14 Comedy Clubs to Visit in 2017

It seems every comedy club in the country claims to have launched the careers of today's top comedians. The truth is, most up-and-coming comics play every club they can get into in an effort to increase their exposure—and pay their rent. There are a handful of venues, though, that are thought of as the top places for talent. While it's true that some might not look like much (just tiny rooms with rickety tables and a less than pleasant bathroom), they serve as the launching pad for the movie and sitcom stars of tomorrow.

If you're really looking to make it in the world of stand-up comedy (or want to be entertained by those who are), traveling to these places should be on your bucket list for 2017:

Caroline's on Broadway
One of the top comedy venues in New York City, Caroline's on Broadway started as a small cabaret in Chelsea in 1982. It offers top talent in a sophisticated upscale environment. In fact, the club's elegant decor won an award from the American Institute of Architecture.

Comedy Cellar
The Comedy Cellar has been packing them in for years. And I do mean packing them in—the club squeezes up to 150 people into its confined quarters in a basement room in the heart of NYC's Greenwich Village.

Comedy Works
Comedy Works has two locations in Denver: choose the downtown venue to see top-brand talent.

Comic Strip Live
Upon entering the Comic Strip, patrons pass a wall lined with autographed publicity shots of comics who have played the club including Eddie Murphy, Jerry Seinfeld and Paul Riser.

Dangerfield's bills itself as the "longest running comedy club in the world" and is associated with Rodney ("I Don't Get No Respect") Dangerfield.

Gotham Comedy Club
Chris Mazilli and his partner, Michael Reisman, not only own and operate the Gotham Comedy Club, but are comics themselves.

The Improv
Although there are locations all over the place now, the Los Angeles branch of The Improv is the best of the bunch, and where Jay Leno helped paint the ceiling and the 1980's weekly comedy series "An Evening at the Improv" was filmed.

Improv Asylum
Expect to see the best of Boston—and beyond—at Improv Asylum, a well-regarded Beantown club.

New York Comedy Club
Established in 1989 and under new ownership since 2014, the New York Comedy Club features the best comedians in the city and fun, anything-can-happen vibe.

The Punchline
"It's not comedy without the punchline," insists The Punchline, a popular Atlanta club.

The Second City
Skip the new venues in Hollywood and Toronto and head straight for The Second City original in Chicago where Tina Fey still performs from time to time.

Stand Up Live
Stand Up Live, located in downtown Phoenix, brings in top talent from all over the nation with a special affinity for popular TV comedians.

Stand-Up New York
Known for nurturing new talent, Stand Up-New York features special beginners shows for starting comedians who wish to develop their talents before a live audience.

Got plans to visit Nashville? Take a break from country music and visit Zanies, too.

Two more bits of advice for those with a 2017 comedy-related bucket list:

1. If you don't want to suffer the wrath of the comics, make sure to sit away from the stage. Otherwise, you may end being part of the show—perhaps a good thing if you want to exercise your comedy chops, but probably not so good if you are just there to listen.

2. While live comedy is always best, the laugh.ly app provides access to the world's largest library of stand-up comedy—great if you want to upload your own skits (or even if you just want to be entertained).

Victoria Otto Franzese is a proud New Yorker who owned, operated, and wrote for a successful online travel guide for 15 years. Now, thankfully, all of her travel is purely for fun. See where she's going next at @VOFranzese.