THE IMPROV, HARRAH’S
The setup: The top of the local line, the Improv can turn expansive or intimate with the maneuvering of a plush curtain. A swanky onstage piano, ’80s-inspired neon, tuxedoed ushers, portraits of Seinfeld, Hammond, Lewis, Wayans, Lopez and Richards (still) and reassuring brick wall add to the classical-retro ambiance, but it’s the recorded intro from chain founder Budd Friedman urging audiences to “Laugh. Shut up. Laugh. Shut up” that offers the best hat-tip to the art form’s rich history.
The punch: 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday, $29.05 plus taxes and fees, 369-5223.
Notable upcomers: Ty Barnett (December 11-16), Adam Ferrara (December 18-23)
THE COMEDY STOP, THE TROPICANA
The setup: It’s all folding tables and right angles at this expansive 300-seater, and you’ve got to fetch your own drinks from the bar in the corner. The talent is reliably upper-echelon, however, and the venue boasts the best backdrop, a Vegas-themed mural courtesy of local artist S.C. Jones.
The punch: 8 p.m. (nonsmoking) and 10:30 p.m. (smoking) nightly, $19.95 (includes one drink), 739-2714.
Notable upcomers: Kevin Downey Jr. (November 19-25), Mitch Fatel (December 3-9)
RIVIERA COMEDY CLUB
The setup: Lots of spiky neon, black-and-white headshots, oil table lamps, a wide variety of seating and an open, rounded stage add to the anything-goes atmosphere, not to mention the constant traffic to and from the bar. It’s a comedic time capsule of sorts, with energy to spare. Now if only they could consistently snag better comics ...
The punch: 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. nightly, $19.95, 794-9433.
Notable upcomers: Dom Irrera (December 10-16)
LA COMEDY CLUB, PALACE STATION
The setup: Opened in August in the Sound Trax Lounge, the intimate (175-capacity) not-quite-B-room geared toward locals offers a mixture of tables and back booths and an unusual double-headliner/no-opener structure. They book some semi-knowns, but the ancient audiences are a buzzkill in terms of anything spontaneous or edgy.
The punch: 7 and 9 p.m. nightly, $27.50-$38.50 (free buffet or two drinks with each ticket purchased), 547-5300.
Notable upcomers: Bob Zany (November 19-25)