Monday, September 05, 2005

Dinner and Laughs for Four Under $40

It's a three-day weekend and your entertainment budget is shot by Sunday morning. Don't fret -- hope is not lost. Here's just one way to have a blast on a low budget on Wilson Boulevard in Arlington. No car is required, but we drove one, and yes, I'm including gas in the final bill.

Sunday Night Stand-up at the Comedy Spot

For those uninitiated into DC's stand-up comedy scene, Sunday night Open Mic Comedy at the Comedy Spot in Arlington is probably more fun than you think. I've heard dozens of cynical Washingtonians claim that DC has no sense of humor, but they're confusing the suits with the soul of the city. DC is hometown to tons of stand-up talent, including Dave Chapelle and Martin Lawrence (and Rip Taylor!).

Yesterday's Sunday event at the Comedy Spot was a special event, the Geek Comedy Tour 3000 Debut, a grassroots show that appears to have been marketed with flyers and word-of-internet only. Our crowd consisted of two techies, a scientist, and a gamer, so we counted ourselves in the numbers and dropped in for free at eight o'clock.

Of the nine comedians who performed for about ten minutes each, most were LOL funny and some were OMG hilarious. Some were very accessible to a non-geek audience, but others made references we didn't get. Still, most of the audience had a great time, and by the end of the lineup the Comedy Spot's auditorium was nearly packed. Although this week's show catered to a niche audience, it was among the best live stand-up comedy I've seen for free.

As a venue, the Comedy Spot has some potential downsides. There's no alcohol, which is usually essential for enjoying a night of stand-up, plus only dry snacks and soda are available from the concession stand. However, Comedy Spot has an open door policy for outside food and non-alcoholic drinks, making this an excellent place to hang out on a tiny budget.

Total cost at the Comedy Spot: $5 for chips and soda.

Great Food Anytime at Mario's Pizza House

Leaving the Comedy Spot shortly after 10PM, we considered going out for food and drinks -- but then we thought cheaper. We picked up two small veggie pizzas at Mario's Pizza House on Wilson Boulevard, which is open all night and actually delivers locally until 3AM. Mario's isn't exclusively takeout, but it only has outside dining available.

Not only is Mario's remarkably convenient, it has crispy, fresh, and delicious pizza, which puts greasy New York style jumbo slices to shame. The sub sandwiches also look big and tasty (but I love the pizza so much I haven't tried anything else). This place gets really hopping after midnight, but at this hour we were in and out with two pizzas in ten minutes flat.

Total cost at Mario's Pizza House: $20 for two small veggie pizzas, which was enough to feed four hungry souls and have leftovers, too.

Four out of Four Drinkers Agree - Cheap Alcohol Can Be Cheaper

Needing to get some pizza in our bellies, we pulled off at a convenience store to buy some alcohol fast. Since we were out on the mega-cheap, we eyed the Miller High Life, which is way cheap in 40's (40oz bottles). We each got a 40 of High Life for under $2 a bottle. Just in case, we also grabbed two big cans from the cooler -- one Fosters, one Heineken.

For the record -- a few of us drank our 40s from glasses, but to really experience a cheap night with 40s, drinking straight from the bottle is the way to go. Leaving the bottle in a paper bag while you drink from it is optional but encouraged.

Total cost for alcohol: $13 or so for 209.4 intoxicating ounces.

How DC Stays Home - Board Games, DVDs, and Streaming Audio

Until recently I wondered, why do people keep inviting me over to play board games? Although I have more than one "game night" penciled into my calendar, whipping out my box of Clue, the Simpsons Edition, isn't part of my usual entertaining repertoire.

But why not? After we'd all finished our 40s of High Life we didn't give a damn about Marge in the nuclear power plant with the poisoned donut. But we were playing Clue and having a blast, watching cartoons on DVD silently and listening to free streaming dance music from Shoutcast. (Wow, we even multitask when we party.)

Total cost for staying home: Just a little "social capital" with the neighbors for partying late into the night.

And finally ...

Total cost of well-rounded, cheap fun: $40 for four people drinking 40s until 4AM.


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