If you want to greet the new year with a smile, you can either stay at home and look for photos of cats that look like Wilford Brimley on the Internet (they are there, we checked) or take in one of the promising Bay Area New Year's Eve comedy shows. We recommend the latter, especially when your choices include Will Durst, Christopher Titus, Nephew Tommy, Marga Gomez or "The Daily Show's" John Oliver, among others.
Besides, the cats will probably look even funnier the following morning.
Here's a look at some of the top year-end comedy shows.
Big Fat Year End Kiss Off Comedy Show: You'd think San Franciscan Will Durst, one of the top political-humor comedians going, would be exhausted following his relentless string of performances he had leading up to Election Day. Fortunately, he has plenty of gas left in the tank (maybe it's because he wears those sneakers onstage) for the annual comedy tour he started 20 years ago, which remains one of the highlights of the Bay Area's holiday season. The show also features East Bay comedian Johnny Steele, Debi Durst and Michael Bossier, Mari Magaloni and Arthur Gaus. The tour hits a trio of venues, culminating with a New Year's Eve stop in San Jose.
Details: 8 p.m. Dec. 26 at Freight & Salvage, 2020 Addison St., Berkeley ($20.50-$22.50, 510-644-2020, www.thefreight.org); 8 p.m. Dec. 29 at Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek ($22-$25, 925-943-7469, www.lesherartscenter.org) and 7 and 10 p.m. Dec. 31, San Jose Stage Company, 490 S. First St., San Jose ($30-$50, 408-283-7142, www.sanjose-stage.com).
The Bone's Comedy Countdown: Radio station KSAN-FM 107.7 ("The Bone") spends most of its time dispensing hard rock over the Bay Area airwaves. But on New Year's Eve, the station hosts a comedy show featuring Amy Schumer, a comedian and stage actress whose big break happened when she was a finalist on NBC's "Last Comic Standing," and Comedy Central regular Doug Benson. Others in the lineup include Arj Barker (a San Anselmo native), Ari Shaffir and more.
Details: 9 p.m.; Nob Hill Masonic Auditorium, California and Taylor streets, San Francisco; $20-$94.50; www.ticketmaster.com.
Christopher Titus: The Alameda County native describes his style as "hard comedy," and he has a right to, having survived a brutal childhood and drug and alcohol problems in his early adult life. Titus, who created and starred in the sitcom "Titus" on the Fox network from 2000-2002, brings his "Epic Fail" comedy tour to the San Jose Improv for a four-night run that culminates in a New Year's Eve show.
Details: 8 and 10 p.m. Dec. 28, 7 and 9 p.m. Dec. 29, 7 p.m. Dec. 30, $22-$25; 7 and 10 p.m. Dec. 31, $35-$65; 62 S. Second St., San Jose; 408-280-7475, http://sanjose.improv.com.
Black Comedy Explosion: The comedy show stars Nathaniel Martin Stroman -- aka Earthquake -- who discovered his knack for stand-up during an open mic night while he was serving with the Air Force. He has since starred in an HBO special and had a recurring role on the Chris Rock-created sitcom "Everybody Hates Chris." The opener is Arnez J, a master of impressions and physical comedy.
Details: 10:30 p.m.; Paramount Theatre, 2025 Broadway, Oakland; $49.75-$79.75; www.paramounttheatre.com.
John Oliver: The British comedian is best known as an Emmy-winning writer and correspondent for "The Daily Show." As he puts it, he "joined the show in 2006 and at the time of this writing is yet to be fired." He also starred in the Comedy Central special "Terrifying Times" and stars in a weekly podcast, "The Bugle: Audio Newspaper for a Visual World." He'll be in San Francisco for six shows, culminating in a pair of New Year's Eve performances.
Details: 8 and 10:15 p.m. Dec. 28, 7:30 and 9:45 p.m. Dec. 29-30, $35; 7:30 and 10 p.m. Dec. 31, $45-$60; Cobb's Comedy Club, 915 Columbus Ave., San Francisco; 415-928-4320, http://cobbscomedyclub.com.
Nephew Tommy: The actor and comedian, who studied with the Royal Shakespeare Company in London, is best known as co-host of the nationally syndicated Steve Harvey Morning Show on radio, and has done extensive stand-up touring, including a 2011 USO jaunt that took him to more than a dozen military bases in the Middle East. Tommy, aka Thomas Miles, will be in much safer territory on New Year's Eve -- Pleasanton -- where he headlines a trio of New Year's Eve shows.
Details: 5 and 7:30 p.m., $30-$40; 10 p.m., $75-$95; Tommy T's Comedy and Steakhouse, 5104 Hopyard Road, Pleasanton; 925-227-1800, www.tommyts.com.
Marga Gomez: The openly gay San Francisco comedian has won legions of followers with her piercing observations on life and politics delivered in stand-up performances and series of solo shows that have packed theaters and comedy houses around the Bay Area. She'll be in San Francisco's Mission District on New Year's Eve for a Comedy Fiesta, with guest performers Aundre the Wonderwoman, Pippi Lovestocking, Lydia Popovich and Eloisa Bravo. The show is a benefit for the Brava Theater.
Details: 9 p.m.; Brava Theater, 2781 24th St., San Francisco; $30-$50; 415-641-7657, www.brava.org.