Sunday, November 19, 2017
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Column: Can't see Amy Schumer? See another comic before they hit big

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Amy Schumer is in town this weekend.

Maybe you heard of her? Between Inside Amy Schumer, Train Wreck, those Budweiser commercials with Seth Rogen and that elephantine three-headed beast called social media, you have. If you don't know Schumer, you've clearly been sequestered on a utopian compound somewhere, or trapped in a M. Night Shyamalan plot.

In her book, The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, Schumer recalls a visit to Tampa, how she hooked up with a guy and had a great time. But, she called Tampa "horrendous."

"I'm not scared about writing that and making those people mad, because I know for a fact that no one who lives there has ever read a book," she wrote. "JKJKJKJKJK, but kind of not K."

SHE'S NOT ALONE: From Amy Schumer to 'SNL' to 'The Simpsons,' Tampa is America's punch line c

I tweeted her in August to give Tampa a chance, and to my surprise, she got back to me with this tweet:

Maybe she really means it. As Jay Cridlin explores in this week's cover story, her trip to Tampa was most likely to play a 2012 gig at Side Splitters. It was a simpler time, before she had exploded on the national stage, before her every move was measured and dissected by a hungry web population.

AMY, PRE-FAME: Amy Schumer, on top of the world and ranked by Forbes, plays Tampa on Sunday

Bet you wish you were there for that show, huh? There's good news. Even if you can't catch her Amalie Arena show Sunday, you can still go to Side Splitters (12938 N Dale Mabry Highway) and see someone else. This weekend, the club has Robert Kelly and Matt Fernandez.

In fact, you can go to quite a few local spots and see some talented comics stretch the old chuckle muscles. At the very least, you'll laugh. And at the very most, you might witness a rising star before even they know it.

Some other clubs to check out:

The Improv, 1600 East 8th Ave., Ybor City

This weekend, see Heather McDonald of Chelsea Lately fame (and also fame from a much publicized feud with the host), plus Poetry and Punchlines, a mash-up of the two art forms featuring Big Sean Larkins.

Coconuts Comedy Club, 5501 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach

Coconuts, which turned 30 this year, has been hospitable to the likes of Billy Gardell, Larry the Cable Guy, Jim Breuer, Carl Faulkenberry and more. This weekend, catch Houston based-comic Ku Egenti.

Snappers, 36657 US Highway 19 N, Palm Harbor

See Boston Comedy Festival and World Series of Comedy winner Landry at the Palm Harbor joint this weekend. Also appearing, Juanita Lolita, who got her start at an open mic night.

Dunedin Brewery, 937 Douglas Ave, Dunedin

Speaking of open mic nights, lots of bars and venues around down offer a chance for would-be comics. Dunedin Brewery does this every Monday with Liter of Laughs, hosted by Brad Gilmore and John J. Murray. Who will you see there this weekend? No idea, and that's the best part.

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