Washington, D.C., isn’t exactly known as being a funny city. But luckily there’s the DC Improv to bring some laughs to the nation’s capital. The DC Improv is a small comedy club and restaurant that has drawn some of the biggest names in comedy since 1992, including Dave Chapelle, Jim Breuer, Kevin Nealon, and Tommy Davidson.
The club also has hypnotist Flip Orley perform regularly and you can also catch a night of the DC Improv’s comedy school cast.
The Improv usually has two shows a night with the first offering a dinner menu at 8 PM and the second offering just appetizers at 10:30 PM.
The DC Improv is part of the Improv Comedy Club, started by Bud Friedman in New York City in 1963. Since then Improv clubs have popped up in big cities like Hollywood, Las Vegas, Cleveland, Houston, and Pittsburgh.
TYPE OF FOOD: The dinner menu includes typically bar food like nachos, potato skins, tacos, burritos, grilled chicken sandwiches, and pulled pork sandwiches. The drink menu is also pretty standard, offering draft and bottled beer, wine, and non-alcoholic drinks.
VIBE: Club patrons are seated on a first come, first serve basis. So if you get there early, you may have the option of sitting right near the stage. The doors open 90 minutes before the first show of the evening. Late shows on Fridays and Saturdays at 10:30 PM are assigned seating according to reservation number. So the earlier you purchase tickets, the better your seats. Seating for the 10:30 PM show starts at 10 PM but tickets can be picked up starting at 9:30 PM.
There’s nothing fancy about the Improv decor or atmosphere. The dress code is casual and tables and chairs are pressed together, facing the stage. And you have just enough room for food and drinks. Be prepared to sit elbow to elbow with other patrons for sold out shows. But you’re really not going for the atmosphere or the food. It’s all about the entertainment, which is where the club puts its effort. (Picture Seinfeld’s venue on his TV show.)
COST: Show tickets run around $20 depending on the comedian. The comedy school shows are $10.
WHERE: 1140 Connecticut Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. 20036
PARKING: The DC Improv does not offering parking but there are several paid parking garages nearby. You can also occasionally get lucky with metered street parking, especially for the earlier shows.
WEBSITE/PHONE NUMBER: 202-296-7008; http://www.dcimprov.com/
NEED A RESERVATION?: Yes, tickets should be purchased ahead of time, especially for more popular comedians. Many shows sell out quickly. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling the club at 202-296-7008. If you’re coming to Washington and want to know who’s coming during that time, sign up for the club’s e-mail list.
CLOSEST METRO STOP: The DC Improv is one half block away from the Farragut North Metro station.
GIFT SHOP: The comedians usually sell their merchandise after the show, including books, CDs, and DVDs. And sometimes the comedians themselves will come out to pose for pictures and meet their fans. The DC Improv also has a small gift shop where they sell t-shirts, hats, and CDs of past comedians.
WHAT’S NEARBY: The DC Improv is a few blocks from Dupont Circle and in one of the most vibrant sections of Washington. So whether you’re going to the early or late show, you’ll have no problem finding a place to eat or just have a drink before or after the show. Some of the close hot spots include: Lucky Bar, Eighteenth Street Lounge, and The Daily Grill.