Starting with a smattering of shows at the West Bank Café Theater in 2003, the New York Underground Comedy Festival has transformed itself from a local event to a global comedy bonanza. Over a thousand comics have performed groundbreaking comedy sets for the festival, from Chris Rock and Colin Quinn to Josh Homer and Robert Klein to Dave Atell. have graced our stages. The festival attracts the best comedians from all around the world; so many, in fact, that the producers have staged international festivals in China and South Africa.
The wide range of performers have tickled the funny bones of an estimated quarter-million people since the festival's inception, in venues as varied as comedy showrooms and theaters, libraries, schools, hospitals and even homeless shelters. Many events during the festival are free, giving the gift of laughter and taking only that as payment.
New York Underground Comedy Festival is located in the Theater District neighborhood of Manhattan. For Broadway fans, dining and staying in and around the theater district is a must. Depending on whom you ask, the theater district spans approximately from Sixth to Eighth Avenues between 41st and 54th Streets. From the hustle of the Port Authority Bus Terminal to the bustle of 42nd Street and Times Square, much of New York's dazzling vibrancy and energy emanates from this area. Below we offer our advice on favorite places: HOTELS: Right at the crossroads of Times Square you'll find the Hilton Times Square, with its stunning views and close proximity to all the boogie of Broadway. A block north and east takes you the charming boutique hotel called the Casablanca, with just 48 rooms and a private rooftop deck beloved for its views of the Times Square New Year's Eve celebration. One block west and across from the New York Times headquarters is the 45-story Westin Times Square, linked to the E-Walk entertainment and retail complex. West 44th Street has a number of great hotels, including the Art Deco Millennium Broadway, the luxurious French-American Sofitel and Ian Schrager-designed boutique hotel Royalton just across the street. A block north and close to Eighth Avenue you'll find the well-known budget hotel, the Milford Plaza known also as the "lullaby of Broadway." Right at Broadway the perennial favorite Marriott Marquis has a soaring atrium and glass elevators. Just north you'll find the chic and trendy W New York Times Square, and further east the even more chic and über-trendy Night Hotel. Back to Broadway a just a block north around 46th Street is the convenient and comfortable Doubletree Guest Suites, which is a great option for families. A bit further west on 46th Street is another stylish Ian Schrager gem, the Paramount; to the east you'll find a stunning inspiration in The Muse. A final recommendation is just slightly outside the Theater District, but so close, so impressive, and overlooking the New York Public Library. Called the Bryant Park Hotel, it indeed has a wonderful view of popular Bryant Park as well. Click HERE for a complete list of hotels in the Theater District. RESTAURANTS With dozens of fine dining, casual, ethnic and fast-food restaurants to choose from, the Theater District is a food mecca. Remember to let your server know if you have theater tickets and need to finish your meal in a set period of time! First off, the block of West 46th Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues is well-known as Restaurant Row for its many offerings and wide variety of cuisines. Here you will find everything from traditional steakhouse fare at Broadway Joe to Italian Jewish cuisine at Lattanzi, to a great selection of beers and world cuisine at Joshua Tree. All around the theater district are big theme restaurants, ranging from ESPN Zone to the perennial favorite for barbecue Virgil’s. Enjoy excellent and quick Chinese food at Ollie’s. If great steak is your thing, head to the Palm or Ruths Chris. Other wonderful pre-theater possibilities include DB Bistro Moderne for excellent French bistro fare and the splendid new American cuisine at Thalia. If you crave great ethnic food and want to go a bit further afield, superb Ethiopian cuisine can be had at Queen of Sheba, and right nearby visit Hallo Berlin for a taste of Germany. One of our favorite all-American locales, The Pony Bar offers a few modest dishes to complement its dozens of superb craft beers. Your options certainly aren't limited to Restaurant Row or luxury restaurants. Obviously in Times Square, the crossroads of the world, you’ll find the chain restaurants you see all over America, some with supersize versions such as Chevy’s and Red Lobster. Happy dining!
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