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The United States of America is a pretty hilarious place for comedy. Even its smallest cities are home to great places to have a chuckle (Comedy Attic in Bloomington, Indiana we’re looking at you). And, increasingly, every bar, coffeehouse and even taco stand (see Los Angeles) is home to a stand up show. But if you want to know which U.S. cities truly rule in the laughter department, here are America’s funniest 9 cities (in alphabetical order mind you).

Cap City Comedy Club

Cap City Comedy Club | Photo courtesy of Cap City Comedy Club

Austin The live music capital of the world has slyly integrated comedy into its most celebrated fests. At Austin‘s South By Southwest for example, T.J. Miller, Chris Gethard, Reggie Watts, Tig Notaro and Brody Stevens have all performed while the Fun Fun Fun Fest in November has brought the likes of Eric Andre, Eugene Mirman and Jonah Ray. But lets not forget about the Moontower Comedy Festival this April whose headliners include Martin Short, David Cross, Maya Rudolph, Janeane Garofalo and Ron Funches. Around town there’s Cap City Comedy Club and the Velveeta Room and shows like Buzz Kill Comedy, Chris Cubas and Friends and Live at Coldtowne.

Improv Boston

Improv Boston | Flickr CC: Improv Boston

Boston Bean Town need not prove its comic chops. Late night giants Conan O’Brien and Jay Leno were born and raised in the Bay State and other comics with Boston roots include Mindy Kaling, Mike Birbiglia, Amy Poehler, Louis CK and the late Patrice O’Neal. These days you can find laughs at the Improv Asylum, Improv Boston, the Comedy Studio, Laugh Boston and Nick’s Comedy Stop. Checkout shows like Roast Battle at the Davis Square Theatre or The Gas hosted by the Anderson Comedy Group every Friday at Great Scott. The Boston Comedy Festival happens in November.

Comedians You Should Know

Comedians You Should Know | Flickr CC: Joe Kilgallon

Chicago The Windy City is one of the funniest places on earth. (Credit those hard scrabble winters for bringing folks together for a chuckle.) Sketch and improv stalwart the Second City reigns supreme in Chicago but numerous competitors including the Annoyance, iO and the Playground give it a just run for its money. Meanwhile, the vibrant stand up scene includes clubs like Zanies, Jokes and Notes and the Laugh Factory while indie showcases Comedians You Should Know, Parlour Car, This Week’s Show, Stand Up Stand Up, Blind Bet and Sadsacks and Wisecracks should top a visitor’s short list. Keep an eye out for Natalie Jose, Tim Barnes, Jeff Acuri, Kristen Toomey, Martin Morrow and Adam Burke.

George Lopez at Comedy Works Landmark on their 5th anniversary

George Lopez at Comedy Works Landmark on their 5th anniversary | Photo courtesy of Comedy Works

Denver Rising star comic and local Adam Cayton-Holland once made a terrific joke about Denver‘s status as a flyover town, but make no mistake the Mile High City is a seriously funny place. Every visitor should check out the Denver Comedy Works, a fantastic venue (with a second suburban location) that regularly hosts megawatt headliners like Joel McHale, Amy Schumer, Bill Burr, Dave Chappelle and Natasha Leggero. But Denver also boasts a thriving indie scene including showcases like The Pump and Dump, The Fine Gentleman’s Club’s Too Much Fun and more. Let’s not forget that Denver is also home to both the Crom Comedy Festival and High Plains Comedy Festival.

The Comedy Store

The Comedy Store | Flickr CC: Alan Light

Los Angeles The funniest people in the world may go begrudgingly to the City of Angels, but make no mistake that most wind up here eventually. One of the biggest thrills of a night of comedy in L.A. is the likelihood that comics like Sarah Silverman, Bob Odenkirk, Kumail Nanjiani and Anthony Jeselnik will swing by for a set. Clubs and theaters are plentiful and include The Laugh Factory, The Comedy Store, the UCB and NerdMelt Showroom and make time for showcases like Patton Oswalt & Friends, Put Your Hands Together, Meltdown, and Comedy Night at Best Fish Taco. See Ian Abramson, Allen Strickland Williams, Rhea Butcher and the Lucas Brothers en route to stardom.

Ali Wong in Minneapolis

Ali Wong in Minneapolis | Flickr CC: Greg Harries

MinneapolisIf we could get ourselves to the Twin Cities more often we’d park ourselves at the Acme Comedy Club where headliners like Maria Bamford, James Adomian, Dave Attell, Doug Benson, Nick Thune, Fortune Feimster and Ali Wong regularly grace the stage. There’s also Joke Joint Comedy Club, ComedySportz, The Comedy Corner Underground and the House of Comedy at the Mall of America.

The Comedy Cellar

The Comedy Cellar | Flickr CC: SnippyHollow

New York The last time we were at the Comedy Cellar both Aziz Ansari and Louis CK dropped by for surprise sets; that’s Gotham for you. Great places to see comedy are numerous but include the UCB, Peoples Improv Theater and the Magnet for improv/sketch plus Gotham Comedy Club, Caroline’s on Broadway and the aforementioned Comedy Cellar for stand up. Top notch showcases include Sweet, Uptown Showdown, Whiplash, Night Train with Wyatt Cenac, Comedy and Comedy at the Knitting Factory. NYC is home to big names like Todd Barry, Bridgett Everett and Hannibal Buress but see Jessica Williams, Leo Allen and Liza Treyger before they become famous.

Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen of Portlandia

Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen of Portlandia | Flickr CC: Kent Derek of Webvisionsevent

Portland To the masses, comedy in Portland is all about the quirky charms exemplified by the menagerie of characters Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein portray each season in the sketch show Portlandia, but locals know an actual thriving comedy scene is bubbling everywhere. There are traditional venues like Harvey’s Comedy Club, Helium Comedy Club and Curious Comedy Theater, but the real life blood of the city is its alt showcases including Earthquake Hurricane, It’s Gonna Be Okay Comedy Night, Lez Stand Up, and Spilt Milk. Look for headliners and up and comers to swarm the city this June for the 9th annual Bridgetown Comedy Festival.

Punchline Comedy Club

Punchline Comedy Club | Photo courtesy of Dan Dion

San Francisco Ahh, to have been at the Boarding House in San Francisco in the 70s when Steve Martin was recording his comedy albums there. Those days have come and gone, but the City by the Bay is still a top-notch comedy hub. For starters, it’s the place where comic oddballs like Robin Williams, Del Close, Margaret Cho, Greg Proops, Jesse Elias and Brent Weinbach either lived or worked for a time. These days there’s the sprawling and wonderful SF Sketchfest which happens in January and February. There’s also great venues like Cobb’s Comedy Club and the Punchline. If you’re wanting to see some up and comers check out  Kevin Munroe and Natasha Muse.

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Tagged: California, Midwest, New York, Top 10 Lists

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Jason Heidemann

Jason Heidemann

Jason is a Lead Content Specialist for Expedia Group, and manages content initiatives across numerous Expedia-owned brands. His work has been featured in the Chicago Tribune, Time Out, the Huffington Post, Chicago Magazine, Passport and many others.

3 thoughts on “America’s 9 funniest cities”

  1. san francisco is horrid. all they have is cobbs and punchline and a flood of open mics that are found in the crime ridden tenderloin and mission districts. you cant even park your car because homeless people are guaranteed to break into it. people leave their doors unlocked so the homeless can steal stuff from your car because they are tired of buying new car windows. i would rather live 40 years without laughing than go to san fran for comedy.

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