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Underground Overground Comedy
Photograph: Will DeVito @will.on.film

This secret NYC comedy show pops up in the city's most surprising places

A laundromat, a barbershop, and a tattoo parlor are among this show's venues.

Shaye Weaver
Written by
Shaye Weaver
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To local comedians David Levine and Ethan Mansoor, almost anywhere in NYC could be a comedy club—at least for one night.

The twenty-somethings are constantly searching for the next perfect venue for their show, "Underground Overground Comedy," which has so far taken place in a gym, a rooftop, a music studio and a barbershop in a train station.

RECOMMENDED: The tiniest comedy room in NYC has opened in Brooklyn

For them, it's all about using the great spaces NYC already has to offer a unique way to enjoy a bit of comedy, Levine and Mansoor tell Time Out.

To add a bit of mystery and New York magic, the duo doesn't exactly advertise their shows. They use Instagram to alert followers and take down names via direct messages for their ongoing guest list.

Underground Overground Comedy
Photograph: Will DeVito @will.on.film

Shows have featured Josh Gondelman, Kerry Coddett, Jordan Jensen and Napolean Emil among others.

The two friends, who are both now 23, grew up together in NYC and were inspired by a comedy show they caught in a hotel lobby over the pandemic.

Our necks are on a swivel when walking through the city.

David did stand-up in college at Syracuse University and both of them frequently go to comedy shows, so it made sense to get into the game. With connections to comedians and friends with professional lighting equipment, all they needed was space to hold their shows.

Levine and Mansoor regularly scour the city streets for new venues and keep open minds about what could pass as a comedy show venue.

"Our necks are on a swivel when walking through the city," Levine says. "We have a list of places we are approaching next week."

What they look for is a place that can be tightly packed and intimate for the best atmosphere, but that being said, they aim for drastically different experiences each time.

They've only held these shows in Manhattan so far and it's worked for them. A lot of comedy shows are held at dedicated venues or in the outer boroughs, so there's a lot less competition in Manhattan, they say. 

Underground Overground Comedy
Photograph: Will DeVito @will.on.film

Aside from holding their shows in surprising places, they wanted to do comedy shows differently. 

"Now, there's an opportunity to perform in NYC on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday night for 45 minutes," Levine says. "We pride ourselves on paying comedians more. We pay them what they deserve—the average club pays about $20 to $40 per set, we aim for $50 and up."

What spot's up next? A tattoo parlor. On Saturday, they'll host a comedy show at Soho Ink, where if anyone decides to get a tattoo or piercing before the end of the year, they will put their initial ticket price towards their purchase.

In November, Economy Candy will be the stage for comedians and everyone who attends receives a free bag of candy and chocolate when they walk in.

Want in? Follow @comedy.uo on Instagram.

Underground Overground Comedy
Photograph: Will DeVito @will.on.film

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