Want to have more fun for less cash?
Of course you do — you’re either a broke university student or a loaded university student pretending to be broke because that’s all the rage these days.
Allow me to introduce myself: my name is Gabey and I write that Ubyssey column you don’t read that has covered rugby carolers, dog-napping, your dumb “visionary” idea, etc. But I also am a fan and doer of stand-up comedy around Vancouver.
There’s a gross amount of talent in this city and you can see all of it for cheap. Of the many shows around here, most of them are easy on the wallet, with $5 being the common price for a ticket. Ten dollars is the most expensive you’re likely to encounter and those are relatively rare, while still being cheaper than the ticket you bought for the rager that you’ll regret going to in the morning. Many of the more casual shows and open mics are free.
The local scene is so happening that even if you go to a different show every day of the week, you will have barely scratched the surface. So with that in mind — for those of you looking to traverse the comedy rooms of this city — here is a week's worth of shows to see.
Eight 1/2 Restaurant Lounge – 151 East 8th Avenue
Yagger's Kitsilano Restaurant – 2884 West Broadway
Yagger's Downtown Restaurant – 433 West Pender Street
Havana – 1212 Commercial Drive
I should warn you to prepare yourself for analysis paralysis, because the beginning of the week is filled with an absurd amount of killer comedy rooms.
Even if you don’t like comedy, laughing, happiness and joy, you can’t not like Eight ½ Inches of Comedy, located at Eight ½ Restaurant Lounge on Main.
Along with their always-fantastic lineup, which includes headliners from around Canada and the world, at Eight ½ you can win shots by correctly answering trivia questions — most of which are related to the WWE or Manitoba for some reason. Hint: When in doubt, the answer is probably Stone Cold Steve Austin.
The show is produced and hosted by two guys with “Alexander” in their name, one of whom is the pride of the Northwest Territories or Nunavut or something. Each Monday they have $3.50 beer specials and a potent mixture of local and touring comics, including people who have been on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Conan, Deadpool and all sorts of shows and movies. No matter who’s performing on any given night, Eight ½ is a consistently solid room that is included in Just For Laughs’ Northwest 2017 lineup for a reason.
If getting to Main is too much of a trek for your time-sensitive evening, then Stacked Comedy at Yagger’s Kitsilano is there for you.
Stacked is run by Karl Sullivan, an ex-military Irishman who doesn’t return my Facebook messages. His personal pitch on why you should come to his show is “Stacked Comedy — come see a real live Irish person.”
Whether you’re there for the Irish-ness or the rad lineups, Stacked is always a good time. Like Eight ½, Just For Laughs picked up their February 20 show as part of the Best of the West category. Plus, it’s less than a 10-minute bus ride away from UBC so you really have no excuse to not stop by.
At their other location, Yagger’s Downtown, is BFF Club Comedy — a bi-weekly Monday show that’s just as stacked as Stacked. One third of the production team — Jenny Toews — is especially stoked about you coming out, since “if enough people come, we’ll move the tables off of the couches.” They might not live the elitist, smug high-life of not having tables on couches, but they’re so funny that it doesn’t matter.
Finally, there’s Laugh Gallery at Havana on Commercial Drive, which is hosted by Graham Clark, who does Stop Podcasting Yourself and has spit jokes at Just For Laughs, Bumbershoot and pretty much every comedy festival that you could possibly care about. One time he spent 10 minutes reading crappy Harlequin-novel dialogue out loud on stage, and I guarantee it was funnier than whatever sitcom you’re about to pull up on Netflix.
Clark calls Laugh Gallery a show that has “been running so long, it had a MySpace page.” Comedy rooms open and close with a frequency that makes a Kardashian marriage look like a long-term endeavour (that's still topical, right?), so anything that’s still going strong after being christened in the Napster era speaks for itself.
The Kino – 3456 Cambie Street
Tuesdays include several shows, one among them being the Comedy Mix’s Amateur Night. This is an opportunity in the downtown core to see comics from around the city work their jokes out in a club scene. Then, when one of those comics becomes a super-mega-ultra-star with a bajillion Twitter followers and everyone loves them, you can say you saw them first and feel super cocky about it.
Wander south across False Creek and there’s Komedy at Kino on Cambie and 19th — commonly regarded as Vancouver’s longest-running comedy room. More importantly, it’s where you should have been Tuesday, December 6 to see Louis C.K. do a 40-minute set for like, a nickel (actual cost: $5). When picturing Kino, just imagine if hobbits built a low-key neighborhood pub, except human-sized. It’s cozy and charming, and I kind of want to live there.
Each Tuesday, Kino will have a handful of stupidly funny people telling established material and refining new jokes. This is especially fun because if you go pay $30 to see some New Yorker or Angeleno in a sold-out theatre downtown, their opener will likely be a local comic who frequents Kino. Then you get to brag to your friends that you totally saw so-and-so at this little room on Cambie when they were first trying out the jokes that they ended up using in front of 3,000 people. That alone is worth it.
The basic takeaway for this is that Tuesday is the day to see comedy if you’re that person who comments first on YouTube videos.
Yuk Yuk's Comedy Club – 2837 Cambie Street
Seven Dining Lounge – 53 West Broadway
Corduroy Restaurant – 1943 Cornwall Avenue
Let’s start with Yuk’s.
Yuk Yuk’s is well-known for being the home of Canadian comedy, as well as hosting touring headliners for much of the week. But Wednesday is a different style. Wednesdays at Yuk Yuk’s on Cambie are Pro/Am Nights, where a combination of professional and amateur comics get to make you laugh. For just a few bucks, you get to see a variety of experience levels share the stage, plus a local host who is invariably super funny.
Just a few blocks away, Stand Up and Deliver comedy open mic is another place to go to watch a range of comics try out new material and make old material better. It takes place each week at Seven Dining Lounge, and is completely free — plus there are deals to be had on drink specials. Seven is described by Vancouver comic Jonny Paul as “the sequel to a restaurant and that’s as apt a description as you’re going to find.
One other note: if you want to have a go at stand-up comedy yourself — a questionable decision, granted, as doing so is essentially an admission of insanity — Seven is a fantastic place to start.
If it’s Wednesday night but you don’t feel like going that far east, there’s always Cords Comedy at Corduroy, just up from Kits Beach.
Cords is another one of the elusive West-of-Cambie Street stand-up shows. It began last summer, and is already well-known for its lineups of local and touring comics curated by its host, Chris Griffin. Oh, and Just For Laughs liked it so much, they decided Cords’ February 22 show was worthy of their sponsorship.
Benny's Bagels – 2505 West Broadway
Seven Dining Lounge – 53 West Broad
Little Mountain Gallery – 195 East 26th Avenue
Thursday starts with Benny’s Bagels’ Comedy Open-Mic, which is great for three reasons:
1) It’s a casual, cozy place to watch comics test out new material.
2) It’s within walking distance of my house.
Oh, and it’s free. I can say with confidence that Benny’s Bagels’ Comedy Open-Mic is the premier bagel shop-based comedy open-mic in the Pacific Northwest and probably the world — although I haven’t fact-checked the latter. Plus, while much of the comedy scene is located around Cambie/Main/Commercial and downtown, Benny’s is one of a few rooms which has recently popped up closer to UBC.
Then once a month, Thursday has the One Hitter Quitter. This show is hosted by stealthily edgy American ex-pat John Guy, who proves that nobody cares if you say questionable things so long as you look fancy doing it. Nobody else rocks a bow tie quite like John Guy (sorry Santa Ono), which isn’t his motto, but it should be.
One Hitter Quitter also goes on at Seven Dining Lounge. It is a monthly show which pits comics from around Vancouver against each other in an attempt to win the “Funniest Fuck” award, as well as $100 in pennies. And you, the audience, get to decide said winner.
A bit southeast of there is Jokes Please. This is another show that will be included on the Just For Laughs’ NorthWest Best of the West lineup. It takes place every Thursday at 9 p.m. in the Little Mountain Art Gallery, and before I started actually doing stand-up, it was the first show that I ever saw.
Their typical lineup consists of a handful of local and visiting comics who make you laugh uncomfortably hard for a mere $5. I personally guarantee that those dollars will be much better spent here than at Scotiabank Theatre, where it would get you, like, one third of a ticket to some crappy action movie. Jokes Please is hosted by Ross Dauk, whose claims to fame include being suspiciously charming and having better Harry Potter hair than Daniel Radcliffe. If none of the above convinces you to come, then the $4 beer might persuade you.
The Comedy Mix – 1015 Burrard Street
Yuk Yuk's Comedy Club – 2837 Cambie Street
Lafflines Comedy Club – 530 Columbia Street
British Ex Servicemen's – 1143 Kingsway
Fridays in the Vancouver comedy scene are mostly dominated by the touring headliners at the clubs like Comedy Mix, Yuk Yuk’s and Lafflines.
Otherwise, there are shows like Barely Legal (another Just for Laughs Northwest pickup) which is the first Friday of each month, and is run by two of the coolest 20-somethings in probably the whole world. Besides being absolutely hilarious — seemingly without trying — producers Gavin Matts and Sophie Buddle are the type of cool that simultaneously causes an intense awareness of your own lack of coolness, as well as complete indifference about that since they’re so funny that you can’t help but not give a shit.
And that doesn’t even include the lineup of comics that they put together. Would it be redundant to say their comedians are hilarious? Probably, but I should reiterate that just to be safe. The address of their venue is secret, so email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out where things are happening.
Another monthly show is Ed Hill’s Secret Service Comedy, which happens at the British Ex-Servicemen’s Association. Ed’s reasoning for why you should come is because it’s “the only venue where comics will perform under a portrait of the queen.” More importantly, it includes headliners with major credits, as well as feature acts that will knock your socks off. Plus, Ed’s got, like, 20,000 Twitter followers, which means he’s a bona fide important person.
Goldies Pizza – 605 West Pender Street
XY – 1216 Bute Street
Little Mountain Comedy Community Centre – 195 East 26th Avenue
Instead of sacrificing $20 for a party, $30 for drinks, and your soul and heir for a cab ride home, I suggest $5 (or $8 at the door) for entrance to the Comedy Basement at Goldie’s. Don’t let the fact that it’s in a basement make you look down your nose — this is the funniest basement around and one of my favourite shows in Vancouver. Run by Suzy Rawsome, Goldie’s lineups include everything from battle-hardened pro comics to relative newbies and everybody in between. Sure, you might see one or two new people bomb, but the lively vibe, combined with other killer comedians, means that this room is always a good time.
As far as non-weekly shows go, Saturdays also have other rooms including Bloodfeud and (rotating Saturdays). The latter is Vancouver’s first LGBTQ-centred comedy open mic, at XY in the Davie Village. Entry is by donation and $1 per ticket goes to supporting an LGBTQ charity. Bloodfeud, on the other hand, goes down at Little Mountain Gallery, and is a show that has stand-ups and improvisers go at it in the most entertaining fight to the death you will probably ever see. I don’t think I need to elaborate for you to know that this combination will be fun.
12 Kings Pub – 395 Kingsway
Big Rock Urban Brewery and Eatery – 310 West 4th Avenue
Sundays are relatively quiet where comedy is concerned, but there are still a few rooms worthy of your attention. Crafty Comedy on Kingsway is both a weekly open mic and the place where I did the worst set I’ve ever done — to be clear, that is solely an indictment of myself and doesn’t reflect poorly on the show. For about six months afterwards, I was convinced that the show-runner resented me for being so bad, but it turns out he’s actually a cool dude and I was just being a paranoid self-conscious loser.
Then, every third Sunday of the month there’s Comedy at Big Rock Brewery, which is run by a crew of three total sweethearts who also happen to have a knack for hilarity. Plus, if you’re in a first-year English class, one of these showrunners may be your TA.
So there you have it, a show for each night of the week — and that’s not even all of what this city’s stand-up scene has to offer — just as much as I could fit within my word limit. Come out, because without an audience, it’s just weirdos mumbling jokes to themselves in a dark room. But also come out, because Vancouver comedy is a better deal (and just generally better) than anything else in this city.
Or just go to that rager that will fill you with regret in the morning.