Laugh in the Face of Tryptophan

This Thanksgiving week, skip the sold out movie theaters and awkward high school bar reunions to support the booming local comedy scene.


Photo by Joseph A. on Flickr
 

Thanksgiving can be a perfect storm for nightlife. Everyone flocks back home to see family and friends. Most people have at least a four-day weekend. Plenty look for an alternative to madcap, frantic holiday shopping. And at some point, you and your loved ones may want to actually go do something, rather than continuing the endless loop of reheating, eating and groggily digesting.

It’s the reason why movie theaters are sold out and bars — especially on Thanksgiving Eve, the de facto “See People From High School” day — are packed. You can usually find a pretty good comedy show during the holiday weekend, too.

This being the city in the midst of an unprecedented comedy boom, you can find three.

Comedian and actor Aaron Kleiber — voted best comic in Pittsburgh in our 2012 Best of the 'Burgh Readers Poll — has put together a trio of shows that highlight the growth and diversity of Pittsburgh’s stand-up scene. Kleiber will host all three, starting with a Wednesday night show at The Beerhive, headlined by WDVE Morning Show regular Mike Wysocki. (Full disclosure: I’ll also be appearing on that show. Please forgive the de facto self-hyping.) Friday night sees a showcase of up-and-comers take the stage at Bloomfield’s Pleasure Bar. And Saturday, some of the city’s more daring voices will grab the mic at the Nothing Sacred Comedy Show at Ironworks in South Oakland (formerly the Hideout.) Wednesday and Friday are free; Saturday is a mere $5.

“All three of these shows are very different,” Kleiber says. “The Beerhive show, featuring established guys,” also including longtime local pro Tommy Kupiec, “there’s a show where you’ll have fun, with some guys that are definitely going to make you laugh.”

“Friday is a showcase of new guys, with a pro closing it.” That lineup features standout rookies Isaac Kozell, Ed Bailey and Day Bracey, along with headliner Terry Jones. “That’s the whole idea of a showcase — to get new guys up there that you may not have heard of, and give them a chance to do a show in front of a spotlight,” Kleiber explains.

Nothing Sacred — a recurring event — stars Alex Stypula (winner of the 2012 Pittsburgh Gilda Radner Great Comic Search,) Shannon Norman, John Winters and Tim Ross. Robert X, who made waves with a long stretch of absurdist performances on local stages before departing for Philadelphia earlier this year, will also return for the show. “There are guys in town now that are really good, but don’t have a shot to do ‘normal’ shows — they’re a little raw, they’re a little dirty, they’re a little nuts,” Kleiber says. “And that’s what the Nothing Sacred show is about. I like to show love to those guys, because I think they’re really funny.”



“The fact that we can do three shows in a week — and they can be very different shows — that exhibits that there’s a lot of good comedy in Pittsburgh,” Kleiber says. The variety isn’t to be taken for granted. While stand-up has always had a foothold here, quality once easily surpassed quantity. Today, comics fight for stage time. Every night of the week boasts a different well-established stand-up open mic, with new rooms popping up multiple times a year. Demand for stage time is so great that a normal event will often have dozens of performers vying for the mic, and desire for the finished product has grown to the point where showcases and all-pro shows are scattered throughout western PA on a weekly basis.

“People from other towns where I perform can’t believe that there are six-to-seven regular open mics in Pittsburgh,” Kleiber says. “That’s up there with a lot of decent comedy towns, and now I think we’re starting to see the fruit of those mics.”

So this weekend, feel free to ignore the empty promises of the nearest Black Friday bonanza, neglect the leftovers for a few hours and hit a cool bar for a great show. I’ve mentioned many times before that the comedy boom in Pittsburgh is experiencing unprecedented growth and diversity; what’s rare is the opportunity to see the full breadth of the scene in a few days for next to nothing. Take your friends, take your family — start a Thanksgiving tradition. The way it looks, you’ll have plenty of choices to make it an annual event.

Check out Pittsburgh Comedy for full details and showtimes.

 

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Michael Keaton to Receive Big Hollywood Honor

Michael Keaton to Receive Big Hollywood Honor

The recognition comes less than month before the release of Keaton's newest film, which is generating some early Oscar buzz.
Ready for Takeoff: Pittsburgh Airport Hosts First 5K

Ready for Takeoff: Pittsburgh Airport Hosts First 5K

The course directs runners over taxiways usually reserved for incoming and departing planes.
Remembering “Chilly Billy” Cardille

Remembering “Chilly Billy” Cardille

The longtime Pittsburgh television personality had been suffering from liver cancer.
Ladies Night: W Bowl Championship Football Game Comes to Pittsburgh

Ladies Night: W Bowl Championship Football Game Comes to Pittsburgh

Co-owned by Franco Harris, the W Bowl brings together players from across the Women’s Football Alliance in a fierce competition.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Deep In The Heart of Downtown

Deep In The Heart of Downtown

Downtown Pittsburgh is booming. The Golden Triangle has grown in ways that previous generations may never have envisioned, and the perception of the neighborhood at the heart of Pittsburgh is changing rapidly –– for the better.
And The Winner Is....

And The Winner Is....

Meet the top vote getter in our 2016 Cutest Pet Contest.
The Region's Top Dentists 2016

The Region's Top Dentists 2016

Our latest list includes 368 topDentists in eight specialities from around the region.
The 10 Best Smiles in Pittsburgh

The 10 Best Smiles in Pittsburgh

Plus - we poll dentists included in our 2016 list of topDentists for their opinions and tips gleaned from years of experience in their profession.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Sign Up for the 412 e-Newsletter

 

Our new, daily e-newsletter is curated by the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine and is designed to give you the very best Pittsburgh has to offer -- delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign me up!
* Email
 First Name
 Last Name
  * = Required Field
 
Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Michael Keaton to Receive Big Hollywood Honor

Michael Keaton to Receive Big Hollywood Honor

The recognition comes less than month before the release of Keaton's newest film, which is generating some early Oscar buzz.

Comments


Pittsburgh, only cooler
PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

Kennywood Park opens soon and new this season is the return of the famed whale at the entrance of Noah’s Ark. In the name of science, PittGirl paid an early visit to test the squishiness quotient of the whale's all-important tongue.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
A Thyme and Place

A Thyme and Place

Old friends Tricia Cohen and Lisa Graves reconnect via Facebook and collaborate on a historical cookbook.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
The Best 7 Spots in Pittsburgh to Watch the 2016 Euro Cup

The Best 7 Spots in Pittsburgh to Watch the 2016 Euro Cup

Grab your kits, scarfs and get ready to watch the Euro 2016 Pittsburgh-style. We'll show you where to go to get your fan on.

Comments


After Dark Hall of Fame: Sharp Edge

After Dark Hall of Fame: Sharp Edge

The local pubs that fly the Sharp Edge banner remain a favorite for top-notch beer and tantalizing grub.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Up-and-Down Bucs Survive First Half With Hope Intact

Up-and-Down Bucs Survive First Half With Hope Intact

The Pirates did just enough in the days before the All-Star break to embrace the second half of the season with anticipation if not expectation.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Namaste! Sandals Made from Yoga Mats

Namaste! Sandals Made from Yoga Mats

Sanuk’s Yoga Sling Sandal are super comfy yet chic.

Comments


Sean Collier's Popcorn for Dinner

The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
The New Ghostbusters Is a Worthy Addition to the Franchise

The New Ghostbusters Is a Worthy Addition to the Franchise

Reviews of "Ghostbusters" and "The Infiltrator," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
A Whimsical Wedding in Wonderland

A Whimsical Wedding in Wonderland

This Pittsburgh bride brought all the details together for a flawless “Alice in Wonderland”-themed wedding.

Comments


The latest tips and trends to refresh your home.
Ten Thousand Villages Celebrates Grand Reopening

Ten Thousand Villages Celebrates Grand Reopening

The new, larger location in Squirrel Hill features an expanded selection of handcrafted merchandise.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Online Education at Edinboro University Nationally Ranked

Online Education at Edinboro University Nationally Ranked

The university landed in the top 10 schools for disabled students seeking an online education.

Comments