The Laugh Tract — who's bringing the funny

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  • Wanda Sykes is in Sarasota this weekend.


There are a couple of special engagement shows at comedy clubs this weekend. What does that mean? No passes allowed and higher ticket prices, basically. But you're seeing well-known, established performers who have a sizable following. And they might be hard to get, so plan ahead if you want to go.
Of course, there's a full slate of other comedy options as well, including free shows. Here's the schedule for this week:

Theaters and special events

Wanda Sykes at Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. For around two decades, Sykes has honed her confident stage presence and delivery into a focused, witty comedy set. The popular performer will share more of her trademark opinions and experiences on stage in Sarasota. Showtime is Sunday at 7 p.m. 777 N Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Info: VanWezel.org or 941-953-3368.


Comedy Clubs

Bruce Bruce at Tampa Improv. Bruce Bruce is a big guy, but he's also a big presence on the comedy stage. His persona is that of a well-dressed, experienced performer who isn't used to bothering with filters or political correctness. Expect plenty of jokes and plenty of fans at these special engagement shows. Showtimes are 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. 1600 E. Eighth Ave., Tampa. Info: improvtampa.com or 813-864-4000.

David Nickerson at Tampa Improv. Nickerson finds a way to take absurd premises and make them relatable to the audience. From relationships to Christmas presents, he'll find ways to get the audience on his side, and laughing at the same time. Showtime is Thursday at 8 p.m. 1600 E. Eighth Ave., Tampa. 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 at celebrity roasts. Expect that kind of material for his special event weekend in Tampa. 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. 12938 N. Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa. Info: sidesplitterscomedy.com or 813-960-1197.

Johnny Beehner at Side Splitters. Beehner isn't the most active guy on stage, but it's more about what he says than what he does. Expect plenty of misdirection and clever punch lines in his headlining set.  Showtime is Saturday at 6 p.m. 12938 N. Dale Mabry, Tampa. Info: sidesplitterscomedy.com or 813-960-1197.

Comedy Tournament at Side Splitters. A comedy competition that started out with 64 participants is now down to 16. half of them will compete to move on to the next round, with the eventual winner receiving a festival entry, club dates and cash. Showtime is Sunday at 7 p.m. 12938 N. Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa. Info: sidesplitterscomedy.com or 813-960-1197.

Dustin Chafin at Snappers Grill & Comedy Club. Chafin has Native American roots and was born in Texas. Natually, the comedian calls himself both Cowboy and Indian. He was also a boxer and missionary before finding a more permanent home in the weird world of stand-up comedy. His material is thoughtful, but his direct delivery leaves no room for polite discourse. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. 36657 U.S. 19 N., Palm Harbor. Info: snappersgrill.com or 727-938-2027.

Martin Montana at Coconuts Comedy Club (at MJ's). Montana's not afraid to add a voice to the characters in his stories. It lets the audience share in his absurd experiences and enjoy his observations about them.
Showtimes are Wednesday through Saturday at 9:30 p.m. 5501 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach. Info: coconutscomedyclubs.com or 727-360-5653.

Pat Duax at 2 Palms Bar & Bistro. Duax is a storyteller, with some adult-oriented premises and themes. He'll bring a seasoned act and veteran presence to the stage in Clearwater. Showtime is Saturday at 8:30 p.m. 2950 Gulf To Bay Blvd., Clearwater. Info: tampabaycomedy.com or 727-741-8014.


One-nighters and independent shows

Mike Rivera at Niagara Tap (free show). Rivera is a funny local teacher. So funny, in fact, that ABC's "The View" named him America's Funniest Teacher. A humorous class will be in session at this free show in Largo.
Showtime is Friday at 7 p.m. Niagara Tap is located at 11950 Seminole Blvd. in Largo. For more information, visit theniagaratap.com or call 727-581-5331. Rivera brings his funny teacher act to Oldsmar, where he'll go over lesson plans that are decidedly for adults. With more than 25 years in the business, younger comedians could learn a lot from him. Showtime is Saturday at 9 p.m. 300 State St. E., Oldsmar. Info: 813-475-5996.


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