What exactly is going on with Comedy Clubs or Comedy Shows in NYC? -- An Interview and Article.
"Because when you walk through Times Square, with all the promoters, you would think that there were 300 [comedy] clubs there."
The man is rich with knowledge. He works day in, and day out, on the streets of New York City interacting with tourists and locals alike, pitching what most people don't realize is the best kept entertainment secret of New York City. Jeff has a way of explaining the "phenomenon" clearly and candidly. The conversation spawned this article.
- Click Here to listen to the full audio and hear Jeff scold me about the play button. (right click, and save target as, to pull it straight to your computer, if you prefer.)
According to Jeff, there are 19 comedy clubs in New York City. The first distinction that has to be drawn is the difference between a comedy club and a comedy theatre. Unfortunately, in the public eye, the only good comedy that gets attention (and, thus, known) is that from the comedy theatre (think large events seating 300 or more like Kings of Comedy, Blue Collar Comedy Tour) and then the occasional comic that breaks out into sitcoms (think Seinfeld, Ray Romano, Drew Carry, Tim Allen, 30 Rock, ect). For pure nightlife, though, New York City offers the real treat. New York City offers a plethora of small comedy clubs!
What's a comedy club?
The comedy club can be best described as intimate. They're smaller. They're almost seedy. They fit 100 to 200 people, host 2 to 3 shows per night (some host many more, actually!), and cycle comics through in 20 minute sets, or so. You go to one club's show, and see three to five acts.
"Stand-up comedy isn't glamour and glitz and glam... It all goes down to the one basic thing: a guy and a mic." -Jeffrey Hernandez, HKL Founder
Comedy clubs form a circuit of venues that most, if not all, of the "big names" frequent to sharpen their skills, to perfect their art. Dave Chappell, Chris Rock, Jay Leno, Jerry Seinfeld, Eddy Murphy, Steve Martin, and any other well-known comic can tell you endless stories of their travels throughout the country's comedy clubs. ...small, "intimate," comedy clubs that they stood in front of a mic at to make a few people laugh.
Which comedy clubs in New York City are best?
Of the 19 comedy clubs in New York City, three stand out the most as clubs worth going.
- Comic Strip Live, in the Upper East Side.
- Comedy Cellar, in Greenwich Village.
- Laugh Lounge NYC, in the Lower East Side.
You'll notice right away, just by clicking on their home pages, that they are all booking the same comics. Everyone drops the same names. That's because all of the comics frequent the same few clubs. It's called a circuit for a reason. So by asking, "which is best?" you have to ask what is different. The major difference will be in atmosphere, surrounding environment (neighborhood), and prices.
Comic Strip Live is over 30 years old, founded in 1975. They boast the richest history of all New York City comedy clubs. The pictures on their walls run all the way back to Eddy Murphy as an 18 year old. Comic Strip is probably the most populated comedy club because of that very history. They are also one of the priciest clubs because of that history, and they're located in one of the priciest neighborhoods in Manhattan.
The Comedy Cellar, as described by Jeffrey Hernandez, is the comedian's club. People about the industry and from the industry go there to enjoy a comedy show. The atmosphere is about pure comedy, and they deliver comedy well.
Laugh Lounge, founded only five years ago, found a way to strike a beautiful balance hard to do in New York. They're located in a trendy neighborhood with more things to do than any person could tackle in any one night, AND they are in one of the still affordable places in Manhattan. They boast a beautiful lounge on the top floor, and an authentic comedy club feel in the bottom. The covers are cheap and the drinks are well priced. They take 1st place, from us at Hard Knock Laughs, as the best place to kick off a night out on town and get a solid dose of comic relief!
Listen to the interview:
Jeffrey talks about everything comedy club related in this 10 minute interview ranging from intimacy, Comedy Central Presents, BET's Comic View, Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock, Greer Barns, Tony Woods, what it's like to be a comedian in New York City, performing around the country, and much more!