Comedy central to Tampa

Laughter is in the air as a wide array of stand-up comedians have opened up their tour schedules to include Tampa Bay area dates.

Performers range from comics who are unlikely to break into the mainstream to the world’s top-earning comedian. Yet with the diversity of venues, styles and prices offered, live comedy newcomers may initially struggle to find their niche.

The Oracle notes five comedians stepping up to the microphone in the upcoming months.

Doug Stanhope

When: Friday, 8 p.m.

Where: Crowbar

Doug Stanhope will open the upcoming comedy proceedings with a caustic, brutal mindset that has earned both accolades from comedy critics and outraged reactions from some audience members.

In his seventh album “From Across the Street,” the comedian covers topics ranging from monogamy’s failures to his show’s inherently depressing nature – and that’s among the tamer tracks.

Stanhope has performed frequently in Tampa and even graced the cover of Creative Loafing for a 2007 feature called “Bad Doug.”

The raucous comic will return to Crowbar – a venue close to Stanhope’s sensibilities that usually hosts rock shows – in a $20, 21-and-up show not for the easily offended.

Louis C.K.

When: Nov. 20, 8 p.m.

Where: Tampa Theatre

Performing a set with similarly profane language at a much more upscale venue, comic and “Louie” star Louis C.K. visits Tampa Theatre next week on his “Word” tour.

Early reviews say the show’s material spans conflicting feelings about his daughters’ existence to people’s real reasoning for honking car horns.

New York magazine has claimed that C.K. “might be the funniest man alive” for his penetrating self-examination and fantastically dark humor. C.K.’s third special “Hilarious” was released Sept.18, while his FX series “Louie” and its series of absurd, Woody Allen-esque vignettes was recently renewed for a second season.

Fans and newcomers alike should still expect new observations from “Word,” however, because the comedian doesn’t reuse any material onstage. Tickets started at $26.75, but currently are selling for about $66 on

Margaret Cho

When: Dec. 9, 8 p.m.

Where: Ruth Eckerd Hall

Clearwater’s lavish Ruth Eckerd Hall hosts a number of comedy shows before the year’s close, with entertainer Margaret Cho appearing in December to offer her thoughts on age, race and sexuality.

Cho initially gained fame as a sardonic ’90s comedy icon – even garnering a 1994 TV series inspired by her stand-up and Korean heritage called “All American Girl.”

This tour promotes her new album, “Cho Dependent,” a comedy-music album that features both odes to genitalia and guest stars like Andrew Bird and Ani DiFranco. Though these musicians won’t tag along, she does sing during her stand-up show.

Cho will share the stage with YouTube-friendly comedian John Roberts, and ticket prices range from $39 to $50.

Doug Benson

When: Dec. 9-12

Where: Tampa Improv Comedy Theater

The only comedian on this list to perform in a traditional comedy club setting, Doug Benson, will perform a set likely to combine his love of movies, marijuana and mirth.

The comic may be best known for appearing on VH1’s “Best Week Ever” and “Super High Me,” a 2007 documentary where he smokes pot for 30 days in a parody of “Super Size Me.”

Benson is now busy with his underrated weekly podcast “Doug Loves Movies” and his new Comedy Central series “The Benson Interruption” – where stand-up comedians try performing their acts between his disruptions – which premiered Friday.

Students can catch an uninterrupted glimpse of the genial comedian when he plays several $18, 18-and-up shows at Tampa Improv in December.

Jerry Seinfeld

When: Jan. 8, 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.

Where: Ruth Eckerd Hall

Ruth Eckerd Hall hosts an even more high-profile comic in January, when “Seinfeld” star Jerry Seinfeld performs two shows in one night.

According to Forbes, Seinfeld remains the world’s top-earning comedian – scoring $75 million from June 2009 to June 2010.

Yet, Seinfeld has returned to stand-up comedy and performed in Orlando’s Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre and Miami’s Ziff Ballet Opera House over the weekend.

Students will have to wait until January to catch him in the Tampa area, but Seinfeld’s shows should offer the chance to witness the comedian’s stand-up beyond the TV show’s brief bookends.

Tickets went on sale Friday and start at $69.