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Big laughs: A guide to standup comedy this weekend, this month, this season

Bill DeYoung

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Whitney Cummings during a recent appearance on ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live!"

In these trying times, perhaps a good laugh is just the balm we need to help us make it through to the next day, and the next. And so on.

From a purely practical standpoint, comedy shows make a lot of sense as America eases out of the pandemic’s death grip: Every tour has a company of one, maybe two people – not a lot of buses, trucks or cost overhead. For theaters, it’s you get your performer in, get your performer out, it’s a relatively simple procedure.

Yuks are in strong supply Saturday, with major shows at both Ruth Eckerd Hall and the Straz Center for the Performing Arts. (That’s Sept. 11, of course, which is probably another reason to cherish a few precious moments of levity.)

The Straz Center show is a benefit for the nonprofit Florida Cancer Specialists Foundation. It’s the annual Crack Up Cancer standup concert, with national comedians Steve Byrne, Steve Simeone (a real Steve-fest, this show), Derek Richards, Johnny B and Catherine Maloney.

Tickets for the 8 p.m. show in 1,000-seat Ferguson Hall are $20-$50 here.

Comedian Whitney Cummings is playing two shows Saturday at Ruth Eckerd Hall’s Capitol Theatre Saturday. This whipsmart, edgy standup is best known for her four Netflix specials – most recently, Can I Touch It? – and her video blog, Good For You. She produced and stared in the sitcoms Whitney and 2 Broke Girls.

Her show is branded (by theater management) For Mature Audiences Only – Cummings’ stuff is not for the easily shocked or offended.

“Over the past year, I’ve had a lot of time to drink but also to work on ways to connect with comedy fans through my podcast and social media,” she said in a pre-tour statement. “And even though we’ve all been so far away from each other, I feel closer than ever to the people who follow me.

“I went from putting out a well-polished hour comedy special every couple years to sharing my personal life daily and frankly, secrets I shouldn’t even tell my therapist. I can’t wait to get back in venues with comedy fans and get every other disease besides Covid.”

The 7 p.m. show is sold out, while tickets remain for the 9:30 ($39.50 here).

Keep laughing

Here’s a quick laugh-by-laugh look at the other comedy shows scheduled for bay area theaters before the end of the year:

Hasan Minhaj, as we told you last week, has a date at the Straz Center’s Morsani Hall (2,600 seats) Sept. 18. His early show is sold out, but there are tickets available for the 10 p.m.

Gottfried

Iconic comic (and big-mouthed voiceover actor) Gilbert Gottfried swings by Sept. 24, at the Central Park Performing Arts Center in Largo.

Also on the 24th, it’s Girls Night Out at St. Pete’s Palladium Theater, double-billing comics Helen Keaney and Trish Keating (along with “special guests”).

At Morsani Hall (Straz Center) Sept. 25 is comedian Leanne Morgan, the Texas mother of three, with the dry, sarcastic wit.

Nurse Blake, the stage name of Florida-born registered nurse (and comedian) Blake Lynch, is on the road and will visit Ferguson Hall (yup, the Straz Center again) Sept. 25.

Tom Segura, whose four Netflix specials were top performers (most recent: Ball Hog), has a standup date Oct. 2 at Morsani Hall in the Straz Center.

Tampa native Bert Kreischer was the first-ever standup comic to embark on a drive-in comedy tour. He is a renowned podcast host (BertCast and 2 Bears 1 Cave) and he’s coming home for an Oct. 21 appearance at the Straz Center’s Morsani Hall.

Handler

Oct. 27 brings comedian, writer ad ever-pithy TV host and commentator Chelsea Handler to the Mahaffey Theater.

At the Palladium Theater Nov. 5, it’s Intern John, who’s raising money for the military family organization Fisher House Foundation.

Veteran standup Kathleen Madigan returns to the Capitol Theatre Nov. 7. Shows are at 6 and 8:30 p.m.

Video spoofmeister Trey Kennedy (Millennial Girlfriend School) will visit Ruth Eckerd Hall Nov. 10.

Stephen Lynch, who’s half comic, half musician and half something else altogether, visits the Capitol Theatre Nov. 11.

At the Hard Rock Event Center Nov. 11. Larry the Cable Guy.

Say hello to Piff the Magic Dragon of America’s Got Talent fame Nov. 15 at the Capitol Theatre.

Ruth Eckerd Hall brings back King of Queens and Paul Blart star Kevin James Dec. 4.

On Dec. 17, the reigning Ruler of Rant Lewis Black has a Mahaffey Theater date.

White

Scotch-drinking, cigar-smoking Texan Ron White returns to the Hard Rock Event Center Dec. 19.

Just when you think the year is almost over, here comes none other than Patton Oswalt to the Capitol Theatre, Dec. 30.

New Year’s Eve means an appearance by Anthony Rodia (Road Rage Wednesday) at the Capitol Theatre.

Bonus selection: ’80s throwback Steven Wright, still the driest sense of humor in American comedy, plays Van Wezel Hall in Sarasota Oct. 21.

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