If you’ve never explored the growing Williamsburg waterfront, you are missing out. The newly opened Domino Park is drawing crowds to the area, as are the stunning views, incredible restaurants like Peter Luger Steakhouse, Nitehawk Cinema, and too many amazing bars and coffee shops to name.
Williamsburg is also home to a huge art scene, from galleries to graffiti to music and performance art. In fact, the Williamsburg/Bushwick area has pretty much become the center of the New York City comedy scene, and the best part is that most shows are totally free.
If you’re interested in exploring the area, here are some comedy venues and shows that you absolutely have to check out. You won’t regret it — unless your stomach is sore the next day from laughing too much!
Kenny DeForrest and Clark Jones host one of the best stand-up comedy shows in the entire city at this mainstay music venue in the heart of Williamsburg. Every Sunday night at 9, you can see the best up-and-comers in the city plus bonafide stars like Janeane Garofalo, Sasheer Zamata and Roy Wood Jr. — and it’s totally free! You can always check out the lineup on the their Twitter account before the show, but regardless of who’s performing, you’re guaranteed to laugh.
A few blocks east of the Knitting Factory you’ll find this experimental comedy venue which features stand-up, sketch, improv and so much more. If you were a fan of Williamsburg’s dearly departed Annoyance Theater, you‘ll see many familiar faces performing at this new space. Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night, they host wonderfully weird shows featuring alt-comedy stars like Conor O’Malley and Carmen Christopher. If you’re looking to hone your skills onstage, the theater also offers classes including Individual Empowerment, Ensemble Support and Professional Performance.
At this bar connected to the New York Distilling Company, you can see one of Brooklyn’s best stand-up shows every Tuesday night at 8. Hosted by Dan Licata and Joe Pera, who recently collaborated on the Adult Swim show Joe Pera Talks With You, the Dan + Joe + Charles Show (Charles moved to L.A. but is still there in spirit) always features some of the most unique performers in the city and even huge names like David Cross. Check it out now while it’s still free and before Joe’s growing fanbase takes all the good seats.
Every Wednesday night at 9, the back room of this bowling alley gets packed for Comedians You Should Know, a free stand-up show that features, well, comedians you should know before they get really famous. In a relatively short span, the New York offshoot of this long-running Chicago showcase has gained a huge audience and a reputation as one of the most exciting shows in the city. Hosts Mike Lebovitz, Jeff Steinbrunner, Saurin Choksi and David Drake always book NYC favorites like Aparna Nancherla, Joe List and Jo Firestone.
While CYSK (as it’s known) may be the biggest show at Gutter Bar, it’s not the only one. The second Tuesday of every month at 7, Sallie Smith-Fitch and Jack Comstock host a variety open mic. Stop in to watch — or throw your name in the bucket and see if you have what it takes to be a performer!
Every month, Jason Planitzer and Sallie Smith-Fitch host this show at a very classy cocktail bar on Berry Street. You can watch rising stars and local favorites like Rob Cantrell while drinking a fancy tequila cocktail and eating a grilled cheese sandwich that’ll blow your mind.
One of the first gay bars to open in Brooklyn, Metropolitan Bar is right across the street from the Brooklyn Comedy Collective. The third Tuesday of every month at 9, the hilarious Gary Hannon hosts a show called Funny Haha Funny Queer, which features a LGBTQ-friendly lineup. Come before the show to shoot some pool, laugh your face off, then sit on the back patio afterward to come down from the high of seeing incredible live comedy.
Just a few stops into Brooklyn on the L train, you’ll find this popular Bushwick venue, which hosts free music and/or comedy pretty much every night of the week. Check their schedule to make sure you don’t miss Not Quite Midnight, Courtney Magginis and Chris Calogero’s totally unique variety comedy show, which occurs every quarter. The back room also hosts open mics three nights a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) where you can see comics work out new material or even try some of your own. Also on Wednesday nights, they host a popular trivia night at 8:30. As a special bonus, the bar is completely vegan and serves empanadas from the VSpot and as an extra special bonus you can bring your dog. Pine box truly has it all!
While it’s still nice out, rent a Citybike on Metropolitan Avenue and ride up the Kent/Franklin Avenue bike path to nearby Long Island City where you’ll find comedy club The Creek and the Cave right at the foot of the Pulaski Bridge. The club, which is attached to a (very good!) Mexican restaurant and has a bar with a great back patio downstairs, features live comedy seven nights a week. From stand-up to sketch to improv to a show where funny people play video games onstage this place has it all. The best part is that shows are only $5 on the weekends and totally free during the week.
Here’s another fancy cocktail bar with another wacky comedy show! Every Monday night at 9, this Bushwick bar hosts the only free late night talk show comedy open mic in all of New York City. Watch guests perform stand-up or wacky characters or just sit on the couch and gab with host Colin Burgess and his dutiful sidekick Nick Naney. Every week is a new adventure but one thing is certain: at some point, the show will get weird.
There’s only one comedy show at this little karaoke bar on McGuinness Ave. in Greenpoint — and I host it! Join me and my co-hosts Cara Weinberger and Brian Bahe every Tuesday night at 8 to see some of the best comics in the city for free before they’re super famous. Stick around afterward to eat popcorn, drink cocktails and sing your heart out. It’s really fun, I promise!
Nooklyn is leasing a new residential building in the center of it all at 321 Wythe Avenue. The latest addition to the waterfront, this high-rise features studios to three-bedroom rentals and amenities like a yoga room and rock climbing wall, plus access to a ton of great comedy.
- Photo by Jules Koslow
- Photo courtesy the Brooklyn Comedy Collective
- Photo courtesy the Shanty
- Photo courtesy the The Creek and the Cave
- Photo courtesy Baby Grand