Getting a ticket to see Amy Schumer is not cheap. And even though she recently achieved major stardom, years ago she started her career in New York City, performing at open mics around Manhattan until she steadily rose up through the ranks to become the well-known name she is today. The great thing about New York is that there are potential Amy Schumers, Chris Rocks and Louis C.K.s performing at venues all over the city, and it’s incredibly inexpensive to go see them. These 10 comedic performers, writers and improvisers are just about to break it big, so now is your chance to go see them so you can say ‘I saw them when…’
A prolific performer at New York City’s Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, Ratliff was previously told by famed actor Tom Hanks, that he had ‘dead eyes,’ and was then fired from the set of a television show. However, his eyes, like his outrageous personality, are anything but dead. Performing in at least two or three shows a week, alongside a myriad of other stand up and acting gigs, it’s surprising Ratliff hasn’t become a household name yet. He may be best known for his epic Twitter rants about the MTA and subway delays, but can currently be seen on The Chris Gethard Show, which is about to enter its second season.
Robinson is definitely a rising star in the comedy world. A writer for Vulture, Glamour and her own blog Blaria (a portmanteau of Black Daria), she provides social commentary, but with an amusing twist that makes her definitely someone to not only read, but watch. She performs around NYC at various comedy venues and has a live podcast show, 2 Dope Queens, with The Daily Show correspondent Jessica Williams. She also made her Late Night With Seth Meyers stand up debut in 2015, so she’s definitely on the fast track to making a name for herself.
The hosts of Black Men Can’t Jump In Hollywood (Jerah Milligan, Jonathan Braylock & James III)
This podcast is run by three amazingly funny men, but their chemistry as a unit, as well as their shows outside the podcast, make them one entry on this list. Starting in the fall of 2015, these three comedians (who perform together on the Astronomy Club improv team at Upright Citizens Brigade), decided to create a podcast that tackled the lack of diversity of black actors in major Hollywood films. Each week they dissect a movie starring a leading actor of color and charmingly discuss whether it helps or dampens the cause of diversity in the media. Take a listen and also make sure to check out their future live recordings, as well as other upcoming comedy performances around the city.
Starting as a YouTuber with her viral video, ‘Meet Your First Black Girlfriend,’ Hughes has blasted onto the New York Comedy scene with a major appetite for making people laugh. From this initial media notice, she has landed spectacular gigs from stand up shows to hosting film and television events, and recently had a project chosen for Sundance Institute’s Episodic Story Lab. She currently produces videos at the Fusion Network and writes for various websites. She also blogs and keeps it real with her followers, even recently using her social media presence to promote social justice for women.
Cobb was most recently placed on the list of ‘Top 15 Comedians‘ in It’s Queens: The Magazine, so she is definitely on her way up in the comedy world in New York City. She is a regular at Broadway Comedy Club and she is the curator and host of ‘My First Time: A Stand-Up & Storytelling Show‘ at QED. Cobb has also been seen on ComedyTime TV, and her @midnight tweets are frequently selected among Comedy Central’s ‘Top Ten.’
His last name may sound familiar, and that’s because he is the brother of Broad City’s Ilana Glazer. Eliot has made a name for himself though, and performs comedic acts around the city. He trained at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre and even before his sister made it big with Broad City, him and Ilana went viral with the ‘Shit New Yorkers Say‘ video. He’s currently a consultant for a few different television shows, including Difficult People, but also writes episodes for Younger. He is also a classically trained vocalist, and performs in a show of his own creation, Haunting Renditions, usually with special comedian guests.
This lucky guy is the long-time boyfriend of Saturday Night Live’s Aidy Bryant, but he’s also spectacularly talented in his own right. O’Malley performs improv and stand up comedy in New York City and also has a very impressive resume of writing for Late Night with Seth Meyers. He also appears in sketches on Late Night, making him a face some may know, but he’s really about to break into the spotlight for his skills in comedy. He can be caught a couple times a week at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, or followed on his highly sarcastic Twitter, and even sometimes in special one-off shows with his girlfriend.
Soren & Jolles (Tracy Soren and Jessie Jolles)
Having been recently cited as the next Broad City girl duo by the Huffington Post, Soren & Jolles have been working it out for the past two years with their web series Dibs, as well as a multitude of other sketches for various websites like Cosmopolitan, Funny or Die, Buzzfeed and more. These ladies are hardworking writers and performers who have been in the press a lot lately for their sketches, especially explaining the difference in expectations vs reality, and humanizing holidays and objects so they get their chance to speak.
Coddett is a stand up comedian, actress, writer and one of the new cast members of MTV2’s Joking Off, which is released every Wednesday. She’s also made appearances on The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore and has been featured on numerous publications including Entertainment Weekly, Mashable and The Examiner. She has a monthly stand up comedy show, Brooklyn, Stand Up!!, that she hosts herself, and which was rated one of the best comedy shows in NYC by the Village Voice and the New York Times.
Originally from Puerto Rico, Reyes is breaking onto the New York scene in all forms. She is currently a performer at the Upright Citizens Brigade and was a finalist at the 2012 UCB/NBC Diversity Showcase, which is a scholarship competition each year to highlight the best up-and-coming, diverse performers in NYC. She appears in sketches for Funny or Die, Above Average and Refinery29, and you can even catch her in recent episodes of Girls, Master of None and Mozart in the Jungle.
By Samantha O’Brochta
Samantha lives in New York City, curates the social media for a well-known personality and performs comedy and improv on the side. She has an affinity for traveling the world, watching British comedy, making people laugh, dancing alone in her room, dressing fashionably, and attempting to make Pinterest crafts (usually with disastrous end results).