Year-round, there are usually about three places in South Florida to see nationally touring comedians. On Miami Beach this week, comedy lovers have a buffet of four venues to choose from, all within walking distance of each other. Hereâ€™s the festival breakdown:
Doug Benson at the Colony Theatre, 7:30 and 10:30 p.m., $32.50
Bensonâ€™s stand-up material addresses a number of topics, but there is one overarching theme that has defined and pigeonholed his act: marijuana. Named the 2006 â€œStoner of the Yearâ€ by High Times magazine, Benson has brought his pot predilection to Broadway, as star and creator of the show â€œThe Marijuana-Logues,â€ and to the film world, with the documentary â€œSuper High Me.â€
Gabriel Iglesias at the Fillmore Miami Beach, 8 p.m., $33 to $37.50
The portly stand-up veteran is a regular at our three Improv clubs. His act touches a few sensitive, politically incorrect spots, but for the most part, Iglesias is a clean, acceptable comedian for mass audiences. He is
especially proficient at sound effects and celebrity voices, which, married to his polished storytelling style, paint vivid pictures of his wacky life experiences.
Adam Carolla at Colony Theater, 8 p.m., $36.50
Carollaâ€™s forte is not stand-up comedy, though he has been dabbling in the format lately. He is most known as the snarky, nasally cohost of â€œLoveline,â€ the pioneering sex-and-relationships advice show from â€˜90s. After a stint cohosting â€œThe Man Showâ€ with Jimmy Kimmel, Carolla returned to syndicated talk radio; when that fell through, he started the award-winning â€œAdam Carolla Podcastâ€ and continues to attract A-list celebrities to it.
Kathleen Madigan at New World Center, 7 p.m., $36.50
Both Lewis Black and Jay Leno think Kathleen Madigan is the beesâ€™ knees, so you know her comedic style must cut a pretty wide swath of audiences. A â€œLast Comic Standingâ€ superstar whose
appearances including everything from â€œDr. Philâ€ to USO tours in the Middle East, Madigan is known for her everywoman delivery and equal-opportunity social and political skewering. Her show is the very first comedy special at the New World Center.
Wanda Sykes at the Fillmore Miami Beach, 8 p.m., $46.50 to $66.50
Sykesâ€™ accessible, observational wit has made her a favorite in the sitcom world, scoring her regular gigs on â€œThe New Adventures of Old Christine,â€ â€œCurb Your Enthusiasm,â€ and probably some other shows that donâ€™tstar Seinfeld alumni. Sheâ€™s no stranger to controversial political rhetoric, referring to Rush Limbaugh as the 20th 9-11 hijacker during her notorious hosting gig at the 2009 White House Correspondentâ€™s Dinner.
â€œThe Preservation Society,â€ Backstage at the Fillmore Miami Beach, 7 and 9:30 p.m., $31
The Mad Cat Theatre Company doesnâ€™t have a traditional theater season in South Florida anymore, but the troupe occasionally produces one-off pieces like this one, a world-premiere work written and directed by Mad Cat founder Paul Tei. A nine-piece ensemble (including Teiâ€™s real parents!) star in the offbeat comedy, about a Hollywood, California writer who returns to her Hollywood, Florida hometown to write her newly deceased grandmotherâ€™s eulogy. Hilarity naturally ensues, in the form of a bassoonist, her eccentric family and a chorus of deconstructionists.
Bill Burr at New World Center, 7 and 10 p.m, $37
One of the most underrated comics of our time, Burr takes on serious issues â€“ organized religion, gender, sexuality, racism, Hitler â€“ with a persona so likeable and down-to-earth that you may find yourself nodding along to his observations even if you didnâ€™t support his views to begin with. He honed his chops as a recurring guest on â€œChappelleâ€™s Showâ€ and currently hosts his own weekly â€œMonday Morning Podcastâ€ on his website.
Saturday and Sunday
Kevin Hart at Fillmore Miami Beach, 8 and 11 p.m. Saturday and 8 and 10:30 p.m. Sunday, $45.50 to
Hart has proven to be the biggest draw at this yearâ€™s festival. He was slated for two Saturday evening shows, but demand proved so high that a third performance, and finally a fourth performance, were added on Sunday. Listening to his material, itâ€™s easy to see why. He is a hilarious, no-holds barred voice in crossover urban humor, and he has built up a strong film and TV resume to complement his stand-up skills, including â€œDeath at a Funeral,â€ â€œMeet the Fockersâ€ and â€œNot Easily Broken.â€
For more on the South Beach Comedy Festival, visit the festivalâ€™s website.