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January 23, 2023
A great standup show can turn your entire day around. But when it hits wrong, it hits wrong hard.
Fortunately, Seattle has a thriving standup comedy scene, with lots of prominent comedy nights and comics. And I mean lots. The number of choices around here can be overwhelming. How do you pick a show that’s most likely to hit right?
That’s where we come in, with a handy-dandy list of shows that are great places to start.
Monthly • Last Thursdays @ Olmstead in Capitol Hill
#TheBlackout is one of Seattle’s newer comedy shows, starting in the spring of 2022, but it’s already become one of the scene’s can’t-miss monthly events. Each edition showcases local and national Black comics, including two feature comics, a headliner, and a host pulled from a pool of local comedians: Vanessa Dawn, Javann Jones, and Kiesha G.
Now, Olmstead’s atmosphere usually reads as more of a restaurant/bar than a performance venue, but that doesn’t matter here. The comics who perform #TheBlackout can work Olmstead’s Flamingo Room so well that they make the place feel like it was built to be a comedy club. The bottom line: When you go to #TheBlackout, you’ll see some of the best comedians in the region.
Heads up! Get #TheBlackout tickets in advance instead of waiting to buy them at the door. That’s good advice for any comedy show, but it’s especially true at #TheBlackout. This show tends to sell out! Follow them on Instagram for the latest ticket links.
Monthly • First Fridays at CSz Seattle in Fremont
Looking for a comedy show with a midnight movie vibe? That’s Seattle Super Secret Standup Show, which literally starts at midnight. Now, that means you have to be a night owl to hang with it, but even if you’re not, it’s worth the late bedtime. Hosted by Monica Nevi, the show begins with feature sets from two headliner-level comics from all around the Puget Sound region.
So, alright, we know the venue, the time, the host, and, if we hit up the event page, who the feature comics will be… so what’s the Super Secret? It’s the show’s actual headliner, that’s what. Seattle Super Secret Standup Show manages to pull incredible national headliners—and sometimes even outright celebrities—to drop in and close out the show. Have a double espresso after dinner and get to it!
Weekly • Every Tuesday at The Rendezvous in Belltown
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A thriving standup comedy scene needs a top-notch open mic night that serves as both an incubator for new comics and a place where established comics like to come to try out new material. That’s what The Comedy Nest is for Seattle. Now, it also differs from the average open mic in a couple of crucial ways. For one, half of the three-minute open slots are reserved for self-identifying women, so right off the bat, the playing field is leveled away from the bro fests that lots of open mics can end up being. And! Each show includes a longer set from an established comic, which gives it more of a hybrid vibe, not a 100% open mic.
So, what you’ll see on any given night is a combination of raw-but-funny beginners, raw-but-interesting beginners, new-ish comics who are ready for the next step, established comics trying out new material, and a substantial set from a local headliner. And fun fact: All of the hosts from the rest of the shows on this list have performed at The Comedy Nest at one time or another—and often still drop in! It’s a fantastic cross-section of Seattle’s standup comedy community, and it’s only $5. Less than a single egg these days.
Monthly • Third Wednesdays at Here-After in Belltown
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Ok, I can’t even think of the name of this show without laughing. It feels so juvenile (say it out loud), but it’s also just perfect. A show that makes you laugh before you even get in the door. So, what’s the set up here? Dee’s Nuts (help me!) is hosted by Dewa Dorje, the show’s namesake Dee. Joining Dee is DJ Yaddy, who provides music and sound effects, and a trio of different headliner-level comics each month. Dewa and her guests each perform a set of equal length, and then everyone comes back onstage for a live podcast-like segment where Dewa poses questions and the comics riff together. So, like The Comedy Nest, Dee’s Nuts has a hybrid feel to it—but in this case, it’s a part comedy show/part talk show. Bofa those things.
All in all, you’re getting four headliner comics, a fun impromptu riffing session, and music selections from one of Seattle’s top DJs. Yeah, this is what you want!
Bimonthly • Second and Fourth Wednesdays at Clock-Out Lounge in Beacon Hill
Joketellers Union might be the most crowd-participation-oriented standup show in Seattle. As the name suggests, hosts Emmett Montgomery and Brett Hamil preside over the show, sorta like it’s a union hall meeting. There are shout-outs to audience members for repeat attendance, questions posed directly to the crowd, and even a little stage time set aside for people to do things like, say, translate Nigerian proverbs or receive a theme-song created for them(!) for frequently showing up. And then there’s the goofy communal handclap during the show’s opening theme song. Yeah, it’s a party!
Amid this freewheeling variety, you’ll see standup sets from local and national headliners—and in this case, “local” means from all around Western Washington, not just Seattle. It all adds up to an evening of, as Montgomery frequently puts it, “jokes, friendship, and pizza.” What more could you want?
Monthly • First Fridays at Kremwerk in Denny Triangle
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Ok, when I asked “what more could you want?” in the line above, who answered in their head “kink?” Then here’s the show for you!
I mean, wait, let’s be clear: it’s a kink-themed comedy show, not kink itself. There’s no actual nudity, no! But what exactly does a kink-themed comedy show mean? In this case, host Bobby Higley is joined by three comics (or sometimes burlesque performers!) who will each perform their set while incorporating some “random perversions.” So, for example, maybe someone will do a set while having honey drizzled over their body. Or while someone traces an icicle along their torso. Or perhaps a burlesque dancer will invite the audience to eat chocolate off their body. (!)
It’s all in silliness, so in a way, it’s a little bit like the “challenge” portion of a game show. But there’s a great foundation of consent. Performers or the audience can call out yellow light/red light to slow or stop things if anything starts feeling off. It’s a great way to get some freakiness in with your comedy, and still be safe.
Mark is a lifelong Seattleite (ok, Bothell and Seattle) and writes about PNW culture and travel. He doesn’t believe that the Freeze is specific to Seattle or that Seattleites “bring the rain” with them to other cities.