Just for laughs: The best BARTable comedy clubs and shows

Check out these five BARTable comedy clubs. Photo courtesy of The Setup.

Check out these five BARTable comedy clubs. Photo courtesy of The Setup.

In these serious times, we have more reason to call on professional help when it comes to having a good laugh. Fortunately, you can momentarily counterbalance the heaviness of news headlines with a night out in the wild, witty and often uncouth world of a comedy club. With plenty of BARTable spots to soak up stand-up, it’s your choice whether you want to hide away in the dark or make yourself a target as a daring heckler. Local and touring comedians light up the following five stages with their own brand of calculated punchlines and off-the-cuff exchanges with audience members, all so that crowds can leave remembering how to have a sense of humor. And that’s no joke.

Punch Line

The Punch Line is located at 444 Battery St., San Francisco, and is an 8-minute walk from Embarcadero Station. Photo courtesy of Punch Line.

The Punch Line is located at 444 Battery St., San Francisco, and is an 8-minute walk from Embarcadero Station. Photo courtesy of Punch Line.

San Francisco’s stop for touring Comedy Central stars and mainstream sitcom writers, Punch Line is that quintessential club where the likes of Robin Williams, Margaret Cho and Chris Rock cut their stand-up teeth. Big names do weeklong residencies while Sunday showcases spotlight hoping-to-be-big emerging locals.

Comedy Oakland

Comedy Oakland is located at 1628 Webster St. in Oakland, a 5-minute walk from 19th St./Oakland Station. Photo courtesy of Comedy Oakland.

Comedy Oakland is located at 1628 Webster St. in Oakland, a 5-minute walk from 19th St./Oakland Station. Photo courtesy of Comedy Oakland.

Nestled in the upstairs loft of Spice Monkey restaurant every Thursday through Saturday, Comedy Oakland is two blocks from 19th St./Oakland Station and stands out from the pack with no drink minimum or hidden online ticket fees. Saturday’s often host the “Comedy Machine” contest showcasing eight comedians battling through three rounds and vying to be dubbed champion at the end of the night.

The Setup

The Setup is located at 222 Hyde St. in San Francisco, a 7-minute walk from Civic Center Station. Photo courtesy of The Setup.

The Setup is located at 222 Hyde St. in San Francisco, a 7-minute walk from Civic Center Station. Photo courtesy of The Setup.

One-time jazz club green room, now a cozy comedy club every Thursday through Saturday in the downstairs of the The Beer Basement loungey bar, The Setup keeps it simple with all the basics to be one of the best: tiny room, exposed brick wall, one mic stand. With Thursdays featuring storytelling sets, crowds get real up close and personal with those on the mic at these underground and wallet-friendly $10 shows.

Cheaper Than Therapy

Cheaper Than Therapy is located at 533 Sutter St. in San Francisco, an 8-minute walk from Powell Street Station. Photo courtesy of Cheaper Than Therapy.

Cheaper Than Therapy is located at 533 Sutter St. in San Francisco, an 8-minute walk from Powell Street Station. Photo courtesy of Cheaper Than Therapy.

This regular comedy show got the name right. Cheaper Than Therapy features Bay Area joke slingers dedicated to keeping things lighthearted every Thursday through Saturday at the Shelton Theater in Union Square. The evenings are $15 and always end at 11:30pm to keep BART riders on time to catch the last train.

Tommy T’s Comedy Club

Tommy T's is located at 5104 Hopyard Road in Pleasanton, a 15-minute walk from Dublin/Pleasanton Station.

Tommy T's is located at 5104 Hopyard Road in Pleasanton, a 15-minute walk from Dublin/Pleasanton Station. 

Looking like a big yellow house, Tommy T’s may appear innocent and quaint on the outside, but inside harbors raucous nights that put Pleasanton on the edgy comedy tour map. A large room hosts community seating and upper level balcony tables where audiences post up to watch favorites like Anjelah Johnson, Tommy Davidson and Paul Rodriguez. 

1. Punch Line SF

444 Battery St.
San Francisco, CA 94111
Nearest BART Station: 
Embarcadero (SF)
Walking time: 
9 minutes

2. Comedy Oakland

1628 Webster St.
Oakland, CA 94612
Nearest BART Station: 
19th St. Oakland
Walking time: 
5 minutes

3. The Setup

222 Hyde St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
Nearest BART Station: 
Civic Center/UN Plaza (SF)
Walking time: 
7 minutes

4. Cheaper Than Therapy

533 Sutter St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
Nearest BART Station: 
Powell St. (SF)
Walking time: 
8 minutes

5. Tommy T’s Comedy Club

5104 Hopyard Rd.
Pleasanton, CA 94588
Nearest BART Station: 
Dublin/Pleasanton
Walking time: 
15 minutes
Nearest BART Station: 
Embarcadero (SF)
Nearest BART Station: 
19th St. Oakland
Nearest BART Station: 
Civic Center/UN Plaza (SF)
Nearest BART Station: 
Powell St. (SF)
Nearest BART Station: 
Dublin/Pleasanton

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Author: Linda Koffman
Linda Koffman is a longtime freelance writer and editor currently based in San Francisco. Also a beginner gardener by day/performing songwriter by night, she feels grateful to live a life of extremes balancing plenty of contemplative silence with rocking out in a band. When not writing, she keeps her hands busy (and dirty) with old guitar strings and soil, and enjoys engaging with the Bay Area’s diverse environmental and cultural beauty. She loves puns to a fault and shamelessly laughs at her own jokes.

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