There's a lot of variety headed to comedy stages this weekend. Hypnotists, puppets, talk show hosts and professional speakers join a lineup of traditional stand-up comedians to provide entertainment to audiences. No matter what you're looking for, something on this list should fit the bill. Here are this week's options.
Jay Leno at The Capitol Theatre. There's no sense pretending you don't know Jay Leno. Everyone is familiar with the star of The Tonight Show. But as he gets ready to step away from the desk next month, he shows no signs of slowing down his stand-up. He started his career on stage with a mic, and 40 years later you can see him back in that element — if you have a ticket, that is. The show is sold out. But he's coming back on March 29, so if you missed this one, you'll have another shot next month. Showtime is Sunday at 7:30 p.m. 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater. Info: rutheckerdhall.com or 727-791-7400.
Jeanne Robertson at The Palladium. Robertson isn't a stand-up comedian per se, but the humorist and professional speaker has the same goals for her audience: To make them laugh with funny life stories and other prepared material. The end result is a bit more casual and conversational, but not less enjoyable. Showtime is Sunday at 7 p.m. The Palladium is located at 253 5th Ave. N. in St. Petersburg. For more information, visit mypalladium.org or call 727-822-3590.
improvtampa.com or 813-864-4000.
Flip Orley at Side Splitters. Comedy hypnotism provides a different show every night, since the audience volunteers to be the stars of each show. In Orley's case, he does a set of stand-up comedy, then invites audience members to join him on stage where they perform under his guidance. From both the stage and the seats, it's a departure from the traditional stand-up experience. Showtimes are Thursday at 8:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m. and 10:15 p.m., Saturday at 6 p.m., 8 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. and Sunday at 7 p.m. 12938 N. Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa. Info: sidesplitterscomedy.com or 813-960-1197.
Jimmy Graham at Snappers Grill & Comedy Club. Graham looks like a tough neighbor you'd have growing up in New York, except his no-nonsense approach to life keeps your head nodding and a smile on your face. His work with the likes of Artie Lange and radio's Opie & Anthony gives you an idea of what type of material to expect on stage. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. 36657 U.S. Highway 19 N., Palm Harbor. Info: snappersgrill.com or 727-938-2027.
Peter Hefty at Coconuts (St. Pete Beach). Comedy ventriloquists seem to have a few things in common: A lot of experience, a variety of puppets and a real passion for what they do. Hefty is no different, with more than 30 years on stage, a number of characters in addition to his main sidekick (Justin) and a love for his craft. If you enjoy this type of comedy, these are the shows for you. Showtimes are Wednesday-Saturday at 9:30 p.m. 6200 Gulf Blvd. at the Beachcomber Resort, St. Pete Beach. Info: coconutscomedyclubs.com or 727-360-5653.
Bull at Jack's Joint. Bull readily admits he looks like the repo man you're trying to avoid, but his mostly-clean comedy reveals a different side to the local favorite. Expect discussions about life situations without the adult language you'd find at many shows. Showtime is Saturday at 8:30 p.m. 2950 Gulf To Bay Blvd., Clearwater. Info: tampabaycomedy.com or 727-741-8014.
One-nighters and Independent Shows
Sloan and Steve Netta at Oldsmar Tap House (free show). Sloan uses race and other sensitive subjects to create witty premises and clever punchlines. His experience is apparent the moment he steps on stage. Likewise, Netta's years of stand-up are also on full display when he performs, showing pride in his Italian heritage while remaining self-deprecating and comfortable sharing his life experiences with any audience. Showtime is Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. 300 State St. E., Oldsmar. Info: 813-475-5996.