades of experience and a casual stage demeanor. His material is clever and adult without being vulgar, and the comedian himself is more optimistic than offensive. Showtime is Saturday at 9 p.m. 13477 Belcher Road S., Largo. Info: 727-535-7858.

Cigar City Comedy at Wicked 'Wiches. This weekly show includes a few shorter sets followed by a featured closer, usually delivering adult material. This week's closer is Matt FernandezShowtime is Thursday at 8:30 p.m. Free (donations accepted). 223 S. Howard Ave., Tampa. Info: cigarcitycomedy.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. By the way, there's a $5 coupon for this show on Howard's website under "special offers."  Showtime is Friday and Saturday at 9:05 p.m. $20. 17093 Gulf Blvd., North Redington Beach. Info: 727-596-6725 or gdavidhoward.com.


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