Comedy has never been stronger in Los Angeles. Stand-ups are moving to the city in droves, improv comedy is starting to become (gasp!) a viable way to kick in the entertainment industry door, and sketch comedy is leading to deals at Saturday Night Live, IFC, Comedy Central and beyond. The wealth of hometown success that has risen from L.A.'s storied comedy history is remarkable. And what's better still: It's all available for you to see, live and in person, seven nights a week.
The list below represents the ten best comedy venues in Los Angeles. There are stand up rooms, improv spaces and long-running stages that have been defining comedy here for more than a generation. Depending on the night and the show, you can catch a national headliner for $5 cash, or be across town working through a two-drink minimum when Louis CK walks through the door, looking for some stage time. But if you're just looking to laugh, any of these places will do.
Here are the ten best comedy venues in Los Angeles.
10. iO West
The link between Hollywood's iO West and Chicago's Improv Olympic -- one of American comedy's great meccas -- isn't just in name only. Just try walking into the front bar any time the Cubs are playing; pitch after pitch, performers and bartenders will cheer the good and bemoan the bad, while the faces of luminary Chicago comedians hang from the walls. iO (pronounced "eye-oh") has helped push the world of sketch and improv into the mainstream, mostly under the on-and-off guidance of improvisational guru Del Close. You can actually buy a t-shirt with his face on the front from the box office, or step through the black curtains to the theater in the back to see what the man is responsible for. Seven nights a week, iO plays host to long-running improv house teams, sketch comedy performers currently working through the curriculum levels, and old standby shows featuring the links of David Koechner, Bob Dassie and beyond. For students within the iO education stream, there are two black box theater spaces in the back, where a lot of the real experimentation goes down. 6366 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd.; 323-962-7560.
See also: 10 Best Standup Comedy Shows in L.A.
9. Westside Comedy Theater
After working to get its footing west of the 405, the Westside Comedy Theater is now firmly entrenched ... in a back alley off the Third Street Promenade. If anything, the exposed brick and low stage create a fun, easygoing atmosphere for performers and audience members alike. The shows are a mix of improv born from their small program and stand up comedy that routinely pulls in big headliners. Neal Brennan, co-creator of The Chappelle Show, hosts a weekly night that's played host to Aziz Ansari, Demetri Martin and Chappelle himself. Ali Wong is regularly around, as is Kevin Pollack's podcast taping, while Ed Galvez' Punk House remains one of the longest-running stand up shows around. The theater itself is owned by Mission IMPROVable, a touring improv collective that still plays every Saturday night. 1323-A 3rd St., Santa Monica; 310-451-0850.