A zoo that accidently kills its pets like an absent-minded six year-old, flying sheets of metal, dead ducks in tailings ponds — when the local news is as tragic as a messed-up country song, Calgarians need something to laugh about. Luckily, there’s a place where the city’s depressed masses can go to laugh it off. Actually, there are a lot of places — Calgary boasts enough stand-up venues to keep you yucking it up every day of the week. Or, at least, enough nights to make sure you don’t have to hear about those poor ducks again.
Not every major Canadian city has one, but most do: Yuk Yuk’s is the biggest name in this country’s stand-up business. The Yuk’s empire boasts the largest performer roster in Canada, which means you’ll see acts from across the country as well as Albertan favourites like Edmonton’s Sean Lecomber. If you’d rather weep than laugh, you can always play a few rounds of poker down in the casino. 218 – 18th Ave S.E. (in the Elbow River Casino), 403-258-2028.
The Laugh Shop
A Western Canadian franchise with clubs in Alberta and BC, The Laugh Shop is a strong alternative to Yuk Yuk’s. Expect to see faces you’ll remember from TV, with recent comedy guests including Pauly Shore, Norm MacDonald and Steve-O from Jackass. Next up: Dustin Diamond of Saved by the Bell (and one unsavory video). 5940 Blackfoot Trail S.E. (in the Blackfoot Inn), 403-255-6900.
The Comedy Cave
An independent hole in the wall at the base of a Travelodge, The Comedy Cave is it’s own club, that’s for sure. The club’s manager, Terry Hollas, emcees most shows; like The Laugh Shop, the Cave brings in a stream of recognizable American comics. Tickets are the cheapest in town and it’s also got the longest run during the week, with shows Thursday through Sunday. 9206 MacLeod Trail S.E., 403-287-1120.
Comedy’s a deadly pastime for comedians — if you succeed, you “kill,” and if you fail, you “die.” If you really want to see risky comedy, check out Calgary’s independent rooms, hosted in bars and restaurants, where professionals trot out new material and amateurs get their first taste of bitter death. Comedy Monday Night is Canada’s longest-running open mic night, Red Carpet Comedy exclusively caters to pro comics and Going to Hell Sundays is just plain sacreligious. And because independent rooms succeed and fail about as often as their comics’ jokes, check in with CalgaryComedy.ca to see which rooms are still keeping ’em laughing and which ones have gone on to that great big stage in the sky.
Image courtesy of vasta.