To see or not to see? September provides Austinites with more live comedy choices than they can shake a spear at. In addition to a couple of household names at the Paramount Theatre, Cap City Comedy Club brings in a solid roster of road comics, Esther's Follies opens a new revue, the Out of Bounds festival wraps up, and "thees" and "thous" pile up in bard-worthy improvisations at the Long Center for the Performing Arts.
Author, actor, playwright, "Daily Show" commentator, stand-up comic and Grammy Award winner Black brings his arched eyebrows, raspy bark and "Running on Empty" tour to the Paramount in advance of his October stint on Broadway. The current political season should give Black plenty of fodder for his outraged rants. 8 p.m. Paramount Theatre, 713 Congress Ave. $50.50-$70.50. 474-1221,www.austintheatre.org .
If you recognize Galveston native Engvall, you might be a — wait, that's his buddy Jeff Foxworthy's tag line. When he's not palling around with Foxworthy ("You might be a redneck") and Larry the Cable Guy ("Git 'er done") on Blue Collar Comedy tours, Engvall ("Here's your sign" ... man, these guys have the signature punch lines down, don't they?) hits the road on his own with homespun humor, much of it based on his family life. 8 p.m. Paramount Theatre, 713 Congress Ave. $40-$80. 474-1221,www.austintheatre.org .
The Improvised Shakespeare Company
Alas, poor Yorick ... these acclaimed Chicago improvisers take audience suggestions and spin them into fully improvised Elizabethan masterworks.
Because each production is created on the spot, you could go see all seven performances and never watch the same play twice.
These performances are perfect for Shakespeare scholars as well as those of us who think "Hamlet" is a convenience store breakfast sandwich. Matinees and evening shows. Rollins Studio Theatre at the Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive. $34-$39. 474-5664,www.thelongcenter.org
Weekends, September and October
The venerable comedy/magic/variety venue hosts a new revue, "Happy Fall, Y'all." Political parodies include "Extreme Politics," in which Howard Stern provides play-by-play to a Barack Obama/Mitt Romney grudge match, and the "Follies News Medley," targeting the Supreme Court, health care, immigration and the tea party. Thursdays at 8 p.m., $22 general, $27 reserved; Fridays at 8 and 10 p.m., $22 general, $27 reserved; Saturdays at 8 and 10 p.m., $24 general, $29 reserved. Esther's Follies, 525 E. Sixth St. 320-0553, www.esthersfollies.com
Cap City Comedy Club
Aug. 29-Sept 1: Jackie Kashian. Bob Khosravi and Michael Priest join Kashian, star of her own Comedy Central special, on the Cap City stage.
Sept. 5-8: Brent Weinbach. The Comedy Central, HBO and "Conan" veteran's act has been described as weird; scary; and obscenely, disturbingly brilliant. But don't let that frighten you.
A winner of the HBO Comedy Festival's Andy Kaufman Award, Weinbach is also considered to be hilarious.
Sept: 12-15: Ari Shaffir. You might recognize Joe Rogan buddy Shaffir from national commercials but not make the connection that he's also the star of those wildly inappropriate "The Amazing Racist" Internet videos, portraying a character who is overtly but ironically racist (the comic claims to get weekly death threats from those not in on the joke). In any event, his stand-up act is not for the easily offended. John Tole opens.
Sept. 19-22: JR Brow. Punchline Magazine, San Francisco's International Comedy Competition and HBO's U.S. Comedy Arts Festival Austin are only a few of the organizations to heap praise onto Austin-based Brow.
Expect boundary-busting musings on politics, relationships, religion, current events and pop culture from a comic who can say he's shared the stage with Bill Hicks and the Monkees (though, probably not simultaneously). Opener Ian Karmel shares the stage with Brow.
Sept. 26-29: Dustin Ybarra. Yet another Texan, wild-haired Ybarra has worked with Jay Mohr, Jimmy Walker and, in the recent Matt Damon film "We Bought a Zoo," the monkey from "The Hangover." A familiar face on comedy club stages and college campuses, Ybarra's stream-of-consciousness delivery masks an accomplished writer's mind.
Shows are at 8 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays and 10:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Wednesday and Thursday shows are $9. Friday and Saturday shows are $15. Special event ticket prices vary. Cap City Comedy Club, 8120 Research Blvd., No. 100. 467-2333,www.capcitycomedy.com .
Out of Bounds Comedy Festival
Aug. 28-Sept. 3
The Mohawk, Scottish Rite Theater, Velveeta Room, Institution Theater, New Movement and Coldtowne Theater join the upstairs and downstairs Hideout Theater stages in hosting improvisers and stand-up comics from across the country during the annual Out of Bounds Festival. www.outofboundscomedy.com .
Contact Dale Roe at 912-5923 Twitter: @djroe