The Ultimate Guide to Live Comedy in Philadelphia

Everything you need to know about Philly’s top venues and comedy groups.

Philadelphia is a town that tends to be the butt of many a joke, but the funniest part of Philly are the comedians who grace our stages and performance spaces. From comedy clubs and theaters that host top-tier talent to the emerging collectives fostering local talent, there are loads of places to blow off some steam and get in a few good belly laughs. So get out there, and check out a show at one of Philly’s best comedy venues or track down a local comedy company to enjoy some new material.

Rittenhouse Square
This quintessential comedy club is where you can catch big-name touring acts like Margaret Cho, Damon Wayans Jr., and Gilbert Gottfried in an intimate setting. Peruse the full menu to choose your two-item minimum from options like mixed drinks, beers, and bar fare. With frequent open mic nights, fledgling comics can workshop their material for a live audience. Or for funny folks who want to hone their craft, Helium also hosts stand-up classes for beginners.

Punch Line Philly
Punch Line Philly | Photo by Ralph Castner

Fishtown
In the entertainment complex that houses the Fillmore and the upcoming Brooklyn Bowl, Punch Line Philly is a 300-seat venue that hosts a combination of touring comedians—usually for multi-night stretches—and drag brunch on the weekends. Past performers have included Saturday Night Live cast members, podcast hosts, and international comics.

Fergie's Pub philly
Fergie's Pub | Flickr/chrisinphilly5448

Midtown Village
This Irish pub may not be top of mind when it comes to comedy, but every Wednesday, a constantly revolving showcase of comics from Philly and beyond perform upstairs followed by an open mic, if there’s time. At Off Leash Comedy, come for the three-minute sets, grab a beer, and enjoy the show.

Delaware River Waterfront
This contemporary performing arts space is the central hub of the Fringe Festival, Philly’s long-running fall fest for innovative theater, so it’s only natural that is your spot to find cutting-edge comedy. The annual Blue Heaven Comedy Festival celebrates new voices in comedy and, of course, tons of sketch and improv troupes grace the stage during Fringe Fest.

Raven Lounge Comedy philly
Photo courtesy of Raven Lounge Comedy

Rittenhouse Square
Every Monday night upstairs, Raven Lounge hosts shows like Riff at the Raven, where two comics, you know, riff off of one another or roast each other. Thursdays nights are open mics, so get there early to sign up or to just revel in the dark environs of the multi-level hideaway.

Your Kevin Harts, John Mulaneys, Hasan Minhajes, Trixie and Katyas, and other big-ticket stars will perform at these larger theaters and arenas, so don’t discount nosebleed seats for A-list laughs.

Crossroads Comedy Theater philly
Photo courtesy of Crossroads Comedy Theater

A new comedy venture in Philly, Crossroads Comedy Theater produces online and in-person shows, podcasts, and are offering classes, like intro to sketch writing. The group’s recurring shows center on improv inspired by the news, movie tropes, and guest lectures.

Next In Line Comedy devon walker philly
Photo courtesy of Next In Line Comedy

Another new company, Next In Line produces shows with headliners from New York City with credits from Comedy Central, Netflix, HBO, and MTV, who aren’t quite household names—yet. Hence the Next In Line nomenclature. Catch them at venues like the Victoria Freehouse and Franky Bradley’s.

The N Crowd
The N Crowd | Photo by Jessi Melcer

This staple improv group performs short-form games (think “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”) with individuals or small groups of performers facing off in quick, but hilarious challenges. While they’ve got select in-person shows these days, they are streaming live on Twitch every Friday.

ComedySportz Philly
ComedySportz | Photo by Clayton Raithel

Speaking of improv and games, ComedySportz takes the structure of a sports game and pits two teams of improvisers against one another. Teams will craft scenes, songs, and more on the spot while a referee doles out points, times the games, and calls fouls. ComedySportz also offers improv classes for those with a quick wit eager to learn.

1812 Productions philly
1812 Productions | Photo by Mark Garvin

This season, 1812 Productions, an all-comedy theater company, present a two-person cabaret from a real-life couple about the emotions of sending their child off to college, a virtual holiday show, and their long-running SNL, The Daily Show, and The Carol Burnett Show-inspired show “This Is The Week That Is.”

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Allie Volpe is a writer based in Philadelphia. She hasn't slept in days. Follow her on Twitter: @allieevolpe.