This week in Tampa (comedy edition!): Craig Ferguson, Maria Bamford, Cheech and Chong and more
Surprise! We here at SoundcheckCorp. usually stick to music snarkicism, but occasionally a week pops up when there are so many funnypersons in the hizzy that we simply can't keep from telling you about them.
So let's delve into it! Five huge comedy acts are in Tampa this week, from TV hosts to comedy legends to the Up and Coming Stars of Tomorrow (which, we have to admit, would be an awesome name for an improv troupe ... and now that we think about it, so would Funnypersons in the Hizzy).
Ladies and gentlemen, let's give a big Tampa welcome to ...
One of Patton Oswald’s Comedians of Comedy, Bamford is an alt-comedy goddess known for her quirkily manic stage presence and overwhelming array of voices and characters, all offering a unique take on her dysfunctional childhood and life. She’s performed at just about any comedy festival you can name, and recorded several television specials. “I could just follow her all day,” Zach Galifianakis once said. “She, to me, is just so cool to watch.” 8 and 10:30 p.m. Friday, 7:30 and 10 p.m. Saturday, 7 p.m. Sunday. Improv, 1600 E Eighth Ave., Ybor City. $14-$18. (813) 864-4000. improvtampa.com.
The Smothers Brothers
During its run on CBS from 1967-69, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour was the most controversial program on television. With a mix of hip guests, political humor and cutting edge music, Tom and Dick Smothers were the Jon Stewart of their day and they got fired for it despite huge ratings. Their live show uses their love of folk music to take satiric shots at politics, culture and even yo-yo tricks. 3:30 p.m. Friday at Florida Strawberry Festival, 303 North Lemon St., Plant City. Reserved seats $10-$15. Festival admission is $10; $5 ages 6-12. flstrawberryfestival.com.
Cheech and Chong
If you think Cheech & Chong: Get It Legal is about downloading music, then this show’s not for you. Joint originators of the stoner film genre, Richard “Cheech” Marin and Tommy Chong are highly irreverent and satirical, with a no-holds-barred comedy that is hilarious if you don’t mind pot shots at mainstream culture. The show is 8 p.m. Friday at Morsani Hall at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. $38.50-$48.50. (813) 229-7827. strazcenter.org.
His DVD I’m Not Fat, I’m Fluffy has helped sell out shows for this Mexican-American comic in the extra-large Hawaiian shirts. He mixes storytelling, parodies, characters and sound effects in a mostly clean show that has found national crossover appeal. 7 p.m. Sat. Straz Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. $34.50. (813) 229-7827. strazcenter.org.
If there’s still such a thing as innovation on network TV, Ferguson is at the forefront of it. Last month, the Late Late Show host recorded a show without an audience in tribute to Tom Snyder. For his 1,000th show in December, he let his crocodile hand puppet, Wavy, host and interview Kristen Bell. His shows are weird, cheeky, no-holds-barred experiments in live, televised comedy, with Ferguson, a master raconteur who often improvises his monologues, and occasionally uses them to lip-sync songs by Fatboy Slim or Jason Mraz, at the center of it. Even though Ferguson is Scottish, not Irish, this St. Patty’s Day show should be a hoot. 8 p.m. Wednesday. Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 McMullen Booth Road, Clearwater. $29.50-$69.50. rutheckerdhall.com.
Later in March
Robert Schimmel: 8 and 10 p.m. March 19-20, 7 p.m. March 21. Side Splitters, 12938 N Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa. $18-$20 advance, $2 additional day of show. (813) 960-1197. sidesplitterscomedy.com.
Harland Williams: 8 and 10:30 March 19, 7:30 and 10 p.m. March 20, 7 p.m. March 21. Improv, 1600 E Eighth Ave., Ybor City. $20. (813) 864-4000. improvtampa.com.
Bill Cosby: 5 and 8 p.m. March 27. 1111 McMullen Booth Road, Clearwater. $42-$63. rutheckerdhall.com.
The Second City 50th Anniversay Tour: 7:30 p.m. March 27. Straz Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. $29.50 and up. (813) 229-7827. tbpac.org.
— Jay Cridlin and Sharon Kennedy Wynne, tbt*. Photo: Getty Images.