- Mo'Nique and other comedians will keep the Sun Dome crowd entertained this Saturday night.
This week we have a number of off-night comedy shows to go along with the regular weekend performances. In some cases it's a showcase of local talent. In others it's a chance to see a touring comedians who's in town for a night. There's also magic and puppets, and a traveling groups of headliners, too. If you can't find a show that interests you this weekend, you're not really trying. Here are your best bets for the first weekend in October.
Theaters and larger venues
Shaquille O' Neal's All Star Comedy Jam at the USF Sun Dome. Shaq is lending his name to this comedy bill, but that's about it. Don't expect to see the basketball legend at the event. Not to worry, though: There are plenty of established performers on stage, including Mo'Nique, Gary Owen, Tommy Davidson and Michael Blackson. It's a night full of well-known headliners, which makes up for a lack of legendary NBA centers. Showtime is Saturday at 8 p.m. 4202 E. Fowler Ave., Tampa. Info: 813-974-3111 or SunDomeArena.com.
Kevin James at Ruth Eckerd Hall. Whether he's Doug Heffernan or Paul Blart to you, James is well-known for breakout television and movie roles. But he's also known for his stand-up, and he'll have plenty of fans from all three camps coming to see him perform on Saturday.
Showtime is Saturday at 8 p.m. 1111 McMullen Booth Road, Clearwater. Info: rutheckerdhall.com or (727) 791-7400.
Rickey Smiley at Tampa Improv. Smiley's popular radio program features plenty of distinct characters and prank phone calls. Expect similar treatment on stage, with Smiley using his arsenal of voices to entertain the crowds. These are special engagement shows, so expect a strong turnout of fans. Showtimes are Friday at 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. 1600 E. Eighth Ave., Tampa. Info: improvtampa.com or 813-864-4000.
Conversation Comedy at Tampa Improv. Conversation Comedy is a new radio program/website/comedy resource, and their Tampa showcase features some talented locals. Tony Gaud, Sloan and Patrick Melton get support from the likes of Aniria, John J, Law Smith, Michael Murillo and Joe Riga. Showtime is Wednesday at 8 p.m.
Comedy From the Road Less Traveled at Tampa Improv. This is a showcase of quirky comedy styles that deviate from the normal premises you'd normally hear on stage. Performers include Matt Fernandez, Rob Prus, Kyle Ruse and Goldiee. Showtime is Thursday at 8 p.m.
The Magic Estate at Tampa Improv. Anton James and Jeff Kaylor provide an evening of comedy magic. Both are experienced performers, so expect plenty of showmanship to go along with the sleight of hand. Showtime is Sunday at 7 p.m.
Carl Labove at Side Splitters. One of the "Outlaws of Comedy," Labove was closely-linked with Sam Kinison as both performers came up in the comedy world. Decades later, he still offers his unique brand of brash storytelling to eager audiences around the country. Showtimes are Thursday at 8:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m. and 10:15 p.m., Saturday at 6 p.m., 8 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. and Sunday at 7 p.m. 12938 N. Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa. Info: sidesplitterscomedy.com or 813-960-1197.
Steve Marshall at Snappers Grill & Comedy Club. Marshall doesn't mind using topical humor during his set. He'll riff on racism and other politically-incorrect premises, but in a clever and funny way. They'll still be politically-incorrect, though, which seems to be just fine with him. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. 36657 U.S. Highway 19 N., Palm Harbor. Info: snappersgrill.com or 727-938-2027.
Renee Bray at Coconuts Comedy Club (at MJ's). Bray has a down-home stage presence, but her comedy isn't simple. Her easygoing style is a platform for witty observations and punchlines that make you think a little. Showtimes are Thursday-Saturday at 9:30 p.m. 5501 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach. Info: coconutscomedyclubs.com or 727-360-5653.
Matt Davis at Coconuts Comedy Club (at MJ's). Davis looks a little uncomfortable on stage, but that's perfect for his brand of comedy. His complaints and aggravation seem more genuine, and his comedy is relatable to anyone who shares his grievances. Showtime is Wednesday at 9:30 p.m.
Mark James at 2 Palms Bar & Bistro. James doesn't work alone. He has a team of puppets who serve as his co-stars and comic foils on stage. If you enjoy comedy ventriloquism, this is the show for you this weekend. Showtime is Saturday at 8:30 p.m. 2950 Gulf to Bay Blvd., Clearwater. Info: tampabaycomedy.com or 727-741-8014.
Pat Duax at Beef O'Brady's (Land O' Lakes). Duax's storytelling comes with a few characters and some double entendres. He's an experienced vet who should bring his A game to a venue that's relatively-new to comedy. Showtime is Friday at 9 p.m. 7040 Land O' Lakes Blvd., Land O' Lakes. Info: tampabaycomedy.com or 727-741-8014.