ABQ comics: Cyrus Moses, Drew Wayne, Margaret Rodgers, the author, John Cuellar, Sarah Kennedy and Curt Fletcher
I’ve been writing about comedy for about a year and a half now, and as such I’ve gone to every single comedy venue in town. Every single one. So when I give the full disclosure that this list has been entirely generated by me and is absolutely and completely subjective, know that it comes from a place of serious and vetted ABQ comedy knowledge. Readers, you’re in good hands. My hands. In fairness, I did ask for feedback from some local comics but purely to support what I felt in my heart.
Albuquerque boasts a diverse assortment of comedy spaces and shows. Make your 2015 resolution to support local comedy, and I promise when I see you out there, I’ll give you a good tickle in your funny bone. In no particular order, the following are the best places in Albuquerque to catch live comedy.
The Box is a comic favorite. Run by Doug Montoya and Kristin Berg, the theater is primarily an improv space with their troupes THE SHOW and Comedy? selling out weekly shows. Twice a month, comics take over with stand-up shows. Comedian Mary Byrd says, “It's a great stage with an intimate environment, made for comedy.” A comedy space where you’re always guaranteed a good crowd, this is probably one of the more all-ages-friendly venues in town.
John Cuellar, Eddie Stephens and AJ Martinez run the Young, Dumb and Full of Comedy open mic at Nexus every Tuesday. Another comic favorite, this open mic offers chicken and waffles, good beer and a crowd of unsuspecting people who didn’t know they stumbled onto a very good time. One of the best comedy open mics for nearly three years running, Young and Dumb always finds a way to win the crowd over and set them up for some stellar comedy—and there’s chicken and waffles. Come for the chicken and waffles, and stay for the dick jokes.
Low Spirits is probably Albuquerque’s best-kept comedy secret. This dive bar is home to AnarKomedy hosted by Ann Gora and produced by Kevin Kennedy. The once-a-month show features incredible bang for your buck. Sporting 10 to 20 comics booked at a time, it’s an insane marathon of comedy and mayhem. With the ever-irreverent Gora at the helm, audiences are ensured a good time and some solidly absurd and shocking comedy.
This little brewery offers the only comedy on Albuquerque’s Westside. The weekly open mic hosted by Sarah Mowrey and Nick Muñez has been going strong for two years. It’s one of the only open mics in town where most of the audience knows a comedy show happens and deliberately comes for that reason. (Seriously, it makes a difference.) Mowrey and Muñez are fantastic hosts and know how to keep the night’s long list of signed-up comics moving quickly. And the beer is so good.
Wednesdays at 7:30pm, FREE
Back Alley Draft House
215 Central NW 766-8590
When I posted on Facebook asking comics to tell me their favorite spot, Back Alley won by a landslide. This open mic is hosted by the very funny Drew Wayne and is one of the newer comedy venues. With its low ceiling, brick wall and ideal close table seating, Back Alley is the perfect setup for comedy. “It's right in that spot of town where anybody can just stumble in,” says Allen Clark. “And no matter what the comedians say, they still allow us back every week.”
The Guild, run by Keif Henley, offers indie films you can’t see anywhere else, performance art pieces by incredible artists like Crispin Glover, live recording of podcasts like RISK! by Kevin Allison and brilliant comedy by the likes of Cracked editor Adam Tod Brown. The Guild is one the best overall venues for film and performance. Henley is great at making it accessible to touring and local comics. Matt Peterson, who sometimes hosts shows there, says, “It’s a great theater, it has a great staff, and it is always a fun room.”
It’s pretty hard to get paid for comedy in Albuquerque. But some visionaries in our scene have figured out how to create DIY venues and get cash flowing to performers. One of the most successful at this is Dawn Schary. She runs Carpe Diem Comedy at Imbibe every first Thursday of the month. Local comics and touring comics not only get paid to do comedy here, but it’s a great room that looks like the inside of a neon whale. And their fish taco special is killer.
Technically Albuquerque-adjacent, the Stage is arguably the best local place to see touring headliners. They bring in top-tier comedians on a weekly basis and feature at least one local comic. With its layout and frequency of shows, this venue is a dream for comics. While enjoying fantastic food and drink specials, audiences can catch comedians who wouldn’t otherwise come through New Mexico.
Here’s another full disclosure: This last venue is where I host a show called Comedians’ Power Hour with my comedy partner Drew Wayne. To be completely transparent, I asked Facebook what they thought, and the comics agreed that this once-a-month show is one of the best in town ... and not just because they're all my friends. The show is half drinking contest, half comedy contest. Featuring insane competitions, it's run like that old Nickelodeon show “Double Dare.” To get into this comedy show you have to be invited, know someone who is invited or be booked for it. A little bird (it was Drew) told me that next month's show will have a major headliner. To find out more about this show, like the Albuquerque Comedy page on Facebook and find the event listed.