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Arts & Culture

Comic Relief: New Orleans Comedy Nights

The comedy scene in New Orleans is booming, offering stand up and improv comedy shows at local bars and theaters every night of the week.

If laughter is the best medicine, consider New Orleans the comedy pharmacist. In case you haven’t heard, New Orleans not only professionalizes in food and music, but making people laugh, too. New Orleans has become the Chicago or New York of the South as far as the quality and amount of live comedy it has to offer.

new orleans theater
TNM founder Chris Trew, and GoNOLA TV’s own CJ Hunt performing an improv scene

There is hardly a slot open in the weekly New Orleans comedy calendar. The recent New Orleans comedy bang is thanks in large part to the folks at The New Movement theater in the Marigny who run a comprehensive improv program with several graduating classes under their belt since their opening last year. They’re responsible for two annual comedy festivals that draw comedians from all over the country – Hell Yes Fest and the Megaphone Marathons – and are also among the New Orleans venues and bars that host regular weekly comedy nights.

The New Movement is unique in that it is one of two venues largely dedicated to improv comedy in New Orleans. Stand-up fans can get their fix at a number of local bars with weekly comedy nights. Special credit goes to the hosts of stand-up nights – they can mean the difference between a good show and a great one. They are both the axis that the show revolves around and the engine that moves it forward, whether they’re introducing seasoned or first-time comedians to the stage.

There’s no lack of comic relief in New Orleans, so let the humor heal you at one of these regularly occurring improv and stand-up comedy nights.

Carrollton Station

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Comedian Bill Burr makes a cameo at the Carrollton Station stand-up open mic

Oak Street’s Carrollton Station packs a crowded house every Wednesday night for their weekly “Think You’re Funny?” stand-up comedy open mic night. For those brave souls ready to perform their material on stage, sign up starts at 8:30 p.m. and the show starts at 9:00. If you’re lucky enough to be in attendance when a local or mainstream celebrity stops by, you might be able to see the likes of comedians like Bill Burr, as we were fortunate enough to catch recently.

The New Movement

While The New Movement has multiple shows a night from Thursday – Sunday every week that cultivate many gasps, snorts and belly laughs from the audience, its flagship show that can be seen every Saturday is the Megaphone Show. This show features a different member of the New Orleans community who tells true life stories which are then interpreted by an all star improv cast who have just heard the stories for the first time.

Howlin’ Wolf Den

new orleans comedy
Local comedian and member of Comedy Gumbeaux, Nature Boy, performs at the Hi-Ho Lounge

Howlin’ Wolf Den presents two weekly stand-up nights. Comedy Beast on Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m. is hosted by local class clowns Andrew Polk and Cyrus Cooper of The New Movement who consistently feature a solid group of hilarious stand-up comedians. Comedy Gumbeaux on Thursdays at 8:30 p.m., hosted by Bad Boy Redbean, likewise brings in a mixed bag of experienced comedians and virgin ones.

House of Blues

House of Blues is also the home of two weekly comedy nights. Give Em The Light is where green comedians can test their talents every Tuesday at 8:00 p.m. and the Allstar Comedy Revue on Thursdays at 8:00 p.m. in the Voodoo Garden, hosted by local comedian Leon Blanda, features a billed lineup with special guests, some of whom just might turn out to be SNL alumni.

La Nuit Theater

This comedy theater on Freret Street has been in the game since 2003, offering both stand-up and improv shows as well as improv classes. La Nuit offers a rare all-ages comedy night called ComedySportz, a comedy Olympics of sorts where comics compete for audience approval every Saturday at 8:00 p.m. So bring the kids to join in on the fun!

Hi-Ho Lounge

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New Orleans comedian Andrew Polk, co-host of Comedy Beast at Howlin’ Wolf Den

NOLA Comedy Hour on Sundays from 9:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. presented by The New Movement delivers way more than what they promise, treating audiences to not one, but up to three hours of live stand-up comedy. Hosted in the refurbished Hi-Ho Lounge along the oh-so-happening St. Claude Avenue, the candles light up the tables in a dimly lit room, creating an intimate New York-style comedy experience. The NOLA Comedy Hour welcomes both heavy hitters and newcomers to the local comedy scene.

Lost Love Lounge

Every Tuesday starting at 9:30 p.m., Lost Love Lounge hosts Comedy Catastrophe starring a booked showcase of local comedians. Order some pho to go with your comedy and you’ve got one heck of a date or night out with friends in the making.

Circle Bar

This stand-up open mic called Square Mic is held every Wednesday starting at 7:30 p.m. and offers a great weeknight option for those 9 to 5ers out there. Located in the cozy Circle Bar on St. Charles Avenue, this venue gives comedians the chance to get up close and personal with the audience. Sign up starts at 7:00 p.m.

All photos by Sally Tunmer

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