It’s no good sitting alone in your room. Instead, go hear the music play at a Philadelphia cabaret. Cabarets bring to mind the vaudeville and burlesque acts of the pre-TV age, but they’re simply nightclubs, bars or restaurants that feature live comedy and music acts performed while the audience slugs down drinks and noshes on bar food. Philly has no shortage of these venues. So check out these top spots for cabarets in the City of Brotherly Love.
11580 Roosevelt Blvd.
Philadelphia, PA 19116
Kevin James, Jay Leno, Bill Maher and Ray Ramano all began their stand-up careers with spots at the Comedy Cabaret. Owner Andy Scarpati, aka Dr. Scarpati, has been booking top-drawer acts since 1980. He’s a whiz at picking comedians that get the crowd rolling in their seats. Shows cost less than the price of a movie ticket, and there’s plenty of free parking.
The Comedy Works
1320 Newport Road
Bristol, PA 19007
The Comedy Works has been serving up great food and stand-up acts for almost a quarter of a century. Friday night dinner shows feature a full course meal and a laugh-till-your-stomach-hurts show for less than $40 per person. If you want to forgo the feast, tickets are just $15 for the Friday and Saturday night shows. But you can still order hoagies, salads, desserts and drinks while you catch some of the funniest local acts around Philly.
North Star Bar
2639 Poplar St.
Philadelphia, PA 19130
Located in an inauspicious building just four blocks from the Philadelphia Museum of Art on an isolated corner in the Fairmount neighborhood, North Star Bar is one of Philly’s most successful cabarets. Order from a full bar menu, including a long list of bottle and draught beers, as well as salads, sandwiches and burgers, and watch the show. This place is beloved for its eclectic line-up of live music acts. The White Stripes have played here, and guitar legend Dick Dale and dynamic drummer Virgil Donati are set to appear on stage this summer. Acoustics are great wherever you sit, but try to snag a spot on the second-story balcony.
The Peek-A-Boo Review is an adults-only burlesque show filled with costumes, singing, dancing and debauchery. Born as a variety show at the former Five Spot nightclub, the troupe now appears at a variety of venues around the Philadelphia metropolitan area. In August, you can catch them at PhilaMOCA, The Ruba and Underground Arts. Later in the year, the troupe will perform at The Trocadero, The Note, World Cafe Live and Tabu Lounge.
1221 St. James St.
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Formerly called Pure, Voyeur is Philly’s only after-hours gay nightclub and features the most popular drag show in town. People don’t come for the food here. Rather, they come to consume the reasonably priced “pink drinks,” dance the night away on the large mezzanine and enjoy the DJs and live music acts in the Ruby Lounge. Doors stay open until 3 a.m. seven nights a week.
Susan DeFeo has been a professional writer since 1997. She served as a community events columnist for New Jersey’s “Cape May County Herald” for more than a decade. A writer for numerous online publications, Susan has covered health, fitness, beauty and travel, all subjects that are near and dear to her as a married mother of seven children. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.