Shows are 8:30 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays and 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Tickets vary, depending on the performer, but generally are $15 on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays and $17 on Fridays and Saturdays. Two-drink minimum. No smoking allowed.
- 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
Before the Improv in Baltimore opened, this was the closest place to go to see national comics. Now that the clubs are sharing acts, you only have to go to D.C. to see an act you missed here. Or, you can see a performer in D.C. before he or she comes to Baltimore -- if you can't wait.
Who's up next: Will Durst, Jan. 22-27.
Jokes on Us, 312 Main St., Laurel, 301-490-1993.
Show times are 8:30 p.m. Thursdays and Sundays and 8:30 p.m. and 10:45 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Tickets are $10. Two-item minimum (food or drinks). No smoking allowed.
This club was formerly known as the Comedy Connection but has been under new ownership as Jokes on Us for the past two years.
Located on the site of former movie theater, Jokes on Us puts on one of the biggest shows around, with a warm-up guy, three opening acts and a headliner. The club also offers a full menu of entrees, sandwiches and salads.
If you're a fan of the "Def Comedy Jam" productions, in particular the stuff that's "too raw for TV," then this is the place for you.
Patrons who sit in the front may be picked on and mildly embarrassed, as was the case at a recent show. We won't go into details, but let's just say it involved a blindfold and a cucumber. (Don't ask me how I get talked into these things.)
If humiliation isn't your thing, ask the usher to seat you in the back. He or she will comply.
Starting Feb. 10, the club will hold open-mike nights on Sundays for comics, poets, singers and other performers. Through early March, the open-mike nights will feature a contest, with the winner getting the chance to be the opening act for national comedian John Witherspoon, who appears March 22-24.
Who's up next: Sommore from the "Queens of Comedy," Jan. 25-27.
Tracy's at the Bowman, 9306 Harford Road, Carney, 410-665-8600.
Show times are 9:15 p.m Fridays and 8:30 p.m. and 10:45 p.m. Saturdays. Tickets are $8. Two-drink minimum.
Tracy's, which has been open for more than a decade, features mostly local talent; regional performers are showcased now and then.
The club, which seats 170, is located downstairs from the Bowman restaurant and doubles as the restaurant's banquet room on its off nights. Thanks to a little expertly applied dim lighting, the club management makes the place look like a club and not a banquet facility. You can get a cozy, little cocktail table for two or reserve a group of tables if you have a large crowd.
While the Bowman attracts a middle-aged and older crowd, Tracy's patrons are mostly in their 20s and 30s. (Note: You must be of legal drinking age to go into Tracy's.)
Many patrons like to have dinner at the Bowman before attending a comedy show. It makes a nice date.
Who's up next: Gemini, Jan. 25-26.