If you want to hit it big, you have to come to New York, and that couldn’t be more true for stand-up comedy. Because of this, NYC boasts some of the best comedy shows, clubs, and amateur nights in the country, with everything from those yet-to-be-discovered names to the hottest tickets in town. Looking for a laugh? The following are the five best spots for catching stand-up comedy in the city:
1. The Stand Restaurant & Comedy Club
This relative newcomer has quickly made a name for itself, and not just for its top-notch acts. Take a seat upstairs in The Stand’s restaurant and order a thin-crust pizza topped with pan-seared duck breast and plum sauce, where extras such as cilantro, cucumbers, scallions, and crumbled goat cheese will make you forget you’re in a comedy venue. When it’s time for the show, settle into your seat downstairs and kick back. A diverse lineup of performers takes the stage nightly to keep you laughing well into the wee hours of the morning.
2. Comedy Cellar
For solid laughs and a showcase-style lineup, the Comedy Cellar is sure to become your go-to spot seven nights a week. Snag a seat in this cozy, underground club in Greenwich Village to catch a wide variety of performers—big names you’ll recognize from TV take the stage here alongside up-and-comers who haven’t hit it big (yet!). Because the space is small, it puts you right in the middle of the action. For a little more legroom, there’s a second room just around the corner that fits a bigger crowd, but it’s an exact replica of the first. Think you’ve got what it takes? Flex your comedic chops by signing up for a class, and you’ll have your audience rolling on the floor in laughter in no time.
3. Apollo Theater
Step under the Apollo Theater’s neon marquee and bask in the glow of the glittering lights at this iconic Harlem spot. The historic theater has long been the launchpad for some of the world’s biggest musicians, but it has maintained a solid footing in the comedy scene since its doors first opened in 1934. You’ve probably caught a comedy special or two on TV that was filmed here. Slip into a seat at the intimate soundstage of the newly launched Apollo Comedy Club, which features an ongoing lineup of late-night comedy shows and will let you get a taste of the theater’s unique flavors of comedy.
4. Gotham Comedy Club
Lit against a black and white backdrop of the Manhattan skyline, comedians at this Chelsea mainstay have been in the business of cracking people up for the past 20 years. Whisper your drink order to your waitress (so you don’t disturb the show), and treat yourself to a bit of dessert in a glass with a creamy and decadent chocolate martini. If you’re feeling more adventurous, sip on Gotham Comedy Club’s bright and plucky Nini-Tini, which combines peach vodka, raspberry liquor, pineapple juice, and fresh lemon.
5. EastVille ComedyClub
Some of the best comedy shows in New York happen in the smallest spaces, and EastVille is no exception. Kitschy signs and bad art adorns the teal walls, but what it lacks in decor, it more than makes up for in talent—if you can make it past the scary clown painting. On any night of the week, take the stairs to this underground club to catch big names you know and love, or a slew of rising stars who can more than hold their own. The space is intimate, like someone telling jokes in their living room, so try to snag a seat toward the back if you don’t want to be put on the spot.