When it comes to stand-up comedy, sometimes some of the best acts can be found in some of the most unlikely locations. Enter the Sunshine Bar, a windowless dive that offers up live music, trivia nights and some of the most sensational comedy action in the metroplex. Hosted once a month by Brian Breckenridge of Blackbox Comedy, the show features a mixed showcase of comic talent that includes sets by promising newbies and headliner acts from the likes of local pros like Clint Werth, Paul Varghese and Brad LaCour. Oh, and did we mention that the shows are always free? Check the Facebook site for the schedule.
Recommended for Comedy Clubs because: The Sunshine Bar is one of the metroplex's best unexpected spots to get your laughs on.
Ilene's expert tip: Sunshine Bar offers happy hour ($1 off liquor, $.50 off bottles & $.25 off drafts) daily until 7 p.m.
At this Caribbean restaurant-grocery market hybrid, a platter of jerk chicken usually comes with a rum punch and side order of stand-up. That's if you hit this spot around 8:30 p.m. for Funkin Funny Fridays. The free weekly gig features a local emcee, a DJ and short sets by both emerging comics and old pros. Keep an eye out for other events, including live music and karaoke on Saturday nights and a public shindig held every third Saturday of the month. Come early if you want snag a seat–it's first come, first served.
Recommended for Comedy Clubs because: Free top shelf comedy in a cozy Caribbean restaurant, what's not to like?
Ilene's expert tip: And while you're there, be sure to check out the cooking, it's the only place in the area that serves (as well as sells) authentic East Caribbean specialties.
Billed as the largest performance complex outside of New York's Lincoln Center, the 10-acre AT&T Performing Arts Center is arguably the best performance venue in the city. It's also the place to go when you want to see major Broadway hits, the biggest names in comedy and everything in-between. And with six indoor performance spaces located within its surrounds (Winspear Opera House, Wyly Theatre, Dallas City Performance Hall, Studio Theatre, Hamon Hall and the Meyerson Symphony Center), you'll never find a shortage of on-stage action. Not only does the place host legends like Jerry Seinfeld, "Weird Al" Yankovic and Billy Crystal, it also boasts a solid roster of performances by both local and touring comedy troupes. Check the website under comedy to see who's hitting the stage next.
Recommended for Comedy Clubs because: The At&T Performing Arts Center is where to see the biggest names in comedy.
Ilene's expert tip: APAC offers student discount to most of the shows, be sure to bring an ID to the box office. Also Living Social occasionally offers discount ticket deals.
If you're in the mood for laughs that venture beyond stand-up gigs and open-mic, then this is your place. Located in the heart of Uptown, this in-the-round theater serves up an eclectic repertoire that includes comedies, dramas, musicals, and sometimes, a combination of all three. Expect to find everything from campy horror spoofs, like Charles Busch's Psycho Beach Party–to comedy-dramas and comedy musicals such as The Wedding Singer. The theatre plugs away all year round turning out seven productions throughout the season, with each show running for four weeks at a time. Tickets range from $35-40 and can be purchased online in advance or in person at the Theatre Three box office.
Recommended for Comedy Clubs because: Theatre Three is one of Dallas' best places to catch theatrical productions.
Ilene's expert tip: The Theatre is located in the Quadrangle where there's free parking and a host of restaurants that offer discounts to Theatre Three patrons who show their tickets or stubs. Check the website under Plan Your Visit for more information. Discounted tickets can often be found on sites like Goldstar.com.
Looking for an alternative to stand-up? Say, perhaps something a little more risqué? Then say hello to Viva Dallas Burlesque, an utterly entertaining extravaganza that seamlessly blends theater, dancing and comedy with a bit of mildly saucy striptease. Launched by Shoshana Portnoy, founder of Dallas-based burlesque magazine Pin Curl, the productions take place at Viva's Lounge on the first and third Saturday of the month. Performers come in from all over the country and themes run the gamut from classic to comic to sci-fi. The third Saturday of the month features Cirque du Burlesque: Think Cirque du Soleil meets cabaret and burlesque with aerialists, belly-dancers, jugglers, clowns and even circus poodles. Tickets start at $22 and can be purchased through Viva Dallas' website or at the door on the night of the performance.
Recommended for Comedy Clubs because: Viva Dallas Burlesque is the largest and most popular burlesque show in Texas.
Ilene's expert tip: The venue has a full bar and be sure to follow of Facebook to find out about special offers.
Hyena's may look like just another bare-bones backroom comedy bar, but make no mistake, this place packs a punch when it comes to doling out the laughs. In fact, the place is so popular that it has three locations (Dallas, Plano and Fort Worth) in the DFW area. The line-ups are consistently superb: On Friday and Saturday nights, the shows feature some of the biggest names in comedy (Pauly Shore and Dustin Ybarra for example) alongside local comedians who are all headliners in their own right. Even better is the Thursday gig, when you can catch the same show, with the same comics who perform on Fridays and Saturdays, for free. That's right, no fee to guarantee entry – just turn up and it won't cost you a penny. Speaking of free, Hyena's hosts one of the best open-mic nights in Dallas. Swing by on Wednesday to check out a rising star or try to become one yourself.
Recommended for Comedy Clubs because: Hyena's Comedy Club offers the tops in national and local comedic talent.
Ilene's expert tip: Hyenas offers 2 for 1 admission coupons on the website. Be sure to opt for preferred seating so you can be guaranteed of a spot up front.
This Addison outpost of the famous New York club offers the cream of the touring comic crop, hosting everyone from Richard Lewis to Lily Tomlin and Rob Schneider. But it's not only the major leaguers that draw a crowd, this place is a hotbed for the city's local pros as well. And the weekly line-ups (Wednesday through Sunday) go well beyond stand-up or open-mic– with everything from comedy magic to comedy hypnosis to comedy competitions that pit Dallas' best comedians against one another in a hilarious battle of wits. Of course a night of laughs here doesn't come cheap (ticket prices range from $10-$37), but you can probably save some bucks by searching the web for discounted tickets. If all else fails, opt for general admission instead of preferred seating– there really isn't a bad seat in the house.
Recommended for Comedy Clubs because: The Addison Improv is the best place to catch the biggest names in comedy.
Ilene's expert tip: There's also a location in Arlington. Be sure to order tickets in advance, Fridays and Saturdays always get sold out.
Along with being the longest running stand-up comedy showcase in town, this cozy lounge ( hidden away in the Doubletree Hotel) has also become one of Dallas' premier comedy hubs thanks to its excellent programming of top quality acts. With an intimate vibe and weekend shows that feature a pleasing mix of local favorites, buzzy national stars and the best up-and-comers, the club offers plenty of comedy to satisfy your laughter needs. Want to try out your own material or see fresh comedy hopefuls honing in on their comedic skills? Then head over on Thursday when the stage is up for grabs, just make sure to sign up in advance. And don't forget to check the website for the latest bunch of headliners.
Recommended for Comedy Clubs because: Back Door Comedy Club was named "Best Comedy Club" by D Magazine.
Ilene's expert tip: Keep an eye out for half-price tickets available from sites such as Groupon. Also note that the shows are open to ages 18 & up, and also have a two drink minimum (which includes non-alcoholic beverages as well).
For variety and a consistent line-up of some of the best comedic talent in town, it's hard to beat this decades-old Dallas institution. Perhaps best known for its raucous, popcorn slinging melodramas (think horror parodies and sci-fi spoofs)– the theatre also offers everything from comedy musicals, burlesque shows and improv to occasional dramas. Stage productions take place on Thursday through Sunday, while visiting performers (musical acts, comedy troupes, etc.) make an appearance on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. And on weekends, it's usually one long festival of funnies with two performances scheduled each night. Along with being family-friendly (with the exception of weekend late night shows), the atmosphere is always lively and the ticket prices are always refreshingly cheap. But be sure to arrive early, it's all first come first served here.
Recommended for Comedy Clubs because: Pocket Sandwich Theatre is one of the best value comedy shows (for all ages) in town.
Ilene's expert tip: Check the website before coming there's usually $2 off coupons available for all the shows. Dinner service closes at 7:30 on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 6:30 on Sunday.
And here we have our number one. Dallas Comedy House is undoubtedly the go-to venue for the best improv, sketch comedy and stand-up in town. This is where you can get your funny fix on five nights a week: there's open-mic on Tuesday and Wednesdays, comedy sketch revues on Thursdays, and comedy variety shows on weekends. Much of the talent comes from students and faculty members of DCH's training facility, but comedy giants are also known to hit the stage here as well. Along with two theaters, the venue boasts a bar with a full menu of libations and food. The shows are all reasonably priced with ticket prices generally running $8-$10 and the open-mic performances are always free. If you want to see consistently exciting, cutting-edge comedy, be sure to put this place on the top of your list.
Recommended for Comedy Clubs because: Dallas Comedy House has one of the best and most varied comedy programming (for all ages) in Dallas.
Ilene's expert tip: DCH offers happy hours on drinks and snacks twice a day: from 7-9 p.m. and from 11:30-2 a.m.