When life has got you down, turn that that front upside down and smile - and chuckle, and laugh, and guffaw, and snort out loud. Those will be the reactions you have when you take a seat in the audience at some of the funniest comedy clubs on the entire East Coast. From Washington, D.C. proper to the suburbs of Arlington and other Virginia bedroom communities up the road to nearby Baltimore — there are so many options for funny business fans looking for a good time. There's the rapid-fire comedy of The Buddha-ha-ha at Topaz Bar. There are classic clubs like the DC Improv, The Comedy Spot and Magooby's Joke House. Try out the urban humor of the Laugh Out Loud at Club Elite or enjoy exquisite beers alongside rich humor at the Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse. If political humor is your game, there's no better place than Washington, D.C. and the famed Capitol Steps comedy show that has delighted locals and tourists alike for more than 30 years. No matter how bummed or blue you are when you reluctantly head out for the evening, a stop at any of these or similar comedy clubs will be certain to put you in a good mood with a happy smile on your face.
8 The Capitol Steps Comedy Show
The Capitol Steps may usually refer to the famous staircase in front of the U.S. Capitol, but for more than 30 years, it's also referred to one of the funniest comedy shows in D.C. Back in 1981, a group of U.S. Senate staffers came up with a routine that poked fun at their bosses and their workplace. That simple start turned into the long-running Capitol Steps, an ever-changing performance the finds humor in the intricacies of Washington and its famous politicians. The shows are popular with folks inside the
"Beltway" as well as tourists, who love the political wheeling and dealing of Washington, D.C. Specializing in satirical humor, the Capitol Steps have recorded more than 30 albums and can be heard four times a year during radio specials on National Public Radio. ((703) 683-8330)
7 Laugh Out Loud at Club Elite
Popularly billed as the Washington, D.C. area's only "urban" comedy club, the Laugh Out Loud Comedy Club at Club Elite features some of the funniest comedy out there. Big names on the comedy circuit regularly stop at Laugh Out Loud. Many of them have been featured on television on networks such as HBO, Comedy Central, and BET. Stick around after the show, because that's when the after party gets going. A live band and a live DJ will entertain you into the wee hours of the night. Laugh Out Loud is hosted by Chris Thomas, who's been doing stand-up comedy since he was eight years old. (301-894-7671)
6 Arlington Drafthouse
Everyone loves beer (well, most everyone). And everyone loves laughing. So now they can have the best of both worlds at the Arlington Drafthouse. A cozy, 65-year-old building, the drafthouse offers premium beers and microbrews. It also offers great stand-up comedy and who doesn't like a good laugh. Sketch and improv groups are also featured on the stage at the Drafthouse and you'll find an extensive menu of fresh pizzas and sandwiches. The Drafthouse is actually located inside a movie theater, so it's a cinema too. Moviegoers can enjoy table service, comfortable chairs and a full restaurant and bar menu. (703-486-2345)
5 The Comedy Zone DC
For more than a decade now, The Comedy Zone DC has hosted some of the most talented comedians and comediennes from around D.C., the East Coast and the nation. Situated in the scenic Windows on Washington restaurant found on the 14th floor of the Doubletree Hotel, the Comedy Zone DC is a great venue and a great evening out. Each Friday and Saturday, the Comedy Zone DC offers a dinner show at 7 p.m. and an "uncensored" show aimed strictly at adults at 10 p.m. Along with the comedy, look for live music and variety acts. And don't forget the great food and the amazing views. (877-335-2844)
4 Washington Improv Theater
A true improv theater group -- the acts created by the Washington Improv Theater ensemble will have audiences laughing and breaking up over their crazy improv scenes. For more than 10 years, the ensemble has been working without a script to see just how much fun they can create. In improv - short for improvisational - the actors or comedians start with a basic scene premise, but then must wing it and play off each other. Often caught off guard by a zany zinger, the narrative of the scene can zig and zag all over the place. The mission of the Washington Improv Theater not only includes their popular shows, but also classes for the community. The ensemble regularly travels to improv festivals to perform as well. (202-204-7770)
3 DC Improv
One of the premier comedy clubs in the nation's capital, the DC Improv has it all. You'll find some of the biggest names in stand-up comedy stopping here amidst their nationwide tours. You'll find local comedy stars too, all working two comedy showrooms. The DC Improv also features a comedy school, a restaurant and the ubiquitous bar. The DC Improv has been around for more than 20 years. It launched in 1992 and quickly gained fame for showcasing early stars such as Ellen DeGeneres, Brian Regan and Dave Chappelle. Today, stars continue to pass through the doors of the DC Improv, including Carlos Mencia and Aisha Tyler. (202-296-7008)
2 Topaz Bar
A comedy contest of sorts, this restaurant lounge offers The Laughing Buddha-ha-ha on Thursday nights. Up to ten comedians (and newbies) get three to 10 minutes each to run through their act and try and make the audience laugh. It's a free show, but you must be 21 or older to enter. Afterwards, non-professionals (including you if you are interested) can take to the stage and try your own hand at comedy. It's the "Everyone's a Comedian" segment and entrants can win a $25 prize (plus a free beer). Come out and hear some of the best up-and-coming D.C. area comedians and laugh yourself silly. (202-393-3000)
1 The Comedy Spot
Not all good comedy is found inside the boundaries of Washington, D.C. The quaint and historic bedroom community of Arlington, across the Potomac River, has a number of popular comedy venues. The Comedy Spot offers weekly comedy nights filled with family friend fare as well as adults only shows with a more "sophisticated" bent. Each Friday and Saturday night, the ComedySportz team opens and later the Blue Show is offered up on the main stage. Tickets can be purchased online or at the door. A concession stand offers snack foods, similar to those found at a movie theater. Fortunately, the prices aren't as sky high as at a movie theater. ((703) 294-5233)
About Chris Wadsworth
Chris hails from Madison, Wisconsin and proudly wears the Cheesehead mantle. He majored in French and Russian at the University of Wisconsin and earned a Master's degree in journalism from the University of Miami.
After 12 years working as a TV reporter and anchor, newspaper reporter and columnist and newsroom manager, Chris jumped into the deep end of the pool and became a full-time freelance writer. His work has appeared in many national and regional magazines, newspapers and websites.
Chris and his family live in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. and love exploring the nation's capital and its environs.
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