If you’re in Berlin and it’s winter, chances are you might need a laugh. It’s a great city, but depending on how much Brutalist architecture is currently surrounding you and how cold it is, the vibe can get a little serious.
With the winter sun setting at about 3:30pm (that is, if you saw the sun at all through the ubiquitous blanket of gray German sky) and temperatures approaching freezing, it can be easy to get a little down and lonely, especially if you’re not a native. Fortunately, there are little pockets of laughter and light available almost every night here in fair Berlin, found in the ever booming English language Berlin comedy scene.
Below are the top three spots where you can hang out, have a laugh and shake off a little bit of that winter seriousness:
Chuckleheads at Deriva Bar
Every Thursday night, Mainzer Straße 23
Located on Mainzerstraße, a small quiet street just off the Boddinstraße U Bahn stop, this show happens in a cozy, warm and very wooden little room in the back of the bar that holds about 50 people. “We can sound like twice as many people as we are,” host Daniel Guttierez often tells the audience before bringing a comic up on stage.
A former internationally touring musician originally from Venezuela and a veteran of the Berlin scene, Daniel knows how to create spontaneous levity out of thin air. He is a true pro host and deftly manages the artful balance of talking to audience members about their lives (where they’re from, etcetera) and giving them space to laugh and enjoy without making everyone feel like they are being put on the spot.
Being at this show feels like you are hanging out with an old friend who wants you to have fun.
In the categories of friendly vibes and a great post show hangout (not to mention consistently interesting comedians,) Chuckleheads delivers strongly. Now in its fifth year with more than 250 shows, the event has a lot of regular audience members who live in Berlin as well as the usual group of visitors and tourists.
Chuckleheads is definitely a vibe and as an audience member, one feels in on a very hip, very underground scene. The show always has a well curated crop of comics up to bat and the best funny makers in the city always make a stop at Deriva to work new stuff as well as practice tried and true material.
The bar itself is an excellent spot for a date and has great cocktails at a pretty decent price point. After the show, the host, performers and audience members often party together and are an extremely friendly group. It’s guaranteed you will laugh and have fun and if you stick around you might even meet someone new.
Friedrichshain, Grünberger Str. 84
“Dude Where’s my Visa,” hosted by American Comedian Tera Kilbride is a great show at The Wall Comedy Club in Friedrichshain.
The show is centered around the theme of being an expat in Berlin (or anywhere else) and features content all about the ups and downs of leaving one’s home country and trying (or not trying) to integrate into a new culture.
This comedy night is a great representation of just how international the Berlin scene is. On any given night, one can see performers from India, Iraq, Ukraine, China, Palestine, Ireland, Iran, Morocco, England, Romania, Argentina and many other places. This venue is a great place to see comedy any day: opened by Texas transplant Foster Yow in 2019, The Wall serves up both English and German Language shows seven nights a week.
The squeaky clean theater has a great bar and is situated just across from Boxhagener Square (referred to by the locals as “Boxi”) which provides ample options for post show dining and drinking.
Punch Up Comedy
Süss War Gestern, Wühlischstraße 43
For a great show that offers something a little different, Punch Up Comedy is a great option for those interested in comedy with a bit of concept. Hosted by Australian Berlin Comedy scene stalwart Anna Beros, the show has two halves: one with heckling, and one without.
A handful of curated comics do their sets in the first half and then after a short break, the audience (and other comedians) are invited to loudly harass the performers during their second sets.
It’s a fascinating social experiment and a kind of sadomasochism of wits.
Lots of surprises often come up: Sometimes a comedian who had a rough set in the first half will kill when under pressure in the second half responding to a heckle. Or sometimes someone who was really funny in the first half looks not so bulletproof in the second.
This show is very fun and often very awkward and is also located in Boxi at a bar called Süss War Gestern (Translation: Yesterday was sweet.) The funnies go on in an enclosed back room, and in the front are lots of comfortable couches and nightly DJs. Beros also programs lots of other great comedy nights every week under the name Adults Only Comedy.
Berlin can be cold and dark, but warm rooms filled with laughs are popping up more and more all over the city, reminding us all that we’re not alone in our desire for light and levity.
Check it out!
Read more about Berlin here in Dispatches’ archives.