Cape Town has a thriving stand-up comedy scene. It may not be packed full of international A-Listers, but on any given night of the week you’ll be able to catch a handful of the city’s established and up-and-coming comedians doing their best to elicit a few laughs.
Most of these venues are bars, restaurants or nightclubs that double up on at least one night per week as a stand-up comedy venue. Though some performances are hit or miss, you’ll get to see comedians trying out new jokes, or delving into the archives of their greatest hits. And there are few better ways to get under the skin of the city than to sit back and take in a performance at one of these spots.
Cape Town Comedy Club
This is the only dedicated comedy club in Cape Town. It’s located on the V&A Waterfront precinct, and managed by legendary Capetonian comedian Kurt Schoonraad. Outside of peak season it operates from Wednesday to Sunday, but when summer hits you can find top comedic acts seven nights a week. The venue attracts the best live acts in the country, so there’s no chance you’ll cringe over a poorly rehearsed act.
On Sundays, this backpackers bar and live music venue in Observatory turns into a platform for comedians to try out new material and get a few laughs from the diverse crowd. Though the venue has gone through various iterations over the years, it’s been a recognised stand up venue for nearly two decades. Many top local acts cut their teeth on the stage there, and there’s always a chance one of them will make a guest appearance to get the crowd going.
135 Lower Main Rd, Observatory, Cape Town, South Africa, +27 21 460 0458
Hanover Street Night Club
Once a month the Hanover Street Night Club in the GrandWest Casino transforms into a stand-up comedy venue. The first Sunday of the month features a selection of the city’s best performers, and it’s not uncommon to see a few comedians from up country play a quick gig here. This is a popular event in a good venue, and more often than not delivers some reliably hilarious performances.
1 Jakes Gerwel Drive, Goodwood, Cape Town, South Africa, +27 21 505 7777
This Long Street bar and restaurant takes advantage of traditionally quieter Monday evenings to host a handful of established and up-and-coming comedians. SGT Pepper has been a mainstay for the city’s underground comedy scene for a while now, and you’ll almost always find a selection of Capetonian comics propping up the bar on Monday night sharing some words of wisdom, or hilarious tales of industry woe.
194 Long St, Cape Town City Centre, Cape Town, South Africa, +27 21 424 5608
The Fireman’s Arms is one of the oldest pubs in Cape Town, and the atmosphere here sets the tone perfectly for a night of comedy. The comedy nights take place every first and last Tuesday of the month, and you’ll find some of the city’s best acts performing their tightest sets. It’s a well-run event in one of the better and more popular venues for a stand-up show, so tickets usually sell out well in advance.
Nomad Bistro & Bar
Nomad is a relative newcomer to the comedy scene, but they’re already hosting some memorable gigs. The venue is less intense than others in the city, and they rotate the lineup regularly. This is one of the few Cape Town venues that hosts weekly stand-up comedy on a Tuesday night, and with an extensive drinks menu and decent food, you can easily make it a complete night out.
33 Waterkant St, Cape Town City Centre, Cape Town, South Africa, +27 21 418 3020
Premium Sports Bar
Premium Sports Bar hosts one of the city’s liveliest stand-up shows, which most comedians who perform there seem to feed off. This means that there are seldom any awkward silences or disgruntled mumbles. Instead what you get is a crowd full of captivated fans looking to have a good time. The shows take place on the first and last Tuesdays of the month, and it’s not uncommon to find big name acts slipping onto the lineup.
1 Avocado St, Westridge, Cape Town, 7802, South Africa, +27 79 821 2398
Most people know Mzoli’s as the ultimate Sunday hangout. But head there on Wednesdays and you can catch some of the city’s funniest comedians performing to a boisterous crowd. The warm up acts are hit and miss with a selection of newcomers, but you’ll always find at least one established act to tie it all together at the end.
Ny 115, Guguletu, Cape Town, South Africa, +27 21 638 1355
Beerhouse offers an impressive range of local and imported beers every night of the week in the main venue, and a selection of Cape Town’s best comedy acts every Wednesday night in the small side room. It’s an event that welcomes newcomers onto the stage, but it’s also likely that you’ll witness one or two tried and tested locals, or a few out-of-towners, hop up on stage.
223 Long St, Cape Town City Centre, Cape Town, South Africa, +27 21 424 3370
Cape Town International Convention Centre
The CTICC is the biggest event and function centre in Cape Town. Though they tend to host more traditional expos and conferences, when the big international acts appear in town you’re likely to find them performing here. Though far from your intimate underground venue, it’s a slick and efficient experience perfect for more established performances.
Convention Square, 1 Lower Long St, Cape Town, South Africa, +27 21 410 5000
The River Club
The bar at the River Club golf course and driving range hosts a popular stand-up comedy show on the last Thursday of the month. The lineup changes regularly and features a variety of local performers. The in-house Slug and Lettuce, also serves up typical pub food and serves well-priced beer.
Liesbeek Pkwy & Observatory Rd, Observatory, Cape Town, South Africa, +27 81 249 7549
Baxter Theatre straddles the gap between the CTICC and the smaller comedy venues. It’s traditionally a theatre, but plays host to regular one-man shows and occasional stand-up events. It’s one of the few theatres in the city that regularly features some of the country’s most popular stand-up comics, and it’s always worth checking out their lineup to see what’s in store.
Main Rd, Rondebosch, Cape Town, South Africa, +27 21 685 7880