As the comedy world mourns the loss of late-night god Johnny Carson, don't look to Bill Cosby to lend a Kleenex. Once again ensnarled in a nasty controversy (this time it's sexual harassment allegations), the Cos had to bow out from his January performance in Fort Lauderdale. But there's no need to worry; there are plenty of alternatives -- and none took part in that ridiculous Fat Albertmovie.
Speaking of Carson, the very man who filled his shoes is coming to town, chin and all. Say what you will about Tonight Show host Jay Leno; he's held his ground for nearly 13 years. And unlike rival David Letterman, Leno didn't secretly employ Carson as a ghostwriter for some of his monologues. Sure, Leno's one-liners are hit or miss, but he did offer some of the more humorous presidential inauguration jokes. Say it, Jay: "It was so cold that for the inauguration tomorrow, they may need to use jumper cables to start both the president's limo and Dick Cheney." Oh, if only it weren't true. Leno performs at 8 p.m. Saturday, February 5, at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino (1 Seminole Way, Hollywood, 954-523-3309). Tickets cost $100.
Though D.L. Hughley wasn't chosen to replace Craig ("How's my hair?") Kilborn as host of CBS' Late Late Show, he made enough of an impression to ink a pilot deal for his own show on Comedy Central. Hughley's varied résumé ranges from network TV (The Hughleys) to Hollywood (Original Kings of Comedy) to the talk-show circuit, where he recently traded barbs with conservative columnist Andrew Sullivan on Real Time with Bill Maher: "I believe in Jesus too. I just don't believe he only lives in red states." Amen to that. Hughley performs February 3 through 5 at the Fort Lauderdale Improv at Paradise Live (5700 Seminole Way, Hollywood, 954-981-5653). Tickets cost $28.63 to $30.76.
Another veteran of prime-time TV, Grace Under Fire star Brett Butler, takes to the live stage, reminding audiences why she's often referred to as a "Southern Lenny Bruce." Butler's sharp tongue is understandable, though; this gal's survived an abusive upbringing, drug problems, and a marriage fit for an Iraqi torture chamber. But she has found peace (if that's possible for a career comic) and offers her tales with a mix of charm and cheek. Butler comes to the Palm Beach Improv (550 S. Rosemary Ave., Ste. 250, West Palm Beach, 561-833-1812) February 3 through 5. Tickets cost $21.20 to $23.32.
On the other side of the standup spectrum are Colin Mochrieand Brad Sherwood of Whose Line Is It Anyway? fame. The zany improv dudes have a whole set of tricks up their sleeves, from freestyle rap to acting-style parodies. They're dropping by at 8 p.m. Thursday, February 3, at the Coral Springs Center for the Arts (2855 Coral Springs Dr., Coral Springs, 954-344-5990). Tickets cost $44.52 to $53. Ask 'em to do Bill Cosby reading Bill Clinton's Monicagate testimony. That's richer than a case of Jell-O pudding.