The design of St. Aedan’s—the crown jewel of Saint Peter’s PAC’s network of event spaces—all but guarantees world-class bookings. With all the majesty of the 1,200-seat cathedral’s intricate brickwork and dazzling stained-glass windows bearing down on it, the stage seems to demand talent big enough to match the space’s grandeur. Throngs of polished marble pillars and golden angels flank internationally acclaimed musicians, choirs, and comedians. Several more modern venues also dot the campus, including an arena, several more intimate theaters and performance cubbies, and a new cabaret space backed by the Manhattan skyline.
A rare outlet for commercially sanctioned laughter in downtown Los Angeles, Garrett Morris’ Downtown Blues and Comedy Club helps visitors escape the stresses of the workweek with a rotating stable of top-tier standup talent every Friday and Saturday. Comic legend Garrett Morris, now seen as Earl on CBS’ 2 Broke Girls, hosts showcases of comic talent with charming wit and tales of how he outlived the original cast of Saturday Night Live. The bill remains consistently loaded with fresh-faced and seasoned funny folk, with past luminaries including George Lopez, Margaret Cho, and Wayne Brady, along with aspiring stars in the twilight before their first mismatched-marriage sitcom.
Keeping true to its name and Morris’ roots in the New Orleans music scene, the venue often punctuates its comedy shows with performances from top blues artists—including Morris himself, who has lent his soulful pipes to the Harry Belafonte Singers—that add melody to the mirth. While weekend shows feature Garrett’s hosting and harmonies along with the headlining acts, the Thursday Night Experience allows youthful burgeoning comics and musicians to hog the spotlight.
The Hershey Theatre, conceived in 1933 by noted philanthropist and chocolatier Milton S. Hershey, stands as an opulent tribute to the performing arts. Taking architectural cues from Saint Mark’s Basilica in Venice, the foyer’s towering arches gleam with golden paint and crystal chandeliers. The blue-and-gold mosaic that leads to the main seating area is the masterwork of two German artists who spent two years on its construction. Once inside the theater, audiences might think they’ve stepped onto the streets of Venice thanks to the atmospheric ceiling, stonework facades, and gondoliers paddling them to their seats. ####Bethel Woods Center for the Arts Music has permeated the 800 manicured acres where the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts has stood since 1969, when farmer Max Yasgur agreed to let love, peace, and harmony grow wild at the very first Woodstock festival. These days, the renowned outdoor venue and cultural center continues to attract the biggest acts in music to its pavilion stage. The open-air design ensures ample ventilation on the natural sloping lawn, and a roof protects up to 15,000 fans from inclement weather and the prying eyes of Cessna pilots.
Far more than a local institution, The Duplex has served as a stepping-stone for world-renowned artists such as Woody Allen and Barbra Streisand at various points in its more-than-50-year history. The 70-seat venue continues to play its part in star-making, hosting a regular schedule of performances by esteemed composers and cast members of off-Broadway shows.
Its mission to entertain influences everything that goes on behind Duplex?s glitzy fa?ade, which conceals both the theater and an intimate piano bar. While pianists field song requests from memory or provided sheet music, bartenders sing along and catch swooning guests before they fall into the piano. Take a look around the crowd, and you might recognize some Broadway stars looking to informally flex their vocal cords between shows.
Nestled in the heart of Times Square, Broadway Comedy Club harvests chuckles in the Big Apple with standup comedy acts, improv groups, and musical comedies. A veritable melting pot of talent, Broadway Comedy Club showcases comedians seen on shows such as NBC’s Last Comic Standing, Conan, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. The club also nurtures fledgling comics into hilarious swans with open-mic nights and standup classes, which teach students how to craft original material from just their wits, construction paper, and cases of sewing bobbins. An expansive cabaret-style theater and diverse menu of bar fare and cocktails cater to large audiences ready to laugh.
Beer, wine and comedy at a cheap price? No wonder so many people pack Chelsea’s Magnet Theater daily. Shows here run the gamut from long form improv and scripted sketch comedy to storytelling and a variety of free performance opportunities for anyone willing to get on stage. Shows at the Magnet never seem to top $10, and are often free. The 70-odd seats don’t make for a very big venue, but that also means there isn't a bad spot in the house, and you’ll have a perfect sightline the next time some celebrity drops in to perform. Classes in improv, storytelling and comedy writing are also offered at the Training Center Studio, one block north. If you’re looking for a cheap laugh, or want to inspire it in others, the Magnet is a great place to start.