NYC Top Comedy Choices for Thursday 11/6/14

November 6, 2014

Want to be on an NBC prime time show?
America’s Got Talent is holding NYC auditions; details here.

TV Alert: Whoopi Goldberg is on David Letterman:
Geena Davis is on Jimmy Kimmel;
Rob RIggle is on Seth Meyers;
Andrea Martin is on Conan O’Brien;
Jim Norton, Kurt Metzger, and Jesse Joyce are on @midnight

Tig Notaro, Sasheer Zamata, and Pete Holmes

Tig Notaro headlines at Town Hall in Boyish Girl Interrupted; Sasheer Zamata & friends at UCB Chelsea declare it’s Party Time!; and Pete Holmes headlines at Brooklyn’s Bell House

Tonight’s recommendations for the best in New York City comedy (in chronological order, with top picks noted and shows over $10 marked with $) include:

[TOP PICK] [$] (11/5-11/9) The New York Comedy Festival features some of the best stand-ups in the world performing headlining sets in such major NYC venues as Carnegie Hall, Town Hall, the Beacon, the NYU Skirball Center, Carolines, and The Stand during November 5-9. Among the stars performing this year are Amy Schumer, Maria Bamford, Marc Maron, Bill Cosby, Bill Burr, Bill Maher, Pete Holmes, Tig Notaro, Dave Hill, Kurt Metzger, Mark Normand, Hannibal Buress, Sasheer Zamata, Aparna Nancherla, Eric Andre, Sommore, Paula Poundstone, and Dane Cook; plus there’ll be interviews with such giants as Jim Gaffigan, and the teams creating TV series Inside Amy Schumer (including Amy), Broad City (including Executive Producer Amy Poehler), and the writers of The Late Show with David Letterman. To explore the entire schedule, please click New York Comedy Festival

[TOP PICK] 7:00 pm ($10): Michelle Wolf (staff writer for and performer on Seth Meyers; MTV’s Girl Code, IFC), Jena Friedman (wry dark comedy stand-up and rising star; producer for The Daily Show, former staff writer for David Letterman), Matt Fisher & John Murray (hosts of Low Standards), and Sheng Wang (Jimmy Fallon, Comedy Central Presents, Totally Biased) performing stand-up at the UCB East theatre: Splitsider Live: Michelle Wolf, Jena Friedman, and More

[TOP PICK] [$] 7:00 pm (SOLD OUT online; you can try for a standby line): Elliott Forrest interviews Jim Gaffigan, a comedy superstar who delights in observational humor about food (his Hot Pockets routine is a classic) and mundane things we take for granted (“I like escalators because they can never break, only become stairs”). As accessible as any mainstream performer alive, while simultaneously a sharp deconstructionist who can work any alternative comedy room with ease, Jim’s appeal is deep and universal. He’s appeared over a dozen times on David Letterman, over two dozen times on Conan O’Brien (for which he created the animated series Pale Force), performed his own Comedy Central Presents special, created a Beyond the Pale comedy album that’s been certified Platinum (the CD and DVD versions have each sold over 150,000 copies), recently released mega-selling book Food: A Love Story, and is filming TV series The Gaffigan Show for TV Land. So there’ll be lots to chat about at The Jerome L. Greene Space (44 Charlton Street): Jim Gaffigan in Conversation

[TOP PICK] [$] 7:00 pm ($15 at the door or online): Storyteller David Crabb tells the tale of how he “just found $1,800 in cash. With a little detective work I might be able to find its rightful owner. But will I? Why should I? What bad could possibly happen if I holds onto it for a little while? A lot.” at Under St. Marks (94 St. Marks Place, off First Avenue): $1800

[TOP PICK] 7:30 pm ($10 at the door or $11.59 online): Ophira Eisenberg (Comedy Central, VH1, Showtime, The Today Show, host of NPR’s trivia/puzzle show Ask Me Another, bestselling book being made into movie Screw Everyone) and her storytelling, stand-up, and musical friends Andy Christie, Micaela Blei, Leah Bonnema, and Julian Velard celebrate the release of Ophira’s comedy album Bangs! at Brooklyn’s Union Hall: Bangs! Comedy Album Release Party

[$] 7:45, 9:30 pm, and 11:30 pm ($14 per show, plus 2-item food/drink min.): Tonight’s comics include Judah Friedlander, Ari Shaffir, and Dane Cook, with all three shows at Comedy Cellar (117 MacDougal Street, between 3rd Street & Minetta Lane): Comedy Cellar Thursday

[TOP PICK] [$] 8:00 pm ($20): Lightning-fast & thoroughly hilarious star Pete Holmes (one of the very best stand-ups in the country; The Pete Holmes Show, You Made It Weird podcast, Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Fallon, Comedy Central Presents, The Daily Show, John Oliver’s NY Stand-Up, Ugly Americans, VH1’s Best Week Ever, staff writer for NBC’s Outsourced, The New Yorker) headlines at Brooklyn’s The Bell House (149 7th Street, between Second and Third Avenues; take the R to 9th Street or the F to 4th Avenue): Pete Holmes

[TOP PICK] [$] 8:00 pm ($40-$70, depending on seat location): Tig Notaro (hilarious deadpan stand-up; Comedy Central Presents, The Sarah Silverman Program, Last Comic Standing; for stand-up video about Tig’s name, please click here) performs at Town Hall (123 West 43rd Street, between 6th Avenue & Broadway): Tig Notaro: Boyish Girl Interrupted

[TOP PICK] [$] 8:00 pm ($20 plus 2-item food/drink min.): Ari Shaffir hosts this spectacular show featuring Jim Norton, Mark Normand, Mike Lawrence, and Bridget Everett at the Village Underground (130 West 3rd Street, off Sixth Avenue): This Is Not Happening

[TOP PICK] 8:00 pm ($10): Brian McCann (writer & performer for Conan O’Brien for 17 years) performs a one-man show at the UCB Chelsea theatre: Brian McCann’s Leisure Hour

[TOP PICK] 8:00 pm ($5): Dave Hill, Phoebe Robinson, Brooks Whelan, and Alex Castle performing at this show for stand-up plus sketch at Brooklyn’s Splitty (415 Myrtle Avenue) hosted by Larry Murphy (brilliant voiceover actor for FOX’s Bob’s Burgers, Comedy Central’s Ugly Americans, Adult Swim’s Assy McGee and Home Movies, and numerous other shows) and/or Greg Johnson (Sirius XM): Myrtle Comedy

[TOP PICK] 8:00 pm-Midnight ($10 for the entire evening): The Magnet house improv groups Junior Varsity and Hello Laser performing improv for an hour, followed at 9:00 pm by The Love Story (improv that begins with a significant moment in a romantic relationship and explores the characters and relationships in their lives), at 10:00 pm by veteran improvisors making up scenes based on improvised monologues from storyteller Rob Penty at The Armando Diaz Experience, and finally at 11:00 by improv competition Inspirado (like UCBT’s Cage Match, but with a game-like challenge component): The Magnet’s Night Out

[TOP PICK] [FREE] 8:00 pm: A live comedy game show hosted by Keith & The Girl at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ Long Island City : You Can’t Say That

8:00 pm ($10): Amy Marcs performs a one-woman show about her experiences with breast cancer at The PIT upstairs theatre: Nice T!Ts

[TOP PICK] [$] 8:30 pm ($15 at the door or online): Sara Benincasa, Caitlin Brodnick, Justin Cameron, and Ben Lillie tell tales related to science at Under St. Marks (94 St. Marks Place, off First Avenue) hosted by Erin Barker: The Story Collider

[TOP PICK] 8:30 pm ($10): “Super secret” stand-up guests for this New York Comedy Festival edition at UCB East hosted by Ashley Brooke Roberts and/or Jim Tews: Fresh Out

[TOP PICK] [$] 9:00 pm ($25): Sara Schaefer (inventive, luminous comic; former co-star of MTV’s The Nikki and Sara Show; Emmy-nominated staff writer for Jimmy Fallon; VH1’s Best Week Ever; co-host of hit podcast You Had to Be There) interviews guests—who have to lie about everything—at The Jerome L. Greene Space (44 Charlton Street): Lies with Sara Schaefer

[TOP PICK] 9:30 pm ($10): Sasheer Zamata (instant star cast member of Saturday Night Live) hosts a party with gal-pal stand-ups Amber Nelson (fearless, innovative rising star; Comedy Central; sketch troupes Murderfist and The Prom) and Nicole Byer, fearless dark sketch comedy duo Skinny Bitch Jesus Meeting (Leah Rudick & Katie Hartman; Edinburgh Fringe Festival, FringeNYC), and music by Handjob Academy, all performing at the UCB Chelsea theatre: Sasheer Zamata Party Time!

[TOP PICK] 10:00 pm ($10 at the door or $11.59 online): Sabrina Jalees (delightful dynamo stand-up; Comedy Central’s Adam Devine’s House Party, Last Comic Standing, VH1’s Best Week Ever, MTV’s Failosophy) & Liza Treyger conduct an oddball and way fun content of asking questions, with tonight’s answerers Aparna Nancherla, Bridget Everett, Michelle Buteau, Chris Distefano, Matteo Lane, Megan Gailey, Hamm Samwich, and Josh Zepps at Brooklyn’s Union Hall: How Many Questions Live

[TOP PICK] [$] 10:30 pm ($15): Nate Bargatze (David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Comedy Central Presents) performs a long set at the UCB East theatre: Nate Bargatze

[TOP PICK] [$] 11:00 pm ($12): Mark DeMayo was an NYC cop for 20 years—who then retired to pursue his true passion, comedy. Mark blends stand-up and storytelling in this engaging and funny one-man show about his time on the force at The PIT upstairs theatre directed by Peter Michael Marino: 20 & Out

[TOP PICK] 11:00 pm ($5): Improv groups My Privacy and TourCo compete for your laughs and votes at UCB Chelsea in the raucous Cage Match

Thursday Open Mics & Jams

5:00 pm ($5): Two-hour open-mic for 20 stand-ups performing for 5 minutes each, with sign-up online here, at the Stand Up NY Comedy Club (236 West 78th Street): Stand Up NY Open Mic

[TOP PICK] [ALMOST FREE] 6:00 pm ($1): Joe Galan hosts a clowning workshop & open stage: “Clowns have only one true directive: To play! This is part workshop, part playground where we will use exercises geared towards exploring new voices, bodies and games. Either show off a piece in progress or jump onstage blind and ready to follow your sense of fun. Whether you’re interested in learning more about clown technique and physical comedy or just overcoming coulrophobia, this jam is a fun and safe environment to explore your onstage instincts” at The PIT upstairs theatre: No Make-Up: A Clown Jam

[FREE] 6:00 pm: Open-mic stand-up with comics’ names drawn from a bucket and each chosen receiving 2 minutes—and if that goes well, maybe a hug (but not actual puppies)—at The Creek’s upstairs theatre in Queens’ Long Island City hosted by Ross Parsons & Trey Galyon: Free Puppies

6:00 pm (no cover, 1 drink min. for both comics and audience members): Open mic stand-up providing 5-7 minutes per comic, running 2 1/2 hours. Arrive 30 minutes before the show to get on the signup sheet. This is a fine opportunity to perform at the only comedy club in the East Village: Eastville Comedy Club Open Mic

[FREE] 7:00 pm: Weekly open mic that provides 5 minutes for each audience member whose name is pulled out of a bucket to perform a true story, sketch, or characters at Brooklyn’s Over the Eight (594 Union Ave) hosted by JiJi Lee: Split Personality Open Mic Storytelling & Sketch

7:00 pm ($2, which includes a free beer or water): Open mic stand-up providing a whopping 10 minutes per comic. Email with subject line Phoning Thursday to sign up; or take a chance at lottery sign-up live between 6:45 and 7:45 at Brit Pack Studios (153 Lafayette Street, 3rd Floor) hosted by Ian Fidance: Comics Phoning It In

[FREE] 7:00 pm: In this free Magnet show, audience members (signing in at 6:00) can join in with improv group Junior Varsity to make up scenes on the spot: Magnet Mixer

9:30 pm (free for audience members, $5 or 1 drink min. for stand-ups wanting to perform): Open mic stand-up providing 7 minutes per comic (and a free recording of your set!), with order determined raffle-style. Sign up by emailing or calling (212) 253-7747, or just walk in and supply your name, to perform at the Old Man Hustle Bar (39 Essex Street) hosted by Solomon Chehebar: Peep Show Comedy Open Mic

[FREE] 11:00 pm: An open-mic show that’s first come, first serve, with each comic getting 3-5 minutes on stage at The Creek downstairs lounge in Queens’ Long Island City hosted by Josh Alba: Mic and Cheese

[FREE] 11:00 pm: An open stage for indie improv groups—and if you’re not in a group, that’s also fine, you’ll simply be added to one—at The PIT upstairs theatre hosted by Darcy Burke & Donna Lobello: New Team Lunacy

Best Inexpensive Stand-Up, Improv, Sketch, and Storytelling

Upright Citizens Brigade Chelsea
(307 West 26th Street; 150-seater; shows free-$10; one of the most respected comedy theatres in the world)

Upright Citizens Brigade East
(153 East 3rd Street; 99-seat main theatre, bar area for open mics; shows free-$10)

(123 East 24th Street; 99-seat upstairs theatre, 40-seat downstairs theatre; shows free-$20)

The Magnet
(254 West 29th Street; 60-seat theatre; shows $5-$10)

The Creek and the Cave
(Queens’ Long Island City; 40-seat theatre upstairs, 25 downstairs; virtually all shows free)

This Theater
(154 West 29th Street; new venue that, at its best, features shows comparable to UCB & PIT; free-$12)

Best NYC Stand-Up Comedy Clubs

Comedy Cellar
(117 MacDougal Street; among the finest daily stand-up lineups in the world; 2-item min.)

The Stand
(239 Third Avenue; recent competitor to Comedy Cellar; no drink min.—support this policy!)

Carolines Comedy Club
(1626 Broadway; focuses on the world’s top headliners, who perform hour-long sets; 2-drink min.)

Gotham Comedy Club
(208 West 23rd Street; headliners on weekends, specialty & lineup shows weekdays; 2-drink min.)

Eastville Comedy Club
(85 East 4th Street; strong weekend lineups; no cover using code HyReviews; 2-drink min.)

Greenwich Village Comedy Club
(99 MacDougal Street; convenient if Comedy Cellar’s sold out; no cover using code HyReviews; 2-drink min.)

Comic Strip Live
(1568 Second Avenue, off 81st; Upper East Side club with typically solid lineups; 2-drink min.)

Stand Up NY
(236 West 78th Street, off Broadway; Upper West Side club with typically solid lineups; 2-drink min.)

Laughing Devil
(4738 Vernon Blvd., by #7 train; Queens LIC club, with MST3K-style movie night on Thursdays; 2-drink min.)

From legendary NYC comedy site Brooklyn Vegan: Thank God for Hy Bender’s religiously updated show bible He is literally the only person in NYC providing daily summaries of what’s happening comedy-wise. It must be exhausting keeping that monster of a website alive…It is your daily comedy itinerary and it scares me how on top of his shit this guy is.

Please feel encouraged to reach out to tell me about comedy shows, hire me for book or screenplay work, or for any other reason by emailing me at