Jolene Sugarbaker at the Mic, courtesy Flickr user DCMatt, under Creative Commons
Comedy in DC is a regular feature here, but it only appears every other week. So you should probably know that you can watch comedy in or around DC pretty much every night of the week for free, if you’re willing to take a gamble on open mic comedy. Every night, there is a group of local comics trying out new stuff, polishing older stuff, and feeding their egos from your laughter at some of the finest dive bars and hotel basements in the metro area. These shows, while less polished than what you’ll see at a club, are more interactive, more spontaneous, and just might convince you to try it for yourself.
Sunday night comedy happens mostly in the deep suburbs, but there’s usually a show happening at the DC Improv. In addition, there’s a show every other Sunday night at the Palace of Wonders on H Street.
Monday night is when the activity picks up for the week- bars and restaurants are less busy so they’re more interested in bringing in small shows to fill their seats. Adams Morgan is the place to be- there’s a well-run show at Chief Ike’s Mambo Room, and if Chief Ike’s climate control is too unpredictable for you (I once spent an entire show at Chief Ike’s shivering in my coat), you can head to the Spy Lounge instead for less divey experience. There’s a somewhat more loosely organized show on the first and third Mondays of every month in the basement of the Eleventh Street Lounge in Clarendon for the Virginia-dwellers; I can be found there frequently.
Tuesday night is variety night, with Live Humans in DC alternating between the Palace of Wonders, The Electric Maid, and Solly’s on U Street . It’s an open mic that takes any kind of act, and with the rotating locations, it’s sort of a movable feast of local talent.
Thursday night is good for downtown cubicle slaves like myself. There’s comedy in the basement of the Topaz Hotel on N Street, with probably the most complicated setup I’ve ever seen for a free show. Portable stage! Fake brick wall! White tube lights! If you lollygag around afterwards, you might get recruited to carry some of it out to the truck.
Friday night gets a little thinner, because a lot of experienced comics are busy appearing at colleges and comedy clubs throughout the region. Fortunately, if you need your free comedy fix, you can get it at the Uptown Tavern.
Saturday night belongs to the suburbs, with the Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse’s restuarant hosting a show that starts at 10:30, and shows happening at EJ’s Landing several Saturdays of the month in College Park.