Open Mic Night at NYC Comedy Clubs
By Anisa Arsenault
Friends don’t appreciate your humor? Maybe you’re talking to the wrong audience. Everyone needs a little reinforcement that they’re funny. Chelsea Handler decided to become a stand-up comedian after fellow DUI offenders laughed at her story. Lucky for New Yorkers, the city is full of comedy clubs that let newcomers test their comedic skills.
Here is a 212Access list of the City’s best spots to showcase your humor in front of strangers.
The People’s Improv Theater
123 E. 24th St.
Short and cheap, “Bring It!” at the PIT is the perfect way to ease into performing. Every Tuesday night at 11, Jay Welch hosts this $1 comedy open mic show. Before it begins, Jay draws names from the “golden bowl of destiny” to create a lineup. Each set is limited to two minutes, so make it count.
153 E. 3rd St.
The UCB boasts alumni from Amy Poehler to Horatio Sanz, so you’re guaranteed a great show. Every Tuesday at 11 PM, newcomers have a chance to test out their material for free. The first five emails to firstname.lastname@example.org sent after midnight on the Tuesday of the show are guaranteed performance slots. Otherwise, show up between 10:45 and 11, and toss your name in a bucket at the ticket booth. Thirteen additional names will be drawn.
To hone your skills, consider taking classes with UCB. They run the first nationally accredited improv and sketch comedy school in the country.
955 West End Ave.
Andrew Weiner hosts Open Mic Comedy each Monday night at 6:30. All it requires is a two drink minimum—perfect to shake off any pre-performance jitters. The exposed brick and low lighting add to the trendy atmosphere, drawing new talent and a young crowd. First timers and seasoned veterans share the stage at the Underground.
85 E. 4th St.
Standards are high at the EastVille Comedy Club. The venue boasts over 130 seats and presents the funniest comedians from TV and film. Every weeknight at 6 PM is open mic night. There is no fee and no preregistration; participants simply must arrive 30 minutes early, sign up in person, and buy one drink. This is a chance for up-and-coming comedians to work out their material, but is also frequently used by established comics to try new material. Classic comedian networking.
1568 2nd Ave.
The name Gladys’ Legendary Open Mic speaks for itself. After relocating from Hamburger Harry’s to the Comic Strip Live, Gladys’ room claims to be more popular than ever. Call 212-832-1762 to sign up in advance to perform, joining the ranks of Gladys’ patrons like Zach Galifinakis and Judah Friedlander. Shows take place on Wednesdays and Fridays from 6-7:45.
What are the best tips for those braving the open mic? Always prepare more material than you need. You never know when a joke will fall flat. It’s also a good idea to bring at least two friends (paying audience members) with you; a club owner may be more likely to put you on the list if you’re bringing the venue some money.
Most importantly, don’t be afraid to bomb or to start small. Watch the video to see Tina Fey’s cringe-worthy acting debut…