Austin

The Best Places to See Live Comedy in Austin

Learn how to laugh again at these knee-slapping venues.

Photo by Gary Miller Photography
Photo by Gary Miller Photography
Photo by Gary Miller Photography

Lots of us claim to be comedy fans after watching a few stand-up Netflix specials, but can you call yourself a real one if you’ve never ventured into some local clubs to get your ha-has on in-person? Comedy is truly an underutilized source of enjoyment-take a date, or simply lift your spirits alongside some good friends during these trying times. These spaces also allow you to direct your attention toward a stage without the ear ringing aftereffects of a music festival (cough, ACL, cough) or the hushed silence of a movie theatre. What’s not to love?

If you’re over the same old bar scene routine and in need of a hearty dose of laughter, check out this list of top comedy venues around Austin. Grab a drink, take a seat, and enjoy the show-but, for the love of Mitch Hedberg, leave the heckling at home.

Photo courtesy of Fallout Theater
Photo courtesy of Fallout Theater
Photo courtesy of Fallout Theater

Fallout Theater

Downtown
Ask any Austin improver worth their weight in Chris Farley references about their favourite place to catch comedy in the city, and they’ll point you directly to the Fallout Theater. The absolute devotion by comedy nerds to this spot probably has to do with the fantastic weekly and monthly shows they put on-ones which pull straight from the headlines and encourage so much audience participation, you practically feel like they’re basing a sketch off your own life (and sometimes they are). For example, there’s the “Fuck This Week” showcase every Monday, where the cast uses audience members’ stories about their shitty weeks as inspiration for some seriously wild improv. Think of it as a chance for individuals besides you and your friends to laugh about that horrible Tinder date you went on last Wednesday.

Photo courtesy of Spider House Cafe and Ballroom
Photo courtesy of Spider House Cafe and Ballroom
Photo courtesy of Spider House Cafe and Ballroom

Spider House Cafe and Ballroom

Central Austin
Late night campus hangout and classic Austin libation spot Spider House dishes up the sort of comedy that fits right in with the quirky atmosphere and drink specials. The disco ball- and red curtain-strewn Ballroom hosts showcases with an interesting edge, such as “The Joke of Painting,” which happens every second Monday and bills itself as a mix between an art lesson and a comedy show. The must-see at Spider House, though, is the super-popular “Stoned Vs. Drunk Vs. Sober,” a stand-up competition where the teams get, well, under the influence, and resulting shenanigans occur. And while we don’t blatantly encourage you to do the same while watching, it sure makes the jokes a hell of a lot funnier.

Photo courtesy of The Sunset Strip Comedy Club
Photo courtesy of The Sunset Strip Comedy Club
Photo courtesy of The Sunset Strip Comedy Club

The Sunset Strip Comedy Club

Downtown
Austin’s newest funny kid on the block, the Sunset Strip, opened just this past April, but has already gained a ton of traction in the local scene. The emphasis here is on the best mic-master the ATX has to offer-with regular showcases featuring all the Lone Star comics currently lighting up the stage. Recent programming includes stacked lineups of up-and-coming kings and queens of local comedy, where you can check out the young guns that are not only funnier than you, they also don’t yet require botox. And when we say stacked, we are not exaggerating-with most evenings boasting around twelve comedians minimum, the giggles are sure to last for hours.

Photo by Bells and Whistles Productions
Photo by Bells and Whistles Productions
Photo by Bells and Whistles Productions

The Paramount Theatre

Downtown
When it comes to live comedy, the Paramount Theater is the place to catch all the heavy-hitters-stand-ups so famous that even your grandmother would recognize their name on the marquee. Check out their schedule and you’ll notice a smattering of top-billed names: Big Mouth‘s Nick Kroll, the guys from true crime comedy podcast hit The Last Podcast on the Left, the cuter version of Jon Stewart (AKA Trevor Noah), and, last but not least, the legendary Bob Saget. The big acts at the Paramount are reflected by the theatre itself-with a landmark Austin sign, velvet curtains, and surroundings pulled straight from a European opera house, you’ll almost feel too fancy to laugh so hard soda comes out your nose.

Photo courtesy of Esther's Follies
Photo courtesy of Esther’s Follies
Photo courtesy of Esther’s Follies

Esther’s Follies

Sixth Street
Those who’ve only been to Dirty 6th for a long night of drinking Mind Erasers and stumbling across the sidewalk may not have noticed Esther’s Follies-although, to be fair, it would take a truly inebriated mind to miss the facade’s cacophony of colours. A turquoise building decorated with a rainbow sign, geometric shapes, and sea creatures, the exterior is a visual indication of the excitement awaiting inside. Esther’s Follies is famous for its variety shows, which have been delighting Austin audiences for over 40 years. The acts feature political satire, comedy sketches, magic tricks, and everything-in-between-essentially a mix between SNL and an old-school vaudeville act, served up with Texas flair.

The Velveeta Room
The Velveeta Room
The Velveeta Room

The Velveeta Room

Downtown
For over three decades, The Velveeta Room (AKA The Velv) has been a beacon for local and touring comics. The dark, lounge-style theater lit solely by red candle holders is a great place to escape the madness of Dirty Sixth. Every Thursday, the spot hosts Speed Mic, a fast-paced open mic night for noobs and pros working out new material-and it only costs $5 to get in. Not to mention, every Wednesday, you can currently catch comedian extraordinaire Christina P. hopping straight from your Netflix queue to The Velv’s stage throughout her local residency.

ColdTowne Theater
ColdTowne Theater
ColdTowne Theater

ColdTowne Conservatory

Central Austin
If you’re looking to not just watch some comedy, but also up your own jokes game, as well, check out ColdTowne Conservatory. This spot is known for its comedy, improv, and sketch classes, with award-winning instructors that have taught and performed at such renowned temples as Second City, iO, and UCB Theaters. When you’re not practicing for your SNL audition, however, you can catch some fantastic performances from the house crew. Keep an eye on their social media channels for updates on their frequent outdoor improv jams, as well as any upcoming graduate showcases. To give you a taste, a recent one was inspired by soap operas.

Cherrywood Coffeehouse
Cherrywood Coffeehouse
Cherrywood Coffeehouse

Cherrywood Coffeehouse

Cherrywood
The great coffee, beer, and toppings-loaded tacos at Cherrywood Coffeehouse have made it a neighbourhood hub for years. And every Tuesday at 8 pm, you can watch (or even participate in) one of the longest-running open mics in town. It attracts skilled and awful-ly funny comics with varying levels of experience. Not to mention, it goes down outside (and socially distanced) on their amazingly chill and spacious patio. And it’s even pet-friendly, so your four-legged friends can get in some chuckles, too.

Kick Butt Coffee
Kick Butt Coffee
Kick Butt Coffee

Kick Butt Coffee

Highland
On any given weekday morning, you can find people filtering in and out of Kick Butt Coffee with some extra-charged java and one of their gigantic (and uniquely named) XXL cookies. However, on Wednesday night, it’s all about the guffaws at their long-standing Comedy Open Mic Night. For those hoping to perform, you better have your tight five in order-the list opens at 7:30 pm, and, depending on how many comedians sign up, you’ll usually have three to five minutes (or even less) to strut your stuff. The good news? Even if you don’t get a rush from your set, you can at least get a sugar rush from the shop’s delicious treats.

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Molly Moltzen is a contributor to Thrillist.

Austin

Get Lucky at These Irish Bars in Austin

Drink a green pint on St Patrick's Day at these Irish bars in Austin.

Photo by Melissa Vinsik, courtesy of Cork + Barrel
Photo by Melissa Vinsik, courtesy of Cork + Barrel
Photo by Melissa Vinsik, courtesy of Cork + Barrel

In the midst of all the SXSW chaos, it helps to remember that there’s a rainbow at the festival’s end-that is, the hangover-blessing we’ve been granted of having St. Patrick’s Day 2023 fall on a Friday. Whether you attribute this small win to the Gregorian calendar or the luck of the Irish, it’s sure to amp up the already liver-damaging activities associated with this cultural celebration. However, √Čire is more than just leprechauns and Colin Farrell-it’s a breathtaking land full of warm, welcoming, and good-hearted people. Fortunately, there’s a way you can get a taste of the Republic’s spirit, and a dark stout, at the same time by hitting up one of Austin’s various Irish pubs. From cozy, intimate spaces decked out like small taverns in Cobh, to modern dives with all the party energy of Temple Bar, our list has the best spots in the city to “erin go bragh” all out on March 17.

Photo by Jane Yun, courtesy of BD Rileys
Photo by Jane Yun, courtesy of BD Rileys
Photo by Jane Yun, courtesy of BD Rileys

B.D. Riley’s Irish Pub at Mueller

Mueller
With a giant model of a beer tap literally decorating their front door, you can’t miss B.D Riley’s, nor doubt that this East Austin hang is a spot to down some serious brewskis. And its name, and perfect pours of Guinness, aren’t the only aspects they draw from the Emerald Isle-the entire pub itself was actually designed and built in Dundalk, Ireland, and shipped over for assembly in Bat City. Such authentic decor calls for equally authentic sounds, therefore, on St. Patrick’s Day, B.D. Riley’s will feature an all-day, four-artist bill of live, trad-inspired music. So, while you may not start the day knowing all the words to “The Galway Girl,” you are bound to sing along by last call.

Kelly’s Irish Pub

Bouldin Creek
Having only opened this past December, Kelly’s is the new kid with a brogue on the block. Occupying the space which formerly housed tapas restaurant Winebelly, this pub had big shoes to fill for South Austin barflies, but quickly won them over with an impressive whiskey selection and friendly atmosphere. A big reason behind the real deal √Čire vibes can, most likely, be chalked up to the fact that one of Kelly’s owners was actually born and bred in Ireland-and the dedication to delivering a true-to-life experience is evident in everything from the shepherd’s pie to the witty bartenders. For St. Patrick’s Day, they are getting the party started early with live music and an opening time of 8 am.

Photo courtesy of Jack & Ginger's
Photo courtesy of Jack & Ginger’s
Photo courtesy of Jack & Ginger’s

Jack & Ginger’s

The Domain
While The Domain may boast more bars than you can shake a shamrock at, there’s only one spot in the North Austin entertainment behemoth that can be properly called an Irish pub: Jack & Ginger’s. Start off the night with selecting a tasting flight from their over 82 beers on tap, then, move onto shots poured straight from their Irish Whiskey Tours-after loosening up with a round or two, you might just find yourself with the gift of gab. And, before snapping a selfie over Jack & Ginger’s see-through glass floor, balance out that buzz with food offerings like a giant soft pretzel or a round of fried pickles.

Photo courtesy of Foxy's Proper Pub
Photo courtesy of Foxy’s Proper Pub
Photo courtesy of Foxy’s Proper Pub

Foxy’s Proper Pub

Downtown
Here’s a spot that visibly radiates with Irish pride-at Foxy’s, the glow of green beams out from the bar’s lighted panels, and across their chandelier made of Jameson bottles. When it comes to cups and chow, their commitment to the theme continues-the use of the word,”proper,” in the pub’s name alone indicates you’re in for a heavy pour of the standards. Consequently, the taps are abundant with essential Irish sips, including Guinness, Magners, and Smithwick’s. With Lone Star on draft, there’s also a nod to Texas tradition as well. But don’t fear if you’re bored of beer-Foxy’s variety of whiskey-based cocktails will let you switch it up (and still keep it Celtic). March 17 will find them celebrating with live music, whiskey tastings, and swag giveaways.

Photo by LEVY Architects, courtesy of Cork + Barrel
Photo by LEVY Architects, courtesy of Cork + Barrel
Photo by LEVY Architects, courtesy of Cork + Barrel

Cork & Barrel Craft Kitchen + Microbrewery

Round Rock
Compared to a flight to Dublin, the 30-minute drive to Round Rock’s Cork & Barrel is much more convenient-not to mention, won’t require waiting in a TSA line. A mix between a modern Austin beer garden and a historical Irish pub, this spot’s spacious interior and expansive outdoor patio guarantees there will be enough room for the whole crew to cheer “sl√°inte.” And, their microbrewery’s signature beers are the ideal drinks to do such a toast with. The menu of specially crafted drafts includes a blueberry wheat, an Irish red ale, and a vanilla stout. This St. Patrick’s Day also marks Cork & Barrel’s two-year anniversary, and they are throwing down for the double-celebration with live music, yard games, Irish food specials, and plentiful amounts of green beer and Irish Car Bombs.

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Molly Moltzen is a Thrillist contributor.

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