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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 March 2018 (with much, much more to come soon) include:
Two of the finest productions to ever grace The Peoples Improv Theater are from the Recent Cutbacks company, which includes superbly inventive director Kristin McCarthy Parker, amazing shape-shifting performers Kyle Schaefer, Nick Abeel, and Matt Zambrano, and stellar foley artists Blair Busbee & Kelsey Didion—and tonight you can see both magical shows back to back. Kicking off the evening is a live-on-stage ‘shot for shot’ parody of the first chapter in “the most epic fantasy trilogy of all time”—i.e., Lord of the Rings: Fly, You Fools!; and then an unforgettable live shot for shot stage version of Jurassic Park: Hold On To Your Butts…Jurassik Parc (7:00 pm, $30 for the entire double-bill (a great deal, as these shows are normally $20 each), The PIT Mainstage at 123 East 24th Street)
Friday 3/2: “Do you ever leave a comedy show saying ‘Hmm, that was pretty funny but not enough reading’? Literati is a night of comics in character performing hilarious readings—sometimes while wearing wigs,” with comics Ikechukwu Ufomadu, Ruby McCollister, Peter Smith, and Fareeha Khan hosted by Colin O’Brien & Michael Wolf: Literati: A Comedy Show About Books and the Idiots Who Write Them (9:30 pm, $10, LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street; take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
March: In a rare change, this month one of comedy’s greatest talents, Daniel Kitson, has made available a film of his stage show It’s Always Right Now Until It’s Later for a 3-day online rental. Daniel has been infamously reluctant to provide his work in a permanent form that can be savored by mass audiences, so please encourage him to make this a mere first step in a flood of releases by renting and thoroughly enjoying the 96-minute show in the convenience of your own home, office cubicle, prison cell, or what have you. Recorded in June 2012 at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester, and produced, directed, and edited by Ewan Jones Morris: It’s Always Right Now Until It’s Later ($5 for a 72-hour streaming rental; available immediately worldwide via Daniel’s site at Video.DanielKitson.com)
Saturday 3/3: 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 superb yarn-spinners are Ophira Eisenberg (above, middle left; NBC’s The Today Show, CBS’ The Late Late Show, Comedy Central, VH1, Showtime, host of NPR’s trivia/puzzle show Ask Me Another, bestselling book Screw Everyone, comedy album Bangs!; for a sampling of Ophira’s remarkably deep comedic tales, please click here), Jim O’Grady (above right; The New York Times, This American Life, WNYC Radio, Moth GrandSlam Champion), Susan Kent (above, middle right; The Moth Radio Hour), and Mike Brown (above left; co-host of Comedy Outliers). 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; $20, which includes one drink; reservations highly recommended by calling 212.989.9319; West Village’s Cornelia Street Cafe at 29 Cornelia Street)
Saturday 3/3: Harry Potter fans, rejoice! The topic for this month’s Book Club is Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the fifth and longest book in J.K. Rowling’s phenom series. Hosts Blythe Roberson (The New Yorker, The Onion, McSweeney’s) & Colin Stokes (Associate Cartoon Editor at The New Yorker; The Onion, GQ) will discuss it for your edutainment, aided by comics Sydnee Washington (MTV2’s Vidiots, co-host of podcast The Unofficial Expert), Dan Chamberlain (hilarious larger-than-life character actor & sketch performer; sketch writer for Funny or Die, Above Average), Sachi Ezura (producer for The Rundown with Robin Thede), and Amy Zimmer (The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal; author of book Meet Miss Subways: New York’s Beauty Queens 1941-1976): Book Club—A Comedy Show: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (8:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Saturday 3/3: Sean Patton (one of the finest stand-ups in the country; killer sets on Jimmy Fallon and Conan O’Brien; Comedy Central’s Half Hour, Inside Amy Schumer, @midnight, This Is Not Happening, and The Meltdown; VH1, TruTV, IFC, Viceland; feature film Wifed Out; former co-host of Esquire Network’s Best Bars in America), Nore Davis (HBO’s Last Week Tonight, Comedy Central’s Inside Amy Schumer and Russell Simmons Presents The Ruckus, Showtime’s Boardwalk Empire, MTV), Sydnee Washington (MTV2’s Vidiots, co-host of podcast The Unofficial Expert), and Pretty Sad White Girls (Lisa Bettencourt & Jillian Schiralli) perform stand-up or sketch hosted by Christi Chiello (Comedy Central’s Roast Battle, MTV’s Girl Code, TruTV, stellar Ars Nova show It’s Christi, B*tch!) & Petey Deabreu (host of Petey’s World): White Chocolate (10:00 pm; $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Wednesday 3/7: One of the very best shows at UCB is by Jay Malsky, a super-charged & hilarious character comic who also sings beautifully. This 25-minute solo musical shows off all of Jay’s strengths, as he plays a variety of women whose boyfriends he stole. With musical direction by Jody Shelton, choreography by Zak Sommerfield, and taped vocals by David Carl & Taylor Ortega, this production establishes Jay Malsky as a vibrant rising star with a great comedy career ahead of him. If you’re in the industry and looking for fresh talent, come check this out: Jay Malsky Slept With My Boyfriend! (9:30 pm; $9—which includes a second show, I’m Your Mommy; UCB Hell’s Kitchen at 555 West 42nd Street)
Thursday 3/8: Enjoy a comic excavation of teen angst artifacts (journals, letters, poems, lyrics, home movies, stories, and more) shared by their original authors before total strangers at this popular monthly show: Mortified (8:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Littlefield at 635 Sackett Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Saturday 3/10: 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 for this Fourth Anniversary Show, which is LGBTQ-themed, are guests Mychal Denzel Smith (above left; author of New York Times bestselling book Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching: A Young Black Man’s Education), JD Samson (above middle; singer/songwriter/musician/producer; bands Le Tigre and MEN), and Eliot Glazer (Broad City, Haunting Renditions; author of My Parents Were Awesome). This show usually sells out, so I highly recommend nabbing tickets in advance online for Tinder Live: Fourth Anniversary Show (8:30 pm, $15, Brooklyn’s Littlefield at 635 Sackett Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Sunday 3/18: 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 for this podcast recording: Kondabolu Brothers Podcast Live (8:00 pm, $15, Brooklyn’s Littlefield at 635 Sackett Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Saturday 3/24: Ashley Brooke Roberts (energetic, enormously likeable stand-up, sketch comic and actress; stellar co-host of Fresh Out and Camp; former writer for Nat Geo Explorer and MTV’s Guy Code; UCB Maude sketch groups The Prom and Absolutely), Emma Carmichael (former Editor-in-Chief of Jezebel), and Celisse Henderson (singer/songwriter/musician; recently performed with Ke$ha at the Grammys) sing or tell jokes, then enthusiastically endorse some product they love…which will be handed out to lucky members of the audience! Hosted by the wonderful Chris Duffy (staff writer for NatGeo Explorer, host of You’re the Expert), who makes this promise for one audience member per show: You Get A Spoon (4:00 pm, $10, LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street; take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex 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.