Are you ready to bust a gut? If so, you’ve got a lot of choices when it comes to seeing live comedy in San Diego.
Many of the clubs serve food, although sometimes it's only light appetizers to help you soak up the adult beverages that most people enjoy as part of their night out. Many clubs have a 2-drink minimum, and the best tables up front are often scooped up through reservations or by how well you tip the host.
Going to a comedy club usually isn’t a family-friendly event. The humor is often dark and cutting-edge and can offend if you don’t have a thick skin or a great sense of humor. Alcohol also flows freely, and hecklers always seem to have something to say. For these reasons, most shows are 21 and over only with a valid ID.
Several San Diego clubs are long-established comedy club mainstays. If you’re looking for a headlining experience, you might start with The Comedy Store in La Jolla. Mitzi Shore opened this offshoot of the original in 1977, and it’s been packed with audiences since. Robin Williams, Michael Keaton, David Letterman, Chris Rock, Pauly Shore, and others have played here.
The American Comedy Co. in the Gaslamp Quarter hosts top comedians and emerging talent. It’s located in a basement, giving it a cozy, speakeasy feel that puts you on top of the performers. It’s garnered praise from no less than Joe Rogan, who called it one of the best clubs for comedy ever. The Mad House Comedy Club is also located in The Gaslamp Quarter with a much different vibe that features stained glass walls and a domed ceiling. It’s also frequented by the biggest names in the business.
A bit further out, you can’t go wrong with an evening at The Comedy Club at Pechanga in Temecula. If you’re heading east, check out the Sycuan Live & Up Close showroom at Sycuan Casino in El Cajon.
For casual comedy experiences, check out 4th & B or Old Town Improv Co. downtown, Moondoggie’s in Pacific Beach, Monday open mic nights at Lestat’s Coffee House in Normal Heights, or Friday comedy “contests” at Winston’s in Ocean Beach.
While most clubs are for adults only, the exception is Comedy Heights at Bay Bridge Brewing and Twiggs in University Heights, which features a free and popular family-friendly show on Saturdays. You can bring your own food and drinks, and most people bring some cash to tip the performers. Another all-ages-appropriate venue is the National Comedy Theatre featuring improvisational comedy and interactive entertainment in the style of "Whose Line Is It Anyway?"