DC Improv: What to Expect

If you've never been to the club before, here's a rundown of the usual experience. Please note that while COVID precautions are in effect, there may be substantial changes to accommodate safety precautions.

Arriving at the Club

The “door time” is listed on your confirmation e-mail. That’s when we plan to open our doors to the public, check in customers and begin seating the showroom.

  • If you’re coming to an “early” show – either a matinee or the first performance of the evening – you can pretty much count on doors opening on time.
  • If you’re coming to a “late” show, we might be a little behind schedule. (Sometimes comedians perform longer than expected, which messes with our beautiful plans.)

Weather warning: Some fans like to get here before the listed door time. Just be aware that you will be waiting in line until the doors open – and there’s a very good chance that the line will be outside. We can’t guarantee on any given night that indoor space will be available for people waiting to see a show. So always check the weather and be prepared to stand outside while you wait.

Checking In

We use a “will call” system, so everyone has to check in when they arrive. You give the name on your reservation to one of our box office workers or door staff. They may ask to see your ID, and they’ll confirm that your reservation is on the will call list. And if you’re there for a “late” show, at that point you’ll be handed a slip of paper that indicates your seating assignment.

Depending on the weather, you will check in either at the street entrance to our venue, or at the box office (just inside our main entrance). If you show up at the club and see one of our employees standing on the sidewalk near the entrance, go say hello. They’ll let you know if you can check in at that time.

Getting Seated: Early Shows, Matinees and Lounge Shows

We’re a cross between a restaurant and a concert venue, so seating at the Improv might be a little different from what you’re used to. Here’s how it all goes down:

Once the doors have opened and you’re checked in, you’ll be pointed toward the showroom. One of our door staff will meet you there and help you find a table. Seating for early shows is unassigned, which means you’ll have options on where to sit. But keep a few things in mind:

  • Seating can be tight, because we’re trying to create a classic comedy club experience. Shows are better when people are closer together. Ask any comedian!
  • We do our best to make sure that parties aren’t split up. That’s why on busy nights, particular spots in the showroom are set aside for large parties (5+ people). In those situations, large parties will be choosing their seats only from those areas. Vice versa, smaller parties won’t be able to choose a table set aside for larger parties.
  • If your group doesn’t fill a table exactly, you might end up sharing that table. (Our rectangular tables seat six, and our round tables seat four.) So make new friends! You have something in common: Everyone came to the world’s best comedy club. Discuss.
  • Sometimes specific tables are reserved for special guests of the comedians.

Getting Seated: Late Shows

If you’re coming to a late show in our main showroom, you’ll be assigned a table by the Improv. Why? Because it’s a zillion times faster than letting everyone pick their own seat, and we want to get the laughter started before midnight. We use a fancy computer to do the assignments, and they’re done about an hour before showtime. (So, we can’t tell you exactly where you’ll be until you get here.) The assignments are done by order of purchase: The people who bought their tickets first will be assigned seats closest to the stage.

Here’s how it works on your end. When you arrive at the club for a late show, the person who checks you in will give you a slip of paper that has your table number. Hang on to that paper. Once the showroom is cleaned up and ready for customers, seating begins. When you reach the showroom entrance, give your slip of paper to the door staff, and they’ll take you to your table.

And now we’ll anticipate one of our favorite questions! “There’s nobody sitting in those seats yet, why can’t I just go sit up there?”  Remember, seating is done by order of purchase. Someone might have bought tickets before you, but on the night of the show they might show up at the club after you. We have to assume that they’re on the way, and keep their table ready. If you have big-time issue with your seating, ask to speak to a manager.

Getting Served

Please note, this is not in the “You Got Served” sense. That requires Steve Harvey.

Once you’re seated, a server will come to your table to help you out. All food and drink orders must go through a server (you can't order at the bar).

One heads up: For a “late” show, we’re usually trying to seat more than 250 people in the span of about 15 minutes. Our servers help out to make that process as smooth and quick as possible. So a server probably won’t come around to your table until the seating process is winding down.

And Once the Show Starts ...


Also, put your phone away. Phone use isn’t allowed in the showroom during a performance. (You can step in to the lobby if you need to use your phone.) The only exception: If the comedian on stage specifically says it’s OK to use your phone for something, go ahead.