The Best Totally Free/Underground Comedy Shows in NYC
You already know that there are a ton of great places to see stand-up in the city, but here’s what you may not know: a lot of them are completely free. And, no, that doesn’t mean they’re bad -- in fact, almost all of them have been frequented by well-known comedians at one point or another (and the rest have been blessed with the likes of sure-to-be famous up-and-comers). So the next time you need an underground sanctuary for excellent comedy for the price of $0.00, check out these.
“Let’s See, What Else” at <a href="http://www.thrillist.com/venue/eat/new-york/restaurants/poco" target="_blank">Poco</a> Alphabet City
Wednesdays at 8pm
Local comedians Tom Delgado and Missy Baker host a new batch of both rising and established comedians in this restaurant’s intimate downstairs cellar every week (there’s a bar down there, relax!) -- which means you could quite literally be rubbing elbows with reputable comics like Nick Vatterott (Comedy Central, Late Night With Jimmy Fallon) and SNL cast member Sasheer Zamata.
“Hot Soup” at <a href="http://www.thrillist.com/node/4251015" target="_blank">Irish ExitMidtown East
Tuesdays at 8pm
Although the Steelers fans that flock to this bar add their own comedic flair, the 50-seat showroom in the back features legit comedians as well. Aziz Ansari and Jeff Garlin are just a couple of the heavy-hitters who have stopped by for an impromptu set.
“Gandhi, Is That You” at <a href="http://www.thrillist.com/node/4251142" target="_blank">Lucky Jack'sLES
Wednesdays at 9pm
Every jokester in this typically seven- to eight-person lineup has some cred, and we don’t just mean of the street variety. Think writers and actors from Comedy Central, MTV, and NBC. You can also count on the occasional star like Todd Barry, Judah Friedlander and, um, Vinny Guadagnino (fist pump!) dropping-in to test new material.
“Comedy as a Second Language” at <a href="http://www.thrillist.com/venue/drink/new-york/bar/the-delancey" target="_blank">The Delancey</a> LES
Thursdays at 8pm
This show has been rotating in new comedians for nearly eight years, but in recent months it moved over to The Delancey’s showroom. Luckily, the same antics, roaring laughs, cheap drinks, and new batch of comedians every week followed (as did the free admission).
“Whiplash” at <a href="http://www.thrillist.com/venues/upright-citizens-brigade-theatre-10001" target="_blank">Upright Citizens BrigadeChelsea
Mondays at 11pm
This show is free, but so notoriously great that getting a reservation (or even standing room) can be damn near impossible. Book early, because it’s that good. Not only because UCB has long been the birthplace of great comics, but also because even Louis C.K. counts this show among his favorites, and he rarely likes anything.
“The Front Room” at the <a href="http://www.thrillist.com/venues/knitting-factory" target="_blank">Knitting Factory</a> Williamsburg
Wednesdays and Sundays at 9pm
You may have seen this funny foursome stop in at paid-for shows -- like The Strand -- but they also host their own every week. And almost every week, a surprise guests makes an appearance. But even if they don’t, the laughs keep coming thanks to the $6 PBR & shot combo that coincides with the show.
“Live From Outer Space” at <a href="http://www.thrillist.com/venue/drink/new-york/bar/the-cobra-club" target="_blank">The Cobra Club</a> Bushwick
Fridays at 9pm
This no-frills weekly show hosted by a quirky trio of rising comedians (Erik Bergstrom of Comedy Central and The New Yorker; John F. O’Donnell of Comedy Central; and Ben Kronberg of Last Comic Standing) always promises a good time with special guest stars and drink specials. Also, we can’t make any promises, but we have it on pretty good authority that something absurd will go down.
“Broken Comedy” at <a href="http://www.thrillist.com/venue/drink/new-york/bar/bar-matchless" target="_blank">Bar MatchlessGreenpoint
Mondays at 9pm
The hosts of this show should be reason enough for you to attend, since they include comedian trio Nimesh Patel, Mike Denny, and Michael Che from SNL’s "Weekend Update.” Plus, since they recruit the performers, you know the talent also won’t disappoint.
Open mic night at <a href="http://www.thrillist.com/venues/drink/new-york/bars/legion" target="_blank">Legion BarWilliamsburg
Sundays at 6:00pm
Yes, open mic nights are typically terrible (or only slightly less-terrible than you thought), but it’s hard not to find this community of misfits at least mildly entertaining. Plus the crowd isn’t terribly judgmental, so if you’re feeling brave you can give it a worry-free whirl.
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Liz Newman is a freelance writer for Thrillist, and recently performed stand-up for the first time during an open mic night that thankfully is not on this list. Follow her as she attempts to be funny in 140 characters or less on Twitter and Instagram at @lizn813.