Stand-up fans will have popular national acts visiting comedy clubs this week, as well as several free events featuring local talent. No matter your budget, there are plenty of affordable laughs to be had this weekend. Here are the best bets:
John Witherspoon at Tampa Improv. Witherspoon is well-known from the Friday movie series and his other no-nonsense, cranky-but-hilarious characters. On stage he's uncensored and unapologetic, with the stage presence of a performer with more than a half-century of experience. Showtimes are Thursday at 8 p.m., Friday at 7:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. and Sunday at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. 1600 E. Eighth Ave., Tampa. Info: improvtampa.com or 813-864-4000.
Gabriel Iglesias at Side Splitters. First of all, you should know that the Thursday show is sold out. So are both Friday shows. And the Saturday shows, and the Sunday show, too. It's rare that a comedy club sells its shows out in advance of a performer arriving, but "Fluffy" has a rabid fan base and a lot of demand for his brand of observational comedy. If you wanted to see Iglesias, hope you got your tickets already. Showtimes are Thursday at 8:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 7 p.m. 12938 N. Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa. Info: sidesplitterscomedy.com or 813-960-1197.
Rick Stepinsky at Snappers Grill & Comedy Club. Stepinsky is a comedy vet with more than 20 years in the business, but he's also a local guy. Expect plenty of discussions about marriage and fatherhood, but he could probably vent about traffic on US 19 as well as you could. 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.
Tanyalee Davis at Coconuts (St. Pete Beach). Davis stands just 3' 6", but her dwarfism doesn't get in the way of her stand-up comedy. In fact, nothing seems to get in the way of her comedy, which features life experiences presented in an open and honest way, and plenty of dirty jokes thrown in to keep things light. Davis spends a lot of time in the United Kingdom, so here's a good chance to see the Canadian-born comedian (she's now a U.S. citizen) on this side of the Atlantic. 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.
Pat Duax at Jack's Joint. Duax brings plenty of experience and a storytelling style to the stage.
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
Carmen Ciricillo at Niagara Tap (free show). Ciricillo, sometimes known as "The Construction Comic," gives audiences a no-frills look at both work and family life, with the appropriate adult language that accompanies frustrations in both arenas. Local talent Kyle Ruse opens with the sordid stories and creative humor you'd expect from a comedian/tattoo artist. Showtime is Friday at 7 p.m. 11950 Seminole Blvd., Largo. Info: theniagaratap.com or 727-581-5331.
Johnny B at Oasis Hookah Lounge (free show). Johnny B's weekend radio program, "Midnight Meltdown," has him ranting with radio-friendly language on 102.5 The Bone. His stand-up act, however, would levy a truckload of FCC fines if it was played on the air. Fortunately, there's no censoring live stand-up comedy, so enjoy this father/poker dealer/radio host/comedian with open ears and thick skin. Showtime is Friday at 10 p.m. 1620 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. Info: 727-823-8708.
After Party Comedy Show at the Twisted Martini. A showcase of local talent hits the stage at the Twisted Martini to serve up adult premises and punchlines. Performers include Law Smith, J. B. Ball, Matt Fernandez, Johnny B., Joe Riga and other bay area comedy club staples who perform regularly across Florida.
Showtime is Saturday at 8 p.m. 13563 Icot Blvd., Clearwater. Info: twistedmartinigrill.com or 727-754-9800.
Cigar City Comedy at Dale 1891 (free show). Local comedians, including John Jacobs, John J. and David Weingarten, perform adult-oriented sets based on their extensive comedy club experience. A two-item minimum is enforced for this show. Showtime is Thursday at 8 p.m. 11742 N. Dale Mabry Highway. Info: 813-961-2121.