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New York City travel: Where to see the city’s best standup comedy

Canadian Living
Culture & Entertainment

New York City travel: Where to see the city’s best standup comedy

Times Square, New York City I visited New York City for the first time in years last month and, surprisingly, it was the first time I’ve seen live comedy in the city. I’ve still yet to attend a live taping of Late Night or SNL, but I did manage to rub shoulders with high-profile comedians, namely Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle. If you’re looking to see some of your favourite funnyman in an intimate setting, these are the clubs you need to hit up. The Comedy Cellar, 117 MacDougal St. By far THE best place to see live comedy in New York is The Comedy Cellar, located in the heart of Greenwich Village. While the venue is a little scary for a claustrophobic person like myself (you’ll need to embark down a steep stairwell and narrow hallway to get to the stage area), it’s been host to the likes of Jerry Seinfeld, Ray Romano and Eddie Murphy. After showing up late for the 10:30 p.m. show, my party waited for the midnight show, killing time at the upstairs Olive Tree Café & Bar. Before long, Chris Rock casually strolled in, sitting in the booth behind me before venturing downstairs for a surprise performance. I was disappointed to have missed the show, but I was lucky enough to see an entertaining late show featuring Neal Brennan (cocreator of Chapelle’s Show) and Dave Attell (a Comedy Central mainstay), and followed up by a surprise appearance from Dave Chappelle, who was testing out material for his then upcoming residency at Radio City Music Hall. As a longtime fan of Chappelle’s Show, it was the highlight of my time in NY. What to expect: You’ll need to make reservations online, show up early and wait in line. If you don’t have reservations, arrive extra early and put your name on standby. Cover is $20 on Fridays and Saturdays, and you’ll need to order the standard two-drink minimum. Carolines on Broadway, 1626 Broadway Ave. In the heart of Times Square, Carolines originally opened as a small cabaret club in Chelsea, but it gradually became a full-fledged comedy club after comedians including Billy Crystal, Jay Leno and Roseanne Barr took the stage. Two relocations and 30 years later, the venue now seats 300 patrons. I attended the club’s Puerto Rican Freakin’ Weeekend show. While I’d seen a couple of the performers before, I was introduced to some new favourites: Casey Balsham and Mark Viera. What to expect: Bring plenty of cash. A connection comped my cover, which would have been a whopping $30 on top of the strict two-drink minimum policy (food items don’t count). Gotham Comedy Club, 208 West 23rd St. A 3,300-square-foot space, Gotham is a favourite venue for comedians. It’s even been the backdrop to productions like Curb Your Enthusiasm and Jerry Seinfeld’s 2002 film, Comedian. What to expect: General admission is in the $20 range and tickets can be purchased in advance. (Photo courtesy FlickrCC/woolennium)
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New York City travel: Where to see the city’s best standup comedy

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