By Randy Yagi

As one of America’s best cities for stand-up comedy, San Francisco has been a proven breeding ground for many big name acts over the years. Among the comedy stars who launched their careers here are Margaret Cho, Aisha Tyler, Dana Carvey and Rob Schneider and the late Robin Williams rose to prominence with his famous performances at the old Holy City Zoo comedy club. Even Ellen Degeneres rose in fame early in her career when she took second at the 1985 San Francisco Comedy Competition and Tom Hanks grew up across the bay in Concord.

But San Francisco has an even longer history of jumpstarting the careers of rising stars, as the likes of Lenny Bruce, Woody Allen, Jim Nabors, Richard Pryor and Phyllis Diller were all headlining shows at the legendary Purple Onion in North Beach several decades earlier. While the Purple Onion and Holy City Zoo are long gone, the best in the business and rising stars continue to perform stand-up comedy across the City. Here’s a look at five of the best upcoming comedy shows to check out this spring.

Beach Blanket Babylon
678 Beach Blanket Babylon Blvd.
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 421-4222
Dates: Ongoing

If there is just one musical comedy show to see in San Francisco, it has to be Beach Blanket Babylon. First held in June 1974, Beach Blanket Babylon is the longest running musical revue in theater history and has been performed more than 15,000 times in front of nearly six million people. Easily one of San Francisco’s best and most popular attractions, the wildly entertaining show was created by the late Steve Silver and is loosely based upon Disney’s fictional character Snow White and her worldwide search for her beloved Prince Charming. Internationally acclaimed for its vividly colorful costumes, outrageous hats and hilarious impressions of pop culture figures such as Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Caitlin Jenner, Darth Vader and Oprah Winfrey, Beach Blanket Babylon is located at Club Fugazi, in the city’s lively North Beach neighborhood. 2017 showtimes are scheduled for Wednesday through Sunday, with an early 6 p.m. show on Saturday and a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday. All shows on Wednesday through Saturday are 21 and over.

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 23:  Writer Anthony Jeselnik attends the 2012 Primetime Emmy Awards Comedy Central Party at Cecconi's Restaurant on September 23, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images)

Anthony Jeselnik (credit: Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images)

Anthony Jeselnik
Cobb’s Comedy Club
915 Columbus Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 928-4320
Dates: April 20-22, 2017 at various times

Best known for his celebrity roasts on the Comedy Central cable channel, stand-up comedian Anthony Jeselnik is scheduled to bring his dry humor to Cobb’s Comedy Club for three nights beginning April 20. A former writer for “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” and the former host of NBC’s Emmy-nominated “Last Comic Standing”, the comic known as the “crown prince of insult comedy”, is nearing the end of a whirlwind stand up tour that brought him across the country and into Canada.

A native of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, the 37-year-old Jeselnik is a graduate of Tulane University and has made several appearances on late night TV, including the “Tonight Show”, “Conan”, “Jimmy Kimmel Live”, and was the very first stand up comedian to appear on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon”. In addition to his single performance on April 20, Jeselnik will perform two shows on both Friday, April 21 and Saturday, April 22. Each performance offers VIP or general admission ticketing and is for those 18 and over with a two drink minimum.

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 05: Bill Maher Performs During New York Comedy Festival at The Theater at Madison Square Garden on November 5, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images)

Bill Maher (credit: Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images)

Bill Maher
Davies Symphony Hall
401 Van Ness Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 621-6600
Date: April 23, 2017 at 8 p.m.

American comedian, talk show host, filmmaker and political commentator Bill Maher will appear for one night only at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco’s Civic Center. A mainstay on cable television for nearly 25 years, Maher has received nearly 40 Emmy Award nominations over his lengthy career and has hosted HBO’s “Real Time” for the past 14 years.

Known for his strong political and religious beliefs, Maher is expected talk on a wide range of topics including the current state of affairs at the White House and on Capitol Hill. Located within the prestigious San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center, the 2,743-seat Louise Davies Hall is the permanent home of the San Francisco Symphony. Maher’s only other Bay Area appearance before he resumes work with “Real Time” this summer, is the night before. at Oakland’s historic Fox Theater.

WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - AUGUST 10:  Actor Sebastian Maniscalco arrives at the CBS, CW, Showtime Summer TCA Party at Pacific Design Center on August 10, 2016 in West Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)

Sebastian Maniscalco (credit: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)

Sebastian Maniscalco
The Masonic
1111 California St.
San Francisco, CA 94108
(415) 776-7457
Date: April 28 at 7 p.m.

Stand up comedian and soon-to-be father Sebastian Maniscalco is bringing his 2017 tour of Showtime’s comedy series “Why Would You Do That” to the Masonic on Nob Hill. Recently described as one of the hottest comedians in the business, the Chicago native is on a cross-country tour that touches upon his proud Old World, Italian-American heritage.

An American Comedy Award nominee in 2014, he has appeared on late night shows like the “Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon”, “Late Night with Seth Meyers” and “Conan”, where he recently announced his wife Lana Gomez is expecting a baby in May. Maniscalco was also one of the four comedians profiled in Vince Vaughn’s documentary film “Wild West Comedy Show: 30 Days & 30 Nights – Hollywood to the Heartland” and gained further prominence with his appearance in the popular web comedy series “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” starring Jerry Seinfeld. This year, Maniscalco will also appear in a number of major motion pictures, such as “The House”, a New Line Feature comedy starring Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler and a voice over role in the animated film “Nut Job 2”, featuring several other well-known comedians, such as Will Arnett, Jackie Chan, Jeff Dunham and Maya Rudolph. Formerly known as the Nob Hill Masonic Temple, the public venue lies on the original site of the first meeting of the California Masonic Lodge held during the California Gold Rush.

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 01:  Russell Howard prior to introducing the BFI Screen Epiphany 'The Royal Tenenbaums' at BFI Southbank on September 1, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)

Russell Howard (credit: Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)

Russell Howard
Cobb’s Comedy Club
915 Columbus Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 928-4320
Date: May 19 at 8 p.m.

Best known for “Good News” his comedy and topical news show on the BBC, comedian Russell Howard is scheduled for a mid-spring appearance at Cobb’s Comedy Club in North Beach. One of the top selling acts in British stand-up comedy, Howard is currently on his “Round the World” global tour, with San Francisco as the final stop in the U.S. before returning for several shows in Northern Europe, New Zealand and Australia.

A native of Bristol, England, Howard draws heavily on his childhood for his stand-up act, but also spins slapstick comedy with general life in England, along with a reprise of his topical news coverage. He made his American television debut on “Conan” in 2011 and currently stars in “Russell Howard’s Stand Up Central” on Comedy Central. His performance at Cobb’s Comedy Club is a general admission, 18 and over show, with a two drink minimum per person.



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