New York City Comedy Guide

nycgo.com staff

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New York City is the comedy capital of the world. If you’re coming here, you don’t only need to prepare an answer to the question “Do you like comedy?”—trust us, you’d better have that on hand—you also need to think about what kind of comedy you like. Because comedy here is more than one thing: there’s stand-up (comics telling jokes or stories alone onstage), improv (making up scenes on the spot) and sketch (performing rehearsed scenes). 

Here’s a quick breakdown of the City’s best clubs and what you’ll see where:

Comedy Clubs with Headliners

These clubs usually host nights revolving around one well-known comic whom you’ve probably seen on TV, plus an opener. They also sometimes host showcases (see below). In general, it’ll set you back a cover charge and a two-drink minimum.  

Carolines on Broadway

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Carolines on Broadway

Carolines on Broadway is the most hilarious place in New York City.

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Gotham Comedy Club

Comedy
Gotham Comedy Club

This famous nightspot features top headliners and up-and-coming comics.

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Comedy Clubs with a Showcase Format

These clubs typically feature shorter sets by a number of comics. There’s a chance a really big name (sometimes on the order of Chris Rock) will drop in out of nowhere for a surprise set, especially at the Comedy Cellar. The price usually includes a cover and a food or drink minimum.  

Comedy Cellar

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Comedy Cellar

You never know who's going to pop up on stage at this subterranean comedy mecca: Ray Romano, Colin Quinn, Robin Williams, Jon Lovitz.

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Stand Up NY Comedy Club

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Stand Up NY Comedy Club

This handsomely appointed venue offers top-notch stand-up from comedy's brightest stars seven nights a week; with the ability to accommodate just over 125 guests, there’s not a bad seat in the house.

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EastVille Comedy Club

Comedy
EastVille Comedy Club

The East Village got its first bona fide chuckle-hut-style stand-up club. EastVille puts up much of the same club-circuit talent that populates the city’s...

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Improv Theaters

These theaters revolve around long-form improvisation, in which performers weave together a complex scene from a single suggestion. You can also see sketch comedy and stand-up at these venues from time to time, and you’re liable to get celebrity drop-ins (especially at the popular ASSSCAT 3000 show at the Upright Citizens Brigade in Chelsea). There’s no drink minimum at improv theaters, and the cover is generally very low—often in the $5 to $10 range and sometimes free.

Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre

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Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre

The premiere home of off-beat, creative improvisational and sketch comedy in New York City presents more than 25 shows a week, with ticket prices always under $10 and reasonably priced drinks to keep the good cheer flowing.

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UCB East

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UCB East

Upright Citizens Brigade, famous for showcasing offbeat, creative improvisation and sketch comedy in New York City, has opened a second East Coast location in the heart of the East Village.

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The Peoples Improv Theater

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The Peoples Improv Theater

This comedy haven (an acronym for "Peoples Improv Theater") is a great place for people with stage fright to take improvisation classes and also for revelers to watch live acts by some of the City's finest comedians-in-training.

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The Pit Loft

Comedy
The Pit Loft

This space, the former home of the Peoples Improv Theater, has been acquired again by PIT owner Ali Farahnakian to present even more stand-up, sketch and...

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Magnet Theater

Comedy
Magnet Theater

Improv and sketch comedy theater and training classes.

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The Annoyance Theatre & Bar

Comedy
The Annoyance Theatre & Bar

Improv theater in Williamsburg that also holds classes and workshops.

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Alternative Comedy Spaces

Some of the City’s best comedy shows take place at bars and performance spaces that are not exclusively comedy clubs. They’re usually pretty cheap, and often attract talent whose drawing power is way bigger than these cozy rooms. Louis C.K. has even shown up at the Knitting Factory’s Sunday show.

Union Hall

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Union Hall

Union Hall is a bar that leads a double life: upstairs, a large, lively bar holds two full bocce courts and lots of booth seating; downstairs, a live venue hosts comedy, live music and dance parties every night of the week.

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The Bell House

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The Bell House

Gowanus might seem like an odd destination for a night on the town, but it's shaping up to be the next hip Brooklyn 'hood thanks, in part, to The Bell House.

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Littlefield

Nightlife
Littlefield

Part of the rapidly developing Gowanus nightlife renaissance, Littlefield is a 6,200 square-foot renovated warehouse-turned-music, art, comedy and film venue, spruced up with environmentally sustainable touches like sound walls formed from rubber tires and a bar made of salvaged bowling alley lanes—as well as an inviting interior courtyard landscaped with reclaimed materials.

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Knitting Factory

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Knitting Factory

Previous incarnations of this iconic music venue existed on East Houston Street at the edge of NoLIta and on Leonard Street in TriBeCa.

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Broadway and Off-Broadway

Hey, check it out. Comedians are behind some of these spectacles too. Here are a couple of our favorites running right now.

Pictures Under The Palms
Feb
22

Film Pictures Under The Palms

A free, indoor movie series set under the palm trees the Winter Garden of Brookfield Place.

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Liz Glynn: Open House
Mar
1

Museums & Galleries Liz Glynn: Open House

Liz Glynn: Open House transforms Central Park’s Doris C. Freedman Plaza into a Gilded Age–era mansion reminiscent of the demolished William C. Whitney ballroom.

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Primate Portraits
Mar
1

Museums & Galleries Primate Portraits

The portraits featured in this exhibition show how closely related we are to primates.

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Rocket Park Mini Golf
Mar
1

Museums & Galleries Rocket Park Mini Golf

While kids putt around at the New York Hall of Science’s golf course, they can learn about laws of motion and gravity.

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Saturday Evenings at the Met
Mar
4

Things to Do Saturday Evenings at the Met

Art and architectural historian Thomas Beachdel offers up insights into the museum's permanent collection and sneak peeks of new exhibitions in these...

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A Third Gender
Mar
10

Museums & Galleries A Third Gender

Beautiful youths—or wakashu—were a “third gender” in Japan during the Edo period (1603–1868).

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Sasheer Zamata
Mar
12

Comedy Sasheer Zamata

Saturday Night Live’s Sasheer Zamata hosts her very own monthly show at intimate Union Hall.

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Sephardic Jewish Film Festival
Mar
30

Film Sephardic Jewish Film Festival

Screenings, filmmaker Q&As and an awards ceremony highlight the week.

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Ali Wong
Apr
28

Comedy Ali Wong

With the verbal fury of Nicki Minaj and the fearless attitude of Joan Rivers, Wong made her name with her 2016 Netflix special Baby Cobra, which she...

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Pride Luminaries Brunch
Jun
18

Things to Do Pride Luminaries Brunch

An annual brunch during Pride Week celebrating LGBTQ business leaders.

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OutCinema
Jun
19

Film OutCinema

A Pride Week screening of a new LGBT film.

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Pride Island Friday
Jun
23

Things to Do Pride Island Friday

Patti Labelle headlines a live concert at Pier 26 to celebrate LGBT Pride.

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