"Best" is relative, much like what you find funny. That's why each month we will be recommending a varied number of comedy events -- some sketch, some improv, some standup and some all-of-the-above -- and calling them the best. Should you be in search of a laugh or willing to take a risk on humor, this is the list for you.
2015 has greeted comedy in St. Louis with a jumping high-five. A barrage of once-local, now funny and famous people are making their way back to town to share their successes with you. Whether you seek a laugh-a-minute guarantee or a comfortable bar to sit and listen in, it's all here and it's all for jokes.
Improvised Missed Connections Every Friday at the Improv Shop 10 p.m. | $5
The Improv Shop's latest weekly event is precisely what it sounds like: improvised Missed Connections. A team reads a Craigslist Missed Connection ad and then improvises a scenario of just what went down. Each week's show will feature a rotating lineup, so in the spirit and standard of improv, you'll never get the same show twice.
Also on Fridays at the Shop is a show dubbed Let's Make a Scene: An Improvised Game Show. Once again leaving little room for confusion, the show is also exactly what you would expect from the title. So if audience participation is more your speed, these are the shows for you. Let's Make a Scene precedes Improvised Missed Connections at 8 p.m.
Art Bar Standup Stand Off Saturday, January 17, at Art Bar 9 p.m. | $3
The comics are all in it together just as much as they're in it to win it. There's no medal or physical trophy, but there are certainly bragging rights to be had. Art Bar's Standup Stand Off features a handful of St. Louis' committed and stage-hungry standup comedians duking it out with their jokes, for your pleasure. This month's ringleader and host is Nathan Orton, a kid who has options but chose comedy -- and once you see him perform, you'll be glad he did.
Luke Ashlocke Friday, January 16, at the Elvis Room 8 p.m. | $8
Bearded, charming and hilarious is certainly one way to go through life, and there's no doubt that Luke Ashlocke is capitalizing on that hand he was dealt. An international road warrior, Ashlocke has learned how to break down the fundamentals of a joke so that his humor may be shared with individuals of varying cultures and ideologies alike. His stories and musings are drawn from life but are not without embellishments, because after all, if a man had only the desire to be honest, he probably wouldn't choose a room full of strangers to which to bear his soul.
Kevin Nealon Saturday, January 17, at Lumiere Theatre 7 and 9:30 p.m. | $25 or $35 |
Wikipedia will tell you Kevin Nealon is best known as a cast member on Saturday Night Live. And while that may be the case, his current household-name status is thanks to Showtime's Weeds. As for his standup game, it's the fundamental element of his swag. Witnessing a headlining set by a comedian of his versatility and stature is like a slam-dunk contest for your ears.
The Sklar Brothers St. Louis Area Foodbank Benefit Saturday, January 31, at the Pageant 8 p.m. | $30
The Sklar Brothers are teaming up with the St. Louis Area Foodbank, a local charity that provides food to families in need in both Missouri and Illinois, for "Hunger is No Laughing Matter," making the brothers' return to their hometown even more triumphant. Two years ago they sold out 2720 Cherokee, and last year they made a surprise stop at the Demo after throwing out a first pitch, but this time around they'll pack the Pageant with the goal to fill bellies not just with laughter, but with something a bit more robust and substantial: food.
If you're not familiar with the Sklar Brothers' brand of humor, know this: It's a tag team of great frivolity and care. Combining characteristics of sketch and standup into their routine, their style is idiosyncratic and engaging by nature.
Contraceptive Comedy Headlining Cody Melcher Saturday, January 31, at Shameless Grounds 8 p.m. | No Cover
The foundation of Shameless Grounds was to create a safe place to get weird or, at the very least, caffeinated. For over a year it has served as home to Contraceptive Comedy, a local standup show that from time to time features comics from outside this fair city of ours. This month, Cody Melcher will take to the stage and dazzle you with the delights of humility while looking really, ridiculously sharp. Cody is quick-witted and captivating, so much so that you may not realize he spitting fire.
Joining him are locals Eric Brown, Sarah Bursich and host and cofounder of the show, Stryker Spurlock.
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