While its green exterior and wooden booths are reminiscent of an Irish pub, Rockwells American Restauant’s cuisine embodies the “American” found in its title. Burgers topped with gorgonzola cheese, bacon, and other accoutrements share menu space with steaks, chicken sandwiches, and alcoholic drinks such as mudslides, as well as red and white wines. For entertainment, the restaurant broadcasts NFL games every Sunday, hosts comedians on Saturday night, and encourages diners to reenact their favorite Dogs Playing Poker painting under the emerald bar lights.
In 2004—on a mission to bolster its community’s wellspring of art, creativity, and education—the nonprofit Bergen Performing Arts Center took over the former John Harms Center, an art deco–style movie and vaudeville palace built in 1926. Today, in the same antique theater where Shakespeare screened his first car-chase movie, the Bergen Performing Arts Center hosts 150 yearly events that bring dance, music, and theatrical productions to an estimated 250,000 annual audience members. Networks like HBO, PBS, and MTV all have filmed international broadcasts on Bergen Performing Arts Center’s stage, which has seen the likes of Tony Bennett, Woody Allen, and the Dixie Chicks.
Sending chuckles echoing throughout the surrounding neighborhood for more than 25 years, Standup NY has staged dozens of nationally acclaimed comedians including Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Jon Stewart, Caroline Rhea, and Judah Friedlander. The intimate, 100-seat venue hosts as many as three available nightly performances from performers who have appeared on HBO, Comedy Central, and the kiss cam at an NBA playoff game. A full bar unleashes torrents of humor-helping cocktails, wine, and beer, and the kitchen plates piles of pub grub such as buffalo wings and mozzarella sticks chosen from a full menu of eats.
Inspired by acts in Las Vegas and around the country, entertainers and pianists cover rock classics on twin grand pianos at Ha! Comedy Club's weekly Dueling Pianos extravaganza. From 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, dueling performers tickle the ivories and—when competition becomes especially fierce—each other, fielding crowd requests for pop favorites from the 1960s through to today. Musicians such as Mark Rivera, saxophonist for Billy Joel, join in the fun on stage as the kitchen and full bar keep the audience nourished with snacks and libations.
Hosting the evening's set, the historic Gramercy Theatre first opened its doors in 1937 and spent some 60 years as a movie palace and art house. Now wedged between two skyscrapers, it still retains some art-deco columns and flourishes striped into its façade. Inside, an intimate main room shares space with the eclectic Samsara Lounge where persian rugs and funky wall art imbue audiences with a rock 'n' roll spirit and inspire the spontaneous formation of nomadic tribes.
Greenwich Village Comedy Club owner Al Martin has spent a quarter-century bringing talent such as Chris Rock, Wanda Sykes, and Jim Gaffigan to his pair of Big Apple clubs: New York Comedy Club and Broadway Comedy Club. His newest space, Greenwich Village Comedy Club, brings a mix of big-name headliners and sharp young comics on the verge of fame to the rich cultural mix of a block he described in an interview with Backstage as “the Bourbon Street of Manhattan.” The club pairs its calendar of comedians with a menu of nachos, sliders, and desserts.