New York's the capital of a lot of things, comedy very much among them. Here's our guide to the scene.
So those are the big ones in Manhattan if you're planning ahead. But there are tons more places where you can usually just walk in and there's so much talent in this town that the people you see will be amazing. Here's a few more choices:
Gotham Comedy Club, 241 E 24th (between 2nd & 3rd).
The Stand Comedy Club & Restaurant, 116 E 16th St, Ground Floor (between Irving Place & Union Square East).
New York Comedy Club, 241 East 24th Street (between 2nd & 3rd) & 85 East 4th Street (between 2nd & Bowery).
West Side Comedy Club, 201 West 75th Street (between Broadway & Amsterdam).
In other words, shallow South Brooklyn is the place if you want to see big names. But one of the best things about NYC (and this goes for basically all of the arts) is the number of super-talented people trying to get their break in smaller places that you can stroll into and pay almost nothing for. Here are our favorite Brooklyn spots for that:
The Gutter is, thankfully, a bowling alley bar instead of a place to lie down in the street that serves beer. It also hosts some terrific comedy shows. The highlight is Comedians You Should Know every Wednesday. $5 gets you entry and you'll see people who've been on the Daily Show, Conan, Colbert, etc.
The Gutter, 200 N. 14th Street (between Berry & Wythe, Williamsburg).
Two Boots is a venerable pizzeria with a few branches in town. The pizza is....fine. But every Tuesday, Sherm Jacobs hosts Ambush Comedy, which is free and you even get a free beer if you come between 8 & 8:30.
Two Boots, 558 Driggs Avenue (between 6th & 7th, Williamsburg).
The Knitting Factory started out as the greatest club for avant-garde jazz that ever was. Then, Nolita gentrified and they moved downtown. Then they realized that you can't make money off of avant-garde jazz and moved again to Williamsburg and more or less became a rock club. For a certain type of weirdo (of which this writer is one), that was a tragedy. But enough about that, the club is still great. More importantly, they've got comedy every Sunday and it's free.
The Knitting Factory, 361 Metropolitan Avenue (between Havemeyer and, uh, Havemeyer, Williamsburg).