Jokes for Free in NYC
NYC is the comedy capital of the world, and it is shameful not to take advantage of that while in the city. Unfortunately, frequenting comedy clubs every night can get expensive- right? Wrong! In fact, if you are smart about which clubs you visit and are willing to be patient, you will find free clubs all over the city just waiting to make you laugh. The following is a list of enough quality comedy shows to keep you entertained every day of the week. The best part: they cost absolutely nothing (which we all know is the perfect price for a college student’s budget). We’ll begin with the flagship NYC comedy show-- Saturday Night Live! On the air since 1975, this NBC sketch show has won numerous awards ranging from a Peabody to the Teens Choice. Furthermore, it has garnered more Emmy nominations (126) than any other show on television. Now entering its 37th season, the show is as popular as ever, as well, making tickets a bit difficult to attain.
SNL proves that difficult is not always impossible, since time and determination can make the experience anything but pricey. Dedicated fans can earn their free spot in the live audience of this show by waiting out front of the landmark 30 Rockefeller Center Studios. Keep in mind that since the already-hilarious cast is joined each week by a guest host as well as a special musical entertainer, its truly like getting three shows for the price of none!
For the person who likes to laugh but doesn’t want to wait twelve hours to do so, there are plenty of options available in the city. Upright Citizens Brigade Theater (located on 307 W. 26th) is another world-renowned comedy club with shows every night of the week. This sketch group originated in Chicago in 1990 and has produced SNL stars such as Amy Poehler and Horatio Sanz.
Each show costs ten dollars, an experience that is totally worth the money. The most notable of theseis UCB’s prided ASSCAT3000 performance, where big-name comics usually stop by unannounced. This long-form improvisation show takes place every Sunday night at 9:30. Fans should get in line around 7pm for tickets (which are handed out at 8pm). More standing room is scarcely available for anyone left in a stand-by line when theater doors open at 9:20. Other free UCB shows take place on Monday and Wednesday nights at 11pm and Fridays at midnight.
NYC also has an immense host of clubs for the classic comedy art form: standup. Here are some clubs that have built respectable reputations for having consistently funny performers.
The Peoples Improv Theater (located on 123 East 24th) has “open mic” night every Monday and Tuesday at 11pm. It is not uncommon for nearly 40 performers to step up each night at this well-known club.
The Eastville Comedy Club (located on 85 East 4th Street) regularly houses acts ranging from 30 Rock’s Judah Friedlander to Comedy Central’s Dave Chapell in their late night shows.
Comedy As A Second Language (located on 922nd Ave) hosts an “open mic” night every Thursday at 9pm. It’s a less crowded venue with a community of seasoned comics who use the club to try out new material before taking it to larger shows.
These are just a few of the many free comedy shows available in NYC. These were chosen since they established themselves as quality venues, but plenty of others vie for this position. Try out these venues to get a feel for quality comedy, and then take a risk, venture out and find new places on your own!