America’s Destinations For Stand-Up Comedy: The Best Cities In The United States To Watch Live Comedy

America’s Destinations For Stand-Up Comedy: The Best Cities In The United States To Watch Live Comedy

Let’s face it, the United States has a sizable population, and with it a sizable population of stand-up comedy clubs bringing no shortage of opportunities to catch your favorite comedian. Whether you're a fan of sketch comedy, improv, or traditional stand-up comedy, you're sure to find a comedy club that will make you laugh until your stomach aches.

Though there are many great cities around the United States where you can find top-tier comedy clubs and this list is by no means exhaustive. These are some of the more notable places in the US to laugh your face off.

Austin

Austin, Texas is a unique place in and of itself. Nestled in a traditionally conservative state, Austin is a cultural epicenter bursting at the seams with rich arts, theatre and music communities. In Austin, top-tier venues provide night after night of laughs from comedy clubs such as The Cap City Comedy Club, The Velveeta Room, Esther’s Follies and the newly-established The Cave and The Creek. These clubs (yes, even The Cave and The Creek) have a rich history of bringing very noteworthy headlining comedians to their stages all while providing new, younger talent with a place to grow their skills.

Outside of the great day-to-day clubs, Austin really flexes its comedy muscle with a smattering of festivals that have comedy fans salivating. Sprinkled throughout the year, stand-up comedy fans can take festivals dedicated to various forms of comedy in The Austin Sketch Fest, Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival, Out of Bounds Comedy Festival and the SXSW Comedy Festival. For the comedy-curious, these provide a great opportunity to test the waters as there are many comedy-based seminars and workshops dedicated to welcoming in new people interested in a career in comedy or those simply looking to try their hand in front of an open-mic. 

The city has a rich tradition of producing the finest in homegrown talent and attracting some of the biggest names in the business. There are plenty of places to take in a show, whether you're looking for a raucous, higher energy venue or something more intimate.

Denver

The next stop on our comedy tour is Denver. If you're looking for a good laugh, Denver is the place to be. Additionally, the city is home to some of the best stand-up comedians in the country. There are plenty of venues that host regular comedy shows, and many of them have running open-mic spots for those who want to test the waters. This makes Denver a great place for aspiring comics to hone their skills and test out new material. So, if you're feeling brave (or just want to see some raw, unbridled talent), check out one of these shows and get your laugh on.

The comedy scene in Denver is constantly evolving, with new clubs and showcases popping up from time to time. If you're visiting town or just passing through, be sure to check out some of the comedy clubs around the greater Denver area.

Featuring some of the best local and national stand-up comics, the Denver Comedy Lounge is known for bringing in renowned stand-up comedians you may have seen on Netflix, Comedy Central or HBO.

The legendary Denver Comedy Works has been bringing A-list comedian celebrities to its stage for over 40 years! Billed as one of the country’s elite comedy clubs who have opened its doors for comedy hall-of-famers like Lewis Black, Jerry Seinfeld, Richard Lewis, Roseanne, Chris Rock, Jay Leno, Dave Chappelle, Tim Allen, Jamie Foxx, Ellen DeGeneres, and Dennis Miller. 

Boston

Comedy fans from our next stop in Boston have a ton of opportunities to watch stand-up comedy almost every night of the week. From small clubs where comics are trying to find their footing to premier comedy clubs where world-famous comedians stop in for a set while on a national tour, Boston has it all when it comes to stand-up comedy.

Located in the heart of Boston, Nick's Comedy Stop is one of the best places in the city to catch a live stand-up comedy show. The club has been around for more than 45 years, making it one of the oldest comedy clubs in the country still in operation. Naturally, being an OG in comedy means that pretty much any name in comedy that you can think of has performed a set or two over the decades.

Located in the Seaport District, Laugh Boston offers a dynamic mix of headliners such as Jay Mohr, Sugar Sammy and Craig Robinson balanced out by rising local talent striving to make a name for themselves. Beyond that, Laugh Boston offers comedy classes to support the skilled Boston community ensuring that Boston keeps churning out elite comedic talent. 

Minneapolis

We’re heading a little more north to Minnesota for our next stop. If you're looking for a great place to see some stand-up comedy, look no further than Minneapolis. This city is home to some of the best stand-up comedians in the country, and there are always plenty of shows happening at some great comedy clubs throughout the city.

The crowds in Minneapolis are passionate about their comedy, and you're sure to have a great time watching some hilarious sets.

Following his tried, tested, and true formula, Rick Bronson brings his flavor to the Minneapolis area in Rick Bronson's House of Comedy, Bloomington location. Conveniently found inside the Mall of America, the House of Comedy is a night-out destination offering some great food and drinks while watching a combination of touring headliners and dynamic younger talent.

Seated in the Seven Corners area, Comedy Corner Underground is tucked away beneath Corner Bar in a relaxed and intimate setting. Between open mic nights and big-name headlining comics, you can be certain that the top-rated comedy club in the twin cities will have you coming back time and time again.

Take one look at the headliners that have performed over the years, and you’ll know instantly that the Acme Comedy Studio is a heavy hitter in the stand-up comedy industry. If you're looking for a truly legendary comedy club, you’ve found it. This venue features some of the most well-known personalities in stand-up, and you're guaranteed a night of laughs when you visit. 

Every summer, Minneapolis is the ultimate comedy destination as comedy fans descend on the city to attend the Minneapolis Comedy Festival. A week-long event dubbed the funniest week in Minnesota brings A-list stand-up comedians to town in a star-studded lineup. A look at past years proves that you can’t miss this.

New York City

We’ve toured the country in search of the best comedy you can find as we’re gearing down into the more obvious destinations. It goes without saying that New York City is known as the comedy capital. So many big-name comedians got their start in NYC and some of the best comedians working today have had a formative part of their career here. 

The Comedy Cellar is one of the most famous comedy clubs in the world, and it's located in Manhattan, just steps away from Washington Square Park. We could dedicate an entire article to the impact that this club has had on the stand-up comedy industry, but we’ll simply say that any comedy fan needs to pay a visit to one of the pioneering greats.

Caroline's on Broadway is another legend in the business. Opened by Caroline Hirsch, this iconic New York City comedy club has been hosting stand-up comedy for over 40 years, and it's stronger than ever. The rich history of Caroline’s on Broadway tells the simple story of a woman and her love of comedy. Today, Caroline’s on Broadway brings in the biggest names in comedy and lends its visionary talents to the New York Comedy Festival.

Dating back to 1996, Gotham Comedy Club has risen to become one of the most popular stand-up comedy venues in the United States. Acting as the launching pad for an endless amount of A-List comedic talent, Gotham Comedy Club hangs its hat on the sheer talent it attracts on a weekly basis. Beyond that, Gotham Comedy Club also offers classes to those that want to take their passion for comedy a step further.

No list could be complete without the legendary New York Comedy Club. Dating back to 1989, the New York Comedy Club has also been the launching pad for numerous top-tier comedians. If you’re after the opportunity to see the next big name in stand-up comedy, New York Comedy Club brings you the best chance.

Produced by the team behind Caroline’s on Broadway, the New York Comedy Festival has been assembling week-long events in New York City for decades featuring more than 100 comedy shows sprinkled throughout the five boroughs.  

Chicago

Chicago is widely regarded as one of the best cities in the United States for stand-up comedy. The city has a rich and unparalleled history of comedy showcasing some of the most renowned comedians in the world. Chicago also has an active and thriving stand-up comedy community with regular shows at some of the best venues in the country. 

There are plenty of comedy clubs in Chicago that host both amateur and professional touring headlining comedians. 

The world-famous Laugh Factory, which first opened its doors in 1979, has been named one of the best stand-up comedy clubs in the entire country. Showcasing a seriously long list of top-tier comedy legends as well as today's brightest emerging talent, founder Jamie Masada expanded his proven formula by open locations in Hollywood and Long Beach, California.

Founded in 1978, Zanies Comedy Club is one of the few stand-up comedy venues that showcase national headliners every night of the week. When other clubs are closed, Zanies is pumping out the laughs, making it a fan favorite for well over four decades. Additionally, the Zanies brand has grown so popular that additional locations in Rosemont, Il and Nashville have popped up giving fans in other cities a taste of what has made Zanies such a respected establishment. 

There isn’t much that can be said about the Second City that already hasn’t been said. The impact that the Second City has had on the entire comedy industry cannot be overstated.

First opening in 1959, the Second City has grown to become arguably one of the largest improv organizations in the entire world, serving as the launching pad for the careers of an endless number of A-list celebrities. Virtually every fan of comedy owes a debt of gratitude to the Second City for its impact on comedy as we know it. It is the best place to watch new talent grow into household names. 

Chicago has several comedy festivals, including the Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival and the World Comedy Expo. These festivals are a great opportunity to see some of the best stand-up comedians in the country as they come to town for these events.

For over a decade, each January The Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival attracts over 10,000 comedy fans who come to see over 800 performers who are part of over 100 comedy groups. Being the largest sketch comedy festival in the country, the Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival showcases a wide array of comedic talent and offers comedy fans a chance to be a part of comedy classes and panels.

The goal of the World Comedy Expo is to grow the art of comedy, support its community and enable talents from around the world to showcase what they love through the power of laughter. The World Comedy Expo is a newer comedy festival packed with raw talent, a huge number of shows, seminars and workshops covering a variety of comedic styles. It makes for a busy weekend, but one you certainly won’t regret. 

San Francisco

While San Francisco may not be the first city that comes to mind when you mention stand-up comedy, it does, however have a thriving liberal arts community and fosters some of the best talent in the country. The city has a long history of stand-up comedy and is home to some of very notable comedy clubs and comedians in the country. Most national headliners make regular stops in San Francisco, as well as new comedians looking to break into the scene.

There are several highly respected comedy clubs in San Francisco that regularly feature stand-up shows. The Punch Line Comedy Club and Cobb's Comedy Club are highly respected venues that attract some of the best national acts and are responsible for launching the careers of many stand-up comics. 

The San Francisco Bay area is home to many notable comedians who got their start performing around San Francisco such as Robin Williams, David Cross and Margaret Cho, Greg Proops, Ali Wong, Dana Carvey and the legendary Phyllis Diller.

The San Francisco stand-up comedy scene is extremely diverse, touting comics of all ages, backgrounds, and styles.

Los Angeles

What would this list be without a stop in the City of Angels? Los Angeles is widely considered the mecca of comedy. Not only is it home to some of the biggest and most famous stars in Hollywood, but it's also a hotbed for stand-up comedy.

There are literally hundreds of venues throughout the city where you can see a show, from traditional comedy clubs to trendy bars to improv theatres and even street performances. The local comedy scene in Los Angeles is incredibly diverse, with performers of all styles and backgrounds taking to the stage nightly. And because there's such a wide variety of talent on offer, you're sure to find something that appeals to you no matter what your taste in comedy.

With respectable nods to the historical establishments in New York and Chicago, some can argue that the comedy from Los Angeles is what put stand-up comedy on the map. With the help of the gargantuan Hollywood resources, networks and talent pool, the Los Angeles comedy scene is second to none. An endless supply of hilarious talent figuratively fighting for stage time coupled with the ever-reaching network of show biz, Los Angeles has churned out high-level comedy for decades and fostered some of the most historic venues in the industry. 

The World Famous Comedy Store opened its doors in 1972 and has played a pivotal role in the development of what might be the longest list of stand-up comics in the industry. All roads lead to Rome and in the comedy world, Rome is located at 8433 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, California. As depicted in the Shotime docu-series, the early years may have been a bit tumultuous, but Mitzi Shore, the godmother of comedy, can be credited with kickstarting the careers of so many comedy juggernauts.

Another stage with a deep and storied history, The Hollywood Improv has been featuring diverse lineups of stand-up comics since 1975. For over 45 years, this club has been a training ground for some of the biggest names in comedy and has been the backdrop of many historic stand-up performances.

Simply due to its proximity to Hollywood and people in the show biz industry, Los Angeles is undoubtedly one of the best cities in the world for stand-up comedy. The city is home to some of the biggest and most well-known names in the industry.

O Say Can You See

Stand-up comedy has come a long way since its early days. It began as a way for storytellers to share their tales with audiences in an interactive way and while much has changed, the fundamentals of performers sharing with their audience with a goal to make them laugh have stayed true.

Almost every major city in the US has at least one stand-up comedy club and with it a long list of comedians wanting to share their stories. We can all be thankful that comedy has spread in such a way that there is ample opportunity for us to catch a show virtually any night of the week in any city of the country. It’s a great way to have a spend a night and support the livelihoods of many talented staff and performers who come together to make us laugh. 

 

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