Please note that these listings are updated frequently. The best way to be instantly notified about new show postings is to subscribe to 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.
That said, my top NYC comedy recommendations for what’s left of December include:
Tuesday 12/26: Seth Herzog (above left; long-time staff comic for Jimmy Fallon; 30 Rock, @midnight, CBS, VH1) celebrates the holidays with TV & movie star Janeane Garofalo, Sherrod Small (writer/performer on TBS’ Are We There Yet?, Comedy Central, VH1), Adam Newman (David Letterman, Comedy Central Half Hour, MTV), Kate Willett (Comedy Central’s This Is Not Happening, VICE’s Flophouse, comedy album Glass Gutter), Greg Barris (MTV’s All That Rocks, host of Heart of Darkness), and more, all performing for Seth’s seminal weekly comedy show Sweet (9:00 pm, $10, The Slipper Room at 167 Orchard Street)
Wednesday 12/27: Brothers Hari Kondabolu (David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Comedy Central Presents; fascinating TruTV documentary The Problem with Apu) and Ashok Kondabolu (Dap in Das Racist) spontaneously interact with each other, sharing family stories, discussing current events, and more: The Untitled Kondabolu Brothers Project (8:00 pm, $12, Brooklyn’s Littlefield (635 Sackett Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Wednesday 12/27: Seaton Smith (above; rising star stand-up; HBO’s Girls, FOX’s Mulaney, Seth Meyers, Inside Amy Schumer, The Nightly Show), Chris Distefano (David Letterman, Comedy Central, MTV2’s Guy Code), Shalewa Sharpe (Keith and the Girl; comedy album Stay Eating Cookies), Erica Spera (host of 20 Minutes of Fire podcast), Andy Haynes, and Grant Gordon perform stand-up for this new free weekly LES show produced by Luisa Díez, and hosted by Samantha Ruddy, Luke Touma, JP McDade, Jordan Temple, and/or Dina Hashem: Too Many Cooks (9:00 pm, Free!, Lucky Jack’s Pub at 129 Orchard Street between Rivington & Delancey Streets)
Thursday 12/28: Oddball tales from Jamie Brickhouse (above left; author of Dangerous When Wet), Thomas Pryor (author of I Hate the Dallas Cowboys; The New York Times), Tracy Rowland (Emmy-award winning writer & TV producer; Cartoon Network, Rhino Records), and Calvin Cato (Oxygen’s My Crazy Love, host of Ed Sullivan on Acid) at this free monthly storytelling show in the East Village featuring such treats as a trivia contest with alcoholic prizes, hosted by the wonderful Leslie Goshko (above right; 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, Free!, KGB Bar at 85 East 4th Street off Second Avenue)
Thursday 12/28: In celebration of the holidays, improvised Jews battle improvised Christians for supremacy—via audience laughs and votes. Overall, history favors the Christians. But this is New York, where Jewish comics may well have the edge. There’s no telling what will happen…which is one of the great pleasures of the extravaganza that from the dawn of time has been called Cage Match: Jews Vs. Christians (11:00 pm, $7, UCB Hell’s Kitchen at 555 West 42nd Street)
Friday 12/29: A spectacular PIT double-bill from shape-shifting performers Kyle Schaefer & Nick Abeel, music & sound wizard Kelsey Didion, and stellar director Kristin McCarthy Parker. First puppetry is used to recreate classic kids’ movie Home Alone (aided by performers Natalie Rich & Sonia Mena, and 4-person choir Sarah Godwin, Evan Maltby, Richard Sears, and Michelle Vo): Kevin!!!!!; and then the same core team conjures a breathtaking live shot for shot stage version of Jurassic Park: Hold On To Your Butts (8:00 pm & 9:15 pm; $20 per show—or see both shows for just $30 total by clicking here; The PIT Mainstage (Striker) at 123 East 24th Street)
Friday 12/29: Delightful stellar improvisors Dana Shulman & Adrian Sexton play Clairee Belcher & Ouiser Boudreaux, the sassy supporting characters from 1989 film Steel Magnolias about charming but tough Southern women. In this show, they’re “fresh graduates from the improv workshop at The Chinquapin Parish Senior Center and are ready to show you everything they’ve learned. You’ll be enchanted by their improvisation skills, their witty banter, and their ability to make grown men cry. Why would you be anywhere else when you could come and sit by Ouiser and Clairee?” Why, indeed: Come and Sit By Me with Ouiser and Clairee (9:00 pm, $7, The PIT Underground at 123 East 24th Street)
Friday 12/29: In the wise words of media critic Cyndi Freeman: “The Star Wars Holiday Special was broadcast in its entirety only once, in the United States and Canada, on November 17, 1978, preempting Wonder Woman and The Incredible Hulk. It has never been rebroadcast or officially released on home video. David Hofstede called it ‘the worst two hours of television ever.’ George Lucas has reportedly said ‘If I had the time and a sledgehammer, I would track down every copy of that show and smash it.‘” See it screened, dissected, and mercilessly savaged tonight by Frank Conniff (TV’s Frank on Mystery Science Theater 3000; Cinematic Titanic), Brian McGuinness (Inside Amy Schumer), Wendi Sterling (Glamourpuss), and host Freddy G (NPR): Movies R Dumb: The Star Wars Holiday Special (11:00 pm, $10, Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell at 27-16 23rd Avenue)
Saturday 12/30: In one of the finest solo shows ever created about motherhood, rising star Jamie Aderski shares extraordinarily honest and hair-curling tales of what it was like for her to go through pregnancy and the early months of raising her baby (for a trailer, please click here). Whether this is a cautionary tale to would-be moms or an ode to the power of love is up to you to decide. Either way, you should not miss the unforgettable Cry Baby: My (Reluctant) Journey Into Motherhood (7:00 pm; $12, The PIT Mainstage (Striker) at 123 East 24th Street)
Saturday 12/30: After you thoroughly enjoy Jamie Aderski’s show (see directly above), stick around for a puppet version of Home Alone delivered by stellar director Kristin McCarthy Parker, music & sound wizard Kelsey Didion, performers Kyle Schaefer, Nick Abeel, Natalie Rich, and Sonia Mena, and 4-person choir Sarah Godwin, Evan Maltby, Richard Sears, and Michelle Vo: Kevin!!!!! (8:00 pm, $20, The PIT Mainstage (Striker) at 123 East 24th Street)
Sunday 12/31: Four funny people tell amazing stories. Three of the tales are absolutely true…but one of them is a pack of lies. The audience then asks questions to try and identify the fibber—and everyone who chooses correctly gets a free t-shirt! This evening’s yarn-spinners are Leslie Goshko (delightful & razor-sharp storyteller/comic/pianist; WNYC, Sirius XM, Huffington Post, Internet Action Force, star of Sideshow Goshko and The Real Housewives of Columbo), Adam Wade (two-time Moth GrandSlam Storytelling Champion (2006 & 2009) and record-breaking 20-time StorySlam Champion; album “The Human Comedy;” for a sampling of Adam’s award-winning tales, please click here), Ed Gavagan (TED Talks, Moth Grandslam champion, WNYC’s Moth Radio Hour), and Martin Dockery (five-time Moth GrandSlam finalist). Come let these storytellers and host Andy Christie (The New York Times, NPR, Moth GrandSlam champion, exceptionally nice guy) attempt to mislead you at The Liar Show (6:00 pm; $25, which includes a glass of champagne; reservations highly recommended by calling 212.989.9319; West Village’s Cornelia Street Cafe at 29 Cornelia Street)
Wishing you a 2018 filled with joy, love, wonder, and laughter
Tuesday 1/2/18: Brilliantly innovative comic Anthony Atamanuik (star of Comedy Central hit The President Show; Trump vs. Bernie, 30 Rock, Conan O’Brien, Huffington Post, Death by Roo Roo) plays oddball characters in a mix of sketch and improv, helped by cast members and guests TBA, in the resurrection of this show that used to run weekly at UCB East: The Tony Show (11:00 pm, $7, UCB Hell’s Kitchen at 555 West 42nd 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 Hell’s Kitchen
555 West 42nd Street; 152-seater; one of the most respected comedy showcases 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 Hell’s Kitchen 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 email@example.com.