NYC’s Best Underground Comedy Shows
Because we all know you’re not getting into the Comedy Cellar tonight
High-highs, low-lows, gut-busters, pity laughs — there are many way to laugh at an NYC comedy show. But rest assured: you will laugh.
And while the go-to is always ye ole Comedy Cellar and with it hopes that Chris Rock might just happen to pop in, there are heaps of overlooked (and much easier to get into) venues all over the city.
To offer some insight about which ones are worth your time, we tapped some of the best comedy wranglers in the game: Matt Pavich, Dan Davies and Michael Stauffer, who run events like Question Party?! and the long-running Not Your Standard Bingo. They’ve been featured on the likes of HBO and MTV, and have an impressive roster of comics in their rolodex, like Mark Normand (Amy Schumer’s opener), Ricky Valez of the Larry Wilmore Show, Sarah Tollamache from the Colbert Show, Ryan Reiss of Seth Meyers and basically anyone and everyone involved with SNL.
Here’s where they go to LOL IRL.
“The first Tuesday of every month, this speakeasy get turned on its head. The comedy is approachable while maintaining a vibe where the audience feels like they’re in on a tantalizing secret. The ceiling is just inches above the comic’s head and they’re bathed in that backroom 1930s red light. No minimums, just a rich line-up of 4-6 comics to provide a diverse vantage on society’s shortcomings for an hour and a half.”
Let’s See, What Else?
“Good to get to this one early as seating fills up fast. Every Wednesday, this show has been going for three-and-a-half years and has garnered loads of regulars that will attest that it’s more of a hang with funny people than a rigid standup show. After all, it’s in a basement in the East Village, so you know it’s gonna be good. The hosts, Courtney and Tom, have a deep rapport and understanding of what it is to host a show, throwing out trivia questions and awarding the audience with signed pictures of themselves (as well as candy). This one has a lot of heart.”
“Every Wednesday, this gig is run by Chloe Lebranche and Sara Armour. It’s a comedy show in a railroad-style room with a delightful mix of nationally established acts, as well as NYC’s best up-and-comers doing time in a small, intimate room off Houston.”
“This first-Monday-of-the-month show making sure Brooklyn’s hippest crowd doesn’t get too uptight. Really, it’s God’s work. The show starts with the hosts, Dan Davies and Matt Pavich, who discuss how their month went in front of the audience. And the rules are simple: divulge EVERYTHING. Sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it’s uncomfortable, but it’s always real. The line-up is hand-picked by the hosts with one thing in mind: put these hipsters in their place and let them know it’s OK to laugh!”
Ledge and Dairy
“Every Tuesday, get a load of Petey DeAbreau, the best host in the game right now. Which very well may be the reason why people like Michael Che and Chris Redd frequent as drop-ins.”
“Every Friday, Fat Baby has been running for a whopping six years. It’s more a party than a comedy show, with the crowd getting very involved and lots of gags. Once, they even gave away a pet lobster, and then at the end of the show awarded another audience member with a free dinner … it was the same lobster. Complete with a live DJ, it’s a party of the hilarious variety.”
“Yes, it’s a comedy show in a sex shop. It’s female-heavy and very indie, but a great date night if your date is open to, well, that kind of night. And by ‘that kind,’ we mean going to the Upper East side, of course.”
Barbershop Comedy Show
“Every Friday and Saturday, the Barbershop holds what the comics call a ‘HOT Show.’ That is, every comic in NYC has either done this show on the way or on the way to or on the way home from the Comedy Cellar. It’s literally a barbershop with bad lighting and weird seating, but very intimate. It’s everything that shouldn’t work, but somehow does. The BYOB definitely helps!”
6 Pack A Brit Pack
“Unexpected as this show is in a belly dancing studio. But, hey, why the heck not? It’s open bar with heaps of laughs and typically ends in a hangout session with music after the jokes have concluded.”