We all know the famous line “Live from New York, it’s Saturday night!” A more fitting exclamation, however, might be “Live from New York, it’s every single night!” Seven days a week, you can find famous, soon-to-be-famous and hilarious-but-will-never-be-famous comedians performing stand-up, sketch and improv throughout the five boroughs.
The City’s burgeoning comedy scene includes traditional comedy clubs like Comix and Carolines on Broadway; improv and sketch incubators like the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre and The PIT (Peoples Improv Theater); and entertaining weekly shows at bars and music venues, including Union Hall and the Knitting Factory. As our comedian interviewees will attest, the shows are linked by a common sense of innovation and fun, as the performers refuse to be bound by the traditional setup-and-punch-line shtick of old. In other words, NYC comedy is hysterically weird.
To provide insight on the City’s formidable corps of chucklesmiths, we asked Eugene Mirman, Hannibal Buress, Sara Benincasa, Max Silvestri and Gabe Liedman, Chuck Nice, Sherrod Small, Talent Harris and J.J. Ramirez—all of whom have regular shows in New York—what the deal is with NYC and comedy. We’ve also put together a slideshow of 14 of the City’s best clubs, which feature both boldfaced names cracking up huge crowds along with hopeful up-and-comers playing to friends they begged to come out. They’re all part of the New York comedy state of mind. As Jay-Z and Alicia Keys might say: New York is the concrete jungle where comedy dreams are made of.