Late Night at theWorld Famous Comic Strip Live is a tradition that has been around almost as long as the Club itself. Late Night—the portion of the show that occurs after the last act says goodnight—is the backbone of stand-up comedy. It’s where seasoned veterans test out their new material. It’s where the most promising new stand-ups hone their craft. It is both the dues and the pay-out of comedy lore.
Every Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday the Comic Strip hosts Late Night. On each of these nights, up to eight comics jump on stage for a 5-minute spot, sometimes adding 40 minutes of bonus comedy to the regular show.
Of course, after a 2 ½ hour show, sometimes the audience is tired or has started to dwindle. Late Night isn’t for the comic who is faint of heart. It’s a first-come, first-served system that often requires arriving at 8:00 to ensure a spot on the line-up. While the nightly routine is certainly a labor of love and the small crowds are “humbling,” it’s consensus that it’s worth it, “…without a doubt,” says Dexter Stallworth, a Late Night regular that comes in 2-3 nights a week.
Adam Cozens, another late-night regular, also performs around the City at bar shows and open mics, but he loves Late Night @ the Comic Strip because it’s a chance to perform in front of what he calls, “real people”, a crowd that isn’t entirely made up of comics and friends of comics, like at the ‘bringer’ shows (where comics must bring a certain number of audience members in order to go on stage).
Late Night offers its comics a great network for meeting other performers, networking with professionals, and workshopping jokes, but it all comes down to the 5 minutes on stage. Joe Machi, a comic with three years of experience, says a good set basically boils down to whether or not the audience stays for it.
Jordan Rock, a recent Southern implant to NYC, is using Late Night to, “broaden his act” so that it’s more appropriate for a big city crowd. He comes in every night for Late Night, getting as much practice and exposure as he can. He comes in to sign up on the list, grab some dinner, and play the waiting game. Sometimes he watches the show; sometimes he works on his material. He sums up Late Night best with, “Get here early and pray.”
As audience members, remember the Late Night crew the next time you’re here. Stick around for whichever of your favorite comics have decided to pop-in and work on their newest jokes, and catch a glimpse of the next generation of stand-up as they create their stage persona right in front of you. The Comic Strip does a major service to the Industry by offering Late Night. Among many other reasons, this is one of the things that makes this club legendary.