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The Stand NYC
Photograph: Courtesy Filip Wolak

The best comedy clubs in NYC

If you're trying to find the city's best comedy shows, just take a look inside the best comedy clubs and bars in NYC

Shaye Weaver
Written by
David Goldberg
Contributor
Shaye Weaver
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Some of the best comedians in the world call NYC home, and whether you're seeing them in Manhattan clubs or Bushwick dive bars, you're guaranteed to be blown away by NYC's talent. Here's our rundown of the venues where you can see the best comedy in NYC this month—including comedy shows hosted by women and sets from favorites like Joel Kim Booster, Michelle Buteau and Sandra Bernhard

RECOMMENDED: See all of the best comedy shows in NYC

Best comedy clubs in NYC

  • Comedy
  • Comedy clubs
  • Greenwich Village

Claustrophobes, beware: It gets crowded down here, especially on weekends, thanks to the immense popularity of this Village standby. Big names from Amy Schumer to Aziz Ansari will drop by for a set and on any given night, you can expect to see other local greats whose acts are more X-rated than at other clubs (and who will distract you from your bachelorette-partying neighbors).

  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Lower East Side

This cozy Lower East Side cafe has become a haven for students, freelancers and anyone else looking for a comfortable place to get some work done. At night, the exposed-brick spot hosts cozy free comedy shows. 

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  • Music
  • Music venues
  • Gowanus

This sprawling spot’s two bars—one nestled in an ornate front room, the other in the rear performance space—provide plenty of drinking options. Skip toxic cocktails in favor of one of 12 beers on tap—from Anchor Steam to Smuttynose—or a taste of more than 20 bourbons. The large rear performance space is a favorite for podcast recordings, intimate band gigs, and wild comedy shows. 

Caveat
  • Things to do
  • Lower East Side

This stellar downtown venue hosts talks, parties, readings and more. 

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Broadway Comedy Club
  • Theater
  • Hell's Kitchen

Called the New York Improv when it opened in 1963, this club showcased legends such as Bill Cosby, Andy Kaufman and Robin Williams during its first stint. After being closed for years, former collaborators opened this basement joint a few blocks from the original, and they showcase TV faces and other regulars from the club circuit. 

Carolines on Broadway
  • Bars
  • Midtown West

Even comics who are regulars at the city’s other stand-up rooms have to work extra hard to get stage time at this venerable institution. Carolines is the best place to see marquee names, including sitcom-ready stars, familiar faces from the ’80s comedy boom, Friars Club–style spritzers and cable-special ravers. 

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • East Village

Daniel Nardicio and Alan Cumming took over the former Eastern Bloc bar in 2017 and reimagined it as a cabaret, comedy and party hub evocative of NYC's golden era of downtown nightlife. Count on Broadways singers belting out favorites by the piano, wild ’90s dance parties and stellar cabaret and comedy nights. 

  • Theater
  • Off-Off Broadway
  • West Village

Setting the pace for campy, good-natured fun, the city’s oldest cabaret is still going strong at 55. A generous mix of regulars and tourists laugh and sing along with drag performers, comedians and rising stars in the cabaret room on the second floor. (Special showcases are still in the intimate game room, which is also upstairs and has a separate bar.) 

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Gotham Comedy Club
  • Comedy
  • Comedy clubs
  • Chelsea

Chris Mazzilli’s vision for his club involves elegant surroundings, professional behavior and mutual respect. That’s why the talents he fosters, such as Jim Gaffigan, Tom Papa and Ted Alexandro, keep coming back here long after they’ve found national fame. 

  • Music
  • Greenwich Village

Al Martin, the longtime owner of both the New York Comedy Club and Broadway Comedy Club, follows the same basic tenets of those ventures in his new room—an intimate basement space below an Indian restaurant. Though a few pillars in the 60-seat venue interfere with sight lines, the pub grub, extensive cocktail selection and long list of stars who just might do a spot while passing through town are drawing crowds every night. 

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The Pit Loft
  • Comedy
  • Chelsea

This satellite of the Peoples Improv Theater hosts a wide range of late night sketch, improv and variety shows. 

  • Comedy
  • Improv
  • Chelsea

Originally launched in Boston by Paul D'Amato, Norm Laviolette, and Chet Harding, this theater in the former UCB Chelsea space produces multiple shows per week—both improvised scenes and pre-written sketches over a 90-minute show with a brief intermission. Their improv tends more toward short-form Whose Line Is It Anyway? games rather than long-form Harolds or themes, according to thecomicscomic.com.

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  • Music
  • Music venues
  • Gowanus

There’s a deliciously arty feel to this left-leaning, eco-friendly BK venue, which runs on wind power and serves old-fashioned cocktails from a bar built from salvaged bowling alley lanes. Littlefield’s booking policy is similarly eclectic: A typical week features hip-hop, folk and soul gigs, plus quirky club and comedy nights.

Magnet Theater
  • Comedy
  • Chelsea

The community of house teams and solo performers at Armando Diaz’s upstart black box has grown strong, cementing the Magnet—the signature style of which is slower and therefore frequently more rewarding than other improv styles—as one of the best places to watch improv in the city.

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  • Comedy
  • Gramercy

Sons of Essex’s Seth Levine turns out comfort-food spins—like cheeseburger pot stickers and duck-topped pizzas—at this comedy club–restaurant hybrid. After dinner, head downstairs to the club, where you can sip cocktails designed by Minetta Tavern vets, while acts like Judah Friedlander and Artie Lange supply the belly laughs. Test your stand-up knowledge and try to name all the comedians on the wallpaper in the bathrooms.

West Side Comedy Club
  • Comedy
  • Upper West Side

The team behind Playa Betty's and Réunion Surf Bar opened this new comedy club, which features a full food and drink menu and endless chances to catch new talent before they hit it big. 

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  • Bars
  • Pubs
  • Park Slope

Upstairs in this bi-level bar, boozers chomp miniburgers and nip at microbrews like Sixpoint in the gentlemen’s-club–style anteroom (decorated with Soviet-era globes, paintings of fez-capped men, fireplaces)—before battling it out on the clay bocce courts. Downstairs, spectators are treated to a rotating roster of live talent, such as blaring bands, comedians and a monthly science night.

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  • Music
  • Dance and electronic

So illegal warehouse raves aren’t your thing, and the spontaneity of a TBA address isn’t as appealing as the comfort of knowing where you’re going? We hear you—and so does Secret Loft, which still has a roving, under-the-radar vibe but throws standup shows in its not-so-secret East Village spot. It's started hosting comedy nights, too! Check out Secret Loft’s Facebook page for weekly event information.  facebook.com/secretloft

See this month’s best comedy shows!

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