By Steve Spears, Times Staff Writer
Got a Top 5 list idea? E-mail Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org.
St. Patty's Day is long gone. You're suffering from the annual spring training game sunburn across your face after forgetting the sunscreen this weekend. And tax day is looming on the horizon with all the sentimental attraction of a colonoscopy.
You need some comedy. Stat!
Fortunately, the ancient gods of whoopee cushions and the rubber chicken are smiling upon Tampa Bay. This weekend has two killer comedy shows from which to choose.
But if your life has become so funnybone-crushingly despondent that you need more time to plan, we threw in three more worthy comedy nights in the near future.
With the exception of the super-tidy Bill Cosby, these shows aren't kid friendly, so don't blow all your money on cabernet because the babysitters needs their spondulicks too. And always remember what the great Mel Brooks said about the business: "Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you walk into an open sewer and die."
1. THE SECOND CITY 50th ANNIVERSARY TOUR
Saturday, 7:30 p.m. $29.50. Straz Center's Ferguson Hall, Tampa
Dan Aykroyd, Stephen Colbert, Bill Murray, Tina Fey all learned their comedic chops at Second City's theater and improv school. And no, they won't be at Saturday's tour stop in Tampa, but chances are you'll catch the next generation of stars in person. Watch as the actors pull from 50 years of classic sketches as well as headlines from today as they execute their trademark improvisation skills.
2. BILL COSBY
Saturday, 5 and 8 p.m. $42 and $50. Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater
Don't call him Mr. Jell-O Pudding Pop. That's so 1980s. Cosby has been crafting his stand-up routines since the '60s (though at age 72, cut him some slack and let him use a chair). And unlike pretty much everyone else on this list (and in comedy clubs), he prides himself on getting the laughs without working blue. Go rent his 1982 live comedy film Himself and bask in the genius of his "Chocolate Cake for Breakfast" bit.
3. LISA LAMPANELLI
April 10, 8 p.m. $36.75. Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater
Quite simply, Lampanelli is known around the comedy world as the "Queen of Mean." And really, that doesn't go nearly far enough in describing her act, which is strictly adults-only. If you want a slightly toned-down taste of her venomous rants, look for her regular appearances on Comedy Central Roasts series. Otherwise expect a night of jaw-dropping ethnic and racial jokes along with stories of her never-ending search for the "perfect black guy." The title of her 2009 memoir says it all: Chocolate, Please: My Adventures in Food, Fat, and Freaks.
4. JIM BREUER
April 23-25. $25 on Friday and Saturday, $22 on Sunday. Tampa Improv, Ybor City
He was the "Goat Boy" on Saturday Night Live! That's reason alone to buy a ticket. Or just sit there and throw lines at him from his appearance in the 1998 stoner-comedy Half Baked. These days, Breuer is a regular on Comedy Central and satellite radio. And if he's in a singing mood that weekend, fans should get to hear his epic "AC/DC Does the Hokey Pokey" or "Metallica's If You're Happy and You Know It" routines.
5. RON WHITE
May 22, 10 p.m. $48.75. Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater
Mr. "Tater Salad's" 7 p.m. show is sold out already, but wouldn't you rather revel in the scotch-swilling, cigar-chomping madness of White's late show anyway? The Blue Collar Comedy Tour veteran is leaving friends Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Engvall and Larry the Cable Guy behind but the deep-fried Southern jokes remain. Look for "They Call Me Tater Salad" as the show-ender.