Local comic Andrew Ledbetter says the lure of stand up comedy is the instant feedback. “Ultimately, all of us who do stand-up like performing, but we also like the validation that comes with stand-up. If you have a good joke, you get a reaction immediately,” he says. “It’s a rush like nothing else I’ve experienced.” The comedy scene in Chattanooga includes guest performers from New York City, virtual improv nights with players from Extreme Improv in England, Comedy Central regulars, and open mic nights for local and regional talent. Here’s where to find a show.
Carpetbagger’s Comedy Night, Bode Hotel
First & Third Fridays
New Yorker-turned-Chattanoogan Jeff Greenspan admits the name of his comedy show is a dig at himself. In July 2020, Greenspan came to town for a one-month stay at the Bode Hotel to work as a comedian-in-residence for a local advertising agency. In that time, he got to know the hotel staff and organized a show for hotel guests. Now he’s moved here permanently and is bringing his New York City comedy pals down on a regular basis. Hosted in the lobby of the Bode Hotel–which Greenspan describes as classy but approachable, with a New York City vibe–the evening begins with a Happy Hour at 8:00 p.m. before the show’s 9:00 p.m. start. Greenspan transforms the hotel lobby with cafe tables, candles, and a custom-built stage. Carpetbagger’s Comedy Night includes comedians who have been on Late Night television or have performed at Comedy Cellar in Manhattan. As producer and host, Greenspan also shares the stage with regional and local comedians. This June, his line-up will include Ian Hunt, winner of the 2017 Stand Up New York Comedy Festival, as well as Chattanooga’s Reed Landry and Andrew Ledbetter. Show tickets cost just $8 and include a beer. Carpetbagger’s Comedy Night is also hosted at The Common House in Southside on the first Wednesday of each month and at Bode Nashville on the third Thursday of every month.
The Comedy Catch
7:30 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays, Sundays
9:45 p.m. Fridays & Saturdays
When The Comedy Catch opened in 1985, it was the only venue in Chattanooga dedicated to comedy full-time. This is the place to hit if you’re looking for national touring talent. The Comedy Catch stage has played host to D.L. Hugley, Jeff Foxworthy, Carrot Top, Pauly Shore, Tracy Morgan, James Gregory, and other Comedy Central and HBO regulars. Shows are rated PG, PG-13, and R so guests can purchase tickets based on their comfort level. The 2021 line-up includes Rob Little of “The Best Damn Sports Show Period” and “Last Call with Carson Daly” and Jeff Allen of Comedy Central’s Premium Blend and VH1’s Standup Spotlight. Located in the Southside at the Chattanooga Choo Choo, The Comedy Catch is walking distance from Clumpies Ice Cream, STIR, HiFi Clyde’s, The Terminal Brewhouse, and Five Wits Brewing Company. The menu on site at The Comedy Catch includes meatballs marinara, breaded mozzarella sticks, patty melts, cheeseburgers, chicken tenders, wings, and nachos.
Improv Chattanooga, Virtual
Improv Chattanooga has been known by many names since the 1900s: Runs with Scissors, That Might Be Silly, First Draft. An ever-evolving resource for performing artists, the organization has produced a Saturday Night Live-inspired show called Late Bloomers at the Chattanooga Theater Center, commercials for regional businesses, and even a logo for the Chattanooga Roller Girls. Improv Chattanooga has also hosted comedy gigs at Barking Legs Theater and for a time opened their own spaces on Main Street and, later, Rossville Avenue. Today the organization is operating online, with players performing improv on Zoom on a split screen with comedians from around the world. Sketches have included players from India and from Extreme Improv in England. Improv Chattanooga shows are available to view for free on Facebook, YouTube, and the organization’s Twitch Channel. Co-founder Steve Disbrow also offers in-person improv courses and is the author of the book Improv: Your Key to the Multiverse. Disbrow says he’s currently scouting out a new location to open an Improv Chattanooga theater in 2021.
Pint Mic, The Honest Pint
Sundays, 9:00 p.m.
The format at Pint Mic is simple: show up and go. Hosted by local comic Andrew Ledbetter for the last three years, it’s a traditional open mic format popular among regulars seasoned in the open mic circuit and booked for shows in the region. However, you do not have to be experienced to grab the mic and give it a go. After a host set by Ledbetter at 9:00 p.m., the comics each get seven minutes on stage. In addition to laughs, Ledbetter says it’s the food at The Honest Pint that draws attendance, specifically the chicken wings and Irish dishes like Scotch Eggs.
Free Kittens Comedy Show, JJ’s Bohemia
Thursdays, 9:00 p.m.
Known as “Chattanooga’s favorite weird little venue,” JJ’s Bohemia is a bar on East Martin Luther King Boulevard that hosts live music. Open mic nights have been standard at JJ’s for at least a decade, and the name–Free Kittens–was a lighthearted marketing ploy. Come for a cuddy pet, shake off your disappointment with a night of comedy. Host Dave Hannah says what he loves about the Chattanooga comedy community is how welcoming it is. It’s also diverse, which means over the course of the night, you’ll hear a variety of worldviews and opinions up on stage. Because of this, Free Kittens Comedy Nights tend to be crowded. The format is walk-up, so comedians who want to participate simply find Hannah and get their name on the list. The evening lasts two hours, with about 18 performers getting five minutes for a set. Free Kittens Comedy Night is free, and doors open at 8:00 p.m.