13 Comedy Clubs for Great Stand-Up and Improv in New York

13 Comedy Clubs for Great Stand-Up and Improv in New York

Despite the claim made in 2020 by a comedy club owner that the pandemic effectively rendered New York City “dead forever,” it is still very much alive and so is its vibrant comedy scene — which merely adapted, survived and continues to thrive. Clubs such as Dangerfield’s may have shuttered, but the city remains perhaps the best incubator, for comedians old and new. Here are some of our favorites for live shows.

Asylum NYC

307 West 26th Street, Manhattan; asylumnyc.com.

Under a new name and ownership, this basement theater beneath Gristedes in Chelsea still offers some of the same showcases that you might have seen back when the space was run by the Upright Citizens Brigade. Most weeks, there are performances from Thursday to Monday. On Fridays, the house troupe Asylum Mainstage Presents does skits and more with a different guest comedian. Saturdays typically feature musical improv from the likes of Baby Wants Candy and North Coast.

The Bell House

149 Seventh Street, Brooklyn; thebellhouseny.com.

A fixture in Gowanus since it opened in 2008, this club has a main hall that seats more than 200, with standing room for another few hundred to see the biggest names who have graduated from the indie bar scene. Dan Licata and Joe Pera (from Adult Swim’s “Joe Pera Talks With You”) host “The Dan Joe Snowman Show” on Tuesdays. The club’s owners, City Farm Presents, also operate a smaller club, Union Hall, in nearby Park Slope, and host summer events at Industry City in Sunset Park.

Carolines on Broadway

1626 Broadway, Manhattan; carolines.com.

Located just north of Times Square, Caroline Hirsch’s basement club hosts out-of-town headliners from the realms of traditional stand-up and social media (recent headliners have included Yvonne Orji from “Insecure” and Yamaneika Saunders from “Life & Beth”). Even the venue’s former bouncers are famous (see: Idris Elba). Hirsch also puts on the New York Comedy Festival, held across the city each November. The club has a two-drink minimum.

Caveat

21A Clinton Street, Manhattan; caveat.nyc.

This 120-seater on the Lower East Side is open to performers of all stripes and types who are passionate about their interests. Sundays feature RaaaatScraps, a weekly all-star improv collective born out of the ashes of the Upright Citizens Brigade’s ASSSSCAT. The club livestreams some of its shows.

Comedy Cellar

117 Macdougal Street, Manhattan; comedycellar.com.

As seen on Comedy Central’s “This Week at the Comedy Cellar,” which aired just before the pandemic, this club promises A-list talent and surprise drop-ins, so audience members are asked to put their phones in pouches so they cannot record the action. Lineups for the coming week are updated every Thursday on the website. There are eight shows during the week, and up to 15 on weekends at the Cellar and its sister clubs, Village Underground and Fat Black Pussycat, around the corner on West Third Street. You need to purchase two food or drink items during a show.

The Comic Strip

1568 Second Avenue, Manhattan; comicstriplive.com.

This is the last of the city’s old-school comedy clubs. Its owner, Richie Tienken, died in 2021, but the Upper East Side haunt that started the careers of Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Adam Sandler and more continues to showcase stand-ups nightly. Jerry Seinfeld refurbished the place to film his 2017 Netflix special. You need to purchase two food or drink items during a show.

Gotham Comedy Club

208 West 23rd Street, Manhattan; gothamcomedyclub.com.

A favored drop-in spot for the likes of Seinfeld and Jim Gaffigan during weeks when they’re not touring, this Chelsea club has spawned several TV showcases in the years since it opened in 1996. The most reliable lineups are on Tuesday nights thanks to “ComedyJuice.” The club has a two-drink minimum.

Littlefield

635 Sackett Street, Brooklyn; littlefieldnyc.com.

The back of this bar in Gowanus seats 100 with standing room for another 200. It is a hot ticket for several of its stand-up and variety shows, in particular for Monday night’s “Butterboy,” hosted by Jo Firestone, Maeve Higgins and Aparna Nancherla, with music from D.J. Donwill; and for the monthly Saturday performances of “Tinder Live With Lane Moore.”

New York Comedy Club

241 East 24th Street and 85 East Fourth Street, Manhattan; newyorkcomedyclub.com.

With two locations on the East Side, these clubs host multiple nightly shows that feature up-and-comers you might recognize from their late-night TV appearances or hit podcasts. Michael Kosta, a correspondent for “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah,” hosts a new joke showcase, “Nice Try,” on Tuesday nights at the East Village location. You need to spend a minimum of $18 on beverages or snacks during a show.

Q.E.D.

27-16 23rd Avenue, Queens; qedastoria.com.

Fun fact: More New York City comedians still choose to live in Astoria than anywhere else in the city. So you never know who you’ll see performing in this neighborhood club, an intimate 74-seater that features a book and gift shop by the bar. On Fridays, Katie Boyle and Lindsay Theisen host “Transplants Comedy Show,” in which comedians from out of town tell jokes and stories about New York, as well as their hometowns.

The Stand

116 East 16th Street, Manhattan; thestandnyc.com.

This club’s owners, Patrick Milligan and the brothers Cris and Paul Italia, recently bought an old Staten Island ferryboat with Pete Davidson and Colin Jost from “Saturday Night Live” to turn it into their next comedy destination. For now, though, the two rooms in their current location, just west of Union Square, host multiple stand-up showcases and podcast recordings nightly.

West Side Comedy Club

201 West 75th Street, Manhattan; westsidecomedyclub.com.

Located below the Mexican restaurant Playa Betty’s and serving food from there, this relatively new Upper West Side spot hosts comedy shows most weeks from Tuesday to Saturday. You need to purchase two food or drink items during a show.

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Last Update: Thu, 05 May 22 14:56:36