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

Nightlife
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

Nightlife
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

Nightlife
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

Nightlife
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

Nightlife
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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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

Nightlife
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

Nightlife
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

Nightlife
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.

Public Theater’s Mobile Unit Twelfth Night
Apr
25

Theater Public Theater’s Mobile Unit Twelfth Night

The Mobile Unit offers free Shakespeare performances at the Public.

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Will Eisner: The Centennial Celebration
Apr
25

Things to Do Will Eisner: The Centennial Celebration

The author of the comic strip The Spirit and pioneer of the graphic storytelling form—the Eisners, known as the Oscars of comics, are named after...

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Grand Bazaar NYC
Apr
30

Things to Do Grand Bazaar NYC

Spend a Sunday afternoon browsing the wares of local artists, designers and vintage dealers at this weekly market. It's a great place to pick...

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Piano in Bryant Park
May
1

Music Piano in Bryant Park

NYC pianists perform free summer concerts in Bryant Park.

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NYC Holi Hai
May
6

Things to Do NYC Holi Hai

Celebrate the spring color festival with this free program on Governors Island.

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play:groundNYC
May
6

Things to Do play:groundNYC

This 50,000-square-foot junkyard lets kids turn trash into toys.

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Reggae Retro 1st Saturdays Party
May
6

Things to Do Reggae Retro 1st Saturdays Party

Since 2002, Reggae Retro has delivered authentic, crowd-pleasing reggae jams to Brooklyn’s die-hard fans. Head to Littlefield to hear classics by Jimmy...

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A Bed-Stuy Function
May
7

Nightlife A Bed-Stuy Function

At this afternoon club event, Red Bull Music Academy platforms the most innovative waves in the city's underground queer party scene,...

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RED: An Immersive Xperience
May
11

Things to Do RED: An Immersive Xperience

Ever wonder what it would be like to survive the apocalypse? A pressure-packed survival situation where decisions can mean life or...

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Hudson River Park Games
May
13

Outdoors & Recreation Hudson River Park Games

This fundraiser for Hudson River Park involves games, exercise classes and an outdoor festival on Piers 25, 26 and 40.

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The Amazing Mother's Day Scavenger Hunt
May
14

Things to Do The Amazing Mother's Day Scavenger Hunt

Grab mom and the rest of the family to follow the clues and tackle an obstacle course on this dynamic scavenger hunt. Meet at Slattery’s Pub with a...

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Mother's Day Brunch at Queens Botanical Garden
May
14

Things to Do Mother's Day Brunch at Queens Botanical Garden

Spend the day with Mom while soaking up some rays and admiring fresh blooms at Queens Botanical Garden. The landmark is hosting a classy picnic-style brunch...

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