Jim Gaffigan is 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, his appeal is deep and universal. The star of The Jim Gaffigan Show, he’s also appeared over a dozen times on David Letterman and over two dozen times on Conan O’Brien (for which he created the animated series Pale Force); released numerous bestselling comedy albums, including Cinca, Mr. Universe, Obsessed, Beyond the Pale, and King Baby; and wrote the bestselling books Food: a Love Story and Dad is Fat. And he’s headlining tonight through Saturday in NYC as part of a national tour: Jim Gaffigan: Noble Ape (8:00 pm, $40-$75, Beacon Theatre at 2124 Broadway between West 74th and 75th Streets)…
…or enjoy genius comics John Lutz (staff writer for Seth Meyers; cast member of 30 Rock, six years as staff writer for Saturday Night Live) and fellow 30 Rock cast member Scott Adsit (HBO’s Veep; voice of robot Baymax in Disney’s Big Hero 6; co-writer/director/producer & cast member of Adult Swim’s awesome & Emmy-winning Moral Orel) form a super-smart and hilarious star duo crafting in the moment one of the very finest improv shows you’ll ever see—tonight joined by guest ace improvisor Sebastian Conelli (UCB’s Friday night The Law Firm and The Magnet’s The Friday Night Sh*w; member of 2014 Cage Match Champion The Enemy): John & Scott (8:00 pm, $7 (sold out of seats, but you can probably get in if you arrive early and are okay with standing), UCB Chelsea at 307 West 26th Street)…
…or experience this show in which comics Andy Hilbrands, Madde Gibba, and Jack Frederick have answered seemingly creepy Internet ads to find out whether they were predatory traps or relatively innocent so you can “Laugh. Learn. Cringe:” Fishing For Creeps: A Reverse Catfish (9:00 pm; $7, The PIT Underground at 123 East 24th Street)
Other notable shows this Thursday include:
[TOP PICK] [FREE] 7:00 pm: Sandi Marx (7-time Moth StorySlam champion), Alexis Sotile (Rolling Stone, Village Voice, Chappelle’s Show), Michele Carlo (Impractical Jokers; author of Fish Out of Agua), and Jeff Rose (The Moth) performing at this wonderful monthly oddball storytelling show at the KGB Bar (85 East 4th Street, off Second Avenue) featuring such treats as a trivia contest with alcoholic prizes hosted by Leslie Goshko (delightful & razor-sharp storyteller/comic/pianist; WNYC, Sirius XM, Huffington Post, Internet Action Force, star of The Real Housewives of Columbo): Sideshow Goshko
7:00 pm ($7): Suburban New Jersey sketch group Kiss on the Lips (Alex Guaglianone, Jonathan van Halem, and Garrett Verdone) performs and hosts guest sketch group We Did It for this monthly show at The PIT Mainstage: Kiss on the Lips and We Did It
7:00 pm ($7): Springboarding off an audience suggestion, improvisors provide a close look at some exotic group or subculture at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): DocuProv
[$] 7:00 pm ($20): Peter Michael Marino plays around with the audience in a mix of improv and scripted comedy (with staging by stellar director Michole Biancosino), and then attempts to pull off the very difficult feat of creating an entertaining one-man improv show inspired by what he’s learned about the audience at Under St. Marks (94 St. Marks Place, off First Avenue), running tonight, tomorrow and Saturday: Show Up
[TOP PICK] [$] 7:30 pm, 8:00 pm, 9:30 pm, 10:00 pm, and 11:30 pm ($14 per show, plus 2-item food/drink min.): Some of the finest stand-ups in the country spread among three shows at Comedy Cellar (117 MacDougal Street, between 3rd Street & Minetta Lane) and 8:00 pm & 10:00 pm shows at Village Underground (130 West 3rd Street, off Sixth Avenue): Comedy Cellar Thursday
7:30 pm ($7): Roy Wood Jr. (correspondent for The Daily Show; David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Seth Meyers, HBO’s Def Comedy Jam, TBS’ Sullivan & Son; Comedy Central one-hour special Father Figure), Alex English (writer for BET’s The Rundown with Robin Thede), Michelle Biloon (Craig Ferguson, Chelsea Lately, Comedy Central), Brandon Collins (Comedy Outliers, College Humor), and Jeff Scheen perform stand-up at UCB East produced by Carol Hartsell and hosted by Sean Crespo & Katina Corrao: Lasers in the Jungle
7:30 pm ($7): A rotating cast of professional clowns perform a silly show in hopes of changing your life at The PIT Underground hosted by Joe Galan & Kim Kaiser: An Unapologetic Mess: A Clown Show
[TOP PICK] 8:00 pm ($5): Storytellers share their true “coming out” tales, and then improvisors make up either a play or a musical based on each story at The PIT Mainstage: Thank You For Coming Out: An LGBTQIA QueerCom Event
8:00 pm-Midnight ($10 for the entire evening): Four veteran house improv groups starting at 8:00 pm, themed improv show The Setup at 10:00 pm, and improv competition Inspirado at 11:00 pm, all for just $10 at The Magnet theatre: The Magnet’s Thursday Night Out
[FREE] 8:00 pm: “Comics compete with on-the-spot tweets…and you decide the winner in real time using your smart phone” at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ Long Island City hosted by Shelby Taylor: Like Me
[TOP PICK] [$] 8:30 pm ($8 plus 2-item food/drink min.): Wil Sylvince (Comedy Central, HBO, Showtime) hosts Mark Normand, Josh Gondelman, Joe Machi, Ari Shaffir, Jon FIsch, Adrienne Iapalucci, and more trying out new stand-up material at The Fat Black Pussycat Lounge (130 West 3rd Street): New Joke Night
9:00 pm ($7): Alison Leiby (writer for The President Show; VICE, Triumph The Insult Comic Dog; host of It’s a Long Story), Michelle Biloon (Craig Ferguson, Chelsea Lately, Comedy Central), Scott Rogowsky (The Onion), Steve Way, and Kevin Camia perform stand-up at UCB East hosted by rising stars Jim Tews (Louie, Last Comic Standing, host of Homeschooled, New York Times bestselling author of Felines of New York) and/or Ashley Brooke Roberts (energetic, enormously likeable stand-up; writer for Nat Geo and MTV’s Guy Code blog): Fresh Out
9:00 pm ($10): A show that’s live streamed on Facebook interviews a comic TBA who eats a one-handed snack while playing Jenga (as soon as the tower falls, the interview is over). In addition, stand-up or storytelling is performed on the theme “Everything is Falling Apart” by comics Joe Albano, David De Almo, Barbara Begley, Mary Brownlee, and Sandy Chansamone, all at Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell (27-16 23rd Avenue) hosted by Molly McGaughey: Everything is Falling Apart
[TOP PICK] 9:30 pm ($7): The writers of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert gather on the UCB Chelsea stage to perform an all-improvised Alfredo: Late Show Writers Improv
9:30 pm ($7): The greatest science fiction anthology radio show of all time was X Minus One. Improvisors who know their genre history created this show in which they make up scenes of awe, mystery, and wonder at The PIT Mainstage co-starring the spectacular Rachel Scherer, plus Geoff Grimwood, Jonathan Desley, Luis Fernandez, and Austin Sanders, with sound design & foley effects from Frank Todaro, and an opening musical set from improv singer Trudy Carmichael & ace improv pianist Dan Reitz: X Plus One
[TOP PICK] 11:00 pm ($7): Wow; improv duo 2 Puerto Ricans (Taylor Gonzalez & Will Martinez) destroyed UCB Friday Night improv group Take It Personal, winning by 46 votes to 20. On the heels of its four victories in a row, 2PR faces excellent indie improv team The Mannequin Room, competing for your laughs and votes at UCB Chelsea’s raucous Cage Match
NYC Stand-Up Open Mics & Improv Jams
If you want stage time, you can find one or more stand-up open mics virtually any night at Manhattan’s The PIT, Eastville Comedy Club, and Stand Up NY Comedy Club, and at Queens LIC’s The Creek and Astoria Queens’ QED.
In addition, at the East Village’s UCB East you can typically find a stand-up open mic Thursdays at 6:00 pm, an improv jam Wednesdays at 11:15 pm, and a rare bring-your-own-group improv/sketch open stage Sundays at 11:00 pm. And in Chelsea, The Magnet offers an improv jam on Wednesdays at 6:00 pm, and a rare musical improv jam on Tuesdays at 6:00 pm.
All of the venues above typically provide you the stage time either for free or for $5.
There are also numerous other open mics throughout the city. For a more comprehensive list, please visit FreeMicsNYC.
For many more shows, please click the following links to top NYC comedy venues:
Best Inexpensive Stand-Up, Improv, Sketch, and Storytelling
Upright Citizens Brigade Chelsea
307 West 26th Street; 150-seater; one of the most respected comedy theatres in the world; especially strong on improv, sketch, solo shows, and one-act comedic plays; shows free-$12
Upright Citizens Brigade East
153 East 3rd Street; 99-seater; a top comedy venue that focuses more than sister theatre UCB Chelsea on stand-up and screenings, and on experimental shows taking big risks; shows free-$12
The PIT Striker (Upstairs) Theatre
123 East 24th Street; 88-seater; a top venue that’s a powerful rival of UCB, and often surpasses UCB when blending comedy with music and/or theatricality; shows free-$20
The PIT Underground (Downstairs) Theatre
123 East 24th Street; 40-seater; often more quirky & experimental than upstairs Striker; shows free-$10
The PIT Loft
154 West 29th Street; 50-seater; the third of The PIT theatres, located separately on the West side, hosts a wide range of comedy, but is especially effective as a home for intimate solo and/or theatrical shows; free-$20
254 West 29th Street; 60-seat theatre; strong on improv, musical improv, sketch, and energy; shows $5-$10
The Creek and the Cave
Queens’ Long Island City; 40-seat theatre upstairs, 25 downstairs; virtually all weeknight shows free; weekend shows free-$10
702 Union Street in Brooklyn; R to Union Street; 50-seat theatre; shows $5-$20
635 Sackett Street in Brooklyn; R to Union Street; 100-seat theatre; shows $5-$20
149 7th Street in Brooklyn; R to 9th Street or F/G to Fourth Ave.; 200-seat theatre; shows $10-$25
QED: A Place to Show & Tell
27-16 23rd Avenue in Astoria Queens; N/Q to Ditmars Boulevard; 40-seat theatre; shows free-$10
Best NYC Stand-Up Comedy Clubs
117 MacDougal Street; among the finest daily stand-up lineups in the world; 2-item min.
130 West 3rd Street; Comedy Cellar’s larger sister venue, just around the corner with the same top comics; 2-item min.
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.
The Standing Room
4738 Vernon Blvd., by #7 train; Queens LIC club; no drink min.—support this policy!
From legendary NYC comedy site Brooklyn Vegan: Thank God for Hy Bender’s religiously updated show bible BestNewYorkComedy.com…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, submit material to my short story anthology Ghosts on Drugs, or for any other reason by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.