Laugh your troubles away because Houston is ground zero for stand-up, sketch and improv. From homegrown talent to Hollywood's finest, get ready for upcoming stints with Jay Pharoah, Brady Bob, Marcus Bowers, Smokey Suarez, Paula Poundstone, Daniel Simonsen, Bob Biggerstaff and the Texas debut of Aasif Mandvi.
President Barack Obama might not rule the White House anymore, but funnyman Jay Pharoah keeps mining those uncanny impressions of our former POTUS in television's SuperMansion: Summer Vacation Special. Large and small screen appearances include last year's horror flick, Unsane, voicing Kanye West in Family Guy, and regular bits as Lou in Champaign ILL. The six-season SNL alum is stopping in Houston for a three night gig at Houston Improv, and bets are he'll channel some of his inner Jay Z and Denzel for laughs.
7:30 and 9:45 p.m. January 18, 7 and 9:30 p.m. January 19, 7:30 p.m. January 20. Houston Improv, 7620 Katy Freeway, 713-333-8800, improvhouston.com, $25 to $35.
Houston's comedy culture just got elevated with this exciting new partnership. One of our favorite downtown performance spaces, Rec Room, is now officially partnering with Comedy Hub Houston, a nonprofit that is heading up the venue's comedy division. Daniel Simonsen (Late Night with Seth Meyers) headlines during the debut of JK Fridays, a new show co-hosted by Comedy Hub co-owner Janan Araujo-Siam. Saturday night brings H-Town Double Down, showcasing not one but two comedic greats on the intimate stage: the return of Simonsen plus Bob Biggerstaff (Last Comic Standing), as well as local talents Son Tran, Kenji Alonzo and Araujo-Siam. It's this pairing of national names with local comics that makes Comedy Hub's formula a winning one. Seats are limited and go fast so, if you snooze, you lose.
8-10 p.m. January 18-19, Rec Room, 100 Jackson, 713-344-1291, facebook.com/comedyhubhouston, $21.80 to $27.04.
Paula Poundstone steps away from NPR's Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me! and her popular podcast Nobody Listens to Paula Poundstone, stepping onto the Wortham stage for one night of hilarity. We're not quite sure what she'll talk about, though expect jokes about traveling, some of the different jobs she's held, living in a house full of kids and animals, and the current political climate. Every show is different so, even if you've seen this veteran comic before, this Friday night is sure to bring fresh laughs, courtesy of Knitting Factory Presents.
8 p.m. January 18, Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas, 832-487-7041, houstonfirsttheaters.com, $40 to $120.
We're not talking the Wolverine here; these X-Men of Comedy and Friends are regulars at Dave & Buster's, delivering sharp, biting comedy all together under one roof. Brady Bob headlines, DJ Lil Randy of S.U.C. is in the mix, and it's hosted by Marcus Bowers (co-founder of She's Happy Hair; author of The Martin Luther King Blvd, Road, Street, Mindset). And those friends we mentioned? Past shows have included Asshole Al, Terence McPeterson, Gucci Robison, Julius Fogle, Kevin Charles, Jus Jaden, DK, Kitty Coats and Stacy Anderson. There's a lot going on behind the scenes in this live comedy showcase: X-Men of Comedy is presented by Economic Hats, T-Spot Productions, Let 'Em Hang Productions and the Original Big Belly Burgers.
8 p.m.-midnight, January 19, Dave & Buster's, 6010 Richmond, 713-952-2233, facebook.com/events/212594406316975, $15 (early bird).
After 9/11 there was an almost hysterical fear of otherness, with folks afraid to get on a plane if a fellow passenger was sporting a beard. One effective method for reminding us of our shared humanity is through comedy, and Aasif Mandvi's appearances as the tongue-in-cheek Senior Middle East Correspondent on Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart went a long way toward that goal. More recently, we've seen him alongside Alec Baldwin and Salma Hayek in Drunk Parents; holding his own with Kate Hudson, Jennifer Aniston and Julia Roberts in Mother's Day; and with John Hamm in Million Dollar Arm. Now Mandvi, a Peabody Award-winning actor, writer, creator, comedian, author, producer and humanitarian, is making his Texas debut at Asia Society Texas Center in a program titled, Connecting Through Comedy: A Conversation With Aasif Mandvi. ABC’s award-winning journalist Melanie Lawson moderates the evening, presented as part of Asia Society's Muslim Series. The reception begins at 6 p.m. with the program starting at 7 p.m.
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6-8:15 p.m. January 24, Asia Society Texas Center, 1370 Southmore Boulevard, 713-496-9901, asiasociety.org/texas/events/connecting-through-comedy-conversation-aasif-mandvi, $20 to $40.
From Harlem to Hollywood, comedic heavyweight Smokey Suarez has seen and done it all. Getting cast in Rock-a-fella Films flicks like Paper Soldiers, Death of a Dynasty and State Property put him in the same arena as Kevin Hart, Rashida Jones and Sean 'Diddy' Combs, while his five years as a staple on BET's Comic View cemented his fame with American audiences. For his three-night run at Joke Joint, we'll get all the clever punchlines and bold physical comedy we've come to expect, but with a raw, uncensored delivery.
8 p.m. January 24, 7 and 10 p.m. January 25 and 26, Joke Joint Comedy Showcase, 12802 Gulf Freeway, 281-481-1188, jokejointcomedyshowcase.com, $14 to $20.