Best stages for comedy and spoken word in Amsterdam
From slam poetry and storytelling to stand-up and improv., there is a whole range of unique stages for spoken word hidden across Amsterdam. Catch some of the world’s best comedic talents, wordsmiths, drag and cabaret acts in an intimate setting. Hot tip: if you’re heading to a stand-up night, there’s a reason why the front-row seats are the last to be filled.
Settle into Mezrab’s cosy floor cushions for a night of tall tales and real-life stories told by professional storytellers. This unique cultural centre in the eastern docklands has grown into one of the city’s best stages for spoken word, improv and comedy. The venue also hosts exhibitions, parties and musical guests from around the world with a casual atmosphere that will make you feel right at home, no matter what’s on the agenda.
Located in a former church, Podium Mozaïek embraces the cultural diversity of Amsterdam-West, providing a stage for a range of cultural and artistic initiatives in the city. Their programme offers music, theatre, dance, exhibitions and spoken word from national and international artists focusing on language no problem performances. Don’t miss the International Storytelling Festival (October), which features acclaimed storytellers lighting up the long autumn nights with pacey plots, touching tales and real-life accounts from around the world.
Stand-up and improv.
Boom Chicago has been tickling the ribs of audiences for over 25 years with comedy, sketch and improv. all performed in English. Shows touch on everything from Dutch culture to American politics, and many big names - including Seth Meyers and Oscar-winner Jordan Peele - got their start here. Head down to the historic Rozengracht location and don’t miss the Boom Chicago Comedy Festival (July - August) for more shows, workshops and a downright good laugh.
Toomler has been the home base and springboard for many Dutch comedians and provides the stage for a dazzling line-up of international talents. Names like Hans Teeuwen, Theo Maassen, Sanne Wallis de Vries, Najib Amhali and Jan Jaap van der Wal all found their way to a solo career at this intimate stand-up stage. Most shows are in Dutch but keep an eye out for regular international events which attract English-speaking comedians from all over the world.
This iconic venue has continuously put on shows since the mid-1990s, making it a go-to hotspot for stand-up comedy. Check out their international shows on Thursday nights, where talented comedians from every corner of the world drop by to share their hilarious life experiences and unconventional views of the world. Or to catch some exciting local newcomers to the scene, swing by for Comedy Embassy every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday.
This relaxed wine bar in De Pijp regularly hosts comedy open-mic nights featuring first-time performers or seasoned professionals testing out new material. Expect a chilled out vibe and a warm and friendly crowd enjoying the show over a bottle of wine (or four).
This cosy neighbourhood pub at the collision point of De Jordaan, Centrum and Westerpark started as a crowd-funding project. The venue is becoming increasingly popular for live gigs, comedy, spoken word, improv jams and pub quizzes. Check the agenda for Ken Parson’s Ironic Curtain Comedy Club or spoken word by Word Up. It’s an intimate, welcoming venue with a great range of beers available on tap.
Variety, drag and cabaret
De Kleine Komedie
With its broad range of comedy, music, dance and theatre, De Kleine Komedie is one of the city’s oldest and most loved venues. Its long history can even count King Willem I and Napoleon as regulars but is now frequented by more contemporary guests staging quality theatre, cabaret, comedy and music shows. Check the agenda for English-language performances.
Royal Theatre Carré
Whether you want low-brow chuckles or to be wowed by theatre and variety, you’ll always find something to raise a smile at Royal Theatre Carré. For over a century, this historic venue has attracted massive stars from internationally acclaimed comedians to some of the country’s most notable cabaret acts.
Dragshow Bar Lellebel
This characteristic small pub on Utrechtsestraat is a multicultural transgender bar renowned for its glittering lip-sync performances, karaoke, and themed events. You’ll be sure to catch performances from some of the country’s most talented queens here and don’t miss the Drag Queen Bingo night on Thursdays.
Poetry and literature
De Nieuwe Anita
We’re not sure who Anita is but we certainly like her eclectic retro style. This living room bar in West has a small stage for some pretty alternative events, including slam poetry, spoken word, comedy nights, acoustic music, DJ events, club nights and everything mixed together. Drop by to hear performances from some of the city’s most exciting literary talents and wordsmiths in an intimate venue.
Falling somewhere between a cocktail bar, soul food joint, and hub for spoken word nights, Labyrinth is undoubtedly one of the city’s most unique venues. Anyone is welcome to take to the stage on their Open Mic Mondays for spoken word, poetry, storytelling and music. Whilst the evenings are hosted in English, the acts may perform in any language of choice.