N ew York’s comedy scene is a serious business.
The city has served as the backdrop for classic rom-coms
, iconic sitcoms, and, of course one little late-night variety show
that’s been prattling on since 1975, launching some of the biggest names in the biz along the way. Across clubs, bars, DIY spaces, and some truly unexpected venues, this town serves as the nation’s premier stage for superstars
and fledgeling funny folks alike.
“New York [has] the best comedy scene in the world, definitely,” says Gina Yashere
, a British ex-pat who made a name for herself on New York’s many stages before co-creating the CBS sitcom Bob Hearts Abishola
. “People come to New York to become comedians, people love the art of standup and work hard on making their standup great. People pride themselves on the quality of their standup.”
Like a night of live theatre
, catching a stand-up routine, improv show, or even an open mic night suffuses us all with a deeper connection to these five disparate boroughs that make up one inimitable whole. Sure, there are universal truths and tropes that comedians revisit again and again, regardless of location. But see a show in New York, and you’ll giggle at bits that just wouldn’t play in Peoria. Take the subway
, please. Whether you’re the tourist swiping your MetroCard 87 times in a heroic effort to take the L train, or the beleaguered local waiting in line behind him, a tight ten about the highs, lows, woes and whoas of the MTA are boundlessly relatable.
Actually finding good
live comedy, however, can feel intimidating. Hawkers on MacDougal Street and 8th Avenue or, worse yet, Times Square, may try to rope you into a mediocre lineup with a hefty drink minimum, and some sets can really flop. To separate the side-splitting shows from the total snoozers, we asked working New York City comedians to fill us in on where you’re guaranteed a cackle right here in the Big Apple.