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).
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, my top NYC comedy recommendations for November (last updated Sunday 11/19) include:
It’s the fifth year of this annual 4-day PIT festival devoted to over 100 new comedic solo shows. (The fest was originally created by Peter Michael Marino & co-produced by Ronny Pascale, both giants in PIT history, but they’ve moved on this year to let others curate & run the extravaganza.) 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.
On the third day of Solocom, standouts included Erin Wagner playing history’s most infamous women, ranging from Typhoid Mary to Ann Coulter to Eva Braun (revealing Hitler poisoned both of them to avoid a discussion about their relationship); Claire Yale Raynes subtly and hilariously playing a variety of oddly mild characters who formed her girlhood experiences of Church Camp; and Sloane Miller springboarding an audience suggestion into a group of improvised songs that exposed her childhood hopes and pains with so much naked vulnerability and sensitive insight that Miller crafted, in the moment, one of the very best and most memorable shows I’ve been lucky enough to see all year:
Potential highlights on this final day of the 4-day festival include dark comedy talent Becca Beberaggiblending stand-up and storytelling to explain “why it’s important to watch True Crime Documentaries to survive in this world” 12:15 pm at The Underground; Tom Venito playing a young Luke Skywalker revealing what it’s like telling to be a teenager on Tatooine 1:00 pm at The Loft; Michelle Woods sharing her angsty teen poetry about her love for Jesus 1:30 pm at The Underground; Liz Galalis performs the St. Mary the Divine Virgin All Girls’ School’s version of Grease 3:00 pm at The Loft; Emily Mathwich having a discussion with Siri in a post-apocalypse New York City—titled Hey, Siri. Am I Gonna Die?—4:30 pm at The Underground; Stephen Sherwood playing William Faulkner “in the last year of his inebriated life” 5:30 pm at The Underground; Mel Forrest going over the 17 years of failures of humanoid robot ASIMO 5:30 pm at The Loft; and Melanie Owens recalling what it was like to have a stroke at age 28 and then try to resume “a normal life” 7:45 pm at The Underground.
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 (Striker), Downstairs, and Attic Theatres at 123 East 24th Street and The PIT Loft at 154 West 29th Street)
It’s the final day of the Brooklyn Podcast Festival hosting live-on-stage shows by popular podcasts. 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)
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.