5 Must-See Underground Comedy Shows in NYC

Pictured: Eliot Glazer, Illustrated by Hilton Dresden

There’s a million options for overpriced standup and improv comedy in New York City – walk down any main drag of Manhattan and you’ll have 15 fliers stuffed in your face for supposedly “cheap” laughs. But for real good, up-and-coming, off-the-beaten-path comedy that will leave you aching and inspired. Below, we’ve compiled five shows you won’t find in a Google search of ‘best comedy in New York,’ but are havens for local laughers looking for a great night of insightful, inspired content.

Talk Hole

Curated by comedic duo Steven Phillips-Horst and Eric Schwartau, Talk Hole offers some of the best in alt comedy that New York has to offer. The intimate show takes place in Asia Roma, at 10 Mulberry Street, so you can eat delicious spring rolls while you watch your standup.

Dead Darlings

Amanda Duarte hosts this unique show where New York artists, comics, writers, and illustrators present work that didn’t make it past the cutting room floor. That means New Yorker comic artists presents cartoons that never hit print, standup comedians like Cole Escola present bits that never saw their headlining sets, and writers like Isaac Oliver read passages that didn’t quite make the memoir. Monthly at Judson Memorial Church.

Haunting Renditions

Eliot Glazer (yes, Ilana’s brother) hosts this musical revue several times a year at The Bell House in Brooklyn, where his classically-trained operatic voice recreates nostalgia-camp-pop anthems by the likes of Avril Lavigne, Nickelback, and Kesha.

Tina Fey Will Be Here* (Tina Fey Will Not Be Here)

Just for its name alone, this standup show at Q.E.D. in Queens earns a spot on our list. The venue is known to host some of the coolest, freshest mics in up-and-coming comedy, and “Tina Fey” boasts an impressive monthly roster that’s included everyone from Jena Friedman to Dan Perlman.

ASSSSCAT 3000

Ok, this one isn’t really underground, but we had to include it, since every Sunday, for FREE, you can witness some of the best improv comedy on the planet at the UCB Theater in Chelsea. A rotating team of Upright Citizens Brigade legends, include Tami Sagher and Shannon O’Neill, are accompanied each week by a surprise celebrity monologist- they’ve had everyone from Mike Birbiglia, to Amy Schumer, to Amy Poehler join their roster in the past. It’s an absolute New York must-see.
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