The Venue Review: The Corner Cafe


When one thinks of the SouthSide of Pittsburgh, one’s thoughts immediately go to beer-hungry droves of repressed Duquesne students dragging their self-respect through the gutters of their parents nightmares (deep breath).   Nevertheless, it’s easily the city’s most bumping scene for alcohol, independent music shows, and gyro consumption.  But up 18th street, right as the Southside starts to blend into Mt. Oliver, sits the Corner Cafe.

I think the room at the corner may provide for one of the best atmospheres for an audience to see comedy in the city. The room is intimate and separate from the bar allowing people who actually want to sit down and enjoy a show to do so without the distractions of people who are only there to get their drink on. – Ray Zawodni

To put it in movie terms, the Corner Cafe is like the barn that Rocky Balboa trains in during the 4th movie.  When you walk in, you expect to see a bunch of coal miners quietly sharing a drink after a double-shift.  Past the pool table, you’ll find one of the best set up rooms on the Pittsburgh Comedy scene.  The room is narrow, has low ceilings, and shines a bright spotlight on the small stage.  It’s a gritty, smokey training ground for comedians strengthening their set lists.  Many of my favorite jokes have been born at the Corner Cafe.

I like the fact that 15-20 is a great crowd.  – Tom Kupiec

Let’s be honest, getting audience members to drive up the Southside Slopes is not the easiest task in the world.  However if even 15 actual audience members show up, it can be an unbelievable show.  Plus the Corner is probably the closest thing to the Comedy Cellar that Pittsburgh has to offer.  Big local names like Jim Krenn and Gene Collier have been known to pop in for a set.  I was lucky enough to be on a show at the Corner when CBS star and Pittsburgh native Billy Gardell dropped in for a warm-up set prior to his Comedy Central special taping.  My friends Terry Jones and Tim Dimond have recorded their respective headlining sets there too.

For me, the bottom line is that the Corner Cafe is truly a place where freedom of speech reigns supreme.  It’s dark, brimming with jokes, and beautifully anonymous.  When you come to a show, you know you’ll be hearing some real talk and some raw emotion.

When: Every Friday night at 8:30

Where: Southside Slopes 18th Street

Drinks: Cheap as all hell.

Feature: Blue Collar Authenticity

Attire: Jaromir Jagr jersey and Wranglers

Parking: 18th Street

Cover Charge: $5 donation