After spending the day on the beach, picking sand out from between your toes, or screaming on the rides on the Boardwalk, it’s time for some laughter. From breweries to bars and hotels to parks, you have multiple chances to catch some of the best national, regional and local comedians from California and beyond.
Stand-up comedy has a long history in Santa Cruz. UCSC students include SNL greats Adam Samberg and Maya Rudolph. Recent Banana Slug graduate Emily Catalano had a blisteringly funny set on Conan and has over 7 million views on TikTok. (Check out her hilarious comedy podcast, Hesby Street.)
Weekly comedy shows are still finding a foothold as venues reopen and normal hours resume. Every Friday night, catch the best of the Bay Area comedy world at Greater Purpose Brewery, located at 21517 East Cliff Drive. Tasty, locally crafted brews and pub food are available, and admission is $10. The shows are 7-9pm, and advance tickets are advised.
Underground comedy is alive and well in Santa Cruz with the drive-in shows on top of the Church Street parking lot every Friday at 8pm. Motor up there and enjoy some renegade comedy shows.
Every Sunday, the longest running weekly show in California returns to the Crow’s Nest at 2218 East Cliff Drive. It started in the 1980s and is still run by comedy producer and legend Jon Fox. The show starts at 9pm, costs $8 and features a mix of California comics and comedians traveling through the area.
New comedy rooms are popping up all the time. If you’re a local looking for a night of laughter or a visitor who wants to check out the local flavor, look no further than every fourth Saturday where you can see (and do) comedy at the Rush Inn at 113 Knight St. with host Ryne Watkins. Sign-ups are at 6:30pm, and everyone is welcome.
Monthly shows are happening all over Santa Cruz. Up in the mountains, it’s the historically haunted Brookdale Lodge, featuring mostly music, but their monthly comedy is not to be missed at 7pm, for $5. Bring a date, but don’t get ghosted.
The newest, coolest venue is the Felton Music Hall, at 6275 Highway 9 in Felton. On Sept. 21, you can see the homeless guy from the Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflin, Creed Bratton. The show starts at 8pm and is $25. Expect more comedy from this new upstart.
Spend a Sunday afternoon at the beautiful Skov Winery on 2364 Bean Creek Road in Scotts Valley. Nestled among the vineyards, see the best of Los Angeles and San Francisco comics at 4pm for $40, which includes a glass of wine or beer. And if wine is your game, check out the monthly comedy shows at Vino by the Sea, 55 Municipal Wharf, upstairs with the best view in Santa Cruz. Shows are free, take place on one Friday each month and are from 7-9pm.
Coming Aug. 14-28, it’s the 8th annual Santa Cruz Comedy Festival with Saturday afternoon shows in Laurel Park behind the Louden Nelson Community Center in downtown Santa Cruz. National headliners like the fabulous Jackie Kashian, Kellen Erskine and Chris Estrada mingle with the best of the Bay Area comedy scene. Each Saturday features a new show with plenty of room to spread out your blanket and chairs and build community through laughter. Shows are at 4pm for $25.
The festival will also hold special evening events throughout town at venues like Moe’s Alley at 1535 Commercial Way, The Crepe Place at 1134 Soquel Ave., Humble Sea Brewery at 820 Swift St., Urbani Cellar at 140 Encinal St., and more. Check out dnascomedylab.com for up-to-date information on the festival.