Looking at the glut of great stand-up shows coming to the bay area, one could be forgiven for thinking it's one of the better places to see comedy in the country — and at least for the spring, you could be right.
There's Bill Cosby and Jerry Seinfeld, two of the biggest names in stand-up and sitcoms. Then there's Jim Jeffries and Amy Schumer, rising stars just given their own television shows. If these names are too mainstream for you, there's even an acclaimed anti-comedian playing indie venue New World Brewery.
Here's 12 of the biggest and best comedy shows on the calendar for the next few months.
8 p.m. Saturday, Tampa Bay Times Forum; $42.50-$100.
Williams is one of the most popular comedians working today, with specials like The Pimp Chronicles Vol. 1 and the pimp-chronology-following Pimpadelic. But lately he's become arguably as well-known for his legal troubles, racking up an impressive five arrests in four months. Let's hope his show here turns out better than some other recent ones, which have ended in showdowns with hecklers and Williams storming offstage.
Feb. 15, Straz Center; $42.50
The sunny, expressive comedian plays the Straz Center during one of his frequent tours — perhaps because there's always a calling for a clean comic. Yet like Jim Gaffigan, he's been able to retain his comedy cred while reining in the families that several comedians on this list will never get. And every show in Florida is a homecoming for him, as he was born in Miami.
March 7, New World Brewery; $10.
New World Brewery has become a new home in Tampa Bay for alternative comedians such as Tig Notaro. And comedians don't come much more alternative than Hamburger, who always sports a combover and noxious, punchline-deflating personality. His appearances on Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! and in The Comedy should give audiences an idea of his sour sensibility.
5 and 8 p.m. March 23, Ruth Eckerd Hall; $42-$63.
Nowadays Cosby's name is almost as synonymous with pudding and sweaters, and his comments on black America, than it is with his comedy. But one shouldn't forget that he's one of the genuine greats of stand-up, as evidenced by specials like Bill Cosby: Himself. Look, he'll even be doing back-to-back shows at Ruth Eckerd — just like the kids today.
7 and 9:30 p.m. March 30, Straz Center; $49-$79.
Seinfeld is one of the most influential comedians ever, popularizing a style of observational stand-up still oft-imitated today and starring on what's commonly agreed on as the best sitcom of all time. These days, he's a little quieter, chatting with the New York Times and comics on his Web series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. But he remains an avid stand-up performer, and fans will get a chance to learn "what's the deal with …" everything at his Straz Center show.
March 30, Mahaffey Theater; $42.50-$69
Miller returning to the bay area as a Republican is like Groucho Marx dropping acid with the hippie kids in Skidoo. The comedian became well-known for his loquacious, reference-loaded humor on Saturday Night Live and his own show Dennis Miller Live. Lately he's focused on his right-wing radio show — suggesting that along with Victoria Jackson and Jon Lovitz, yesterday's SNL superstars are today's conservative celebrities.
April 4-7, Side Splitters Comedy Club; $16 advance, $18 day of.
Foley found his place in the comedy world as a member of sketch show Kids in the Hall and as Dave Nelson on the sitcom Newsradio. But he's since turned to stand-up as he attempts to pay Canadian child support he claimed in a WTF with Marc Maron interview is four times his current income. See him try his hand at a new style of comedy during a special engagement at Side Splitters.
April 4-7, Improv; $15-$17
The comedian started out playing open mics in Seattle, which may explain where his use of a guitar came from. But don't scour Sacred Grounds or International Boba House for him when he comes to Tampa. His numerous appearances on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and shows like Happy Endings assured him a larger venue like the Improv.
Weird Al Yankovic
April 13, Ruth Eckerd Hall; $35-$55.
Probably the most popular musical comedian, however, would be Weird Al. Back in the day, his parodies Eat It and Smells Like Nirvana contended with the real deals, and he's still at it with the Lady Gaga-lampooning Perform This Way. Yet he's also surprisingly savvy for an accordion-playing Dr. Demento devotee, appearing on hip podcasts like The Nerdist and Comedy Bang! Bang! and authoring a book with The A.V. Club's Nathan Rabin.
April 18, Straz Center; $39.50-$65.
The Rant is Due is an appropriate name for Black's new tour. In both his stand-up and The Daily Show appearances, he shouts to the heavens with a fervor resembling an unending loop of Howard Beale's tirades in Network. It's possible he may even have a bone to pick with the bay area, as he stands on the stage where The Daily Show broadcasted during the Republican National Convention.
April 18-20, Side Splitters Comedy Club; $25-$27
Speaking of cynical wit, there's the Australian comedian Jeffries. Perhaps hoping for some of the same success they've found with Louie, FX's given him a show called Legit that also combines stand-up and small vignettes. But he arguably goes even darker than Louis C.K., more closely resembling Doug Stanhope.
May 11, Straz Center; $32.50
It was only about a year ago that Schumer played a string of relatively intimate sets at Side Splitters. Since then, she's also scored an upcoming show, this one with Comedy Central, called Inside Amy. The material of her frank, funny stand-up was helpfully summarized by her last special's title — Mostly Sex Stuff.