Power Plant Live! 6 Market Place. 410-727-8500. www.improv.com
Show times vary depending on the performer. Most shows are Wednesdays to Sundays, with earlier show times on weekdays and two shows on Fridays and three shows on Saturdays. Ticket prices also vary, with higher ticket prices on weekends. So far, prices have ranged from $12 to $25. Two-drink minimum. Full dinner served before the first show only. Appetizers, salads and sandwiches only at later shows. No smoking allowed.
Who's up next: Pablo Francisco from Comedy Central, tonight through Sunday; David Alan Grier from In Living Color and D.A.G., Jan. 18-20; Sheryl Underwood, from Def Comedy Jam, Jan. 24-27; David Cross from HBO's Mr. Show sketch-comedy series, Jan. 30-Feb. 2.
Winchester's Comedy Club
102 Water St. 410-576-8558.
Show times Thursdays at 9 p.m., Fridays at 9:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Cover charge is $5 on Thursdays and $10 on Fridays and Saturdays. Two-drink minimum. Light-fare menu. Smoking allowed.
Winchester's is the only club in town with a night for amateur comics looking to try out new material. Thursday is open-mike night; the shows draw 12 to 20 comics.
Aspiring comics who want to take part in a show need to come to the club at 8 p.m. and sign up. First timers are welcome, and it's OK if you bring notes on stage or if you or someone else tapes your performance.
Because the bulk of the audience is made up of other area comics, the crowd is usually very forgiving if your performance bombs.
On weekends, local and regional comics perform.
There's a bar and a restaurant (Shamrock Pub) downstairs from the comedy club, and Winchester's usually offers munchies like nachos and chicken nuggets during weekend shows.
Who's up next: Mike Storck, Mike Payne and Dorian Grey (emcee), tomorrow and Saturday; Kelly Terranova, Sam Beamon and Neil (emcee), Jan. 18-19; Bernard Leach, Big Ben Kennedy and Eric Myers, Jan. 25-26; five comedians Feb. 1; Bill King, Brian Carem and Mike Cookson (emcee), Feb. 2.
Comedy Factory Outlet
36 Light St. (above Burke's restaurant). 410-752-4189.
Show times are 8:30 p.m. Thursdays; 8:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Tickets are $12. One-drink minimum. Smoking allowed.
The Comedy Factory is Baltimore's oldest comedy club. The place has been making folks laugh for 32 years, and the end does not seem to be in sight.
The club features local and regional performers, many of whom have gone on to achieve national recognition. Check out the lobby walls -- they're lined with autographed pictures of past performers. You'll likely see some faces you know.
The club's cozy-style seating has some drawbacks. The club packs as many people as possible into the small room, and a cigarette hater could be unlucky enough to have to sit next to someone puffing away.
However, groups of people can reserve a table or a bank of tables together and form their own little no-smoking area. A group can be as small as two people.
If you'd like dinner, you can dine at Burke's downstairs before or after the show.
Who's up next: Eric Myers, Steve West and Big Al, tomorrow-Saturday; Coy Lanscone, Ron Browne and Rod Reyes, Jan. 18-19; Buttaman, Meshelle Foreman-Shields and Koli Tengella, Jan. 25-26; Strawberry, Bernard Leach and Miss Gayle, Feb. 1-2.
The Improv Washington
1140 Connecticut Ave. N.W. (between L and M streets), Washington. 202-296-7008.
Shows are 8:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays and 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Tickets vary, depending on the performer, but generally are $15 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays and $17 on Fridays and Saturdays. Two-drink minimum. No smoking allowed.
A full dinner is served before the first show on all days and before the first and second on Saturdays. Appetizers, salads and sandwiches only at other shows.
Before the Improv in Baltimore opened, this was the closest place to go to see national comics. Now that the clubs are sharing acts, you only have to go to D.C. to see an act you missed here. Or, you can see a performer in D.C. before he or she comes to Baltimore -- if you can't wait.
Who's up next: Kathleen Madigan, tomorrow-Sunday; Robert Schimmel, Jan. 17-20; Will Durst, Jan. 22-27.
Jokes on Us
312 Main St., Laurel. 301-490-1993.
Show times are 8:30 p.m. Thursdays and Sundays and 8:30 p.m. and 10:45 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Tickets are $10. Two-item minimum (food or drinks). No smoking allowed.
This club was formerly known as the Comedy Connection but has been under new ownership as Jokes on Us for the past two years.
Located on the site of a former movie theater, Jokes on Us puts on one of the biggest shows around, with a warm-up guy, three opening acts and a headliner. The club also offers a full menu of entrees, sandwiches and salads. If you're a fan of the Def Comedy Jam productions, in particular the stuff that's "too raw for TV," then this is the place for you.