6 Free-$5 Underground Comedy Venues in Los Angeles
These past couple of years, comedy has been booming like never before. Now with streaming services such as Netflix and HBO, up-and-coming stand-up comedians have a greater chance of landing on the big screen. Although technology has immensely contributed to this so-called comedy boom, there’s nothing like seeing your favorite comedians live and in the flesh. Luckily, Los Angeles is the hub for all things entertainment--including high-quality comedy for a low cost. Mainstream comedy clubs make you buy a minimum of two drinks, in addition to a ticket. You are looking at an average ticket price of $20 for a decent show PLUS the two waters at $5 a pop at the lowest end for those comedy shows. But you don’t need to spend $30-40 a night to get some laughs, here are six unique venues that host live stand-up and/or improv for comedy buffs on a budget:
Photo Source: Lyric Hyperion
Lyric Hyperion Theatre & Cafe
Upon strolling into this venue, one might think that it’s merely an average coffee shop serving pastries and coffee. The pleasant surprise lies in the back room, which unveils a small black-box theatre equipped with a mic stand and stool atop a decorative rug. This cozy venue is reminiscent of your best friends living room, making you feel right at home. Lyric Hyperion has everything comedy; from stand-up, to sketch, to improv and even clowning, this coffee shop will satisfy anyone’s itch for live entertainment. Aside from being able to eat a croissant while crying laughing, the best part of this venue is that the majority of the shows are free of charge! Headliners like Iliza Shlesinger and Laurie Kilmartin have performed here on $5 shows, which is enough reason to venture off to the Eastside and watch wildly successful comedians work on material
Photo Source: The Virgil Bar
This lavish 1920s-style bar is the perfect venue to feel like an upscale night owl but only pay upwards of $5 for high-quality comedy. The intimate setting is balanced with the cocktail bar in the back, creating an ideal amalgam of entertainment and nightlife. The best and most popular stand-up show at The Virgil is called Hot Tub w/ Kurt & Kristen, which you can experience every Monday at 7 pm. Ali Wong, Dana Gould, Demetri Martin, and other comedic legends have performed at this show in the past, making it well worth it to check out what The Virgil has to offer.
Photo Source: TicketWeb
Hollywood Improv (The Lab)
The Hollywood Improv is an acclaimed comedy club featuring consistent headliners every night of the week. With pictures of the most esteemed comedians lining the walls, like Robin Williams and Dave Chappelle, this legendary club is crucial to the rise of the comedy community. Unfortunately, the tickets are expensive and they make you buy two drinks for each show. Fortunately, those rules are only applicable in the Main Room performances; “The Lab” is the smaller room around the corner which has much cheaper tickets and no drink minimum. Since the big headliners are just footsteps away, they will typically drop in at The Lab and do a set for a ticket you paid little to no money for: a true L.A. comedy life hack!
Photo Source: Work From
Stories Books & Cafe
Located in Echo Park lies a patio behind a quaint bookstore that hosts one of the best weekly stand up comedy shows in Los Angeles. The show is called Good Heroin and it's every Saturday night--free of charge! This show regularly fills all of its seats and has comedians as seen on Comedy Central, Netflix, Conan and more. Good Heroin distinguishes itself from others because it’s not in a fancy club and it’s not asking the audience for anything except a good attitude and an open mind. The venue adds a trendy aspect to the experience, all the while selling hot chocolate for when it’s a bit chilly out. Comedy is generally not meant to be outdoors due to distractions and noise, however, Good Heroin is able to combat any of those hurdles and create an A+ show with A+ comedians.
Photo Source: Yelp
M.I.’s Westside Comedy Theater
If you’re looking for affordable stand-up and improv in a traditional theater, Westside is your place. This theater, located in an alleyway in Downtown Santa Monica, looks and feels like an upscale comedy club, but luckily does not share the same ticket prices. A lot of the shows are free or only $5, a true bargain for Los Angeles entertainment. This theater also offers classes, workshops, and live panels, which makes it a welcoming and comfortable environment while also providing some of the best comedy in town.
Photo Source: Time Out
The Pack Theater
This black box theater hosts sketch and improv, with the occasional stand-up show seven nights a week. Every regularly scheduled show is “pay what you can,” which is how they have a packed room every night. The Pack additionally offers sketch and improv classes that teach students how to not be boring on stage. That is another guarantee of witnessing a show at The Pack Theater--you won’t yawn and you’ll be back in no time!