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Upright Citizen's Brigade

307 West 26th Street
Upright Citizen's Brigade 1 Comedy Clubs Chelsea

One of the earliest and most exciting New York memories happened to a member of the Sideways team, Molly, at Upright Citizen’s Brigade in 2007. As she recalled to me, she was visiting her sister, who decided to take her to a comedy club. On a Sunday night, they lined up outside on the street, waited for half an hour, paid a few dollars each, and went into the tiny theater for their nightly show. The improv ensemble was made up of several comedians including Amy Poehler (one of the founders of Upright Citizens Brigade) and her (then) husband, Will Arnett. Although Amy was on Saturday Night Live at that point, and Will had already begun Arrested Development, neither were anywhere near as well known as they are now. Apparently Will’s parent’s were also in the intimately small audience, and for the next hour Molly watched as the pair and their friends ran around a few feet in front of us spouting hilarity like water from a fountain.

We certainly cannot promise that this happens all the time, but Upright Citizens Brigade remains one of the best places in Manhattan to see impeccable comedy for a small amount. UCB has always been intimately connected with Saturday Night Live and has hosted shows with Tiny Fey, Alec Baldwin, Will Ferrell and many more, and never for more than eight dollars.

Aside from affordable comedy shows, UCB also works to provide affordable comedy training. Comedians flock to UCB for lessons with the best of the best. They have set the standard for fun, relaxed comedy in Manhattan and many people affiliated with the club have gone on to spread the sentiment throughout the city. Ali Farahnakian is a perfect example as he is the founder of the People’s Improv Theater, another outstanding find for us on East 24th Street.

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Upright Citizen's Brigade 1 Comedy Clubs Chelsea

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Gotham Comedy Club

Gotham Comedy Club was opened in May 1996 by Chris Mazzilli and Mike Reisman. Though Chris had originally planned to be an attorney, he attended the Fashion Institute of Technology and "did men's wear for thirty seconds" before trying his hand at acting school. He got bit parts in several productions, but as he grew frustrated with a lack of steady work, he fell back on his passion for stand-up. It was while performing that he became fast friends with Mike Reisman – a Wall Street banker that moonlighted as a comedian – and later partnered with him to open their own comedy club. At this point, Chris left his comedic ambitions behind and fully dedicated himself to conceiving the perfect addition to New York City's nightlife. Chris and Mike wanted to depart from the "traditional dingy, smokey club" and instead create an "upscale place I would take a date or even my parents to, " Chris told us. Chris scouted out the best local talents he could find and "put all the things I learned from my dad into that club. " This culminated in Gotham's packed opening night, featuring Dave Chapelle as the headliner. "From then on, the comedians, the audience, and the staff knew that this was something special. " Their stage soon drew some of the biggest names in the industry, from Robin Williams to Jerry Seinfeld, which helped build Gotham's allure. In 2005, Chris had the chance to snag a larger space to accommodate the crowd, and he relocated to Gotham's current home in an Art Deco building beside the Chelsea Hotel. After the move, his brother, Steve, joined as a third partner. "With another person who was cut from the same cloth as I was, we were able to really grow the business, " Chris said.

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