The Clubs Speak! The Best Stand Up Comedy Moments of 2018! (As Decided by the Country’s Best Club Owners, Bookers and Producers)

The Best Comedy Clubs and Producers Share Their Best In Comedy 2018

It’s our fifth annual look at the greatest comedy moments all over North America. We went straight to the bookers, club owners, managers and producers who put together some of the best comedy shows in the country this year and asked them to share their favorite most memorable moments of 2018.  It’s our favorite thing we do all year- to see the unique things happening in different pockets of comedy that you don’t get to hear about.

It’s an incredible snapshot of comedy in 2018.  Read through to see 41 clubs share the most incredible stories- headliners stepping out of character to deliver one special night that never made the news but should have; big moments for rising stars getting their first big break; touching sweet moments with comedy’s biggest stars; hilarious situations where something went wrong but it all worked out in the end; behind the scenes moments with some of our favorite comics. The biggest clubs in the business share their favorite moments and there’s no place you can read out about them except here.

If you think comedy is the same everywhere, this will change your mind. It represents everything that everyone who works to create The Interrobang love about this business.

This piece kicks off our massive year end coverage looking back at 2018! Stay tuned every day for new categories many of which you can vote on.

But for now, take a trip through comedy’s best clubs in New York, Los Angeles, Austin, San Francisco, Atlanta, Boston, Portland, Las Vegas, Chicago, Philadelphia, Nashville, Tampa, Cleveland,  Washington D.C., Toronto and Milwaukee.  See what’s happening in Utah, North Carolina, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Upstate NY.

Enjoy the best of comedy 2018 from the best clubs in the country like The Cellar, Yuk Yuk’s, The Stand, Gotham Comedy Club, The Comedy Attic, the Improv, the Stand, New York Comedy Club, The Stress Factory, Helium, Zanies, Second City, Laughing Skull, Cap City and more!!

Love it so much you want more? Check out the 201720162015 and 2014 editions too! 

And make sure you click here to vote for COMEDIAN OF THE YEAR, SPECIAL OF THE YEAR, ALBUM OF THE YEAR as well as BEST COMEDY MOVIE, BEST COMEDY TV SERIES, KING OF LATE NIGHT and  BEST BOOK WRITTEN BY A COMEDIAN too.

Yuk Yuk’s, Toronto, Ontario
Kyra Williams, Vice President Operations

One of my most favourite moments came this year after one of Chanty Marostica’s sets. A man in the audience came up to Chanty, like, “Hey, can I talk to you” a little aggressively and at first I was a little concerned because he looked like he was going to say something off-side. However, this man took the time to thank them.  He said, “my daughter just came out and I don’t know how to talk to her about it”. He felt after watching Chanty he could now feel more comfortable talking to his daughter. This guy didn’t know who he was coming to see at Yuks, and likely would never have been exposed to a LGBTQ comic, but was so happy that he had been. It was really beautiful and touching.

Other memorable moments… When Drew Lynch was here, half the audience had their support animals with them.  So many dogs! That was awesome. Stewart Francis did his final Canadian set here.  And Jason Rouse walked almost an entire audience from a Match.com dating mixer.

Follow YukYuk’s on twitter @yukyuks and get tickets and dates at yukyuks.com.

Laughing Skull Lounge, Atlanta, Georgia
Andrew George, General Manager

This was a great year for the Skull. We added more shows, sold more tickets, and saw more return audience members than ever before. Our annual festival (comedian submissions for 2019 are open now!) celebrated its 9th year and has grown into one of the industry’s top destinations for discovering new talent. Just this year, multiple comics got booked at Just For Laughs, The Tonight Show, and Cluster Fest after being seen at the Laughing Skull Comedy Festival.

Over the year, we had a good number of celebrity drops ins at the club, ranging from Tom Segura to Tiffany Haddish, but the most memorable was when Dave Chappelle surprised us by closing out one of our Best of Atlanta Comedy Showcases. Dave took the stage at midnight, then did two hours of new material, lead a Prince singalong, then brought up T.I. to riff with.

Follow Laughing Skull on Twitter @LaughingSkull and get tickets and information at laughskulllounge.com.

The Comedy Cellar, New York, NY
The Village Underground, New York, NY
The Fat Black Pussycat, New York, NY
The Comedy Cellar, Las Vegas, NY
Liz Furiati, General Manager

What an amazing year for the Cellar Clubs. The Village Underground was the home for our brand new weekly tv show on Comedy Central, and not only was it great to see it all come together but seeing the recognition that people like Mike Vecchione, Joe Machi, Jessica Kirson, Lynne Koptlitz, Greer Barnes, and Matteo Lane got from their appearances on the show was amazing- also seeing Matteo go viral on social media for one of his segments on the show.  We also had a gigantic weekend taping three Bumping Mic shows at the Underground. We also had and Hasan Minhaj pop up shows, a Ray Romano “drop-in” style special, and benefits for Operation Smile, Central Park Conservancy, KEEN NYC and more.

At the Fat Black Pussycat, we’re so proud of our weekly residency, and New Joke Night continues to be one of the best shows in the country.

And specialty shows like Harrison Greenbaum: Comedy and Magic, Come to Papa variety radio show with Tom Papa, Black Church with Michael Che and Derek Gaines, the Underground Debate Series, and Trivia with Harry Enten.

And finally our newest room, Comedy Cellar Vegas opened and we have had amazing drop ins from: Ray Romano, Amy Schumer, George Wallace, Dave Attell, Michael Che, Gad, Jeff Ross among others.

Follow @comedycellarUSA on Twitter and visit comedycellar.com for more info.

Zanies Comedy Club, Chicago and Rosemont, IL
Bert Haas, Manager

Zanies in Chicago spent the entire year celebrating its 40 Year Anniversary.  In addition to featuring Comedy Legends associated with Zanies (Richard Lewis, Gilbert Gottfried, , Marsha Warfield, Frank Calliendo, Bobby Slayton, Darrell Hammond, EMO Philips and Jake Johannsen) we also did  a shout out to some of the comedians we think will become legends in our UpNext series (Emma Willmann, Joe Machi, Ryan Hamilton, and Megan Gailey.)
A special moment for me was to see my son, Steven Haas, co-headline with another Zanies favorite, Becky Robinson. I will not forget the excitement when Hannibal Buress stopped in for a tight 15 on the first of Aziz Ansari’s pop-up shows and destroyed the room.

Follow Zanies on Twitter @ZaniesComClubs and visit Zanies.com on the web for more information.

West Side Comedy Club, New York City
Gina Savage, Talent Booker and General Manager

For a club still in its infancy, we’ve had an extraordinary amount of drop ins… Jerry dropped in several times & thats always exciting because he is such a pleasure and audiences adore him. While controversy still surrounds ., It was also a surprise to have him drop in! He was warmly received by the crowd and even egged on. Also, did a surprise pop up show for us which sold out in seconds! Other drop-in’s included Caroline Rhea, Jeremy Piven and TJ Miller!  We’ve got a staff that genuinely cares about the club & it’s continued growth. There’s even a few that are aspiring comics. We are an intimate bunch so it’s  like family. Our emphasis is on guest relations and making the comedians happy  – after all without them, what are we doing this for?  There are so many awesome newcomers—Alex Babbitt, Caitlin Peluffo, Melissa Diaz, Jay Jurden, Olga Namer are a few that spring to mind that have appeared at our club!
We’ve had a number of charitable events raising money for children’s groups, women’s organizations, domestic violence, political causes but   Lastly, being the “new spot” on upper west side we certainly had challenges BUT We were greeted with enthusiasm by the community (which is really just a neighborhood) and happy to say that they continue to support us and we have quite a few regulars… That we actually call “mascots” at this point! I like to think of West Side as “a good hang” with great comedy & great food and I think we’ve achieved that! We are your favorite “neighborhood” hotspot for comedy. #hangwithus

Follow West Side Comedy Club on Twitter @WestSideCCNYC and visit westsidecomedyclub.com for more information.

The Comedy Studio, Somerville, MA
Rick Jenkins, Owner/Host

This time last year I was checking to see if getting a job at Home Depot would mean buying my own apron. After 21 years of The Comedy Studio in Harvard Square, we were out. Then a pair of guys who regularly came to our shows 20 years ago let us know they were now developers with a spot for us in Somerville. But I knew nothing about building a club, much less a business. Well, Eugene Mirman started out at The Comedy Studio, and his college friend was a regular attendee. His college friend is now a contractor. He could build it. But financing? A couple dozen friends, family and comedians all said, “I’ll buy a couple shares.”  With my wife and our small staff putting it all together, The Comedy Studio reopened our own lounge, green room, and theater on September 6th.

We are still – and always will be – improving things, but it was that September day that Eugene Mirman, the Mayor of Somerville, and I cut the ribbon, and we got a brand new comedy club with a whole lot of history.

Follow the Comedy Studio on twitter @theComedyStudio and on the web at thecomedystudio.com.

New York Comedy Club, New York, NY
Amy Hawthorne, Booker

It would be pretty crazy if we didn’t say the “moment” of 2018 was expanding to a second location in the East Village, though really it was made up of a lot of moments over the course of the last six months. Almost immediately, just being able to see favorites like Yamaneika Saunders, Jon Fisch, Sherrod Small, Casey Balsham, Matt Richards and Matt Pavich on our brand new stage was incredible. And the outpouring of support we’ve received from comedians and our own friends and family was immense. It just felt like we had a whole community behind us before we even opened the doors.

Thanks to Scott, we’ve been very in demand as a venue where comedians can record a great album and that’s already translated to the new location. Our first album was James Mattern, which meant a lot to all of us because he’s been an integral part of our family and success all along. It came out amazing and even included a very Mattern-esque live Q&A that looks like it’s gonna make it to the final edit.  And then, when we reached the first weekend where we were able to sell out 7 shows across both clubs in a single night, that was incredibly rewarding.  It gave all of us permission to finally relax and really enjoy it! But it was also so clearly a culmination of so many things coming together.

We had comedians supporting us with their performances onstage and with promoting the club to their fans because they truly feel excited to be here. Every member of the staff, new and old, have put so much into it – we’ve always tried to create an environment that rewards hard work with loyalty and opportunities and this was a really big example of that. Everyone stepped up, everyone contributed, everyone took on new roles and responsibilities and really put their hearts into it. And it was an affirmation that we’re all committed to both clubs being part of a single brand and experience, that we aren’t just focused on the “new baby” and letting our original flagship in Gramercy become neglected. It’s sometimes hard to remember how little time it’s been since we soft launched in August, because everyone has just really embraced it so thoroughly!

Follow New York Comedy Club on twitter @NewYorkComedy and on the web at newyorkcomedyclub.com.

The Laugh Factory, Hollywood, CA
Nicky Lee, Marketing Director

One of the coolest things about Laugh Factory Hollywood is that you never know who is going to show up. Our iconic Sunset Strip location offers the opportunity for tourists and locals alike to be surrounded by some of the biggest stars in show business and get a glimpse that they are really cool people just like us. One of those moments happened earlier this year when Tiffany Haddish was sharing the stage with Kevin Nealon during his self-titled monthly show. She had requested a Peach Ciroc refill while on stage joking how it doesn’t give her a hangover. Plus she tries to support the community by only drinking alcohol endorsed by rappers. What happened next was hilarious.  If you were in the back of the room all you can see is the silhouette of  a male figure with what appears to be an ivy cap on his head, the blend  of darkness and cap offering anonymity, casually walking to the stage, her requested drink in hand. Tiffany was discussing her wardrobe with  Kevin and sees the shadowy figure walking towards her not thinking too  much of it. As she begins reaching for the drink the stage lights uncover the identity of this figure, she realizes who is in front of her. IT’S TYLER PERRY!

She fan-girl screams, and drops her microphone  for a moment. Tiffany quickly raises herself up and receives her drink from Tyler. She takes in a few large breaths as she tries to recover from her heart-skipping a few beats, a light in her eyes and a smile so infectious and contagious the crowd stands in ovation with cheers and laughter. We have all been there when our own idols have been in our presence and that night everyone shared in that magical moment.

Follow Laugh Factory on twitter @TheLaughFactory and on the web at laughfactory.com

Goodnights Comedy Club, Raleigh NC
Reven MacQueen, Head of Development

I’m pretty proud of Jourdain Fisher and all that he’s accomplished so far. His performances were a stand out in this year’s New Faces showcase of JFL and just recently he got to do his first tv appearance on the Tonight Show. I think myself, Brandy Brown, and anyone who’s ever invested time in the North Carolina comedy scene knew that it was only a matter of time before he was discovered and it’s exciting to see someone so talented and hardworking start to get the things he deserves.

Follow Goodnights on Twitter @GoodnightsCC and on the web at goodnightscomedy.com.

Helium Comedy Club, Buffalo, NY
Shawn Eckert General Manager

2018 was another jam packed year of amazing comedy at Helium Buffalo. For starters, the list of Headliners that came through and crushed is too long to put down so I will narrow it down to one… maybe two. The first that comes to mind is our weekend with the super funny Dan Cummins. It was our first time having Dan through and to watch him kill it every night for an hour was an awesome. There are times in this industry when we are fans of comics for so long but never actually get to see them live, which was the case with Dan. Between his material, podcast and his dope “children’s book” combined with being one of the easiest dudes to work with it is easy to say he was one of the more fun weekends of 2018.

We also had the pleasure of having Ilana Glazer in, another first timer at our venue. Most people know her from her TV show Broad City but were not too familiar with her stand up. The crowds initial excitement came from Ilana being the kween she is, but once they settled in and she got to her act you could tell she has been putting a lot of time and effort into her set.  The other main highlights of 2018 came from our local talent. The Buffalo comedy scene continues to get stronger and it always shows when we do our Wednesday themed shows (Comics Against Humanity, Dirty Show, Horrible People to name a few). Each show is designed to take the comics out of their element and make them try new material rather than relying on their “I know this will crush” jokes. Seeing some of the off the cuff jokes become a part of their permanent act has been really fun to watch. Aside from that, long time Buffalo comedian Shaun Murphy came home and did an amazing one nighter with us and perhaps the biggest highlight of 2018 was having Rick Matthews record his first album with us (which is available on iTunes now so you should snag it……) That’s enough rambling from me, cheers to an amazing 2019!!

Follow Helium Buffalo on Twitter @heliumcomedybuf and visit heliumcomedy.com/buffalo for more information.

Colossal Clusterfest, San Francisco, CA
Steve Raizes, SVP Viacom LEAP

In our first year we had Abbi and Ilana from Broad City do a reading of Wayne’s world where they played Garth and Wayne and it was phenomenal, perfectly encapsulated what we really try to do at the festival, which is things that you literally can’t and won’t see anywhere else ever.  It was such an a-ha moment for us of like, here is great talent, but showcasing them in a way that’s really different and really fun, and really unique.  We love to create a massive sense of FOMO, much like Coachella does and this year we wanted to recreate that. We had three of the queens from Rupaul’s Drag Race do a live read of Spice World, and that was great. And that was Alaska Thunderfuck, and Jinx Monsoon, and Manila Luzon. The live reads are really gonna become one of our signature events on a year by year basis.

The other stand out event was having Lonely Island, before they toured, do a big, elaborate, fully rehearsed stage show with video and puppets, and a surprise guest appearance by Michael Bolton, which was amazing, and they rocked it. It was amazing, fully choreographed. I mean, full out light show, and again, the crowd was blown away. They just literally brought the house down, and it was just an electric performance. We were just floored by the performance and the energy, and the enthusiasm. And that was in addition to the headliners.  was amazing, Trevor Noah, amazing. Can’t wait to announce what we have planned for 2019.

Follow updates on Colossal Clusterfest on Twitter @  and visit  for more information.

Bananas Comedy Club, Hasbrouck Heights, NJ
Denise Murphy, Manager

2018 was a bit of a different year here at Bananas.  Having new ownership brings new comedians, some who have never graced our stage before.  We have had the regular headliners that come through here and continue to grow their audience bases like Dave Attell (always a club favorite), Alonzo Bodden, Chris Distefano, Pete Correale and Vic DiBitetto, always bringing in great shows and great audiences with them.  There were also many new faces that have never come through Bananas that were memorable such as Steve Trevino, Big , Theo Von, Roy Wood Jr. and Drew Lynch.  It was such a pleasure to work with these comedians and see many new customers come through because of them.

 2018 was a good year for us here at Bananas and look forward to 2019 being even better with more new comedians!

Follow Bananas on Twitter @bananascomedynj and visit bananascomedyclub.com for more info.

Women in Comedy Festival, Boston, MA
Michelle Barbera, Christine Cannavo, Eafat Newton and Elyse Schuerman, Producers

2019 will mark the 10th anniversary of the Women in Comedy Festival. From the inception, we have batted around Wanda Sykes’ name. She was a dream headliner and we didn’t think we could ever pull off having her headline. She came to Boston separately in November 2016 and it was a challenging show as the audience booed her Trump jokes and at the end of her set, Wanda gave the audience the bird. It was not a great time for her and we weren’t sure if she would come back to Boston, let alone for our festival. She agreed to perform and we were thrilled. Then, the day of her WICF show, she had pretty significant laryngitis from a cold, so we did some fancy footwork and got her in to the same Massachusetts Eye & Ear Infirmary office that Adele had been to. They made it possible for her to do her set. We all relaxed when Wanda started on stage and gave a phenomenal performance.

In addition, one of our goals is to get our performers seen by industry and help them get work. An example of that success is that this year we were able to showcase Caitlin Peluffo which directly lead to her appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert this past October.

Follow Women in Comedy Festival on Twitter @wicf and on the web at www.wicf.com.

Comix Comedy Club, Uncasville, CT
Michael Brauth,  Co-Owner

Comix at Mohegan Sun has had a very busy and great 2018.  We have produced multiple shows in both the Mohegan Sun Arena and the ballroom that included, Dane Cook, Jim Jefferies, , the SNL Reunion tour with Darrell Hammond, Jon Lovitz, Chris Kattan, and Finesse Mitchel.  After the SNL show, Finesse came to Comix and hung out with our staff, eating and drinking until close.  Another arena show was the Bumping Mics show with Dave Attell , Jeff Ross, and Yamaneika Saunders.  The show was great.  And the weekend that we had Bert Kreischer, he gave our entire staff “Bert is fat” tee shirts.  They were so excited that they wore the shirts the entire weekend. The shirts created a great deal of Buzz. When Big Jay Oakerson, Adam Ray, and Tony Hinchcliffe were here, they all volunteered to sing karaoke in our bar after their respective shows.  In fact, Tony came very prepared and dressed up like Freddie Mercury and sang and danced throughout the bar, to his own version of Bohemian Rhapsody.  What a funny night. We also completed our 8th season of our “Last Comix Standing” contest.  Our winner was Rob Ryan.  Rob currently lives in NYC and was also this years winner of the Boston Comedy festival.  We think is a comic to keep an eye out for.  All in all, it was a great year that flew by very quickly.
We look forward to bigger and better things in 2019 like our soon to open country western bar and restaurant called Comix Roadhouse.  It will be adjacent to our comedy club and offer our guests additional dining options, a mechanical bull that will provide many comical moments, a live music stage, and a late night dance floor.  It will without question enhance or comedy club guest experience and offer multiple entertainment options.

Follow Comix on Twitter @ComixMoheganSun and visit ComixMoheganSun.com for more information, dates and tickets.

Milwaukee Comedy, Milwaukee, WI
Kaitlin McCarthy, Producer/ Comic

2018 saw the close of Milwaukee County’s last stand-up comedy clubs. As a result, independently-produced shows have risen to the occasion in order to provide Milwaukee with top-notch comedy shows. For our part, this year, Milwaukee Comedy produced shows for Todd Barry, Joe Pera, Dave Stone, Sean Patton and Shane Mauss in our home base location, The Underground Collaborative – tucked away in the basement of The Shops of Grand Avenue. Our monthly showcases are also seeing record turnout. Who needs a comedy club when you have professionally-run shows with local, regional and national touring comics, happening at breweries, an art gallery, a barbershop and the side room of a bar/bowling alley? No drink minimums! The traditional stand-up comedy clubs in Milwaukee may be gone, but there is still plenty of incredible performers and shows to be seen.

A personal highlight for me, was having Lizz Winstead and The Lady Parts Justice League as part of the Milwaukee Comedy Festival in August. They raised awareness for the city’s only abortion clinic and gave ideas on how Milwaukeeans can support them. In October, a group of comics from Milwaukee and Madison brought in lunch for the staff of the clinic and painted exam rooms that haven’t been painted in at least 20 years. Without LPJL, we wouldn’t have known there was this need for volunteerism in our own community.

Follow Milwaukee Comedy on Twitter @milwaukeecomedy and on the web at milwaukeecomedy.com.

Helium Comedy Club, Portland, OR
Shana Delwiche, General Manager

A standout moment this year at Helium Comedy Club Portland was the weekend Bert Kriescher was at the club. That night he was doing his beloved (by the staff) staff raffle, in which he asks the crowd to donate to the raffle, collects a seriously impressive amount of money, pulls a staff name out of a pot, and makes said staff member’s month by giving him/her all of the earnings.  During 1 raffle, an audience member donated 2 Amazon gift cards that were allegedly worth something like $800.  Bert did a second raffle that show and pulled the name of our eternally beloved dishwasher, Pablo.  Pablo was so excited, but when we checked the amount on the gift cards later on that evening, there was no money on them.  (Honorable customer.)  Without hesitation, the staff began raising money for Pablo’s pot amongst themselves, Bert threw in a chunk, and soon we had more than the original pot supposedly had been.  It was a really inspirational moment, raining cash down on Pablo, the smile on his face..it was the best.  We look out for our own, and that makes the club feel special.

Follow Helium in Portland on Twitter @heliumcomedyPDX and get more information at heliumcomedy.com/portland.

Moontower Comedy Festival, Austin, TX
Lietza Brass, Festival Director

It’s been the biggest year for comedy that I can remember here at the Paramount and State Theatres.  Here are just some of the tentpoles:

Mo Amer chose the Paramount to shoot his Netflix special The Vagabond and it was an all-around fantastic experience!  Not only was the special hilarious but the final product and theatre looked amazing.  As a treat for the audience, Dave Chappelle was on hand to intro his good friend, Mo.  The night before the shoot, Dave treated a lucky 300 people at the State Theatre with a pop-up performance.  A couple of us watched the show from stools perched on the catwalk…a bizarre vantage point that I do not recommend!

Moontower Comedy Festival continues to grow and surprise us each year.  In 2018 our festival’s clubs played host to more fans than ever before.  With showcases featuring 80 top comedians it’s hard to go wrong.  But for me, the do-not-miss show was Shebang, our all-female showcases with artists like Tiffany Haddish, Dulce Sloan, Martha Kelly, Yamaneika Saunders, Ophira Eisenberg, Janelle James, Amanda Seales, Ardin Myrin, Janeane, Garofalo, Jackie Kashian, Liza Treyger, Erin Foley, Nikki Glaser and Sam Jay.  These fierce comedians packed our largest clubs every night!  That’s one of the things I love about Moontower; our strong hilarious female comic voices.

Follow Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival on Twitter @MoontowerComedy and get more information at moontowercomedyfest.com.

The Stress Factory, New Brunswick, NJ
The Stress Factory, Bridgeport, CT
Vinnie Brand, Club Owner

What a great year for The Stress Factory. First, we opened our new room in Bridgeport Connecticut. This room was nine years in the making and it came out beautifully. It’s already being talked about by the comics as one of the best rooms in the country (Bennington needs to come see for himself!) and our lineup has been incredible. The best moments for the club were the Grand Opening with Jim Breuer. We wanted someone special and we wanted a friend. The call went to Jim and we were not disappointed. He killed all five shows and like only Breuer can he opened the room by trashing me to the crowd with a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his lips. Hysterical! Two weeks after that we put the Legendary on for five sold out shows. Dice is…..DICE! For this show Gary Dell’Abate came in. I’ve known Gary for years and loved having him there. Dice was at his best and the audience could not get enough! Standing ovations bookended all of the shows and the club continues to grow and attract more and more customers. We are loving the new digs! (did I mention that Bennington needs to come by?)

The New Brunswick room is legendary and every week is special. This year Anthony Jeselnick stopped by and sold out five shows. Jeselnick is great and it’s VERY hard to get him with his schedule being what it is, he worked out his new hour and I can’t wait to see it on tape. Bert Kreisher also stopped in and got naked, again! Love Bert. His career has exploded and hanging out with him is the best! Finally, Jim Breuer also came in and did a series of “work out” shows on Wednesday nights. He’s done it in the past and it’s always just the best. Breuer working out is as good as most comics fully polished one hour on any day. 16 sold out Wednesdays and hopefully he’ll come back for more soon. Finally, George Lopez came in again. It takes me a full week of recovery after hanging out with George. ALL sold out shows, all standing ovations! Lopez is a monster and as a special thanks he had me and our manager Derick down to his HBO taping at The Kennedy Center. The back stage scene was rock star worthy

I love what we do and I’d never forgive myself if I didn’t say that every week the best people in the world come and laugh with us, customers and comics alike. It’s been a great ride and I’m hoping we can stay on the train for another 30 years.

Follow the Stress Factory on Twitter @StressFactoryNJ and get more information on the web at stressfactory.com.

The National Comedy Center, Jamestown, New York
Journey Gunderson, Executive Director

The most memorable moments in 2018 were those in which we held our breath as the comedy world, press, and average Joe comedy consumers walked through the doors of what we worked on for eight years in Jamestown.  The exhales came watching and hearing the reactions:  From choking up and saying, “it’s f*cking unbelievable,” to Lily Tomlin simply saying, “It’s incredible” repeatedly as she toured like a kid in a candy store — while Producer / Booker / Guest Experience-maker Malachi Livermore sprinted ahead, turning on the entire facility after we convinced her road manager to let her tour near midnight after her show.

The mission felt…real and alive… watching Bridget Everett and Amy Schumer take in exhibits on Lenny Bruce and Rusty Warren, to seeing a 15-yr-old kid tap to add Steven Wright to his profile after seeing his “trophy wife” joke in the Stand-Up Lounge experience — and overhearing him tell his dad he didn’t know who Wright was before.  The surreality (coining it here) continued as Dan Aykroyd stopped part way through his tour to state, in a voice with the passion of Ray Stantz, “From now on when someone says they want to get into comedy, I’ll tell them they’ve got to come here first,” then walked into the Comedy Karaoke bar to witness rising star Steven Rogers on stage killing it (with his own material) to a packed crowd in the museum, then [Aykroyd] moved to the next room and nailed Alec Baldwin’s “Pete Schwetty” as he and Fran Drescher (doing Molly Shannon’s NPR lady) green-screened Schwetty Balls, then walked across the street to meet Dan Rather at a bar where he made the same statement about the National Comedy Center on “The Big Interview”.

This all the day after hosted the hell out of the “SNL Originators” stage panel with Aykroyd, Laraine Newman, and Alan Zweibel. Capping off a week of surreal moments – cutting the ribbons on exhibits with Kelly Carlin, Violet Ramis and Kitty Bruce about their fathers, George Shapiro cutting the ribbon on the “Puffy Shirt” and Seinfeld Emmy before reuniting with the Kaufman family to cut the ribbon on Andy’s case, only then to tweet “I never thought I could fall more in love with comedy, but I just did by spending four days in Jamestown.” 

You can vote for the National Comedy Center in USA Today’s “Best New Attraction” award now through Jan. 7th at www.ComedyCenter.org/vote  Follow The National Comedy Center on Twitter @NTLComedyCenter and get tickets and other information at nationalcomedycenter.org.

Second City, Chicago, IL
Dionna Griffin-Irons, Up Comedy Club

Break Out Comedy Festival hits its 5th year in 2019 and we’re super excited about what this room and annual Second City event have done for comedians’ careers in a relatively short amount of time.  Chicagoan, Godfrey returned back home to host this year’s event and did not disappoint with his signature crowd work that had one audience member yelling, “It’s so good!” Over 30 uncensored diverse stand-up acts highlighted the weekend, bridging the gap on race, culture, identity and gender opening doors for comics to get high profile visibility, agency/manager representation and invitations to perform in JFL or tape 1/2 hour comedy specials. My favorite moment was enjoying newcomers Vincent Bryant,  Max Delsohn and Carol Zoccoli take brave risks on stage to discuss social inadequacy, Trump America and what’s it like being a female to male transgender. The comics make no apologies on stage and the audience cringes and loves it at the same time.

Follow Second City on twitter @TheSecondCity and visit their website secondcity.com for more information.

The Improv, Los Angeles, CA
Paige Schaeffer, Talent Booker.

2018 marked the 55th anniversary of the Improv’s opening, which reminds us that “comedy never ends,” also the title to a song made up by Craig Robinson and Ben Bailey at the piano one evening late after we’d closed. Earlier this year, Craig and his band, the Nasty Delicious, did a show for 4/20, which was incredibly epic. The place went ballistic when Too $hort got on stage and performed a song, followed by a surprise jam session with Dave Chappelle, John Mayer, and Jeff Ross. The entire audience was standing on their chairs. What else? We’ve loved watching the Lab evolve into an awesome space for younger comics to incubate and seasoned ones to develop new material. Jeff Garlin did a residency every Friday, Dana Carvey did six shows with his sons,  made several appearances on the Lab stage, and Chappelle smoked many a cigarette on it as well. We were thrilled to have Amanda Seales prep her hour there last month, we’re super proud to have Marcella Arguello doing her show “Women Crush Wednesdays” weekly, we loved having Ramy Youssef do a run of shows right before he went to New York to do great things. So many memorable moments…I could go on and on!

Follow The Hollywood Improv @HollywoodImprov and visit hollywood.improv.com.

The Comedy Attic, Bloomington, Indiana
Jared Thompson, Owner

Probably the show that stands out to me was when Michelle Wolf was here headlining this year. She was scheduled to be here right before the correspondents’ dinner, to work on her set but her plate was too full with that and the Netflix show, so she had to cancel. She could have easily decided that she was gonna never come back because we’re a small club, but she kept her promise to do the date. We had her here back in November and it was really amazing to see, she came back with a brand new hour from the last time she was here a year ago, even though she had so little time to work on new material. And what was really amazing was that she never bashed the President, which would have been a very easy decision for her to make when she decided to go back out on the road. She could have easily focused on that type of material, but she barely touched on it.

Follow the Comedy Attic on Twitter @ComedyAttic and visit comedyattic.com for tickets and listings.

Cap City Comedy Club, Austin, TX
Margie Coyle and Colleen McGarr, Co-Owner/Dir. Of Operations

It has been a great 33rd year at Cap City Comedy Club in Austin Texas. Our Austin comedy pond continues to thrive . Here is just a small taste… This year’s winner of our annual F.P.I.A. (Funniest Person In Austin) was consummate joke writer Jon Mendoza. He beat out a field of 200 + to take the crown (and cape). For the 15th year in a row an Austin comic has made it to JFL. Avery Moore joined JFL New Faces Unrepped and subsequently became repped! Vanessa Gonzalez will record a Comedy Central Presents. Vanessa and fellow Austin alum Daniel Rugg Webb both shot ” Unprotected Sets” for Epix/Wanda Sykes’ production company. Matt Bearden ( KLBJ’s Dudley, Bob +Matt) finished his 22nd season of producing “Punch” Austin’s premiere comedy showcase (Tuesday nights). The Sideshow podcast starring Dale Dudley, Bob Fonseca and the aforementioned Matt Bearden, continues it’s run of sold out and was thrilled to include Ron Bennington and Ron White for their Moontower edition. Ron White also ran his new Netflix special material at Cap City and donated the door to the staff!

We continue to be deeply involved with the Central Texas Food Bank and have donated 1000 pounds this year.

Follow Cap City Comedy Club on Twitter @CapCityComedy or visit CapCityComedy.com for more info.

The Stand Comedy Club, New York, NY
Patrick Milligan, Proprietor/Booker

For over 6 years we have focused on evolving the New York comedy scene, and bringing true NYC and outer borough comedy fans the best night out possible. This past year was incredibly successful and progressive for us here at The Stand NYC. After years of trying to secure a larger venue to fit our business demands, we finally closed on a space nearby in Union Square. In early June we had to bid adieu to our 3rd Ave. location, and we went out in grand fashion with a never ending version of our wildly successful show, Frantic!  Aaron Berg hosted all 6 marathon hours, and welcomed over 40 comedians ranging from Dave Attell, to Ron Bennington, Big Jay Oakerson, , Ari Shaffir, , Mark Normand, Nikki Glaser, and so many more greats of our time.

It was a fitting tribute that included the amazing talent that has been instrumental to the venue’s success and the reason why we are currently expanding. The following night we closed out proper, as Luis J. Gomez literally took a sledgehammer to the stage and tore the house down for The RoastMasters NYC finale.
Since July we have been meticulously building our new space that will include multiple showrooms, state of the art production / presentation, and a custom, absolutely gorgeous brick oven that will be serving the best pizza to go along with the best comedy Manhattan has to offer each and every night. We appreciate everyone’s incredible patience and promise you it will be worth the wait when we launch in the next few weeks!

Follow The Stand on Twitter @TheStandNYC and get information about the club on the web at thestandnyc.com

Gotham Comedy Club, New York City
Chris Mazzilli, Owner

One of the hallmarks of 2018 has been to really focus on the customer experience. We’ve always cared about the appearance of this club and customer service. We try to do everything we can to accommodate our customers and even from how the menu is designed and what we carry on that menu. 35 different kinds of vodka, full wine list, not just red and white. Really trying to cater to their every need. It’s even more so now because of online reviews that you really, you want the best you can for the customers so I think what’s happened is it’s become the year of the customer. We want them to have a good experience here, we want them to be happy. We changed the carpeting, we’re in the process of painting and I think we always try to be on the cutting edge of everything including technology.  We’re doing a new series here at the club, we just started doing it this year. It’s in conjunction with Facebook and their virtual reality portal called Oculus.

And I love it because it’s the only one being done right now. Next PR who’s our producing partner on it, they have the exclusive contract with the NBA and the NFL. They’re fantastic people to have, we partnered up to make these shows and it’s called, “Live in Gotham.” Because literally, you feel like you’re sitting inside the club.  It’s freaky I mean, you look to your right you see audience members there, you look to your left you see, you look up you see the ceiling. You feel you can reach out and grab the comedian and what’s interesting about it to me is not only is it this cutting edge technology but it’s also in 31 countries. So we’re building our brand throughout the world. I thought that it should be live because I just think there’s an excitement about the show airing live, which it does. And I also put, we have to… I wanted somebody who’s kind of like, a newer comic, but somewhat established but could also play with the audience, could talk to the virtual world. So we settled on Yannis Pappas who’s been fantastic. They’ve just ordered a bunch more episodes that we’re gonna be doing from January through June. We’re currently in production right now, we have three or four more… three more to do this month.

Follow Gotham Comedy Club on Twitter @GothamComedy or visit GothamComedyClub.com for more info.

Helium Comedy Club, Philadelphia PA
Ben Maher, Talent Coordinator, Assistant GM

As always, Helium Philly was filled with wonderfully funny and memorable moments on and offstage. We had podcast recordings, album recordings, album release shows, all new headliners, headliners who’ve been here every one of the 13 years we’ve been open, comics promoted to host and feature and headliner, and all the amazing things that can only happen in the magical confines of a comedy club. Some of my personal and professional favorites of the year included popping in after a show to just hang out with local comics because he doesn’t forget that being a superstar doesn’t preclude anyone from also being a comic just hanging with other comics.

There was homegrown talents Blake Wexler and Mary Radzinki releasing their albums with great shows here to celebrate, and more homegrown comics like Chip Chantry, Pat House & Lawrence Killebrew recording their albums here. Hanging with old friends like Greg Proops, Dana Gould and Dom Irrera, and then getting to see them kill on stage. Watching Pete Lee perform right before his 4th! Tonight Show appearance of the year aired. So many great things, as usual. It doesn’t get better than working in a comedy club, and comedy clubs don’t get better than what we affectionately call “The Flagship” (or maybe that’s just me), Helium Philly.

Follow Helium in Philly @heliumcomedy and visit heliumcomedy.com for more information.

The Creek and the Cave, Long Island City, NY
Rebecca Trent, Owner

The Creek and The Cave took a lot of hits in 2018. It was a rough year, but there were a few precious gems that really kept me going… Here’s a few…

Brendan Eyre RETURNED! – we missed him! Greg Stone’s album recording was really special to me for a lot of reasons. He is one of my favorite people of all time. And I apologize for the size of the whisky I poured him between shows. Andy Haynes and Zach Sims returned from the Wrong Coast. Skankfest – It just keeps getting bigger and better every year. Working with Christine & Luis is an incredible experience and I don’t tell them that enough. Chris Laker taped Chris Laker is Dead. You’ll only be able to hear it if you outlive him. Good luck – he seems pretty healthy. Victor Varnado (w/ Madame Bouge) launched The Original NYC Talent Show – my new favorite mic and some of the weirdest acts in New York come through – we advertise contests like Fart Beat Boxing – that’s how you get the good talent. The week we spent forcing audience members to take home turkeys (courtesy of Main St. Meats) was pretty awesome too. Oh and this was the year I met Shanna Christmas! She’s pretty amazing.

Follow the Creek and the Cave on Twitter @creekandcave and visit creeklic.com for more info.

Learn From Me Comedy, NYC
Jeff Zamaria, Comedy Booker/Manager

2018 was a very interesting year in comedy for me. First off, we had to say goodbye to Doc’s Lab in San Francisco. A place that meant the world to me since I first went there when it was the famous Purple Onion. It was a bit of a bummer for sure. On the other hand, I did get to work closely again with SF Sketchfest and Clusterfest which are always a great time. I continued Vintage Basement with Max & Nicky and even started a new monthly show in NYC with my good friend and partner in comedy crime, Jessica Pilot. Oh, and I also finally moved to New York this year.

But over all the best moment(s) of the year for me came from being on tour with friends and comics “The Hearty Boys” (Chris Conatser & Chad Opitz). We put together a full western and north eastern tour and even some how got the drink Tang! to sponsor them. My roles on were mainly booker and driver. “Baby Driver” they call me. It was really great being out on the road with them. I got to take them all around parts of this great land of ours that neither had seen before. I kind of felt like a tour guide, too. It’s really something getting to watch good friends both struggle and succeed (mostly succeed) in new and different places while doing what they love. I think it gave us all a bit more perspective on comedy as a whole. It meant a lot to help them get out in front of new audiences and to see them grow on stage. Just another reason I continue to work in this business. That and I get to laugh a bunch.

Follow Jeff on Twitter @learnfrommecomedy and get more information on the web at standupcomedyclinic.com.

 

Zanies Comedy Club, Nashville, TN
Lucy Sinsheimer, Talent Booker

I would love to mention Nashville comedian Dusty Slay who appeared on the Tonight Show this year and now has a development deal with ABC! Dusty has been producing his own monthly show at Zanies the past 2 years and it’s been incredible watching him succeed!

Follow Zanies in Nashville at standupny.com and on Twitter @ZaniesNashville

Comedy Bar, Toronto, Canada
Gary Rideout, General MA

2018 saw us celebrate our 10th anniversary at Comedy Bar, highlight out of town acts that crushed this year were Sam Jay, Robert Webb and The Black Version.  So many locals did incredible work this year too, including Rap Battlez going to JFL, Chanty Marostica having a hot album release show,  Courtney Gilmour slaying every time she was on stage and Brandon Ash-Mohammed and Hoodo Hersi selling out their consistently killer shows. And a special shout out to Mark Forward, Kyra Williams and Alex Wood who all created fantastic shows for various charities as the year comes to a close.

Follow Comedy Bar on Twitter @ComedyBar and visit comedybar.ca for more information, dates and tickets.

Independent Producer, New York, NY and National
Luisa Diez, Producer

It’s tough to pick, but the highlight of my year in comedy was booking the weekly show Too Many Cooks (Wednesdays at 9pm at Lucky Jack’s on the Lower East Side), which I co-produce with five excellent comics (#favs) who are also rotating hosts: Samantha Ruddy, Luke Touma, J.P. McDade, Dina Hashem, and Jordan Temple. The show hits a sweet spot for me in that we always feature a perfect mix of established pros dropping in to work out new jokes and up-and-coming killers showing off their best stuff, drawing the best comedy fans and industry nerds (<3) alike. We’ve gotten to watch comics running late night sets, sets that went viral a week later, and sets for festivals and auditions, and we’re proud to have fantastic regulars and drop-ins like Gary Gulman, , Judah Friedlander, Todd Barry, Janeane Garofalo, Sal Vulcano, Damien Lemon, Aparna Nancherla, Mark Normand, and many more. On top of that, this year we got to see our hosts Jordan and Dina perform on and I got to watch Sam record her set for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert which airs soon. There are always so many great things going in comedy in New York City, and yet Wednesday night quickly became my favorite night of the week this year. I look forward to it every week and can’t wait to see what 2019 will bring.

Follow @luisadieznuts on Twitter.

Stand Up New York,  NYC
Candi Clare, Booker

This year at Stand Up NY has been a hot spot for celebrity comics and a swirl of exciting stuff happening for some of our favorites.  We’ve had visits from , T.J. Miller (and a trombone), Amy Schumer, George Wallace and Jerry Seinfeld.  New half-hour specials have premiered and taped with Yamaneika Saunders (who had the most epic wig ripping-off moment on our stage), Jenny Zigrino, Tim Dillon, Anthony DeVito, Mike Lawrence, Dan Soder, Nate Bargatze and tons more! It’s been such a thrill watching comics grow and succeed in our club and very much looking forward to what 2018 rings in.
*drops mic

Follow Stand Up New York at standupny.com and on Twitter @StandUpNY

Side Splitters, Tampa, FL
Brian Thompson, Owner

2018 was a good year at Side Splitters Comedy Club in Tampa. We had several of our regulars return but also had some great acts at our club for the first time that we look forward to bringing back in 2019. Guys like Dan Cummins, Samuel J Comroe, and Steve Treviño. We also had some cool not so traditional shows such as The Land Cruise Live Show where we partnered with The Mike Calta Show on 102.5,  , and Bert Kreischer.  Some of our local guys moved to NY and LA to pursue their careers and we are working on developing the next class of up-and-comers.

Get info on dates and more for Side Splitters on sidesplitterscomedy.com.

The Laugh Factory, Chicago, IL
Curtis Shaw Flagg, Director of Operations

“2018 was an incredible year for Laugh Factory Chicago. As Chicago continues to harvest some of the industry’s top comedians, Laugh Factory continues to be the epicenter of growth for so many comics coming into the fold. We saw an incredible number of comics being represented at this year’s Montreal Just For Laughs Festival as well as some of our home comics showcasing on Late Night, Comedy Central, , , and more! We also saw the entire community come together with the passing of Shwan Yawer. Shwan was a bright spot in the scene who worked very hard, was passionate about standup comedy, and was just genuinely a inspiring soul to be around. His passing rocked the scene, but also brought everyone together in ways I could’ve never imagined. He will be missed and we will all continue to follow our dreams in a way to honor him. 2019 will be the biggest year yet for Chicago comedy and we cannot wait to be a part of it all.

Follow the Chicago Laugh Factory @laughfactory_ch on Twitter and go to laughfactory.com/clubs/chicago for ticket information and more!

Hilarities Comedy Club, Cleveland, OH
Sam Klima,  Booker

The night(s) the lights went out in Cleveland: 2018 was dynamite. From great drop-ins like Aziz Ansari, to our 2nd year hosting Accidental Comedy Fest, to some great 1-nighters (Maria Bamford, Bassem Youssef, Colin Quinn, Frank Caliendo), there is a lot to choose from as the most memorable moment of the year.

That said my choice would have to be not for when something good happened, but when something terrible happened. Twice this year we had to deal with a power outage during a comedy show. It was a lovely Saturday in August when Cy Amundson was headlining his first weekend here with Nate Abshire & Cody Cooper. Towards the end of the early show, the building went dark. Cy managed to finish his set and we gave away all the drinks & food, but we still had a late show to do with no computers, sound, or lights. Luckily it was a beautiful summer night so we opened the front windows on E. 4th Street, set up a couple speakers, and ran power from down the street. Sure enough, the crowd was so cool that we just crowded as many chairs around the patio as we could & some people just stood on the street to watch the free show.

Not to be outdone, when Joe Machi was here on a Sunday in October we lost power again, immediately before he was to go on stage. As October in Cleveland isn’t the best for a patio performance, we decided to fight through and keep the show going downstairs. Clevelander John Armstrong stretched his spot until we were ready for Joe and Machi did his entire 50 minute set aided by only a couple of flashlights held by the guests in the front row.

The city of Cleveland was a punch line for decades. But I think people might be surprised at what a cool, vibrant city it has become. Either way we’re still going to be here, putting on great shows and making people laugh. Turns out people still use the old cliché “the show must go on” for a reason: It’s true. Even in the dark.

Follow Hilarities on Twitter @hilarities  and go to hilarities.com for more info.

D.C. Improv, Washington D.C.
Allyson Jaffe, Owner

Live comedy is amazing, but there’s an extra edge when people are rolling tape. Erin Jackson got her start in DC, and we were thrilled that she wanted to record her first album in our lounge showroom. Her July shows were great — and when it was released, “Grudgery” was a comedy album of the month on SiriusXM. On the TV side, we got to join the fun for the new EPIX series “Unprotected Sets.” The crew for that show did a great job capturing comedy in an intimate setting. And the DC comedians featured (Paris Sashay and Kasaun Wilson) really rose to the occasion.

There’s also something wonderful about comedy’s power to heal. In the spring, the DC comedy community was stunned by the death of Dylan Meyer, a talented performer headed toward big things. Lots of comedians and venues honored Dylan’s memory in the months that followed. We were able to host a sold-out showcase in June, featuring some of Dylan’s best friends in the business. And all the ticketing proceeds went to the Dylan Meyer Creativity Fund — an excellent cause supporting early childhood education.

Follow DC Improv on Twitter @DCImprov and get tickets and information dcimprov.com.

Wiseguys, Salt Lake City/Jordan Landing/Ogden, UT
Keith Stubbs, Owner

It was another fun year at Wiseguys. We brought in the New Year the right way with Nate Bargatze at our downtown SLC club and Harland Williams at Jordan Landing. The exceptional Gary Gulman got standing ovations on all of his shows in January. Not an easy thing to do.

A couple of highlights were having George Lopez, Chad Daniels and Wanda Sykes at Wiseguys for the first time. They were fantastic!  Cristela Alonzo, Christina P, Jimmy Pardo, Pete Lee, Mark Normand and Joe Machi were also standouts.  We are proud of our hard working and hilarious local comics including Shayne Smith and Alex Velluto who are getting noticed at festivals and competitions. Comedian Guy Seidel’s 9th Annual Comedy Cares fundraiser event continues to raise money for children in need.

I love comedy and that’s what has kept me in this game as long as it has. I must thank our customers, staff and comedians for making it happen!

Follow DC Improv on Twitter @wiseguysutah and get tickets and information wiseguyscomedy.com.

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