Ask anyone where you should go or what you should eat if you’ve never been to New York City and you’ll quickly find that almost no consensus exists on what to do in America’s largest city. Yet New York is the subject of countless articles claiming to know how you should spend your precious time there, articles almost entirely populated with tourist traps like visiting the Empire State building and spending an afternoon chilling in Central Park.
“The Statue of Liberty is something you should see in New York?” You. Don’t. Freaking. Say.
But here is the thing, there’s a reason New York is one of the greatest cities in the world, and you’re not going to find it at M&M’s World. The people who understand best are those who call the city home. People like comedian Dan Soder.
Billions fans will recognize Soder for his recurring role on the Showtime drama, and despite being raised in Colorado, he’s spent over a decade — and his entire stand up career — bouncing between famed clubs like Gotham, the Comedy Cellar, and Caroline’s, getting to know New York intimately. Intimately enough to know that sometimes the best place to be in America’s greatest city, is in an unmemorable greasy spoon diner at 4 AM when the bars close and the only thing that hits right is a plate of unremarkable food served by a person who couldn’t care less whether or not you enjoy your meal.
We connected with Dan on the heels of his freshly announced first HBO comedy special Dan Soder: Son of Gary (it premieres on Saturday, December 7 at 10 pm ET and you can see the trailer below), which was filmed at the legendary Bowery Ballroom in Manhattan, to get his tips on what to do when you’re in New York. If you’re hoping for specific bar suggestions, you won’t find them here — Dan understands that the best way to see New York is to hit the pavement and just go!
Where is the best place to grab a late-night bite to eat?
One of the best parts of being in NYC is you can get food any time of day. Your best bet is a diner. I love diners — the menus are all over the place and the waiters don’t care about you. I love getting an open-faced turkey sandwich and waffles. The waiters show up to the table when THEY feel like it. They know you need them more then they need you. It’s the best. They’re DMV employees with food, so show them respect or you’re never getting your food.
Where do you get your coffee fix?
I get overwhelmed with the amount of places in NYC you can get coffee. I love just going to Dunkin Donuts — it’s down the street from my place, their coffee isn’t bad and it’s usually interesting (as in there might be some shit going down in the actual Dunkin). It’s not pretentious and douchey, it’s quasi sterilized and crazy.
What’s your favorite memory from this city?
There isn’t one specific moment that sticks out, more just a memory of walking with comics. From spot to spot, I’ve had some incredible conversations with comics like Nate Bargatze, Joe List, and Michelle Wolf just going from a club spot to a bar show. Or from one club to another and they are on the same show so we walk together. It’s such a great walking city, so walking around with good friends who are also great comics is always special for me.
What is your favorite thing to do after a set in New York
I know this is a boring answer, but I like to go home. I love my job and a benefit of the job is that you’re out every night. You’re a night out for the audience, so when I don’t have shows, it’s nice to be at home and just watch TV. When I drank, it was a whole different ball game. (I would stay out and get drunk and then sleep all day.)
What do you absolutely hate about the city?
Santa Con. Sure it probably has cute roots but these days it’s a herpes outbreak on the city every year.
Who is your favorite comic or local legend to hang with in New York?
Dave Attell or Colin Quinn. Both are equally legendary and both are fun to hang around and listen to. It’s not really like a buddy-buddy thing, it’s more of, let-me-shut-up-and-listen-to-Colin or Dave talk. But those two are two of the most important people to NYC stand up and stand up in general. It’s never lost on me that a bonus of being a comic in this city is all the great comedy I get to see on a nightly basis.
Describe New York in one sentence:
A historical metropolis filled with everything good and bad.
‘Dan Soder: Son Of A Gary’ premieres on HBO Saturday, December 7 at 10PM ET.