What to wear to a comedy show?


If you spend any time hanging at stand-up comedy, improv and sketch comedy shows, you get to know the landscape pretty well. Beyond the two-drink-minimum and the brick wall backgrounds, the physical environment of a club – or even a theater when stand-up takes place – is a different animal for comedy than, say, when a band hits the same stage. A best example is checking out the crowd seeing stand-up comedy goddess Amy Schumer versus the crowd seeing goth gods Nine Inch Nails at The Met Philly for instance: same grand theater, but, respectively, lots of faded plaid and denim versus the void of Vantablack.

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What to wear to a comedy club show, then, is as crucial as what you drink (usually a craft beer or something with tonic as opposed to a martini or an opulently composed cocktail) and what you say (and don’t say: no heckling, no talking on phone, no texting). With that thought, what to wear to a comedy show is dependent upon your actions. Plan on being a big drunk goofball eating chips and guacamole or mozzarella sticks with unusually red and fake-me-out dipping sauce? Better wear something sturdy, durable and washable. Plan on being a loudmouth critic on the Left or on the Right who yells at the stage every time that the main act jokes about something – remember, these are jokes – that you don’t agree with? Don’t wear pricey cotton linen or something silken or fine that can’t be rumpled or creased, because you are going to get your ass handed to you by the bouncers when they manhandle (or person handle) you and subsequently toss you out of the same comedy club. Maybe bring knee and elbow pads too so to cushion the blow to the pavement.

What to wear to a comedy show is as thoroughly planned out as who it is you are going to see at a club or a theater. No one just runs willy nilly to go see a Mike Epps, a Samantha Bee or a Jim Gaffigan. There are pricey tickets to negotiate and baby sitters to snag in time for the show (save for Gaffigan who is altogether family friendly, so bring the kids). No one just stops in and decides to see a Michele Wolf, a Dave Chappelle or a Eugene Mirman – their brands of epigrammatic comedy are too avant-garde for the beer swilling, broad thought masses. There is a mindset that one must have or put themselves into in which to witness and willingly take part in stand-up or sketch comedy that is simply more cerebral. Like Russell Brand. You might as well wear a smoking jacket and a monocle to go see Brand, or even Bill Maher (don’t, however wear any Catholic or Christian symbols to a Bill Maher show or the heretic will tear you down). And if you are planning on trying to see a Kevin Hart, a Bill Burr or a Sebastian Maniscalco – they are hockey arena acts. You can’t afford those Ticketmaster price hikes. Go see Carrot Top. He’s cheaper.

Ultimately, what to wear to a comedy show – stand-up, improv and sketch – becomes as important as the comic that you are planning on seeing.

A great example as to what to wear to a comedy show actually starts with the hockey arena comics such as Hart, Burr and Maniscalco. The stand-up comedy arena show requires that its attendees either wear previous tour t-shirts and hoodies just like with those shows from classic rock entities. You go and see Roger Waters or Red Hot Chili Peppers in 2023, you’re wearing your faded Pink Floyd t-shirt from The Wall and the Californification hoodie.

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If you are heading out to a dude comic show – that would be the Right-sided likes of Shane Gillis, Adam Carolla or the Left’s Alonzo Bodden – what to wear to comedy show depends how much stone wash stuff that you have in your closet, and-or what is left of your flannel collection after the days of Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains shows. And a leather jacket that hasn’t broken in or gotten any creases. If you are on a date, or a couple seeing Chelsea Handler or Wanda Sykes or someone woke, what to wear to a comedy show always becomes dependent upon what your other half is wearing. Woke comedy is always co-dependent. Phone first and dress accordingly.

What to wear to a comedy show when it comes to your standard stand-up club and a sui generis night out via an open mic show, a handful of podcasters, or a sketch/improv comedy troupe waiting for your cards and suggestions? Keep it comfortable and loose. Someone is going to call on you to interact with what is happening on stage, and you are either going to need flexible joints or must be ready to hastily vacate the premises.

What you wear to a comedy show? It’s your joke. Dress responsibly.

    • A.D. Amarosi's Headshot

      A.D. Amorosi is an award-winning journalist who, along with working for the Philadelphia Weekly, writes regularly for Variety, Jazz Times, Flood and Wax Poetics, and hosts and co-produces his own SoundCloud-charting radio show, Theater in the Round for Pacifica National Public Radio station WPPM 106.5 FM and WPPM.org.

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