Comedy Clubs in San Francisco by Neighborhood
Although there are fewer full-time comedy clubs in San Francisco these days than there used to be, there’s an endless number of quality comedy events to be found around the city every night of the week.
If anything, comedy in San Francisco is only getting more popular with the increase in part-time comedy venues and events that pop up each year. This can be seen in the increase in comedy festivals that take over the city each year, from the original Sketch Fest SF that has been around since 2001 to the more recent Clusterfest that started in 2017.
In most San Francisco neighborhoods, you’ll be able to find a steady dose of comedy events coming out of the city’s most popular, iconic, and historic venues. Whether you’re interested in a night of improv or classic stand-up, there’s a little something for everyone when it comes to comedy in San Francisco.
These are our picks for the best comedy shows and comedy clubs in San Francisco by neighborhood to give you an idea of just how much comedy there is to see in the city. Check out our full guide to comedy in San Francisco for more information on the history of comedy in San Francisco, best stand-up comedy and improv in San Francisco, along with annual comedy events in the city.
San Francisco Comedy Tour
Dylan’s Comedy Tour
If you’re looking for a way to explore the San Francisco comedy scene in one convenient place and with a local guide, Dylan’s Comedy Tour is a great option.
This is the first comedy tour in San Francisco and features a local comedian who takes you through the best parts of San Francisco at night while doing stand-up.
The tour is a unique way to explore San Francisco while laughing the night away, whether you’re a tourist or local. There’s really no better way to experience San Francisco than to find the humor in what the city has to offer in terms of its culture and history.
Contact Us for more information and to book your spot on the comedy tour!
Theater District / Union Square Comedy Clubs
Shelton Theater: Cheaper Than Therapy
Cheaper Than Therapy is one of San Francisco’s highest-rated independent stand-up comedy venues and an ideal spot to see the more local side of comedy in the city. Although, nationally recognized comedians are known to perform here from time to time as well.
The format of the shows at Cheaper Than Therapy is a night of multiple comics who do 15-20 minute sets throughout a 70-90 minute show.
Their comedy shows are performed at the Shelton Theater near Union Square, a popular comedy venue where you can see talented comedians in an intimate setting. Because it’s such a small theater and a popular comedy venue, it’s recommended to buy tickets at least a few days in advance.
One of the best aspects of Cheaper Than Therapy besides the quality jokes on stage is there’s no drink minimum like most other comedy venues in San Francisco. And with ticket prices hovering around $20, a Cheaper Than Therapy show is an affordable way to experience the San Francisco comedy scene at its finest.
Popular comedians who have performed at Cheaper Than Therapy in the past include Michael Che, Laurie Kilmartin, Emma Willman, Alex Edelman, and Tom Rhodes.
Shelton Theater: Secret Improv Society
If you’re looking for an engaged audience and crowd participation at a comedy show in San Francisco, look no further than Secret Improv Society.
Secret Improv Society shows are a similar format to the popular “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” TV Show, with comedians acting out different scenes from suggestions by the audience.
Their award-winning late-night weekend shows go for about an hour and are also performed at the Shelton Theater near Union Square – the same venue where Cheaper Than Therapy shows happen.
This is another San Francisco comedy show that doesn’t have a drink minimum, and as a bonus, they’re known to pass out free Oreos to the audience during the show.
The Shelton Theater is one of the best San Francisco comedy clubs and where multiple comedy troupes and improv groups perform each month. Because of this, it’s worth seeing at least one comedy show at this historic venue to get a good idea of the comedy scene in the Union Square neighborhood.
Down Town Comedy Theater, also known as Our Little Comedy Club, puts on shows where you’re literally only a few feet away from performing comics. This is the comedy venue to go to if you’re looking for a personal and intimate comedy experience in San Francisco.
It’s also a good venue to visit to explore more of the underground comedy scene in the city. This is one of the longest-running underground comedy venues in the city and has been putting on shows for over 13 years.
Shows at Down Town Comedy Theater consist of five to six comics that perform an eclectic mix of comedy throughout the night. Although it’s mostly local comedians who perform here, there have been surprise appearances in the past from comedians who are regulars on Comedy Central, HBO, BET, and Stand-Up Live.
Lastly, the venue is BYOB and tickets are only $10, making this one of the more affordable comedy clubs in San Francisco.
Mission District Comedy Clubs
Killing My Lobster is a comedic institution in San Francisco and one of the most popular independent comedy troupes in the city. They’ve been performing sketch comedy in San Francisco since 1997 and are known for their quirky shows and sketch comedy writing classes around the city.
They only put on about eight shows a year, but it’s well worth the wait if you’re able to snag tickets for one of their performances. The San Francisco Chronicle has compared Killing my Lobster to the equivalent of Second City in Chicago – the jokes and the comedians are that good.
Although they don’t have their own comedy club, they often perform at PianoFight and various locations around the Mission. Check their website for upcoming shows and tickets.
StageWerx Theatre: EndGames Improv
EndGames Improv is another good option for eclectic comedy in San Francisco. This improv group is known to put on some of the highest quality improv in the city in an accessible format.
They’re especially known for their experimental jokes, unique audience interaction, and bold and fun shows that are beloved by San Francisco locals. Shows are BYOB and prone to selling out, so book your tickets at least a few days in advance.
Although this troupe performs at various locations around the city, its most permanent venue is the 70-seat StageWerx Theatre in the Mission District. Outside of EndGames Improv, the venue features sketch comedy and variety shows year-round, as well as a good dose of film events, plays, and burlesque.
Armory Club: Submission Cocktails & Comedy
In the basement of San Francisco’s kink-themed bar, The Armory Club, you’ll find the weekly comedy show Submission: Cocktails & Comedy. Every Friday night, top comedians from the Bay Area perform at this venue for a night full of laughter and tips and tricks from members of the kink community.
Besides their themed decor, The Armory is most well known for their craft cocktails, so don’t forget to grab a drink before you head down to the basement for the show. Tickets usually sell out, but they always reserve 10 tickets on the day of that are first come first serve if you don’t get a ticket in time.
Financial District Comedy Clubs
The Punch Line SF is the premiere spot for comedy in San Francisco and one of the last full-time comedy clubs that is still in operation in the city. In fact, the Punch Line is the oldest comedy club in San Francisco having opened in 1978.
This is the comedy venue that most well-known comedians perform at when they’re in town. Most notably, it’s a popular hangout spot for Dave Chappelle, who has been doing stand-up comedy at The Punch Line since the 1990s.
Other famous comedians who have performed on the Punch Line stage include Dana Carvey, Jerry Seinfeld, and Margaret Cho, among others.
Although the Punch Line hosts a lot of big names, it’s an intimate space with less than 200 capacity. This means it’s a good spot to see your favorite comedian in a small venue.
The only downside to the venue is the two-drink minimum at every show. With that said, it’s well worth the additional cost for the number of quality acts who perform here.
Right around the corner from the Montgomery BART station at the historic Hobart Building, the Best of San Francisco Stand-Up Comedy shows are known to have a unique variety of jokes and performers every weekend.
Their Friday night shows feature a mix of local comedians and more well-known performers who have appeared on HBO, NBC, and Comedy Central.
Also, unlike some of the other underground comedy venues in the city, the shows at the Hobart Building are slightly more formal and professional and the stadium seats are plush and comfy.
Because this comedy club is less well known, you can usually buy tickets the day of and there’s no need to get to the venue super early. As a bonus, concession proceeds are donated to Variety Children’s Charity – a non-profit that supports children with special needs.
Murphy’s Pub: Nightlife on Mars
This unsuspecting Irish Pub in the middle of the Financial District is also home to the popular comedy event, Nightlife on Mars.
Since 2010, Murphy’s Pub has been putting on Nightlife on Mars that features the best up-and-coming comedians in the Bay Area every Saturday night. It has been named the “Best Underground Comedy Show in San Francisco” by San Francisco Magazine and most San Francisco locals agree.
At only $10 per ticket, it’s hard to beat the quality stand-up you’ll hear at Nightlife on Mars for the price. And being that the event is hosted in a local pub, you’ll have over 20 beers on tap to choose from, as well as a full bar food menu that has the usual tasty pub grub.
North Beach Comedy Clubs
Another one of San Francisco’s last full-time comedy clubs, Cobb’s Comedy Club has been around since 1982 and is the largest comedy venue in San Francisco. It’s the sister club to The Punch Line SF, but Cobb’s is a much larger venue at 400 capacity. This makes it a better choice if you prefer seeing comedy in a larger venue.
Cobb’s Comedy Club mostly hosts big-name comedians. Some of the most famous comics who have graced the Cobb’s stage include Robin Williams, Dana Carvey, Dave Attell, and Dave Chappelle.
The club is most well known for its quality stand-up shows but they also host drag diva brunches once a month that are fun to attend. Similar to The Punch Line, there’s a two-drink minimum at every show and you’ll find a full dinner and drinks menu at the venue.
SOMA Comedy Clubs
Eagle Tavern: Safe Words Comedy Show
The cheapest comedy show in San Francisco, the hilarious Safe Words is a donation-based show at a leather bar in SOMA that features $3 pints, buy one get one free well drinks, and free hot dogs or pizza. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more accessible or affordable comedy option in San Francisco.
And even though this is an inexpensive show, you’ll be able to see nationally touring comedians, some of whom have been featured on Comedy Central and Conan. One of the most famous comedians to perform here was Margaret Cho.
The show only happens on the first Wednesday of every month, so book your tickets early to snag a spot at one of their monthly performances. This event is truly one of the best kept local comedy secrets in San Francisco.
Other Comedy Clubs In San Francisco
If you’re looking for a good variety of comedy, music and fast-paced entertainment in a laid back environment, PianoFight is one of the best San Francisco venues to enjoy a show at.
At PianoFight, you can expect to find high energy sketch comedy shows, improv, cabaret, plays, and live music. Their most popular and longest-running comedy show is Missed Connections, which is based on posts from the Missed Connections section on San Francisco’s Craigslist.
This Tenderloin venue features a large space, two theaters, a full-service bar, and a delicious dinner menu, making it hard to not have a good time at one of their shows. If you want to get dinner before the show, make sure to arrive at least an hour before showtime since service is not always the fastest.
Beer Basement: The Setup
The Setup is another popular underground comedy venue in the Tenderloin neighborhood that features local and national talent in a classy and casual setting every Saturday night.
As soon as you walk down to the basement for a show, you’ll notice the venue has the feel of a classic comedy club in New York, with exposed brick walls and an intimate atmosphere. One fun fact about this venue is that it used to be the green room for an iconic jazz club where Miles Davis once played.
Similar to Cheaper Than Therapy, shows at The Setup feature a handful of different comics that perform 10-15 minute sets. The comics can be hit or miss depending on the night, but the ones that hit that mark are laugh-out-loud funny.
There’s a one drink (or $10) minimum for every show and the bar features a quality tap list.
Open Mic Nights In San Francisco
Beloved indie live music venue, The Hotel Utah Saloon has been around since 1908 and is said to have once been a brothel and gangster hangout. Even Marilyn Monroe is said to have frequented The Hotel Utah at one point.
This iconic live music venue’s open mic night was the starting ground for some of the world’s most famous comedians, including Robin Williams and Whoopi Goldberg. So if you want to test out your comedic chops, their weekly Monday open mic night is a good place to start.
Or if you’re more interested in watching performers as opposed to getting up on stage, The Hotel Utah’s open mic night offers a variety of performances to enjoy. This means that in addition to up-and-coming local comedians, you’ll also get the chance to see San Francisco’s singer-songwriter community first-hand.
You can’t get much more divey than Milk Bar in the Upper Haight, but what it lacks in ambiance it makes up for in a great open mic night and inexpensive drinks.
Their late-night Sunday open mic nights are specifically for comedy, so if you’re only interested in seeing local comedians and not live music as well, this is a good open mic option in San Francisco.
Other Comedy Open Mic Nights
In addition to the venues listed above, many of the popular comedy clubs in San Francisco host open mic nights as well.
These include PianoFight, Cobb’s Comedy Club, The Setup, Cheaper Than Therapy, and The Punch Line, each with their respective weekly open mic nights that can be found on their websites.