There’s one indisputable place where you can always go to find someone very funny to laugh at... but Florida is hours away, and it’s not like Jeb Bush will let visitors into his house for another few months anyway. Find the next best thing -- actual, intentional comedy -- at the great Atlanta spots below, where real joke-tellers put on real joke-telling shows.
Atlanta's Best Places to See Live Comedy
With the appeal of an Elk’s or FOP lodge, and featuring walls draped with red curtains against brush-metal-black-painted walls, this urban-contemporary comedy shop seats 300, serves reasonably priced/good bar food ($10.99 gets you a burger, a Philly, three tacos, or a few other options), and regularly puts comics from BET, HBO, and even ATL (the brokest network ever) on stage.
Little 5 Points
Star Bar's originally a dive that has opened its creaky, beer-stained doors to the standup community. They're doing a Monday Night Comedy mic and here's what you need to know: the host’s name is Rotknee, the theme is “underground” comedy (which is to say, more avant-garde with both pros and amateurs testing out new and weird material), the crowd is consistent and lively, and the admission is free for the 8pm show -- which again, happens every Monday night.
Old 4th Ward (& Other Locations)
Every Sunday at the new Edgewood location, this BBQ restaurant cum comedy club offers an open mic starting at 9:30pm. At the Westside location, the jokes are told on Wednesdays at 9pm (bi-weekly). And having two separate options to see comedy is all the more reason to order a single rib at each one (which they’ve always sold, and was also a comedic bit that sort of made Chris Rock famous).
This super-intimate comedy club packs in three open mic nights a week, gets comedians who you’ve seen -- or haven’t -- on Conan, Howard Stern, MTV, Comedy Central, and other major shows and networks, and is attached to the midtown Vortex, so you can get one of our most legendary local burgers and beers: the Laughing Skull amber ale from ATL’s Red Brick Brewing.
A legit, all-week comedy joint, open since 1982, The Punchline moved to Landmark Diner last year but has kept loyal customers through the move from Sandy Springs since they basically launched Hapeville-raised comedian Jeff Foxworthy, and have hosted legends of the last several decades including Richard Pryor, Jerry Seinfeld, Dave Chappelle, Jay Leno, Eddie Murphy and others.
Old 4th Ward
Not only is the location great in case you drink to the point where everything is funny (the King Memorial MARTA station is across the street), but this loft-located venue offers recurring shows like “Atlanta Explained”, which is like a comedic improv news program about what’s happening in town. There's also “Underwear Comedy Party” -- a monthly show where stand-up comics perform in their draws.
Voted “Most Def-Comedy-Jam-like Comedy Club in ATL” (by the author of the article you’re reading right now), Uptown is known for having a celebrity/community stage, and folks like Kevin Hart, Mike Epps, Mo’Nique, DL Hughley, and Bruce-Bruce were allowed to hit it on their ways to regional and national name recognition. Hopefully you’ll have a sense of humor about their two-menu-item-minimum purchasing policy. If not, the fact that they actually serve “Incredible Hulk” (Hennessy & Hypnotiq) is funny in and of itself.
OId 4th Ward
Running original shows like the lady-driven “Woman of the Year” and doing weekly improv competitions from TheatreSports to CageMatch, the home of Baconfest hasn’t skipped a beat since losing its former building to the Inman Quarter development, still trying out new productions every Wednesday, offering classes to anybody wanting to learn the craft and letting rookies get on stage to entertain you with their awkward bravery.
This $12, weekly improv comedy show starts 8pm Saturday and features an in-house cast known as The Basement Players, who take audience suggestions and create skits and games out of them.
Though it closed due to funding issues in 2013, Relapse is back and getting ready to officially open this spring. Until then, they’re warming up with sneak-peek events like a live “Trump vs Bernie” comedy “debate” show, three days before the 2016 Georgia Primary.
Get laughs and lattes every Tuesday night from 8 to 9:30pm at the art-coffeehouse. UG lets you drop in and see local comedians for free, or try your luck at an amateur performance if there’s time on the program.
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Mike Jordan will show up and laugh for/at any aspiring comedians reading this story who are brave enough to get on stage at one of these open mics. Let him know on Twitter at @michaelbjordan if you’re serious; he might sign up and try it that night too.
1. Star Community Bar437 Moreland Ave NE, Atlanta
2. Atlanta Comedy Theater4650 Jimmy Carter Blvd Ste 114B, Norcross
3. Bone Lick BBQ Edgewood327 Edgewood Ave SE, Atlanta
4. Laughing Skull Lounge878 Peachtree St, Atlanta
5. The Punchline Comedy Club3652 Roswell Road NE, Atlanta
6. Village Theatre349 Decatur St SE, Atlanta
7. Uptown Comedy Corner800 Marietta St NW, Atlanta
8. The Basement Theatre175 W Wieuca Rd NE Ste B1, Atlanta
9. Relapse Theatre380 14th St NW, Atlanta
10. Urban Grind Coffeehouse962 Marietta St NW, Atlanta
It’s easy to see why this is one of Atlanta’s greatest dive bars. Star Bar features weekly events like Monday Night Comedy, Downtown Tuesday Night Dance Party, and Live Band Cowboy Karaoke Wednesday, as well as live music shows Thursday through Saturday. Its Little Vinyl Lounge, an intimate performance space with a baby grand piano and stage, also hosts weekly event series: Monday Night Songwriter Showcase, Twister Sister Tuesday (a DJ set), Wednesday Night Rock N’ Roll Trivia. Like the bar, Little Vinyl Lounge offers other live shows Thursday through Saturday. All shows are 21 and over.
ACT has talented comedians and an attentive staff with a weekend chef-inspired menu complete with quesadillas, chicken and Philly cheese steak sandwiches, burgers, salads, and shrimp baskets on Fridays and Saturdays. The venue seats 250 and free parking is available. These shows are perfect for date nights or a good time out with friends. Plus, ACT occasionally hosts national headliners on tour. Dress to impress for your night at this upscale club.
Thrifty-chic arcade and pub serves some of the best southern-style BBQ you’ll ever taste. The shotgun-style restaurant interior has an open kitchen, retro booths, wraparound bar fashioned from repurposed wood, and arcade games. The menu offers a lineup of local craft beer, daily drink specials, combo meals, and more. Off the backroom is the adjoining Edgewood Speakeasy, an equally rustic hotspot with exposed brick walls and low lighting.
The Laughing Skull is a 21 and over lounge located in Midtown attached to Vortex. Frequented by MTV, Comedy Central, HBO, Conan, and Netflix writers and comedians, it’s no wonder this place was voted Best Comedy Club in Atlanta by Creative Loafing. Its small, intimate space with less than 80 seats will make you feel like there’s a personal connection between the performer and audience. LS also offers weekly stand up classes and open mic nights as well as an annual comedy festival.
At this cozy late-night comedy club, expect to catch regular stand-up performances from up-and-coming and top comics alike. And if the jokes are falling a little short, you can always grab a drink from the full bar, which you can pair with a pick from their menu of casual eats.
If you’re looking for a fun date idea that’ll really show if you two vibe, go to an improv show. You’ll get all comedy from slapstick to witty, and it’s guaranteed to be a great time. Plus, you’ll have plenty to talk about after the show. Village Theatre’s comedy troupe has seasoned comedians and up-and-comers. Check them out for weekly improv shows, corporate workshops or acting classes. Or a kick-ass date night.
Uptown Comedy Corner is taking dinner and a show to a new level. Every seat is the best seat in house in this intimate venue, and the menu has all your favorite classics like wings, shrimp, burgers, and chicken. Some of comedy’s biggest names—Chris Rock, Kevin Hart, Dave Chappelle, Steve Harvey—have graced the mic. In typical improv fashion, you never know who or what each show will bring to the stage.
The Basement Theatre has been open for over a decade, hosting weekly shows that offer something for all ages. Friday nights at 8pm is the G-rated Family Fun with games that invite audience members on stage, and a R-rated Late Night Improv follows at 10pm. Saturday night kicks off with the PG-13 Fast and Funny, a 100% improv show with games and skits based entirely on the audience’s suggestions. Immediately after F&F is R-rated After Hours where the troop performs signature improved shows and really lets loose.
Relapse Theatre provides a mix of improv and standup comedy from seasoned vets and new kids on the block, alike. Back by popular demand, the club reopened in 2016 with many familiar faces. Stop in for a show or jump in for a class, just don’t miss out on some of the best entertainment in Atlanta.
Urban Grind is all about making you feel right at home, hosting weekly community events such as salsa lessons, comedy nights, open mic poetry. The interior is warm and welcoming with large comfortable couches, a buy/exchange bookcase, red statement walls. Its menu has all you’d want from a coffeeshop— smoothies, teas, specialty coffee, paninies and more, made fresh daily. This is a perfect cafe to study and work.