Tropical comedy gold: Who to see and where to go
Florida is a funny place. Our stranger than fiction lifestyle makes for great comedy, because it basically writes itself. Between the cast of characters who live here and the wild nightlife we’re (in)famous for, Miami has plenty going to keep us all very amused. And we’ve got quite the burgeoning comedy circuit. We spoke with a few local comedians to hear about the city’s comedy scene and find out their top picks for spots to find a laugh.
As the the host of the monthly Last Call Comedy Show at Wynwood Brewing Company, Gross has gotten to know Miami’s comedy better than most. At Last Call, top-notch local craft beer is the perfect pairing for wall-to-wall comedy featuring some of the best of South Florida’s local talent. After a stint in New York, she returned to her native Miami, ready to take the stage with other locals. Looking at comedy in Miami, Gross feels the city is ever-evolving, with comedians cycling in and out. “We go through kind of these waves I would say, of a really amazing core group of people that a lot of times decide they need to move off because it’s time,” she said. “Some people do come back, like myself, and then it starts over again. It refreshes itself, which is great because you can see how it’s evolving and changing.”
Her go-to spot is The Comedy Inn. Here, stand-up comedy has found a home in a little conference room set up inside a 1970s Quality Inn near The Falls Mall. A comedy club inside a hotel is the weird, quirky kind of thing that was made for our strange town, and we’re not sure which stands out more, the unconventional setting or the no drink minimum and open bar. “That’s probably where I’ve gotten the drunkest and laughed the hardest because it was an open bar,” Gross said. “I was able to let my hair down the most at The Comedy Inn, so that would be my favorite.”
Last Call Comedy: 8 p.m. on the last Wednesday of the month at 565 NW 24th St., Miami 33127
The Comedy Inn: Shows announced through email only; 14501 S Dixie Highway, Miami 33176
An immigration lawyer by day, and a performer by night, Murray is in Battlecat, an improv troupe that’s part of Miamah Comedy, which celebrates and cultivates long-form improv, sketch writing, and character work. He’s no newbie to the scene, as he started his own troupe, Model Citizens, back in 2005 when he realized the city needed diversity in its improv offerings.
Years later, he’s noticed a growth in Miami’s improv community and sees that more young people are moving to the city, hungry for comedy and its different forms.
“If you have a large demographic of young people you’re going to have varying interest and naturally some of them are going to be creative and comically inclined,” he said. “They’re out there looking for things and they’re looking for different forms.”
As far as venues, Just the Funny is an old-timer in the comedy scene, serving up laughs since 1999. Its improv and sketch comedy shows start at 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. This stage is tucked away in a building off Coral Way and 32nd Avenue, making it an adventure in the more suburban side of town. If after one too many, you feel you’ve got what it takes to be funny, try out one of the improv classes offered by Just the Funny and Miamah Comedy. “I recommend one thing in particular. It’s actually the thing that I would say is most worth checking out. Once a year they do the Miami Improv Festival,” Murray said.
Just the Funny: 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays at 3119 Coral Way, Miami 33145
Comedian Kyle Grooms is a Miami transplant living and performing in New York. He started performing in Miami in 1995, and always makes time to come back home and perform. The biggest change he’s seen is the development of respect and appreciation for comedy.
“There’s like a whole new scene in Miami, the art community, artist community — there’s hipsters now, which they didn’t have when I was there,” he said. “It’s not like before, you know. Miami was just so rough. This new scene, they respect the art more.”
For a laid-back back time in the Brickell area, Grooms recommends Flamingo Theater Bar, an intimate venue with a grand stage, which allows for stand-up comics to connect closely with the audience.
Murray is the writer of Back That Sass Up, a blog dedicated to celebrating Miami in all its hilarity. She’s been thrilled to witness an explosion of the comedy scene since she moved here in 2004, before there was a South Beach Comedy Festival or much stand-up. What she finds most exciting is because Miami’s market is so new, it’s not saturated. This has created a dynamic and accepting scene with great potential for more comedy and diverse voices.
“Miami is poised to be in a very special kind of position to offer a podium for comedians of color who want to share their comedy,” she said. “We’re in a unique position to dispel and dismantle those stereotypes. That’s the beauty of comedy. It has the power to shine a light on issues or on stereotypes we had never really realized before, so I think this is an exciting time to be in Miami because we’re just seeing the inflection point of when comedy is exploding in our city.”
For a night of straight up stand-up, Murray recommends Casa de Haha at Sweat Records. The venerated record shop turns comedy club once a month, and you’ll find a full range of performers, from those unpolished raw talents to more established comics looking to try out new material. If you’re seeking what’s raw and happening, then get yourself to Sweat Records, where there’s no cover and you can bring in a beer from Churchill’s next door.
Another fan favorite is ElWoods Gastro Pub, which often hosts comedy acts. A rotating cast of talented comics make this homey English club a ripe setting for comedy.
“The big cherry on the cake is Elwoods is one of the pubs in Miami where they can actually pour a decent pint of Guinness, so that’s always a big plus,” Murray said.
Casa De Haha: Every second Tuesday of the month at 5505 NE 2nd Ave., Miami, FL 33137
Elwoods: Every first and third Tuesday of the month at 188 NE 3rd Ave., Miami, FL 33132
This article originally appeared in The New Tropic August 7, 2015.