Though you may not be able to tell from the stern, determined faces trudging down the sidewalks, New Yorkers have a great sense of humor. That's precisely the reason that up-and-coming comedians from across the country make the pilgrimage here to get their first taste of fame. From Saturday Night Live to The Tonight Show, New York has certainly earned its title as America's comedy behemoth. But the biggest laughs don't always happen in the biggest venues (or on national TV).

There are dozens of improv theaters and small stand-up spots across the city that host shows from famous and under-the-radar comics alike. From large-scale games of charades to alcohol-induced political debates, there are endless laughs to be had in New York's bustling comedy scene. 


Comedians You Should Know at The Gutter Bowling Alley and Bar

Photo by Oscar Keys


Rather than ducking into random comedy clubs hoping to get lucky, why not leave it up to the pros to curate your good time for you? The Chicago mainstay Comedians You Should Know is finally making its way to NYC this winter to introduce us to comics we absolutely should know. Years from now you can obnoxiously chirp to your friends about how you saw such-and-such movie star way back in Brooklyn in 2017 (*sips whiskey nonchalantly*). Worst-case scenario: if the jokes fall flat, the shows are held at Greenpoint's Gutter Bowling Alley and Bar, so you can always just roll a few games and drink a few beers until everybody around you suddenly becomes hilarious. Upcoming performers include ingenious writers for The Onion, IFC and Late Night.

Where: 200 N. 14th St., Greenpoint, Brooklyn

When: Next show, Feb. 15, 9 p.m. See schedule.
More info: 
718-387-3585; comediansyoushouldknow.com

 

 

Unfaced by Maria DeCotis

via Facebook


Speaking of comedians you should know, get a load of the dynamic Maria DeCotis and her friends, all of whom happen to be named Maria DeCotis. More a one-woman show than pure stand-up comedy, Unfaced sees DeCotis create her own universe aboard a very lonely airplane. Without giving too much away, we'll say that the diverse characters play upon the universality of human beings, crossing cultural boundaries and using humor to explore what unites us. There's more to be had here than chuckles. You’ll leave this performance feeling all the feels.

Where: Hudson Guild, 441 W. 26th St., Chelsea
When: Feb. 27, 6:15 p.m.; Mar. 3, 9 p.m.; Mar. 5, 3:30 p.m.
More info: 
Facebook


 

Jerry Seinfeld at The Beacon Theatre

via Facebook


You can’t make a list of must-see New York comedy without including the king. After a long hiatus, Seinfeld is back at it with monthly shows at the Beacon Theatre on the Upper West Side. For those unaware of his comic styling, you can either binge all nine seasons of Seinfeld on Hulu or watch any comedian in the game right now, nearly all of whom can count this icon as an inspiration. Grab your tickets now for an hour of tongue-in-cheek observational humor from the one and only.

Where: 2124 Broadway, Upper West Side

When: Through Oct. 5. See showtimes.
More info: 
866- 858-0008; beacontheatre.com


 

Picture This at Union Hall

Now we’re just getting downright silly. Picture This at Brooklyn’s Union Hall is essentially the meeting place between stand-up and Pictionary. The concept is simple: Talented stand-up comedians do what they do best while animators hurriedly illustrate the jokes. The results are gut busting. Comics range from mild-mannered to foulmouthed, while the cartoonists come from The New Yorker to Adult Swim’s Metalocalypse and everywhere in between. The comedians, who are blissfully unaware of what the animators are drawing, become gradually more flustered until everything falls apart into one uproarious mess.

Where: 702 Union St., Park Slope, Brooklyn

When: Next show, Feb. 19, 7:30 p.m. See calendar.
More info: 
718-638-4400; unionhallny.com


 

Two Beers In at UCB East

Talking politics can be ... emotional. So some comedians at Upright Citizens Brigade thought it best to make comics, journalists and commentators chug a couple of beers before discussing the state of the world in front of an audience. What could possibly go wrong? Recent guests of Two Beers In include writers from Vice and The New York Times, along with SNL's Sasheer Zamata. Can’t make the show? The boisterous roundtable debates, which effectively squash political correctness and a few other types of correctness, are available in podcast form as well. I’ll drink to that.

Where: UCB East, 153 E. 3rd St., East Village

When: Next show, Feb. 27, 8 p.m. See schedule.
More info: 212-
366-9231; east.ucbtheatre.com


 

Roast Battle at the New York Comedy Club

via Facebook. Photo by Brody Brodo


At long last, the renaissance of the roast is upon us. For those who enjoy a healthy dose of schadenfreude, take a trip to the New York Comedy Club in Kips Bay to see pairs of comedy legends fight to the death. An obvious yet necessary warning: Roast Battle is not the best fit for the easily offended. No subject is off the table here, which is precisely what makes the insult-laden feuds so appealing. In the comedy equivalent of a WWE cage match, one roaster leaves triumphant while the other hangs his head, humiliated, never to be seen again. Just kidding  they all come back for another round of verbal abuse.

Where: 241 E. 24th St., Kips Bay

When: Next show, Feb. 16, 10:30 p.m. See calendar.
More info: 212-
696-5233; newyorkcomedyclub.com


By Alexander Brock

Alexander Brock is a freelance writer who writes sports, travel, food, politics, finance, fiction, poetry and whatever else is asked of him. He currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, and is the editor-in-chief at downandoutmag.com.