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 to this BestNewYorkComedy.com blog and allow for email notifications, and/or to follow me on Twitter (@hybender) or Instagram (@hybenderny).
All that said, my top NYC comedy recommendations for November (updated Tuesday 11/7) include:
The annual New York Comedy Festival is happening November 7-12 in venues all over NYC. Some of my top picks from the fest appear below (or will soon; I’m adding more each day). For the complete list of shows and to buy tickets, please click New York Comedy Festival 2017
Filmmaker, actor, writer, pop culture nerd royalty, and ace talker Kevin Smith performs two different shows at Carolines. At 7:00 he’s doing a Q&A called An Evening with Kevin Smith, and at 9:30 he’s sharing his observations about show biz in Hollywood Babble-On (Tuesday 11/7, 7:00 pm & 9:30 pm, $32.75 per show plus 2-drink min., Carolines Comedy Club at 1626 Broadway)
This wildly popular monthly pun competition is hosted by father-daughter duo Fred Firestone and Jo Firestone (one of the most relentlessly inventive comics in the biz; staff writer for Jimmy Fallon; radio host of WFMU’s Dr. Gameshow, co-host of Monday stand-up show Butterboy; co-author with Fred of #1 bestselling Punderdome: A Card Game for Pun Lovers). Enjoy the spectacle as 18 audience members—maybe including you—compete in Punderdome 3000 (Tuesday 11/7, 8:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Littlefield at 635 Sackett Street; take R subway to Union Street. Note: If you can’t make it to the live stage, don’t despair; you can alteratively watch the live stream on YouTube)
When it comes to one of the most dire battles of our time, whose side are you on: Taylor Swift (“Bad Blood“) or Katy Perry (“Swish Swish“)? Comic Evan Williams argues for Katy and Marie Faustin makes the case for Taylor, with illustrative diva drag performances by Elizabeth James and Shuga Cain, plus music from DJ Molly Austin, with fabulous hosts Christi Chiello (Comedy Central’s Roast Battle, MTV’s Girl Code, TruTV, stellar Ars Nova show It’s Christi, B*tch!) & Matteo Lane (Seth Meyers, Comedy Central, MTV’s Guy Code & Girl Code): Battle of the Divas: Katy Perry vs. Taylor Switt (Tuesday 11/7, 8:00 pm; $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
One of the smartest and nicest guys in show biz—who currently hosts NBC’s The Wall and AMC’s Talking shows, used to host the great @midnight, and is CEO of Nerdist Industries—headlines at Carolines for three nights to tell jokes and make you feel good: Chris Hardwick (Wednesday 11/8 at 7:00 pm & 9:30 pm, Thursday 11/9-Friday 11/10 at 7:30 pm & 10:00 pm, $41 plus 2-drink min., Carolines Comedy Club at 1626 Broadway)
A reverse roast battle, in which comics compete to deliver the best compliments to their opponents “in this showdown of sweetness, this clash of consideration, this barrage of benevolence. The stellar lineup consists of Jo Firestone (staff writer for Jimmy Fallon), Josh Gondelman (staff writer for John Oliver), Adam Conover (star of TruTV’s Adam Ruins Everything), and Mike Drucker (hilarious stand-up and staff writer for The President Show; previously wrote for Jimmy Fallon, SNL, Bill Nye Saves the World), with music from DJ Will Winner and hosted by Kyle Ayers (Fuse’s Uproarious; written for CBS, Comedy Central, TBS, BBC, The New York Times): Boast Rattle: Jo Firestone, Josh Gondelman, Adam Conover, and Mike Drucker (Thursday 11/9, 10:00 pm; $12, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Big Jay Oakerson (Jimmy Fallon, Comedy Central Presents, Louie, Inside Amy Schumer, HBO, Showtime, MTV, IFC; co-host of podcasts Legion of Skanks and The SDR; stellar comedy special Live at Webster Hall) performs unscripted to show off his skills at playing an audience: Big Jay Oakerson: The Crowdwork Sessions Volume 2 Album Taping (Thursday 11/9 at Midnight, $15 plus 2-drink min., Village Underground at 130 West 3rd Street)
Sean Patton is one of the very finest stand-ups in the country and among my all-time favorites. Among his credits are killer sets on Jimmy Fallon and Conan O’Brien, a Comedy Central Half Hour, VH1, the feature film Wifed Out; and co-hosting Esquire Network’s Best Bars in America. Simply the best, don’t miss this rising superstar: Sean Patton (Sunday 11/12, 8:00 pm; $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
In this unique show, animators spontaneously bring the jokes of guest stand-ups to visual life with lightning speed & wit. Part of the fun is that the comics don’t know what the animators will draw and the animators don’t know how the comics will react. Tonight’s superb comedy lineup consists of Aparna Nancherla (one of the very finest stand-ups in the country; co-star of HBO’s Crashing and Netflix’s Master of None), Jo Firestone (staff writer for Jimmy Fallon), Adam Conover (star of TruTV’s Adam Ruins Everything), Rae Sanni (New York Magazine), and Sam Jay (Comedy Central), produced by Sam Varela & Brandie Posey and hosted by Ian Fidance: Picture This! (Sunday 11/12, 10:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
The Brooklyn Podcast Festival hosts live-on-stage shows by 17 popular podcasts, including Kevin McDonald’s Kevin McDonald Show, Reductress’ Mouth Time, political comedy show Chapo Trap House, Bowen Yang’s & Matt Rogers’ Las Culturistas, Blythe Roberson’s & Madelyn Freed’s The Scientists, Kevin McCaffrey’s Serious Matters, We Hate Movies, Pulitzer Surprises, and lots more—plus a free panel about podcasting—running November 14-19. Some of the shows are described in detail below (in chronological order). For the complete schedule, please click Brooklyn Podcast Festival 2017 (Tuesday 11/14-Sunday 11/19, $10-$25 depending on the show, with each show taking place at The Bell House (149 7th Street; take R subway to 9th Street or F/G to Fourth Avenue), Union Hall (702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street), or the BRIC (647 Fulton Street; take 2/3/4/5 subway to Nevins Street or B/Q/R subway to Dekalb Street)
It’s the fifth year of this annual 4-day PIT festival (co-created by Peter Michael Marino) devoted to over 100 new comedic solo shows. The only requirements for any production are that it’s a one-person show that’s funny and has never been performed in public before. The types of entertainment are therefore wide-ranging, encompassing sketch, characters, storytelling, stand-up, cabaret, music, dance, puppetry, magic, clowning, multimedia, and more. You can catch any show for $10; but the sensible thing to do is buy an all-you-can-see pass for $30, which gives you access to all shows throughout the fest: Solocom 2017 (Thursday 11/16-Sunday 11/19; $10 per show or $30 for an all-you-can-watch 4-day festival pass; The PIT Upstairs, Downstairs, and Attic Theatres at 123 East 24th Street and The PIT Loft at 154 West 29th Street)
Superstar Louis C.K. co-wrote (with Vernon Chatman), directed, edited, and stars in a feature film shot in 35mm black & white. The stellar cast includes Chloe Grace Moretz, John Malkovich, Edie Falco, Rose Byrne, Charlie Day, Pamela Adlon, Helen Hunt, and Ebonee Noel.
In a recent email to fans, Louis wrote: “This is the first movie I have made since Pootie Tang (16 years ago). I promise that this movie is better than Pootie Tang. Although some of you who loved Pootie Tang will disagree with me and those people will be wrong. I know that art is subjective, but Pootie Tang is not. And I say that with deep love for Pootie Tang, the character, not the movie. Enough about Pootie Tang.
“How this movie got made: A lot of you might remember that about two years ago, I created a series called Horace and Pete (still available at louisck.net). I paid for that show myself. When I did it, I told myself that I was parting with the money forever. It wasn’t an investment. It was a $4.5 million grant to the “Make whatever the fuck I want” Foundation. By that approach, I was able to make and roll out the show exactly the way I saw it, the way I wanted the audience (you) to see it, without any concern for commerce or profit. In the end, the show made all the money back and more (with zero advertising) through website sales, and through licensing it to HULU, I was able to actually make a sizable profit for me and the actors and some of the crew, who own a piece of the show. That was a pretty good result.
“So this year, I decided, I got the money back, I can throw it away again. This time to the “Make a Black and White Movie about a Shitty Father foundation.” All that to say, that I want to really thank all of you who bought Horace and Pete because you gave me the freedom to make this movie.”
The movie is being screened theatrically in NYC, LA, and Chicago starting Friday November 17th, and will then enjoy a wider release around the country. In NYC, advance tickets are available online at Regal Cinemas Union Square (850 Broadway at 13th Street), AMC Empire 25 (243 West 42nd Street off Eighth Avenue), and The Landmark (657 West 57th Street at Twelfth Avenue).
Comics give funny pseudo-scientific lectures on a topic soon TBA, featuring Aparna Nancherla (one of the very finest stand-ups in the country; co-star of HBO’s Crashing and Netflix’s Master of None; former writer for Seth Meyers; Conan O’Brien, @Midnight, Comedy Central Half Hour, comedy album Just Putting It Out There), Paul Gale (MTV, Huffington Post), Allie Goertz (musician and Mad Magazine editor), and more TBD. It’s all brought to you by brilliant & delightful hosts Blythe Roberson (The Onion, McSweeney’s, TheNewYorker.com) & Madelyn Freed (improvisor & computer programmer): The Scientists (Friday 11/17, 8:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
A show celebrating the app that redefined online dating, with the lovely and quick-witted Lane Moore (above right; HBO’s Girls; Sex & Relationship Editor of Cosmo; writer for The Onion, McSweeney’s) going on a live Tinder safari for guys while a packed audience watches her every choice with fascination. Offering comments and suggestions during the adventure are tonight’s guest Janeane Garofalo (above left; movie & TV star with too many amazing credits to list). This show usually sells out, so I recommend nabbing tickets ASAP for Tinder Live (Saturday 11/18, 8:30 pm, $15, Brooklyn’s Littlefield (635 Sackett Street; take R subway to Union Street)
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 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
Best NYC Stand-Up Comedy Clubs
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.