Ever notice how all the free events you’d love to see are all offered in the middle of the day? I know not everyone has to do the ol 9-5, but in my head everyone is out frolicking in the streets going to museums, and happy hours that start at absurdly early times and going to all the free TV tapings they want. It kills me. Giving out free tickets to studio audiences is nothing new, but to someone who grew up nowhere near New York or Burbank, California, I was in shock when someone told me you could see most TV shows for free! For the first 13 years of my life, I thought everything was a laugh track, not “real” people. And while my dream of going to see Conan and holding up a sign saying “I want to have your Ginger babies”, will never be realized, there’s still plenty of free tapings in this town that don’t start at 11am.
Comedy Central Presents
While I love me some stand-up, comedy shows can be pricey and if you’re unfamiliar with the comedian, there’s $20 down the tubes. Lucky for you, Comedy Central does free tapings each year for their Comedy Central Presents specials. All of the tapings are done at the historical Hudson Theatre and seats are distributed by a lottery system. I happened to catch a Eugene Mirman taping last year with some choice seats. There’s a number of pretty funny warm-up acts and they certainly encourage the audience to be as rowdy as possible. Which they do so with zest and results in a lot of forced, overly loud snorts and fake laughs. I think just watching the crowd was half the fun. And the best part is, the tapings are usually done after 6pm, so you don’t have to skip out on work to make it in time.
Live at Gotham
If you’re looking for a smaller comedy club vibe, Gotham Comedy Club is another great venue for free tapings. Past headliners include Judah Friedlander from 30 Rock, everybody’s favorite VH1 talking head, Paul F. Thompkins, and Chappelle Show staple, Charlie Murphy. They tape mostly during the summer from Thursday to Saturday night. This is a great opportunity to appear a generous individual with connections when you take out your date (secretly) for free. Just send them your email with your contact info and voila be instantly hooked up with free tickets. In most cases, if you sign up, you have a very good chance of getting tickets, unlike a lot of TV show tapings. To this day I still don’t know anyone who has successfully gotten tickets to see SNL, but nowadays I’m not so sure that’s a bad thing. So until the Hot Tub Time Machine actually exists and I can transport myself back to 1979 to watch Bill Murray, Gilda Radner and the Talking Heads perform live , I’ll have to settle for free comedy shows today.