Los Angeles’ reputation for improvisational and stand-up comedy is not as strong as Chicago’s or New York’s. But the City of Angels does comedy remarkably well. Plenty of quick-witted performers live in Southern California, and most of the world’s funniest comedians visit and take to the stage at least occasionally. If you’re keen to spend an evening drowning in laughter, consider these esteemed comedy venues.
You know the network, but did you know Comedy Central owns and operates a stage in Los Angeles? It’s in the back of Hudson Theatres. The Comedy Central Stage hosts the monthly Sit N’ Spin writers’ reading series, and regularly sees visits from improv comedy trio Dasariski. A major perk of the Comedy Central Stage is that admission to all shows is free.
Located in L.A.’s historic El Portal Theatre, the Comedy Sportz LA stage hosts competitive comedy at its finest. During ComedySportz shows, teams of comedians duke it out to see which side can score more laughs. The North Hollywood theater is a 15-minute drive from AMLI Lex on Orange.
From a historical standpoint, The Comedy Store is one of L.A.’s most important comedic performance spaces. This Hollywood hangout is where Marc Maron and countless others have made names for themselves as funny voices, and others are bound to follow. Some of the sketches here are pretty experimental, and you rarely know who you’ll see before an evening show begins. But that’s all part of the fun.
Another comedy venue with a rich history, the Groundlings stage has seen the likes of legendary comedians John Goodman, Phil Hartman, and Laraine Newman. Both Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig have done their time on stage here. More recently, Melissa McCarthy and Jim Rash have seen their star power soar after cracking audiences up at the Groundlings. If you’re looking to study improv yourself, check out upcoming class opportunities at The Groundlings School.
Where historic importance is concerned, we’re on a streak. Pasadena’s Ice House Comedy Club is the country’s oldest stand-up comedy club. The Ice House hosts regular events such as Thursday All-Stars Nights, as well as special events. Upcoming performers you might be familiar with include Tom Arnold, Nikki Glaser, and Joe Rogan. The Ice House is a ten-minute drive from AMLI Lex on Orange’s Glendale apartments.
Another L.A. stand-up institution, this West Hollywood venue is frequented by Tim Allen, Dave Chappelle, Whitney Cummings, and Kevin Nealon. The Laugh Factory also has a stage in Long Beach, a half-hour drive from AMLI Uptown Orange.
Located in the back room of Meltdown Comics on Sunset Boulevard, the NerdMelt Showroom is a contender for hottest comedy club in present-day L.A. This is impressive, considering NerdMelt is a relative newcomer to the Southern California comedy scene. Like its comedy shows, NerdMelt’s sketch and improv school has an excellent reputation.
Chicago’s Improv Olympic is one of the best-known comedy venues in the world. The L.A. offshoot not only does a good job of upholding Improv Olympic’s reputation. It also retains the club’s Chicago vibes. The wall is plastered with memorabilia associated with Chicago comedy greats, and everyone who works at iO West seems to have a connection to the Windy City. Shows are held in the Hollywood theater every night.
The Second City, another Chicago improv school and performance space, is one of the only names in comedy that might be better known than Improv Olympic. Chris Farley, Tina Fey, and Bill Murray all completed the Second City program. The esteemed troupe has a school in L.A., offering classes for adults and children. It also has a studio theater, which hosts regional and touring comedy shows.
The brainchild of Matt Besser, Amy Poehler, Ian Roberts, and Matt Walsh, the Upright Citizens Brigade is another of the country’s most well-known improv and sketch comedy operations. Visit to see some of the best indie improv talent in the country, and you may wind up getting a bonus performance from a comedy superstar. All shows at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre cost 0 or less. The Upright Citizens Brigade has locations in Hollywood Hills and Los Feliz, both about 10 minutes’ drive from AMLI Lex on Orange.
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