AANY had the opportunity recently to sit down with Andy Engel, founder and owner of the Manhattan Comedy School and Director of New Talent for Gotham Comedy Club. For the past 20 years, Engel has been responsible for a good deal of the comedy talent coming out of New York City in one way or another. With over 400 new students each year at the Manhattan Comedy School and his thriving New Talent Showcase, it does not look like that streak will end any time soon.

Read below to see the results of our chat with Engel.

What are the benefits of attending the Manhattan Comedy School?

Aside from the quality of instruction, the class provides all a comedian needs to enter the stand-up circuit. Namely, the opportunity to get on stage through the New Talent showcase as well as a DVD of their act that they can use to get future jobs.

Basically, there are three ways someone can get into stand-up comedy. They can bark at Times Square, do open mics or go to a school. The first two are tough on the comedian and rarely lead to better things. At Manhattan Comedy School we provide the opportunity to get started the right way and skip the needless struggle that open mics and the like bring.

What sort of people do you hire to teach? Are they all working comedians?

Yes. All of Manhattan Comedy School’s teachers are working comedians with strong credentials. These are not 15-year-old credentials either. A lot of teachers out there have impressive resumes but many of them haven’t had success for 10 years or more, our teachers are relevant, working comedians whose credits are current.

You’ve heard the old adage, ‘Those who can not do, teach.’ For your school, that is not the case?

No, it is not. The staff at MCS are not teaching because they are struggling professionally, they are teaching because they live in the city and have free time during the week. That is why our classes are always during the week and not the weekends. Our teachers are often working over the weekends.

Our teaching staff includes, among others, Cory Kahaney, whose done HBO, Comedy Central and David Letterman, Jim David, whose done The View, VH1 and Comedy Central, and Brian Kiley whose done Jay Leno, David Letterman and is a staff writer for Conan O’Brien.

Are the classes private or group sessions?

The classes are held in groups of 20. This is a major component of our instruction as having a room full of your peers helps to prepare you for performing on stage. It is the first live audience that many of the students will encounter.

Who are some of the successful students who have come through the Manhattan Comedy School?

There are quite a few, to list a couple there is Carmen Lynch, featured on David Letterman, Chloe Hilliard featured on Last Comic Standing, Emma Willmann featured on Live at Gotham AXS TV, Jimmy Failla who Hosts Radio Show “Off the meter”, Ryan Riess one of Seth Myers’ monologue writers and Colin Kane a National Headliner.

With the credentials, experience and obvious results that the Manhattan Comedy School boasts, it seems to be the choice for comedians looking to get into stand-up or even just sharpen their skills. If you are interested in learning more about MCS, visit their website at

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