The Venue Review: The Smiling Moose

This will be part of a new series on and  There are lots of venues to see comedy in Pittsburgh.  This is a brief introduction to each spot. 

If there is an epicenter of Pittsburgh Comedy it would probably be found within walking distance of the Smiling Moose.  Located on 13th street and Carson, the Moose is home to Pittsburgh’s longest running open mic comedy night.  It’s hard to tell what you’re walking into when you pass through the doors.  The name “Smiling Moose” gives the impression that it will greet you like a ski lodge with hot cocoa and a little dainty apple turnover.  However the Moose caters less to the NorthFace-wearing ski bunny and more to the Ex-mosh pit enthusiaist with a day job. 

One of most consistent rooms in terms of audience turnout.  I have often met most of the “younger” comics at this venue and enjoy seeing how they progress from month to month or just how much longer their beards are from the last time I saw them. – Justin Markuss

On Tuesday night, hosts John Pridmore and Derek Minto wrangle in about 15+ comedians and funnel them to the stage.  The show starts off at around 10 o’clock (or whenever the Penguins/Pirates/Pitt Basketball game is over) and can go well into the night.  Generally speaking, the Moose tends to embrace a harsher style of comedy.  Just last week I was trying to do jokes about Home and Garden Television Network and was met with the kind of silence that made my ears pee themselves.  However, when I’ve gained the audience’s attention, they go all in.  With framed posters of Evil Dead and Army of Darkness adorning the walls, the tone of the Moose is one of campy evil. 

People ask me about it and I always say ‘If you want to be a comic, you’ve got to do the Moose. – Aaron Kleiber. 

As someone who spends their day in a safe and secure corporate environment, visiting the Moose on a Tuesday night gives me the opportunity to practice my jokes and to reconnect with my inner thrasher. 

When: Every Tuesday at 10:00 PM

Where: E Carson and 13th (Southside)

Drink: $1 High-Life Bottles

Feature: Non-threatening Horror movie memorabilia

Attire: Vintage Metallica, Winter Bike Messenger

Parking: Side streets are typically the best bet

Cover Charge: No