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Where Can You Catch Tomorrow’s Stand-Up Comedy Stars?

BY: Zack Mast | Jun 3, 2016

Best Clubs for New Stand-Up Comedy Stars Hero

Comedy clubs are about more than just a night of laughs fueled by two-drink minimums and a steady supply of road comics. A handful of them also serve as incubators for the next generation of young, imaginative talent. These five stages have a reputation for cultivating the future of comedy—and give lucky audiences a sneak preview of tomorrow’s stand-up comedy stars:

The Creek and the Cave

Long Island City, NY

  • The Venue: An intimate black-box space tucked away in the back of a Queens café.
  • The Vibe: Comedy evolves when comics can experiment, and the Creek is a bona fide laboratory. The schedule—searchable by category—is as diverse as it is jam-packed with nightly shows that veer well off of comedy’s beaten path.
  • The Best Time to Go: The Creek’s weekly showcases feature a ton of fresh faces; they might help summon the Butt Factory Fairy on Tuesdays at 6 p.m., scribble down impromptu jokes during “PBR & Scrap Paper” on Mondays at 11 p.m., or hone their crowd work during “Mic and Cheese” on Fridays at 8 p.m.

Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre

Los Angeles, CA

  • The Venue: Founded by the comedy group of the same name (Amy Poehler is among its founders), UCB remains the lifeblood of LA’s indie-comedy scene.
  • The Vibe: Though its main focus is improvisational and sketch comedy, the schedule makes space for plenty of stand-up comedy shows.
  • The Best Time to Go: Every Tuesday at 8 p.m., Cameron Esposito—a rising star in her own right—and Rhea Butcher host “Put Your Hands Together,” a showcase of some of the city’s hottest stand-ups. It’s the slot formerly occupied by Scott Aukerman’s “Comedy Bang Bang,” which helped launch the careers of countless comedy superstars.

Lincoln Lodge

Chicago, IL

  • The Venue: Born in the back of the defunct Lincoln Restaurant, Lincoln Lodge is now located in Subterranean Lounge. Shows kick off every Friday at 8 p.m.
  • The Vibe: In keeping with its new home, this weekly stand-up comedy show is as underground as it gets.
  • The Best Time to Go: Big-name touring comics often drop by to do a set (the room's been like a second home to Hannibal Buress) but the rotating cast of emcees often includes young talents on the cusp of breaking out. Kumail Nanjiani and T.J. Miller of Silicon Valley fame have served at the pleasure of the Lincoln Lodge.

The Comedy Studio

Cambridge, MA

  • The Venue: A bare-bones stage sharing a space with a restaurant—specifically, the third floor of Hong Kong Restaurant in Harvard Square.
  • The Vibe: Practically the Ivy League of Boston’s independent comedy scene.
  • The Best Time to Go: The Studio puts on shows six nights a week, but Saturdays really shine: founder Rick Jenkins hosts a lineup of both professional drop-ins and up-and-coming locals, which have included such future big-shots as Myq Kaplan and Jen Kirkman.

Uptown Comedy Corner

Atlanta, GA

  • The Venue: An unassuming storefront within walking distance of the Georgia Institute of Technology.
  • The Vibe: One of Atlanta’s most venerated comedy institutions, Uptown’s main showroom has highlighted stand-up’s best black comedians for decades (several of whom are commemorated in portraits out front).
  • The Best Time to Go: With some of the biggest names in comedy—from Chris Rock to Kevin Hart to Mo’Nique—playing the weekend shows, Uptown is a hallowed stage. That means the Thursday night open mic is packed with up-and-comers hungry to live up to the venue’s legacy.