For at least the rest of this year, I’m replacing the daily comedy listings on this site and HyReviews.com with monthly listings so I can more fully focus on several projects. These include my cross-genre short story anthology Ghosts On Drugs (for details, please click here), a comedy screenplay that needs a lot of research, and some other challenging items that’ll require extra time and energy.
However, I’ll still provide last-minute info on shows that especially merit attention, so please feel encouraged to check in regularly for updates. The best way to be instantly notified about new show postings is to subscribe my BestNewYorkComedy.com blog and allow for email notifications, and/or to follow me on Twitter (@hybender) or Instagram (@hybenderny).
In addition, you can use the links below to explore the schedules of all the major comedy venues in NYC; and you can find excellent live comedy recommendations weekly via The New York Times.
All that said, here are a few extra special recommendations for the remainder of October (updated on Friday 10/20):
A national comedy treasure who co-stars on HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm and ABC’s The Goldbergs, and who has a uniquely laid-back, anecdote-based stand-up style that’s a delight, headlines at the Carolines Comedy Club: Jeff Garlin (Friday 10/20 and Saturday 10/21 at 7:30 pm & 10:00 pm; $46.50 plus 2-drink min.; Carolines Comedy Club at 1626 Broadway)
Superb storyteller David Lawson (The Flyer Guy, No Oddjob) performs a hilarious and fascinating one-man show “about those three Star Wars movies most people hate. About how art can mean something different at different ages, discovering the limits of one’s own nerddom, the thrill of watching a movie stoned, the final massive cultural event before social media took over, telling the elder at synagogue you think the anti-Semitic character is comedy gold, and the warmth of loving a certain movie trilogy that is so universally loathed,” with opening stories by Lynn Bixenspan (sharp host of Relationsh!t), Nick Padilla (co-host of ASS), and Andrew Sanford: David Lawson’s The Prequels (Friday 10/20 at 7:00 pm, $10, The Tank at 312 West 36th Street between Eighth & Ninth Avenues)
The Sixth Annual NYC SketchFest runs four days, Thursday 10/19-Sunday 10/22, at all three of The PIT’s theatres. Notable groups performing include City Hall, Nameless Numberhead, Funny as Tech, National Scandal, Just Karen, The Chris and Paul Show, Dinner for One, Uncle Function, Aspergers Are Us…and lots more, including Dominique Salerno’s brilliant The Box Show. Most shows are $10 each, but the sensible thing to do is buy an all-you-can-see pass for a mere $40: NYC SketchFest 2017 (Thursday 10/19 6:00 pm-Midnight, Friday 10/20 6:00 pm-12:30 am, Saturday 10/21 3:00 pm-12:30 am, Sunday 10/22 5:00 pm-11:30 pm; $10 per show or $40 for an all-you-can-see pass; The PIT Mainstage & The PIT Underground at 123 East 24th Street and The PIT Loft at 154 West 29th Street)
Comics give funny pseudo-scientific lectures about cancer, featuring John Reynolds (co-star of Search Party, cast member of Stranger Things), Jen Spyra (writer for Stephen Colbert), Mamoudou N’Diaye (Comedy Central), and Sachi Ezura (producer for The Rundown with Robin Thede), and then are fact-checked on the spot by Dr. Neal Shukla (Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center) and Malka Greene (Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation). It’s all brought to you by seeker-of-truth hosts Blythe Roberson (The Onion, McSweeney’s, TheNewYorker.com) & Madelyn Freed: The Scientists (Tuesday 10/24, 8:00 pm, $8, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
For the 10th year of this fabulous annual event, over 40 NYC comics get a couple of minutes each to do a set as a famous comedian (e.g., Louis C.K., Amy Schumer, George Carlin, Jimmy Fallon, Rodney Dangerfield…the possibilities are endless) hosted by Mark Normand & Matt Ruby: The 10th Annual Schtick or Treat (Sunday 10/29 at 8:00 pm, $15, The Bell House at 149 7th Street; take R subway to 9th Street or F/G to Fourth Avenue)
Judah Friedlander (one of the quickest minds and very finest stand-ups in comedy; 30 Rock, Meet the Parents, Along Came Polly, author of bestselling cartoon book If the Raindrops United) releases a black & white stand-up special via Netflix on Halloween that he wrote, performed, directed, produced, and edited from numerous sets he performed this year at the West VIllage’s Comedy Cellar. TItled America is the Greatest Country in the United States, much of the material is a response to our current insane Trump era. According to Judah, the 84-minute special “mostly satirizes American Exceptionalism, including U.S. domestic & foreign policy; it’s a comedy about racism, sexism, imperialism, climate change, health care, LGBTQ rights, fascism, drones, and mass incarceration.” For the trailer, please click here.
You can find the vast majority of notable NYC live comedy shows by using the links below to explore the schedules of the following 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!
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.
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.