The Best Comedy Clubs in Toronto
The best comedy clubs in Toronto play host to a scene that's seriously on the upswing, with touring headliners honing their technique on prominent stages and young upstarts making people gag at lesser known incubators. While not all of the venues on this list are full-blown 200-seaters, they're worth mentioning because they serve as the lifeblood of the comedy community.
These are the best comedy clubs in Toronto.
Comedy Bar is the place I'd go if I couldn't decide whether to see sketch, improv, or stand-up. I've laughed my hardest watching professionals like Kristen Rasmussen and Kyle Dooley just murder it in the cabaret, which is one of the most important spaces in Toronto because it gives producers the ability to experiment with new formats without breaking the bank.
You've seen the ads -- Remarkable! 80 stars! Gut-busting! -- and they're not lying. The high ceiling and sumptuous curtains say "the people on this stage didn't get here by mistake." Best known for their improvised performances, I think it's one of the top places to see a quiet stand-up act. Watching guys like Tom Segura own a huge stage like that is truly a sight to behold
This place was designed for one thing, and one thing only -- stand-up comedy. No doubt, this allowed the venue's designer to create a space with a singular vision in mind, to compel the audience's attention towards one person. With virtually no competition with the gumption to invest in such a busy neighbourhood, Absolute has this part of town all to itself.
The Bad Dog Theatre Company originally ran a venue on the Danforth before taking up a residency of sorts within Comedy Bar, where they performed and taught improv. While the partnership was fruitful, you can only grow so much under someone else's roof. So what'd they do? Why partner up with Comedy Bar and set up shop on the opposite side of Ossington Station!
While stand-up comedy best practices dictate that low ceilings are a must, given the curation that goes into the ALTdot Comedy Lounge, this is where you want to be on a Monday night. In fact, The Rivoli also played host to the uber-successful Laugh Sabbath for many years, featuring performers like Chris Locke, Mark Little, Katie Crown, etc. who've broken into television.
120 Diner has become the chosen venue for many of Toronto's up-and-coming stand-ups. Mandy Goodhandy runs a tight ship and truly wants to see comedians do well, as evidenced by her weekly eviscerations of comics that don't treat the stage with respect. I once saw an emo kid bomb, cry, jump off the stage and onto a table whose constitution he vastly underestimated. I hope he's OK.
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