Following are vital stats on the new Improv as well as a guide to the area's other major comedy clubs.
- Comedian Kevin Pollak was the headliner at the Baltimore Improv during its opening weekend at the Power Plant Live.
If you think you can heckle a comic, think again. All of the comedy clubs in this roundup have a strict no-heckling policy. Comics are performers, club managers point out, and as you wouldn't shout at an actor on a stage reciting Shakespeare, you shouldn't yell at a comic while he or she is working. Some clubs will eject you from the premises if you harass a comic.
Phones and pagers
Turn them off in the club. You should know better. If you don't turn off your phone, you might have happen to you what happened to one woman recently at the Comedy Factory Outlet. The comic took the phone away from her and told the caller that he was the woman's "other boyfriend" and that the two of them were having wild sex right then and there. He didn't explain why there was an audience there, though.
Some comics like to have fun with audience members. Usually, it's all in good fun and no one's feelings are really hurt. However, if the thought of getting picked on mortifies you, don't choose a seat in the front row or two. If you're at a club where ushers seat you, just say you want to sit away from the front. You'll probably be just fine from about row 3 on back.
At many comedy cubs, the comic gets most or all of the cover charges at the door, so the club makes its money on the drinks (and to a lesser extent, the food) you buy during the show. That's why most clubs have a one- or two-drink minimum. That doesn't mean that you have to buy alcohol, though. You can certainly have a soda or cup of coffee if you choose, but expect to pay anywhere from $2 to $4.50 for that cola or coffee.--Lisa Wiseman
Show times vary depending on the performer. Most shows are Wednesdays to Sundays, with earlier show times on weekdays and two shows on Fridays and three shows on Saturdays. Ticket prices also vary, with higher ticket prices on weekends. So far, prices have ranged from $12-$25. Two-drink minimum. Full dinner served before the first show only. Appetizers, salads and sandwiches only at later shows. No smoking allowed.
Who's up next: Sheryl Underwood, from "Def Comedy Jam," Jan. 24-27; David Cross from HBO's "Mr. Show" sketch-comedy series, Jan. 30-Feb. 2.
Winchester's Comedy Club, 102 Water St., 410-576-8558.
Show times Thursdays at 9 p.m., Fridays at 9:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Cover charge is $5 on Thursdays and $10 on Fridays and Saturdays. No drink minimum. Smoking allowed.
Winchester's is the only club in town with a night for amateur comics looking to try out new material. Thursday is open-mike night; the shows draw 12 to 20 comics.
Aspiring comics who want to take part in a show need to come to the club at 8 p.m. and sign up. First timers are welcome, and it's OK if you bring notes on stage or if you or someone else tapes your performance.
Since the bulk of the audience is made up of other area comics, the crowd is usually very forgiving if your performance bombs.
On weekends, local and regional comics perform.
There's a bar and a restaurant (Shamrock Pub) downstairs from the comedy club, and Winchester's usually offers munchies like nachos and chicken nuggets during weekend shows.
Comedy Factory Outlet, 36 Light St. (above Burke's restaurant), 410-752-4189.
Show times are 8:30 p.m. Thursdays; 8:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Tickets are $12. One-drink minimum. Smoking allowed.
The Comedy Factory is Baltimore's oldest comedy club. The place has been making folks laugh for 32 years and the end does not seem to be in sight.
The club features local and regional performers, many of whom have gone on to achieve national recognition. Check out the lobby walls -- they're lined with autographed pictures of past performers. You'll likely see some faces you know.
The club's cozy-style seating has some drawbacks. The club packs as many people as possible in the small room, and a cigarette hater could be unlucky enough to have to sit next to someone puffing away.
However, groups of people can reserve a table or a bank of tables together and form their own little no-smoking area. A group can be as small as two people.
If you'd like dinner, you can dine at Burke's downstairs before or after the show.
Who's up next: Buttaman, Meshelle Foreman-Shields and Koli Tengella, Jan. 25-26; Strawberry, Bernard Leach and Miss Gayle, Feb. 1-2.