The Clubs Speak! The Best Stand Up Comedy Moments of 2019! (As Decided by the Country’s Best Club Owners, Bookers and Producers)

The Best Comedy Clubs and Producers Share Their Best In Comedy 2019

It’s our SIXTH 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 2019.  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 the best snapshot of comedy you’ll find for 2019.  Read through to see 40 of the best clubs in North America share the most incredible stories- whether it’s the biggest headliners in the country showing up for a very special night; or the return of a comedian to someplace they haven’t been in a long time, or those heart filling special nights for comedy’s next wave of super stars getting big moments, or some young but sharp talents getting just at taste of recognition; touching sweet moments; they’re all unforgettable. The biggest clubs in the business share their favorite moments and there’s no place you can read out about them except here.

This piece kicks off our massive year end coverage looking back at everything that mattered in comedy in 2019! 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 2019 from the best clubs in the country like The Stand, Yuk Yuk’s, The Stand, Gotham Comedy Club, New York Comedy Club, Helium, Zanies, Second City, Laughing Skull, Cap City and more!!

Love it so much you want more? Check out the 2018, 201720162015 and 2014 editions too! 

And make sure you 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

The biggest event at our club this year happened in October when Louis CK chose us for his first stop on his short Canadian tour. His 8 shows sold out in a record breaking 5 hours, proving that Torontonians couldn’t wait to see him in a 300-seat intimate setting.  In February we recorded a compilation album with 604 Records & Comedy Here Often, titled the Great Canadian Comedy Rumble 604 vs 416 while our Vancouver club did the same.

Danish Anwar’s Your Hood’s A Joke, a territorial roast battle, continued to sell out every month, and heavy hitters like Sophie Buddle, Jarrett Campbell and Marito Lopez had incredible headlining weeks. And we’re proud to announce that this year, we officially added our first dog to our Funny Business roster, Rosie Perez! Go to funnybusiness.ca to see for yourself.

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

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

It has been an incredible year for  comedy in Austin- major highs and a major low . We won Best Comedy Venue by the Austin Chronicle Readers Poll!

The amazing Joe Rogan was the fastest sellout in the club’s history. Nikki Glaser came in and crushed her time with us-duh. Andrew Murphy beat out 200+ comedians and won the F.P.I.A. (Funniest Person In Austin) and got tapped to be a part of the 2019 New Faces Unrepped at JFL. Matt Bearden – winner Best Stand Up Comic Austin Chronicle Reader’s Poll- concluded season 25 of PUNCH- the coolest standup show in Austin, look out for season 26!. Watch for Matt soon on a Comedy Central “Live From Austin ” special. This year’s Moontower Comedy Festival edition of KLBJ’s Sideshow Podcast was extra delicious with guests Ron Bennington, Rich Vos and Joe DeRosa sparkling it up with Dale, Bob and Matt. Vanessa Gonzalez continues to blow up .We continue to blessed to be a part of this beautiful, deeply talented comedy community . On a tragic note our beloved friend and partner at Cap City, Alex Coyle passed. Many comics know Alex for his constant encouragement and unparalleled bar skills. He even taught us to enjoy and be thankful.

Bye 2019.

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

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

As I sit here right before we close for holiday break, it feels like the circus has just left town. It’s been a year of larger-than-life shows. The 8th year of Moontower Comedy Festival wrapped with a bang with two insane shows of Schitt’s Creek Live!   The cast delivered big-time and the audience behaved like they were witnessing Canadian Beatles.

With barely a beat, Dave Chappelle and Aziz Ansari seemed to magically appear to set-up camp for three nights at the Paramount Theatre, plus a small sideshow across the street in the 90-seat Townsend.   Anyone who has been in our shoes knows that calling it a “wild ride” is an understatement.  But you know what? We’ll take that ride any day.  And we did!  Dave returned for three more record breaking nights to our 300-seat State Theatre in October.  Thanks, Dave!

This summer was hot with Hannah Gadsby and Ilana Glaser each kicking it out with their multi-night runs.  Add to that list, the hilarious Daniel Sloss with the taping of his TV special: Socio.  It’s been a great year for comedy at the Paramount in Austin and we’re looking forward to 2020.

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

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

2019 will forever be remembered as a year of incredible transition, tragedy, and growth for all of us here at The Stand.

After 13 months of meticulously building our new our new home, we finally launched in Union Square this past July. Our new venue is 4x the size as the original location, boasting 2 showrooms, a stunning bar, and a lounge & dining area featuring a rotating brick oven serving some of the best pizzas in Manhattan.

A month into our grand opening we were faced with tragedy as one of our owners, David Kimowitz, was senselessly taken from us. David was such a beloved fixture by everyone in the comedy world, which was evident with everyone’s beautiful tributes to him. There’s not a night that goes by where we don’t share stories or reminisce about him and his infectious laughter at the club.

A day after we re-opened from mourning the sudden loss of David, we had a surprise visit from the comedian who is responsible for the club existing today, Andrew Dice Clay. Words can not describe the feeling of having a performer you grew up listening to, a man who molded our comedy tastes, and in the process, instilled our passion towards the art form actually come down and grace us with his presence.

Fast forward a few weeks later and we had Dice headlining our main room for 3 sold out, standing ovation performances that will go down in history as one of my personal favorite moments in the almost 20 years since entering the comedy world.

Each night the business grows and prospers. Chef Harold Villarosa brings some of the best food in town to the tables of our demanding clientele. Our bar chef Christian Orlando gets the good times rolling with his amazing cocktails. Our managers Adele Carollo, Joe Harary, and Jeff Zamaria keep the shows running smooth between both rooms, ensuring comedy fans go home sore from laughter. Our staff, including day one member Emily Cohen, goes well beyond the call to provide a night of fun that is unparalleled. Of course my partners Cris & Paul Italia, work diligently to keep the venue top-notch on a daily basis, never compromising on our vision of what New Yorkers deserve.

The Stand has a soul to it . We have overcome so much, and are motivated by honoring the legacy of David Kimowitz, Mike DeStefano, and anyone else we have been fortunate to work alongside with throughout this journey.

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

Laughing Skull Lounge, Atlanta, Georgia
Bob Place, General Manager

2019 has been one of the best years the Laughing Skull Lounge has ever had! Whether it was playing host to the nearly 5,000 performers who attended our open mics, watching Mark Normand, the Lucas Brothers, Rachel Feinstein, and many more headline a weekend, or just a casual drop in from Marc Maron, Donnell Rawlings, or Ms Pat on our flagship ‘Best of Atlanta Comedy Showcase’, Monday through Sunday was jam packed with the best stand up comedy shows Atlanta had to offer (…well at least we think so).

Our annual Laughing Skull Comedy Festival (shameless plug – comedian submissions for 2020 are open!) celebrated its 10th year (!), and has continued on a strong stride remaining one of the industry’s top destinations for discovering new talent. The festival boasted a record 1,000+ submissions in 2019, and that group was whittled down to just 60 of some of the top performers in the country. Over the course of 4 nights, the performers got to hop on 50 some odd shows across the city, and rock the house for representatives from Comedy Central, the Tonight Show, and the ‘Just For Laughs’ Montreal Comedy Festival!

Of all the really great things the club has been fortunate enough to experience this year however, perhaps none of them compare to what we were treated to back in August. Ritch Shydner was doing a run through of his “America’s Reflection in the Fun House Mirror: A History of Stand-up Comedy” show. It was a classically hot Atlanta summer day, and 14 people had managed to make their way to the Laughing Skull at 2 in the afternoon to see Ritch’s show. One of those people happened to be Jeff Foxworthy. The Laughing Skull owner, Marshall Chiles, and Jeff casually chatted, and not long after Jeff made the call that he wanted to warm up for his upcoming comedy special by doing 3 shows at the Laughing Skull Lounge in October! All 3 shows immediately sold out of course, but more importantly Jeff refused payment for the shows, encouraging us to put it back into the comedy scene, and after the first show local comedians were treated to a private question and answer session with Jeff. Helluva guy. It was definitely a special year, but because our club has always had an emphasis on ensuring that the local comedians are treated well first and foremost, having the opportunity to share that with them was rad. Pay it forward this holiday season and beyond folks! It’s the Jeff Foxworthy way.

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

Skankfest NYC and More
Christine Marie Evans, Producer

This year at Skankfest NYC, a dream came true and we got to host the Unmasked of Dave Attell with Ron Bennington. This show meant the world to me and getting the chance to see them sit down for an hour of raw conversation was incredible & hilarious. Seeing the other comedians on the festival all lined up against the back wall listening intently and laughing as the show happened was one of my favorite moments to witness. I loved seeing some of the funniest people in the world be entertained themselves. I have to admit I choked up a bit when Ron and Dave walked out on stage and I’m honored that we got to have it as a part of our festival.

Another amazing moment of 2019 for me was the reopening of The Stand NYC. The club had shut down to move to its new location for a little over a year, and I felt a little isolated without the community that had been building for the last 7 years. Walking in there… It’s so nice, I was like, am I allowed to hang out here? Heading down to the room and feeling the same vibe as the old place really warmed my heart & watching Jay get on stage at the new club for the first time was really special to me. The audience The Stand has built are true comedy fans that are always down for a good laugh. I’m so happy the club is back in action and it felt a bit like getting to go home again.
Follow @christinemevans on Twitter and visit skankfest.net for more information.

Skankfest NYC
Rebecca Trent, Producer

Most memorable Skankfest – the moment we realized Louis CK was officially going on stage and every staff member and volunteer flew, sparks flying from our kneecaps into the theater to ensure we had no breeches in security. We are all standing there breathless as he takes the stage to a 15 minutes standing ovation filled with screams of excitement and unadulterated love. Highlight of the year, By Far!

Follow @rebelcave on Twitter and visit skankfest.net for more information.

Helium Comedy Club, Indianapolis, IN
Jason Kutash, Midwest Regional Manager

2019 was a tremendous year for comedy in Indianapolis! We opened our new venue Downtown in March and the club has been moving full speed ahead ever since. We have had multiple sold out weekends and some we have added more shows! We had club favorites such as Ms. Pat, Drew Lynch, Lavell Crawford, Adele Givens, Brad Williams, Kountry Wayne, Nikki Glazer, Dan Cummins, Bob Saget, Michelle Wolf, Dave Attell and many more incredible acts blessed our main stage this year.

We also have an upstairs showroom which is a more New York-ish style room, seating 60 guests and this room has added a whole new dynamic to the club. We run multiple shows on the weekends and book headliners and the up-and-comers in comedy to get in the Helium circuit. We have had amazing talent perform in the upstairs room such as Robert Kelly, Sean Patton, Logan Guntzelman, Chip Chantry, and Katie Hannigan to name a few.

Looking forward to an even better year in 2020!

Follow @heliumcomedyind on Twitter and visit  indianpolis.heliumcomedy.com for more info.

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

 

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

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

In 2019, Zanies hosted its share of big name shows (Louis, Aziz, Shaffir, Pharaoh, Garlin, Villasenor, etc.) but most exciting for me was the national recognition of Zanies regular and Chicago treasure PAT McGANN.   In addition to two sold-out runs at Zanies, Pat also taped his first television special at The Vic Theatre in Chicago, and spent most of the year with Sebastian Maniscalco appearing in venues most comedians only dream about.

This year, spurred on by three young and intelligent managers (Katie Regan, Ana Humphrey, and Rachel Ibraham), I aggressively sought to increase the number of female headliners appearing at Zanies in Chicago.  Whether enjoying again established friends (Erin Foley, Marsha Warfield, Lynne Koplitz, Kira Soltanevich and Laurie Kilmartin,) or experiencing the continued growth of newer acquaintances (Erin Jackson, Emma Willman, Jen Kober, Becky Robinson, Kristen Toomey, Marcella Arguello, and Jackie Fabulous) or meeting for the first time female veterans of standup (Deb DiGiovanni, Helen Hong, Leeann Morgan, Emmy Blotnick, and Aida Rodriguez) I can truly describe 2019 as a breakthrough year for Zanies.  I am looking forward to even more discoveries in 2020.

Finally, I would like to note that joining the team as General Manager of Zanies in Chicago was BRIAN MORTON.  Brian brings new energy and insights.  It is fun watching him post on FB whenever another comedy great stops by just to watch shows at Zanies like Chris Rock, Louis CK, and Craig Robinson.

A sad note was the passing of CHRIS COTTON.  Chris headlined at Zanies in Chicago just weeks before his passing and his death leaves all of us with a heavy heart.

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

This year was all about growth for West Side! Our uws neighbors have grown familiar with us well and repeatedly visit to enjoy our diverse shows and line-uips! They’re also appreciative of our great drinks and food supplied by our mother restaurant Playa Betty’s. We are blessed to have new talent director Felicia Madison. Her F Comedy Club show has produced talent that regularly work most of the  NYC clubs. Specifically, JayJurden & Olga Namer! Her Hinjew show with Zarna Gard is always a sellout is a crowd favorite! Gary Gulman recently performed on one of them and fell in love with West Side–returning several times to join us for our weekend MVP shows! Finally, having Artie Lange grace our stage this year was wonderful. We love and support him and his return mean the world to us!

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

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

This was a very special year for us. After opening or second location last summer, we celebrated five years at the original Gramercy location. We had a big blow out with lots of special shows, including bringing back some retired favorites like Scott’s Comedy 45 and re-launching The Blue Show with Aaron Berg (which we used to produce together at Creek and the Cave). We had a banner crop of #1 iTunes albums but I think in that area Yannis Pappas’s special took the cake. It was produced by Andrew Schulz and has such a spontaneous, really in the club feel. It’s really something special. We also had the strongest field yet in our annual Competition, where we highlight some of the younger comedians we’re developing. The wonderful Carmen Lagala came out on top, but all the finalists (even semi- finalists!) were incredible. And as a comedy nerd at heart, a really awesome night for me was when Bill Burr dropped in on a show during NYCF that Dave Attell was also on. I mean, what a dream night for the crowd and for me! Plus, we’ve had visits on stage and off from Sarah Silverman, Jack Whitehall, Andrew Dice Clay, Blake Griffin, Joe Jonas & Sophie Turner, and Jets QB Sam Darnold.
On the back end, we added Candi Clare to the family. Her experience and passion for developing comedians in a hands on way has been an enormous addition to what we do. And we added our youngest “staff” member ever with baby Ella arriving in August, the daughter of our GM Andrew and Head Server Kristina.

 

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

The Laugh Factory, Hollywood, CA

Every year we submit the special moments of a great show people loved. But this year we want to highlight a few moments where we have showed people that they are loved. For years the Laugh Factory has opened its doors and welcomed Los Angeles’ homeless to Thanksgiving dinners, and a Christmas day of feasts and presents. On these days, our favorite customers aren’t wearing designer suits and dresses and the latest fashionable shoes. They are often wearing the same clothes they were wearing the day before, and this year we witnessed a family of five, with kids aged 5 to 13, whose shoes were made of pieces of cardboard boxes.

The real stars of these days are the same comedians that people flock to see every other night of the year; they donate their time, and their wit to make these days special. This past year was no different and judging from the smiles on peoples faces when they realized who was serving up their turkey and Christmas dinners and distributing presents to their kids, we know we’re making a difference. And if you want a big moment, then maybe it was when our unofficial Santa Claus went around distributing $100 dollar bills to all the homeless last Christmas, or when a group of folks got together to buy that family some real shoes. Oh, by the way, our Santa was Tim Allen, and that group of Thanksgiving shoe-suppliers was Dane Cook, Tiffany Haddish and Paul Rodriguez.

Sometimes, the biggest smiles at the Laugh Factory don’t come from jokes at all.
Follow Laugh Factory on twitter @TheLaughFactory and on the web at laughfactory.com

Goodnights Comedy Club, Raleigh NC
Brandy Brown, General Manager

My most memorable moment of 2019 was witnessing Caroline Smith get a Standing Ovation on Kill Tony. Caroline is 16 and a great comic. She frequents the venue (we adore her)! I just remember being excited that Kill Tony was coming to the club and hoping someone good would get picked. The whole show a few comics were picked here and there mostly guys who travelled with hopes of getting their names pulled. Tony Hinchcliffe went in for one more name and it was Caroline! You could tell they were a little confused about the scrambling and it was just people from the scene helping Caroline make it to the stage (she uses a wheelchair). Once on stage she killed it! The energy in the room was crazy! Excited to see where Caroline’s comedy career goes.

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

Helium Comedy Club, Buffalo, NY
Shawn Eckert General Manager

Another amazing year of comedy is in the books, looking back there are a few moments that stand out for Helium Buffalo. “What are those moments Shawn?” you may be asking yourself… well strap in and I will tell ya!

For starters we had our first ever “Stand Up Confidential” show in February. The idea of the show is to not tell the audience who the Headliner is so that when they hit the stage it’s a big surprise. As the crowd packed the lobby before the show you heard a long list of names being dropped- Louis CK, Chris Rock, Andrew Dice Clay- all wrong guesses. When the time came for our secret Headliner to be revealed our amazing Emcee Cody Colin Chase introduced our secret act- Tony Deyo! Now if you know Tony you know he is hilarious and can crush any room, but if you were in attendance that night you probably weren’t as familiar with him or his comedic abilities. After a few audible “who” mumbles, Tony started his set with “Don’t worry, I’m disappointed too” which immediately got the crowd on his side. Needless to say, everyone left that room a Tony Deyo fan and made the right decision to come out for that show. After this show Tony decided that he would record his new album following the same format. (Shameless plug- Tony’s new album “Secret Headliner” is now out and available for purchase…. BUY IT!!)

Another great moment from 2019 was having the late John Witherspoon in for a weekend back in March. Pops made his annual visit to us in the same great spirits he was always in & that is a memory we definitely cherish. He came in with a smile on his face, went up and crushed for over an hour, took his classic Polaroid pictures for fans and then drank a glass of wine to cap off the night. You will truly never see another dude that loved being on stage as much as when you watched Pops. Year after year he was always a highlight for us and I am sure for any other club that he played. Rest well to the legend and our friend in comedy, the great John Witherspoon!

And now that we are all crying let’s look forward to an amazing 2020!! Much love <3

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

 

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

2019 proved to be a busy yet very successful year here at Bananas. We have continued hosting regular names such as Vic DiBitetto, Pete Correale, Joey Kola and Dom Irrera. However, we have been very lucky to host several new comedians who stole the spotlight such as Nicole Byer, Anthony Rodia, Luis J. Gomez, and Chad Daniels. We were even lucky enough to host Saturday Night Live’s very own Pete Davidson. Bringing in new comedians has given us the ability to host new audiences, which has been nothing short of a great experience for both audiences and staff members alike. 2019 allowed us to have our stage graced by comedians, both old and new. We look forward to hosting both new comedians and audiences while also providing the great acts that have proven to be successful in years past. 2020 is a year of continued growth and we here at Bananas will seek to further our vision of hosting the best comedy in Northern New Jersey!

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

Women in Comedy Festival, Boston, MA
Christine Cannavo, Producer

The most memorable moment was when newcomer LaGina Hill won the HBO Pitch your 1st Five Pages Contest. Before pitching in front of a live audience and industry, the finalists had the opportunity to work with Kelly Edwards. Because of the feedback she received from Kelly, LaGina spent the night in her hotel room crafting her pitch. LaGina blew the Industry Pitch Panel away and was selected by the panel as the winner of a mentoring call with Manager of Original Comedy Programming for HBO Allie Wasserman.”

The challenge: Submit the first 5 pages of your original 30-minute comedy or dramedy television pilot. The TOP 5 scripts had the chance to pitch in-person and receive live feedback from an Industry Pitch Panel moderated by Kelly Edwards, Senior Vice President of Talent Development, HBO, in front of a live audience at the 10th Annual Women in Comedy Festival on May 4, 2019. The prize-winning script by LaGina Hill was selected by the Industry Pitch Panel. LaGina received a mentoring call with Manager of Original Comedy Programming, Allie Wasserman, along with a $500 cash prize.

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

 

Helium Comedy Club, St. Louis,
Michael Celi, General Manager

Helium St. Louis has had a whirlwind of a year with huge acts including: Marc Maron, Sinbad, Michele Wolf, and Drew Lynch. Our location has grown to the number 1 premier comedy club in St. Louis.

We’ve had a wide variety of acts grow and explode onto the scene in 2019.  St. Louis’s own Rafe Williams made big moves this year and we suspect will have an even bigger 2020. We saw Ms. Pat, fresh off of the Joe Rogan Experience, destroy a weekend of shows. The insanity of the Kill Tony Podcast taping was certainly a highlight. I think the most exciting weekend this year was caused by the shear overwhelming turnout from the fan base of DeRay Davis. In three days he put on 8, high energy, sold out shows, each better than the last. Simply amazing!

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

 

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

Vinnie Brand’s Stress Factory in New Brunswick had another great year with many “best” moments. Some of our favorite comics stopped in and every one of them killed. We also found some new favorites. Bassem Youssef came in from Eygpt (yes, you read that right) and sold out 5 great shows. He’s a superstar in Eygpt and now one in New Brunswick too. Marlon Wayans set a single week ticket sales record by selling out 9 shows in one week. Originally scheduled for five, we added 4 shows and could have kept going! Truly one of the best weeks ever!

Vinnie Brand’s Stress Factory in Bridgeport (yes, I DO need my name on everything) had a terrific second year. So many comics helping us build a new market! Deon Cole came in and ran his set before taping his special for five sold out shows and absolutely killed. We LOVE Deon and the crowds did too. Craig Robinson came and helped to spread the reputation of the club being THE destination for comedy in Connecticut. Jon Crist and Vic DiBitetto brought in record numbers and comedy Superstar Damon Wayans helped us celebrrate the holidays with six huge shows. If THAT weren’t enough Vicki and Vinnie Brand also recently acquired Haus Beer Hall next to the Club and will Re Brand it as “VICKI BRAND’S Gather at State and Main” in early January, making it into a music venue with incredible food and a great before and after spot for the comedy club. 2019 was a great year but with the addition of Gather the club in Connecticut will clearly be red hot.

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

I can’t think of a better way to cap our first summer high season open as the nation’s first officially designated cultural institution dedicated to comedy than with John Mulaney and Sebastian Maniscalco crushing four sold-out arena shows in Jamestown.  After 95,000 comedy fans from all 50 states and 18 countries visited since opening last year, it was fun to see Mulaney stare at Rodney Dangerfield’s weathered joke notes, Maniscalco witness himself come up, triggered by a visitor’s profile, in the Stand-Up Lounge exhibit (only to be wearing the same jacket, which got a big laugh from him and the crowd of museum onlookers), and to tour Mark Normand, Lachlan Patterson, and Matthew Broussard, who were having so much fun they nearly missed their late night sets.  I can’t decide if seeing Maria Bamford performing Stephen Wright in the Comedy Karoeke exhibit to an audience of four one morning, or, her stage interview with Ophira Eisenberg in front of 4,000 – in which she invited a 74-year-old woman who is *just* getting into comedy to stage to do a set – was a bigger moment.

Aspiring comics from hours away soaked up Lewis Black’s “Stand-Up BS” seminar, Ron Bennington interviewed Robin Williams’ manager of 43 years, and did an UNMASKED with TOMMY AND DICK SMOTHERS who brought the house down with new material they’d worked up to be on stage together for the first time in ten years – on the 50-year anniversary of being fired from CBS for being too politically edgy.

In an industry where some of the most brilliant stuff flies under the radar of the mainstream so much of the time, and we’re featuring centennial exhibits on pioneers like Ernie Kovacs, it was nice to be named one of TIME magazine’s “World’s Greatest Places,” PEOPLE’s “100 Reasons to Love America,” #2 on USA Today’s “Best New Attractions” list and called “one of the best museums in the country” by Condé Nast Traveler.

Three years after Brian Regan discovered his now often tour-opener Steven Rogers in Jamestown, it was sweet to tour them together while they retold that story on camera.  The year also saw shining moments in particular from Ali Kolbert, Matteo Lane, Yannis Pappas, Rosebud Baker, Kellen Erskine, Byron Bowers, Leah Bonnema, and Caitlin Peluffo.

Follow The National Comedy Center on Twitter @NTLComedyCenter and get tickets and other information at nationalcomedycenter.org.

Hilarities Comedy Club, Cleveland, OH
Sam Klima,  Booker

2019 has been a monster. We got to meet some fantastic new friends – Ari Shaffir, Deb DiGiovanni, Chris Redd, Andrew Schulz – and got to see some of our favorites from Cleveland – Mike Paramore & Mary Santora – blossom into acts that are truly hard to follow all over the country.

Two singular events from 2019 really stick out though.

The first was the JFL showcases we put on in March. Jeff Singer spent a week scouting talent for New Faces away from NY & LA and we were lucky enough to be one of them. We did 4 shows in 2 nights putting up almost 50 comics from all over the Midwest. Ohio, and Cleveland specifically, has a strong history with New Faces; Al Jackson-2009, Jim Tews-2011, Ryan Dalton-2012, Mike Polk Jr.-2013, Brendan Eyre-2014 which we hope to continue in the future. The shows were packed and the lineups were fantastic. Unfortunately, no one from our showcases made the 2019 class, but there were some serious standouts that I know raised eyebrows looking towards 2020. Jason Banks, Nathan Orton, & Felicia Gillespie had particularly impressive sets. Singer was gracious enough to hang around after the shows and chat with all the comedians which is an opportunity that comics from the Midwest are almost never afforded, so we owe Jeff enormous thanks for taking the time with them.

The other was a visit from Louis CK. He did 3 nights with us in September and is as strong as ever. Vintage Louie. Biting, incisive, dark. Lovely. The audiences were exceptional. Those who managed to get tickets were fortunate to see him in such a small venue and judging by their response, were aware of it. The most satisfying part of the week was watching him detach the microphone from the cable after his last show of the run and take it with him. Cleveland, 2019. It was as if he was just as grateful to the audience for being there as they were to him for performing; a perfect moment in standup.

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

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

2019 at the DC Improv included a lot of great moments for comedy fans. There were surprise drop-ins — Whitney Cummings, Rob Schneider, Michael Che and Michelle Wolf, to name a few. We ramped up partnerships with local producers (Martin Amini, Rahmein Mostafavi, ComedySportzDC) and got some outstanding shows from them. Andrew Schulz used his weekend in August to make a crowd work special that blew up on YouTube.

But the highlight for us has to be Saturday, October 26. That weekend, Dave Chappelle was being honored with the Mark Twain Prize, and he brought the party to us. The Improv was the venue for a surprise late show, where some of Dave’s best friends in comedy took the stage to tell jokes and share stories about DC’s hometown hero. The talent in the room — whether on stage or just enjoying the moment from the audience — was astonishing: Donnell Rawlings, Tony Woods, Tiffany Haddish, Cipha Sounds, Mo Amer, Chris Tucker, Neal Brennan, Chris Spencer, Jay Pharoah, George Lopez. It was a one-of-a-kind evening filled with love and laughter, in a room that was built for standup comedy. When Dave hit the stage, he told the story of being the first person to perform at the DC Improv: On opening night in 1992, he emceed a show with feature act Brian Regan and headliner Ellen DeGeneres. He looked at home there.

I’d like to shout out my staff for being so great, after we sprung a third show on them at 5:30 p.m. that day. (Hey, it’s Dave!) Congratulations to the production crew on a successful shoot, and of course, huge congratulations to Dave Chappelle for being honored. Be on the lookout for the Mark Twain Prize Award Show to air on PBS January 7, 2020. #DCIMPROV #PROUDOWNER

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

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

“This past summer audience got a chance to catch Second City alum and now ABC’s “Mixedish” star, Christina Anthony, Chicago native Godfrey and a slew of 30+ new comedic voices representing every spectrum of diversity you can imagine  in our Break Out Comedy Festival in our UP theatre.  Every person regardless of color, background, identity experienced what brings us together -humanity, our shared stories and laughter. Godfrey told us “white guilt should be a cologne. Only black people can smell it.”  Drew Frees talked about police brutality and how he has a panic attack because of his interracial children with his last name, and newcomer Asia Martin, now a cast member on our mainstage, told audiences not to worry too much about her discussing systematic oppression – it was good for them. We knew we were doing it right when one of the audience members yelled “It’s so good!”. As a comedy producer, that kind of affirmation is the best compliment you can get when people shout out positive heckles. I smile knowing that someone’s night became an unforgettable memory.

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

The Comedy Attic, Bloomington, Indiana
Jared Thompson, Owner

2019 was somewhat underwhelming when compared to some recent years that brought John Mulaney, Arsenio Hall, Garfunkel & Oates and Tig Notaro to The Comedy Attic. We had our share of amazing performances in town though- Maria Bamford, Michelle Wolf, Roy Wood Jr, Hari Kondabolu and Rory Scovel to name a few. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a few soon-to-be comedy stars- Moses Storm, Beth Stelling and Tom Thakkar- all of which will perform in threatens primarily very soon.

But the moment that sticks out the farthest was a feat very few could accomplish. Stewart Huff, a relatively unknown-to-the-masses-comedian (but has a massive following in Bloomington), recorded his new album at the club in January. We record albums all the time- several others just this year.

What was impressive was Stewart returned to Bloomington in late May to headline Limestone Comedy Festival, and due to a late cancellation, was asked to headline 2 shows at the 600 seat Buskirk Chumley Theatre. Not only did Stewart dazzle both crowds the way he always does (think Blue Collar Comedy ((he’s from Kentucky and sounds like he is)) mixed with super alt-y viewpoints and it’s massively emotional?), but he did do with all new material since his visit less than 5 months before.

Here’s to 2020 providing many more headlining opportunities to comics of underrepresented races, genders and sexual orientations. We all have the power to change this.

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

Gotham Comedy Club, New York City
Chris Mazzilli, Owner

coming soon!

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

Helium Comedy Club, Philadelphia PA
Nick Ravese, General Manager

One unforgettable moment for me in 2019 has been seeing the rise of Shane Gillis. I remember working as an usher the night Shane won Philly’s Phunniest in 2016. In the past few years I was able to see him go from being a host to getting hired on SNL. Regardless of anything that happened, he’s one of the funniest stand-ups I’ve ever seen and it was great to see one of our guys do something so big.

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

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

Watching Kevin and Brody on the big screen for my birthday was a pretty big deal for me. Seeing Ted Alexandro & Janeane Garofalo do a week of shows was amazing…but my favorite creek moment happened at Dave Lester’s Comedian Softball tournament. The Creek was disqualified in the first round for scoring no runs and being generally horrendous at all things athletic. So, after little deliberation, Victor Varnado and I, in broad daylight and within eyesight of about three dozen softball players and party goers…stole the trophy. I’m still laughing about it. What a great day!

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

 

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

These two moments  strike me as highlights of 2019- in September 2018 we did a ton of shows with Aziz Ansari. Very early on in one of his shows the power went out due to someone hitting a transformer. He did an hour of stand up with no power- the entire staff came together, put tea lights on the tables, cracked the doors open, and a battery powered amp, belonging to one of the local comics who happened to live next door to the club was found…To kick off Jan 2019 Aziz came back, after his hour was completely polished, added even more shows, and it was just epic for the club! Another amazing 2020 moment was the filming of 12 episodes of a brand new show coming out in 2020 called Stand up Nashville Live from Zanies. This series is a showcase of all the best up and coming talent in the south! Not a lot of TV shows on today display the incredible amount of talent that southern comedians have to offer and I can’t wait for the world to see them. The hosts include Nashville natives Dusty Slay and Aaron Weber, Leanne Morgan, Tammy Pescatelli, Reno Collier, and Henry Cho. The show will premiere on the Opry’s new network Circle Television and we’re so excited to have been a part of the magic.

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

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

2019 was a growth year in all my projects. At the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn we continued serving up the best in alternative comedy, from headliners working out long sets for specials and albums, to hosting the flagship Sunday show, Comedy at the Knitting Factory, but we also added several monthly shows featuring a variety of acts and performer levels to nurture growth amongst performers and Brooklyn audiences alike. This year’s Schtick or Treat, the 12th Annual hosted by Mark Norman and Matt Ruby, was the best yet! Some standout impressions included Aziz’s Apology (Rufat Agayev), Maria Bamford (Julia Claire), Jerry Seinfeld Doing Jokes About His 17-year-old Girlfriend (Jeremy Kaplowitz), John Mulaney and Pete Davidson (done perfectly by Gianmarco Soresi and Chris Cafero), Dave Chappelle speaking on cancel culture (Nick Chambers), and an incredible Bernie Mac Sanders impression (by JP McDade, Google them all!), all ending with a huge “the Joker on Marc Maron’s WTF” number that was surreal! I also started a podcast this year (I know!) called Why You Mad with comedian Jake Flores, all about our experiences, frustrations, and highlights of working in comedy and I love it (I know, I KNOW!). It’s definitely only for comedy nerds, though! Finally, the weekly show Too Many Cooks (hosted by Chanel Ali, JP McDade, Samantha Ruddy, and Luke Touma) has moved on up from alt-bar-show to its new home at The Stand Comedy Club every Thursday night, and we’re excited to join the family there, bring our comedy flavor, and expand connections within the comedy community across levels of experience and styles in the coming year.

Follow @luisadieznuts on Twitter.

 

Side Splitters, Tampa, FL
Brian Thompson, Owner

2019 will always be memorable for me. June 3rd 2019 was the date that I finally became owner of Side Splitters Comedy Club. (Not sure why I was listed as owner in your 2018 article) I started here as bartender in 2007 and within a couple weeks I was promoted to GM. I held that position up until I was able to purchase the business. I will continue to put my own stamp on it while making sure we don’t lose any of the magic that makes this a great comedy room. We have a lot of our regulars coming back next year but also some new talent and guys that have not been here in years. We look forward to 2020 and beyond.

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

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

2019 was a good one for sure!  It’s exciting to see home grown Ryan Hamilton blow up before our eyes.  He’s extraordinarily funny and always gracious.  Ari Shaffir’s Storytellers show in Feb was amazing featuring:  Ari, Bert Kreischer, Ryan O’Neal, Sean Payton, Steve Rannazzisi & Mark Norman.  Michelle Wolf made her first visit to Utah and brought the house down!  Standouts in 2019 are too many to mention but…Dan Cummins, Christina P,  Adam Carolla, Chad Daniels, Andrew Shultz were fantastic!  The Utah scene gets better all the time.  Locals Alex Velluto, Steve Soelberg, Andy Gold, Rachel Rothenberg, Spencer King, Travis Tate, Jordan Makin & Amerah Ames are funnier than ever!  SLC’s Shayne Smith made the move to NYC and continues to make a name for himself!  Here’s to 2020!

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

Milwaukee Comedy, Milwaukee, WI
Greg Bach, Producer/ Comic

At the beginning of 2019, Milwaukee’s comedy scene was going stronger than ever, yet we had no club, which is why we at Milwaukee Comedy stepped in to fill this void. And by the end of 2018, we had produced over 70 shows to give the people of our city the chance to see amazing performers from all over the country. Never being satisfied, we decided to kick it up a notch for 2019, producing over 120 events with some of the our favorites such as Matt Braunger, Cristela Alonzo, Johnny Pemberton, Shane Mauss and Jackie Kashian performing at The Underground Collaborative located in the basement of The Historic Shops of Grand Avenue. On those shows, we also brought in some of the best comics from Milwaukee, the surrounding region and the country! There is something amazing about a packed house, and it’s not because we only want to sell drinks or sling nachos in order to make a buck, rather because we are huge fans ourselves and there is a phenomenal energy in the room when the performer, the audience, as well as the producers are truly enjoying the show, because we are all in this together.Now we find ourselves at the end of this year and this decade with that need to do more, still very present in our hearts. So in October, Milwaukee Comedy moved into a former brewery in Walker’s Point to bring the city a comedy club of our very own; The Laughing Tap. With it’s official launch in January of 2020, we wielded paint, hammers and so many bad puns that it’s better there are only pics to see the progress.The Laughing Tap is not only the permanent home for stand up in Milwaukee, but also the home of Milwaukee Comedy. To give you an idea of where we plan to go with this; at the time of this article being published, we’ve already had a soft opening event to a packed house with Carmen Morales, Nate Craig and Jackie Kashian as our very first lineup! This is just the beginning and we cannot wait to bring you even more in 2020…stay tuned.

Follow Milwaukee Comedy on Twitter @milwaukeecomedy and on the web at milwaukeecomedy.com.
Follow The Laughing Tap on Social Media @TheLaughingTap and on the web at laughingtap.com

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