Monday, July 21, 2014

The Best Medicine In Life Is Free: Laughs in the Valley

Just because you lot are too cheap to shell out for Don Rickles tickets for your favorite blogger's birthday doesn't mean you can't still take in some of the top comics-about-town. Free comedy nights abound at several locales in Vegas, from neighborhood bars and restaurants to your high-toned casinos. A typical line-up has a gaggle of up-and-coming locals opening for a nationally touring headliner, and sometimes you can see the same comics who are playing the big-money comedy clubs on the Strip...sometimes even the same night!

"Free" has a fungible definition here: some venues might require you to buy a drink or two, or at least have an unspoken understanding with you on that score, but if you're going to a bar and not buying drinks: What's with that, anyway? As the stand-ups would say. Look at it this way: At Bonerz on Saturday night you'll pay as much for two drinks as you would to buy tickets for the Riviera Comedy Club and then sit there getting drymouth for two hours. (Of course, if you're like me, you can just sit there looking desperate and pathetic and, apparently, no cocktail waitress will bother with you.)

A real trouper, Torris Fairley dashes from hosting "Freakin' Funny Comedy" at the Freakin' Frog (4700 S. Maryland Parkway) to his next gig, hosting the Wednesday comedy night at Lucie's Lounge  (Charleston at I-515), kicking off at 11'ish. It's a neighborhood bar which gives you a chance to see local up-and-coming comics as well as a nationally touring headliner in an intimate setting where many of the comics and their audience know each other. You might also see the headliner leave the stage to go have it out with the loud-mouthed drunk at the end of the bar who wouldn't shut up during his set. That's club comedy in its rawest form, people. Headliners have included Jeffrey Pearson, "The 4:20 Comic," on his way to a gig opening for Cheech & Chong in Denver, and actor/comic Gerry Bednob (whose face you know from The 40-Year-Old Virgin).

Thursday at 9 p.m., it's "Jokes With Friends" at Nacho Daddy's Henderson (9925 S. Eastern). Local comics are challenged to improvise five minutes of schtick incorporating randomly assigned topics (Kanye West! Detention! Country Music! Twerking!) while the audience picks contestants with a show of applause and cheers (this of course necessitates an applause meter, and apparently there's an app for that now). Before the finals they trot out the night's featured comic...or in the case of one show, wheel him out: California's Lamond Sheppard, AKA "Comedy on Wheels." (Sample quip: "I was diagnosed with rolling pneumonia.")

Weekends, the comedy action starts at Mob Bar at the Downtown Grand with their edition of Bonerz Comedy Club, Friday and Saturday at 8:30 p.m. It's an intimate venue that gives you a chance to get up close and personal with the comics. Another way of saying that is...It's a small room. Our headliner, LOGO star Jason Dudey, made no bones about it as he awrily eyed the tiny platform they left him standing atop: "I love my agent. She's getting 15 percent of this." He went on to kill it, getting king-sized laughs that belied the size of the venue.

The casino that's about as far South as you can get without hitting Primm, the M Resort, is home to Laugh Out Loud Fridays, 9 p.m. in the Ravello Lounge. Your host Sean introduces a line-up of side-splitting talent from across the country in a lounge where the surroundings are a little more upscale and a good-sized crowd keeps laughs keep coming. At a recent show, local Ryan Cole was so hilarious I didn't see how the headliner could possibly top him, but actor/comic The Greg Wilson gave him a real run for his money.

Night-owls who still haven't satisfied their laugh craving can hop north on Las Vegas Blvd. to South Point, where the Dirty at 12:30 show recently celebrated its first year with an all-star special. Friday after midnight in the Grandview Lounge, Gabe Lopez hosts this early morning of uncensored comedy, with backing from "Last Comic Standing" vet Ralphie May.

Caveat: It's always worth checking before going to a show, in case they're charging admission for a special guest or event.

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