The Future Of New York Comedy Venues
To be successful in stand-up, you need to continually revamp your act, lest audiences lose interest. And in a way, the same can be said of the comic industry as a whole. We know that comedic styles and trends are always in flux; it's why material from just a few years ago can seem dated, and could one day come back around as "classic." But might we see similar evolution in comedy venues in the coming years as well?
This aspect of the industry has been more stable than the comedy itself, and we doubt there will come a time, at least in the foreseeable future, when comedians aren't performing in hole-in-the-wall comedy clubs. But for bigger acts, there may indeed come a time when audiences are accessing comedy in new ways. And with New York likely to be at the forefront of any changes in this regard, we're taking a look at three new types of show presentations and venues that could conceivably become popular in the U.S. before long.
VR Comedy Shows
The rise of VR and AR has already changed the world of entertainment. With these technologies rapidly improving and becoming more widely available, soon fans will be able to experience comedy shows without actually having to leave home. While we aren’t there quite yet, this could eventually provide accessibility to extremely expensive acts and exclusive New York clubs, like the Comedy Cellar. People may soon have the vantage point of a front-row seat at a John Mulany show and not have to pay the big bucks. Potentially, Saturday Night Live and late night talk shows that film in New York could also utilize virtual reality. That way longtime fans of the shows could experience, in a way, the thrill of being in studio for a live taping.
Granted, plenty of comedy fans will see something odd about enjoying a comedy show in the privacy of a VR headset. But there are plenty of counters to this line of thinking. For one thing, people could always watch from home alongside a significant other or group of friends, all laughing together in real time. For another, it's not as if we don't already cuddle up in bed to turn on Netflix comedy specials alone. And finally, some people who may be a bit more introverted might simply prefer to avoid the crowds!
Having a comedy show inside a casino is nothing new. Comedians often perform at venues in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, as well as in some more exotic resorts around the world. We're mentioning the idea here though simply because of the potential for casinos themselves to expand into New York.
Right now, there's something of a gambling boom happening in New Jersey and the rest of the Northeast. Shifting legislation has allowed games from popular international online casino providers to make their way into the New Jersey market. Sports betting, too, has been legalized and already spread into Pennsylvania. This is expanding interest in gambling, arguably leading to a mild revitalization of Atlantic City properties, and paving the way for more growth. Already, New York has eased its restrictions on physical casinos, and Boston recently welcomed a major resort. With all of this going on it's not a stretch to imagine some significant casino properties in and around New York City in the coming years, which could mean brand new, big-money comedy clubs as well.
In the age of social media, audience members want to go to a venue that will look good on their Instagram feeds. This includes live events with impressive light shows and spectacular visuals. And while this usually pertains to music concerts, comedy shows shouldn't necessarily be different. In short, people want to be dazzled, and they want to have fun visuals to show off and remember experiences by.
With that in mind, it wouldn’t be entirely bizarre if New York City eventually embraced a few high-tech comedy clubs - perhaps with similar capabilities to the MSG Sphere concept being built in Las Vegas. This spherical arena promises planetarium-like projections and immersive sounds to accompany concerts and other performances. The venue’s immense LED screen enables fans to see every expression conveyed by a performer. Comedy might not be as natural a fit, but given that it's in part a physical art, you can rest assured there will be comedians looking to use venues like this to create more immersive and interactive shows. And given that Madison Square Garden is behind the Sphere, New York is already a natural expansion opportunity. We're not sure what an Adam Sandler or Dave Chappelle show in a Sphere-like venue would be like.... But it's not as if we wouldn't want to check it out.