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9 Underground Comedy Shows to Check Out in NYC Before They Go Mainstream

New York City Student Work Restaurants + Bars
by Nikki Vargas Dec 17, 2015

1. Free comedy AND free beer!

Those who say going out in New York is too expensive clearly have not heard of the monthly comedy show, Death Comedy Jam, at The Creek and Cave. Not only can you come and enjoy free comedy but audience members are also given free Tecate beer for simply showing up. Death Comedy Jam is run by Justin Williams and Akash Bhasin who showcase some of the best young comedians in NYC and beyond, earning itself the 2013 & 2015 Creek Award for Best Stand-Up Show.

2. Comedy with a side of manicures.

Find out why The Culture Trip named us one of the quirkiest bars and restaurants in NYC! Featuring our famous Martinis & Manicure special, where $10 gets you a drink AND a manicure! That’s right—but a manicure for $10, enjoy a cocktail, beer, wine, or even Rose on tap FOR FREE!!! Plus happy hour specials from 5-9pm including $3 PBRs and $5 draught & well drinks. NO COVER! 5pm-4am #beautybarnyc #beautybar #thebeautybarNYC #ny #nyc #bar #monday #manicure #martini #happyhour #specials #quirky #unique #nocover #free #drink #drinks

A photo posted by The Beauty Bar (@thebeautybarnyc) on

Bars in New York are always trying to one-up the other with gimmicks to get people in the door. Be it free pizza with an order of drinks, a secret entrance through a phone booth or — in the case of Beauty Bar — manicures on premise. If the Pink Ladies had a local haunt, Beauty Bar would likely be it. Every Friday Night at 8, comedy and Beauty Bar go hand-in-manicured hand with the show, Zebra Cake, featuring performances from top stand-up comedians in the city. Josh Carter, Adam Mamawala and Max May co-host a new lineup each week that has featured comics from Comedy Central, Conan, The Tonight Show and more.

3. A night of no industry.


A photo posted by Jeff Cerulli (@jeffcerulli) on

Every month at the popular East Village bar, One and One, Industry Night brings together comedians and joke lovers for an evening of drink specials and laughs. The tongue-in-cheek name is a nod to shows around the city that often promise gullible, new comedians an audience of “top industry” for coming and performing their sets. Industry Night is run by local NYC comedian and filmmaker, Jeff Cerulli, who is a veteran of the New York comedy scene for 10 years and counting. Each month, Cerulli invites some of his favorite comedians (both established and up & coming) to perform in an intimate setting.

4. The king of underground comedy shows.

Ask any comedian what are the best shows around the city and chances are “Gandhi, is that you?” will inevitably be named top 5. Started by Brendan Fitzgibbons and Lance Weiss over 5 years ago, “Are you there, Gandhi?” takes place every Wednesday at the Lower East Side bar, Lucky Jack’s. This free comedy show has been featured in the New York Comedy festival and is a go-to for famous NYC comics, such as Louis C.K., Jim Gaffigan and others, looking to come try out new jokes. The show has grown to have both a Los Angeles and New York show as well as a hilarious weekly podcast run by TJ Del Reno, Fitzgibbons and Weiss.

5. A comedy show that will pay you!

The last time I did show-&-tell I was not in preschool but rather was standing on stage at Over the Eight showing vintage cards I had laying around in my purse. My prize? $20 and the glory of winning the show-&-tell. Show-&-Tell is a comedy show founded by Lukas Kaiser that brings together local comedians for a night of stand up. What sets Show & Time apart from other shows is the creative addition of a show & tell competition, which encourages audience members to get up between comics and show off something in hopes of winning $20. In other words, if you didn’t think you could go out in NYC and actually come home with more money, then check out Show & Tell.

6. Two shows for the price of none.

Our little show got a huge guest last week

A photo posted by Comedy At The Knitting Factory (@comedyattheknit) on

When the call for stand-up comedy shows rang out over Brooklyn, it was The Knitting Factory that answered by creating two (free!) weekly shows. Unlike some of the other free comedy shows taking place in and around New York, The Knitting Factory is a proper concert hall that is routinely showcasing a variety of events. Both of their shows (Comedy at the Knitting Factory on Sundays and The Front Room on Wednesdays) showcase some of the best comics in the city.

7. The fanciest dive bar in Park Slope.

There are two things New Yorkers complain about: exorbitant rent prices and how expensive the city can be. Of course, if you’re savvy to underground shows such as the Fancy Show, then you can snag free comedy and drink giveaways every Tuesday Night at dive bar, Bar Reis. The Fancy Show is produced by Michael Joyce, Langston Kerman, Simmons McDavid and Lane Pieschel who bring comedians from all around to perform at this popular Park Slope local haunt.

8. A comedy show with more than just comedy.

#lastnight me n my homie (@joe_hendrix =🎸) groovin out. Shoutouts to @bedfordboxoffice n @wax_poetics for lettin me sing some spells ova the people 🔮 annnd HUGE shoutout to all my friends that came to support me 😁😁😁 i luh yall! (📷= @iamelsz 😁 u so dope!)

A video posted by Justo Ontario (@eyeofjusto) on

In the mood for a little more than just comedy? AbeMixture delivers a monthly showcase that features music, comedy, video and a damn good time. Hosted by stand-up comedian, Deepak Ananthapadmanabha, AbeMixture takes place at Legion Bar and has seen the likes of great artists such as Reggie Watts, Sasheer Zamata, Adam Conover and more. Soon to celebrate its 6th anniversary, AbeMixture continues to host an eclectic and exciting comedy show that sets it apart from the rest.

9. Save the last dance.

TONIGHT! Happy hour till 8. #free #comedy #NYC #friday #happyhour

A photo posted by Aaron Glaser (@aaron_glaser) on

New York is a city bursting with talent and on any given night, artists, comedians, actors, writers and filmmakers are all pounding the pavement and trying to push their work into the spotlight. These comedy shows each celebrate New York’s incredible pool of comedic talent and gives a place for newcomers to chase their dreams. Slow Dance Comedy Night is a weekly standup show held in the backroom of Niagara in the East Village. Every Friday, hosts Aaron Glaser and Amy Cardinale welcome guests from SNL, Conan, The Daily Show and Broad City for a free night of comedy.

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