If you're looking to laugh your ass off, stare in awe, or just have something to talk about at the water cooler Monday morning, here are the best* standup, improv, sketch and storytelling shows around Columbus.
1. Whiskey Bear Comedy’s Character Roasts
Whiskey Bear consistently puts on some of the most creative comedy shows in Central Ohio, and its character roasts are no exception. Disney Heroes and Villains, Dracula, Spiderman, Batman, Luke Skywalker…basically, if you’re some sort of pop-culture icon, you’re gettin’ roasted.
The roastee and dais is populated by local comedians who play other characters in the guest of honor’s universe. So if you ever wondered what it was like to hear Han Solo go off on a tangent about how “SPACE IS A VACUUM” or see Rapunzel compare Belle to a Duggar brother, this is the show for you.
Follow Whiskey Bear on Facebook to learn of the next roast and its location. Buy tickets early…these shows always sell out! $5-$7
2. Tuesday Night Improv’s Deuces Wild
Deuces Wild also made our “sleeper show” list, but we can’t say enough good things about this little improv show. It features teams of two improvisers performing 10 minute sets back to back based on audience suggestion.
The result is a romp through some of the most creative minds in the city that often ends up nothing short of beautiful (and funny, of course). Plus, at a tight 65-70 minutes, this show is the perfect size comedy snack.
Shows are one Tuesday a month at MadLab. Check the Facebook page for latest show updates and lineups. $8
3. Monday Night Live
It’s Columbus’ longest running sketch comedy show, and, like its TV namesake, features local celebrities performing with the MNL cast. The sketches are always fresh and funny, and many of them are locally focused.
So if you’ve ever wanted to see that ONE event in town skewered with wit and charm, don’t miss this monthly show. MNL takes place in the "pizza attic" at Mikey's Late Night Slice on 4th and it's just $5.
4. Speakeasy’s Storytelling Night
On the first Thursday of the month, catch the best local storytellers at Wild Goose Creative as they follow a theme with their funny, personal and sometimes heart-wrenching stories. Then, once a year, see the best of the best all in one place at the Big Easy, their annual showcase.
Storytellers can range from first timers to veterans, so you get the charm of new story jitters or the polish of a true professional in this 90 minute show. $5
5. Female as Fuck
There are many shows in Columbus that book all-female lineups, but this is one of the most dynamic. Featuring stand-up comedians, sketch writers, musicians and storytellers, Female as Fuck gives the audience a perfect smorgasbord of unique perspectives that are anything but “funny for a girl.”
Show is held end of summer at Shadowbox Live's Backstage Bistro and is $7.
6. Tuesday Nights with Mak and Winks
This long-standing Tuesday show is based in standup, but you’ll also catch sketch shows, music, one-man/woman shows, character roasts and everything in between. It's held on the intimate stage of Shadowbox Live's Backstage Bistro, so audiences get a truly immersive comedy experience.
Plus, you can't beat getting some of the best local and occasional national acts for just $7.
7. Whiskey Bear’s Pop Culture Mixtape
Another Whiskey Bear gem, The Pop Culture Mixtape also made our “sleeper show” list, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t list it here. This show, held on the 3rd Monday of the month at Mikey's on 4th, asks comedians to craft a set based on a starter topic (which can range from “The Walking Dead,” to “Comic Book Villains,” to “Game of Thrones”), with a catch: no standup allowed.
What results is a grab bag of hilarity, which might include a commercial from the Westeros ASPCA, a press conference with Bruce Wayne, a graduation speech given by the One Cop Who Lived in the Terminator Movie or a slew of rejected James Bond theme songs. $5.
8. TBD: the Improvised Musical
Yes, this is one of our shows, but sometimes you need to toot your own horn (toot, toot!). Audiences call this show "pure magic"...and between the cast, the rotating guest list of some of the city's best musicians (*cough* Counterfeit Madison *cough*) and the yes-for-real-they're-made-up songs, there's a reason why this show consistently packs the house.
Catch TBD the 1st and 3rd Friday of the month at Shadowbox Live's Backstage Bistro for $10.
9. Standup for Choice
This quarterly standup show brings together Midwest comedians to raise money for pro-choice and pro-access organizations in Central Ohio. Audiences are treated to a robust lineup of comedians, plus a headliner, and all at Clintonville’s Ace of Cups, whose rock and roll vibe lends an extra layer of awesome to this showcase.
Tickets are donation based and can be purchased at the door. Stay tuned to the Ace of Cups website to learn about the next show.
10. Babe Roar's Please Clap Comedy Showcase
Hosted in the ever-charming Wholly Craft just north of downtown, this all-female comedy show was named after Jeb Bush’s now infamous phrase. The beauty of this show comes from the quirky, intimate setting, the lineups and the focus on women in comedy. Plus, the owner of Wholly Craft is usually present and ready hand out prizes and welcome those lucky enough to get seats.
Follow Babe Roar on Facebook to be the first to know of the next event. Seating is extremely limited, and you'll definitely want to be there!