(Online story updated with more open mics.)
Go to one of D.C.’s many free open mic comedy nights, and you’re likely to get more than you paid for. Mixed in among the retrograde groaners are absurdist flights of fancy, thoughtful social commentary and bon mots worthy of their own Comedy Central specials. Not enjoying yourself? Take a trip to the bar or bathroom, and a new comic will have the mic by the time you return.
The Big Hunt, 1345 Connecticut Ave. NW; 8 p.m. This open mic is hosted by David Tveite, a self-deprecating Midwesterner with a knack for observational comedy.
Jake’s American Grille, 5018 Connecticut Ave. NW; 8 p.m. Hosts Matt Dundas and Chris Blackwood have been known to pit audiences against comedians in topical joke contests.
The Salty Dog Tavern, 1723 Connecticut Ave. NW; 8 p.m. In addition to a solid cast of local comics, there’s also surprisingly tasty food at this basement bar.
The Bier Baron Tavern, 1523 22nd St. NW; 8:30 p.m. Order from a menu of 600 beers (some of which may be in stock) while you view an equally wide range of local and touring comedians.
Black Whiskey, 1410 14th St. NW; 8 p.m. The rare open mic with an actual stage, this popular show is hosted by local comedians Chris Brandt and Max Wolfson.
Tortoise and Hare, 567 23rd St. S., Arlington; 10:30 p.m. Host Stefano Stratakis strums guitars and delivers one-liners between comedians at this late-night show.
Vendetta, 1212 H St. NE; 8 p.m. Diminutive, off-kilter comedian Natalie McGill presides over this bocce bar-based open mic.
The Big Hunt; 8 p.m. This open mic night has featured surprise guests such as Todd Glass, Rory Scovel and Seaton Smith.
Stetson’s Famous Bar and Grill, 1610 U St. NW; 9 p.m. D.C. native Jelani Wills serves as host and bartender for this diverse showcase.
Union Jack’s, 4915 St. Elmo Ave., Bethesda; 8:30 p.m. Local bands break up the comedy with original music every few acts.
The Bier Baron Tavern; 8 p.m. Host Bill Metzger keeps the evening pleasantly weird at this weekly comedy show.
RFD, 810 Seventh St. NW; 8:30 p.m. Comics love this long-running open mic because it has its own dedicated room, which means they aren’t ambushing unsuspecting bar-goers with unwanted jokes.
The Science Club, 1136 19th St. NW; 8:30 p.m. Tip back a beaker of vodka while David Coulter and Max Rosenblum host an evening of laughs that are, unfortunately, not science-themed.
Topaz, 1733 N St. NW; 8 p.m. This intimate room holds only about 45 people, so get there early to grab a seat. Then use that time to think up a joke — the audience member with the best one wins $25 at the end of the show.
The Big Hunt; 10 p.m. Brainy Bostonian Kevin Seefried hosts this late-night open mic.
Arlington Cinema ‘N’ Drafthouse, 2903 Columbia Pike, Arlington; 10:30 p.m. Throngs of local comedians vie for a chance to tell jokes at one of the D.C. area’s longest-running open mics.
The Big Hunt; 10 p.m. This newly launched open mic is hosted by Sean Joyce, D.C.’s hardest-working comedy impresario.
Capitol Lounge, 229 Pennsylvania Ave. SE; 7 p.m. Surprisingly light on political humor, this Capitol Hill show features aspiring comics riffing on online dating and other standbys.
H Street Country Club, 1335 H St. NE; 7 p.m. This relatively new show includes comics hand-picked by Bentzen Ball alum Jamel Johnson.
The Handsome Cock, 1334 U St. NW; 6 p.m. Odd bird Alex Barbag hands out garage-sale-grade prizes to attentive audience members at this post-brunch open mic.
O’Sullivans Irish Pub, 3207 Washington Blvd., Arlington; 7 p.m. This new show attracts plenty of fledgling comics, but also brings in pros by offering them extra time to try out their new material.
Petworth Citizen and Reading Room, 829 Upshur St. NW; 8 p.m. Host Chris Brandt has been known to read from randomly selected works of erotic fiction in this unusual venue, where books are organized by color, not topic.
Wonderland Ballroom, 1101 Kenyon St. NW; 7 p.m. Sardonic, Semitic Benjy Himmelfarb hosts in the upstairs lounge.
Want more free events? Read the rest of the Weekend Pass free issue: