Carolines on Broadway
1626 Broadway, Times Square, Manhattan
A veritable comedy institution, Carolines has been keeping New York laughing since 1981. The comic talent ranges from the soon-to-be-famous (stars such as Jay Leno and Rosie O’Donnell started here in the ’80s) to current favorites, like Colin Quinn, Susie Essman and Damon Wayans. And don’t fret if your upcoming social calendar is booked; Carolines hosts shows seven days a week, 365 days a year.
117 MacDougal St., West Village, Manhattan
You never know who's going to pop up on stage at this subterranean comedy mecca: Ray Romano, Colin Quinn, Robin Williams, Jon Lovitz. All of the aforementioned have graced the Comedy Cellar with their live sets recently, spewing from a stage the size of a dining-room table in front of a crowd packed together tighter than sardines on a Ritz.
The World-Famous Comic Strip Live
1568 Second Ave., Upper East Side, Manhattan
Since 1975, this renowned stand-up comedy club has played host to some of the best comedians in the City and has even helped launch the careers of many (think Eddie Murphy and Chris Rock). The walls that flank the entranceway are jam-packed with autographed photos of some of the club's most recognizable former and current performers, giving the space the feel of a comedy hall of fame. Grab a drink at the tiny bar outside the main room for a chance to chat it up with the talent as they enter and exit, and be sure to reserve your ticket before the show to guarantee yourself a seat.
10-93 Jackson Ave., Long Island City, Queens
There's always some sort of party going on at this Long Island City hotspot: on Thursdays, you'll find free music in the lounge; on weeknights, there's a two-for-one margarita happy hour; and during the summer, the outdoor beer garden is jumping with sweaty patrons all day long. The Creek is also home to free comedy shows in the theater, plus a kitchen serving up Baja-style Mexican food, including “big dog” burritos, which are large enough to feed more than one frat brother.
Dangerfield’s Comedy Club
1118 First Ave., Upper East Side, Manhattan
Before Rodney Dangerfield left this world for the big comedy stage in the sky (RIP), he started this venue, which has been called the number-one comedy club in America. Such A-listers as Jay Leno, Jim Carrey, Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld and Tim Allen have all performed on the hallowed Dangerfield’s stage, and new talent emerges nightly. Dangerfield’s is also available for private parties.
Gotham Comedy Club
208 W. 23rd St., Chelsea, Manhattan
At Gotham Comedy Club, native New Yorkers Chris Mazzilli and Michael Reisman bring the dignified air of an old-world supper club to the modern stand-up comedy scene. While the elegant theater is unusually cushy, once the comedians take the stage, you’ll realize that humor is truly Gotham’s main attraction. Comics range from up-and-coming talents to top headliners such as Lewis Black, Dane Cook and Dave Chappelle.
Ha! Comedy Club NYC
163 W. 46th St., Times Square, Manhattan
A comedy club booked and managed by comics, Ha! features at least six shows every night of the week. Located in Times Square, it is one of NYC’s busier comedy clubs. Ha! also runs Sweet Caroline’s restaurant and piano bar, where guests can request songs (and, more often than not, sing along). Drop in to check out stand-up from up-and-comers and veterans alike; $20 usually earns you a seat for the whole night.
254 W. 29th St., Chelsea, Manhattan
Founded in 2005 by a group of Chicago comedy lovers led by Second City (and, as it happens, Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre and Peoples Improv Theater) alum Armando Diaz, this improv outpost offers both classes and shows, meaning that you can either try to be the next Amy Poehler or Will Arnett, or you can try to discover the next Amy Poehler or Will Arnett. Classes are open to everyone. On the weekends, beer-soaked crowds hit the theater to guffaw.
National Comedy Theatre
347 W. 36th St., Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan
National Comedy Theatre’s popular comedy shows—a fast-paced competition between two teams of professional comedians who perform a series of hysterical scenes based on audience suggestions—are performed nightly in its 36th Street theater. The venue has also expanded into team-building workshops, improv comedy training, high-school improv leagues, corporate entertainment and events, and convention and trade show entertainment.
123 E. 24th St., Gramercy, Manhattan
This comedy haven (an acronym for “Peoples Improv Theater”) is a great place for revelers to watch some of the City’s finest comedians-in-training, and for people with stage fright to take improv and sketch classes. Offerings include “Writing for The Colbert Report,” “How to Pitch and Sell TV Shows,” and “You’re Funny. Now What?,” and some instructors are veterans of Saturday Night Live and The State. The theater also offers special courses for teens and kids.
The Stand Restaurant and Comedy Club
239 Third Ave., Gramercy, Manhattan
Notable names like Janeane Garofalo, Todd Barry, Christian Finnegan and Judah Friedlander frequent this recently opened standup spot, which prides itself on a more diverse food menu than most other comedy clubs (“restaurant” is right there in the name and even comes before “comedy club,” after all). Come for the jokes, stay for the truffle mac ‘n’ cheese.
Stand-Up NY Comedy Club
236 W. 78th St., Upper West Side, Manhattan
This handsomely appointed venue offers top-notch stand-up from comedy’s brightest stars seven nights a week; with room for only 175, there’s not a bad seat in the house. For as little as $10, catch an impressive roster of funny folks who have delivered laughs on Late Show with David Letterman, Saturday Night Live and Comedy Central Presents (to name just a few). Drop-ins have included comedy veterans Robin Williams, Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld.
955 West End Ave., Upper West Side, Manhattan
This lounge is a hit with Upper West Side residents, and it’s easy to see why. The stylishly renovated space has everything you’d want for a relaxing night out—a pool table, live music and comedy, and drinks that won’t break the bank. Find a comfortable spot on a sofa, order your cocktail of choice and strike up a conversation under the low lights.
153 E. 3rd St., East Village, Manhattan
The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre has cranked out more and more material as the years have gone by, and there hasn’t always been enough stage time to go around. Finally, the UCB’s success has afforded it the opportunity to open a second New York City venue, this one in the old home of the Two Boots Pioneer Theater. Much of the talent at this cozier venue overlaps with the Chelsea location, and there’s still some improv and sketch comedy—but this outpost focuses more on stand-up, storytelling and variety shows.
Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre
307 W. 26th St., Chelsea, Manhattan
The premiere home of offbeat, 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. There is never a dull moment at this theater, where unknowns and up-and-comers regularly share the stage with famous comedians like Parks and Recreation’s Amy Poehler, Robin Williams and Conan O’Brien.