NYC Top Comedy Choices for November 2017 (updated Monday 11/20/17)

November 20, 2017

For at least the rest of this year, I’m replacing the daily comedy listings on this site and 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 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 what’s left of November (with more to come) include:

Melanie Owens, Emily Mathwich, and Jen Adams 2The spectacular 4-day Solocom festival, featuring over 100 new comedic solo shows, concluded last night at 11:00 pm; but while it’s over, the last day’s best of the fest still merit recognition. I spent nearly 11 hours at Sunday’s Solocom scouring for notable talent at The PIT’s Striker and Underground theatres. I never made it to The Loft, with apologies to all the wonderful comics who performed there.

That noted, standouts on the final day of Solocom included Melanie Owens relating what it was like to have a stroke at age 28—and the effects of brain surgery on bangs—with extraordinary joyfulness and juiciness, turning a potential trauma into an opportunity to be a luminous and sexy force for life who’s also way funny; Emily Mathwich proving herself a highly compelling comedic actress in a mini-play she wrote in which the world has been nearly destroyed and her only hope for survival is a relationship she forms with Siri (titled Hey, Siri, Am I Gonna Die?); and Jen Adams cleverly and hilariously articulating what we’re really thinking when we spout cliche responses—e.g., “I can’t wait to see your one-man show!” = “I have to go to this, don’t I.”

As Adams points out, some solo shows can be little more than an obligation imposed on friends. But in the hands of superb talents like the comics above, and scores more performing on all four days of Solocom, the one-person show is a vibrant form for sharing and creating experiences that can be as riveting and funny as the best offerings from Broadway or Hollywood. Huge kudos to everyone involved at The PIT for their continued support of this magical festival.

Rachel Feinstein 2
The sharp and lovely Rachel Feinstein (stellar Comedy Central special Only Whores Wear Purple; finalist on Last Comic StandingInside Amy Schumer, HBO, The Apprentice, opens for Sarah Silverman on tour) headlines this intimate monthly stand-up show, plus Adrienne Iapalucci (David Letterman, Last Comic Standing, Artie Lange, VH1), Liam McEneaney (Comedy Central, VH1’s Best Week Ever, Showtime),Jeff Lawrence, and Frank Vignola hosted by the exceptionally kind and charming John Morrison: Morrison Motel (8:30 pm; $20 at the door—which includes one drink—if you mention code or [otherwise $25]; you can make a reservation by calling 212.989.9319, or otherwise simply show up; West Village’s Cornelia Street Cafe at 29 Cornelia 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

The Magnet
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

Union Hall
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

Bell House
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

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

Village Underground
130 West 3rd Street; Comedy Cellar’s larger sister venue, just around the corner with the same top comics; 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.

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…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