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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).
That said, my top NYC comedy recommendations for March 2018 (with much, much more to come soon) include:
Monday 3/5: Myq Kaplan (one of the quickest minds in comedy; finalist on Last Comic Standing, semi-finalist on America’s Got Talent; David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Seth Meyers, Jay Leno, Comedy Central Presents; comedy albums No Kidding, Small, Dork, and Handsome, Vegan Mind Meld, and Meat Robot), Nikki Glaser (star of former Comedy Central series Not Safe; film Trainwreck; hour-long special Perfect; Jimmy Fallon, Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Kimmel, Last Comic Standing, Comedy Central Half Hour, Inside Amy Schumer, @midnight; NBC’s America Ninja Warrior: Celebrity Edition; podcast You Had to Be There), Eliot Glazer (Broad City, Haunting Renditions; author of My Parents Were Awesome), Chloe Hilliard (The Nightly Show, Last Comic Standing, MTV, TruTV), and Donnie Sengstack perform for this weekly Brooklyn stand-up show hosted by Jo Firestone (staff writer for Jimmy Fallon, co-author of #1 bestselling Punderdome: A Card Game for Pun Lovers), Aparna Nancherla (co-star of HBO’s Crashing, Netflix’s Master of None, and Comedy Central’s Corporate), and Maeve Higgins (Maeve in America, co-host of Nat Geo’s Star Talk): Butterboy with Jo, Aparna, and Maeve (8:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Littlefield at 635 Sackett Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Monday 3/5: Judah Friedlander (one of the quickest minds and very finest stand-ups in comedy; 30 Rock, Meet the Parents, Along Came Polly; Netflix stand-up special America is the Greatest Country in the United States; bestselling cartoon book If the Raindrops United) performs an hour of brand new material in the West Village: Judah Friedlander (8:00 pm, 8:00 pm, $15 plus two-item food/drink min., Village Underground at 130 West 3rd Street off Sixth Avenue)
Monday 3/5: Comics each perform an argument for why he or she should receive a Pulitzer Prize—with tonight’s candidates Tim Barnes (writer for HBO, NPR, The AV Club), Karen Chee (The New Yorker, Funny or Die, McSweeney’s, Splitsider, Reductress; member of sketch group Lo-Fi), James Folta (writer for The Onion, Funny or Die, McSweeney’s, Splitsider; co-author of website The Encyclopedia of Hypothetical Police Procedurals), and Joey Dundale (co-host of UCB show $$$)—hosted by Caroline Schaper (writer for Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, former writer for David Letterman) & Eliza Cossio (Senior Latina Correspondent for The Daily Show): Pulitzer Surprises (8:00 pm, $8, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Monday 3/5: With shockingly little fanfare, last Monday ended one of the greatest comedy runs in NYC, when Aparna Nancherla announced it was the final time she’d be hosting Whiplash, UCB’s free Mondays at 11:00 pm show that developed into one of the finest stand-up comedy showcases ever.
In a sense, the show began in 2005 as Crash Test hosted by Aziz Ansari, and eventually co-hosted by Paul Scheer & Rob Huebel. The three comics came to form group Human Giant, and moved on from the free weekly show to do an inventive sketch show on MTV. Wonderful former UCB Artistic Director Anthony King reasoned “What naturally follows a Crash? Whiplash!” Anthony asked stellar comic Leo Allen (who’d previously written for Saturday Night Live and Comedy Central) to host; and Leo in turn asked brilliant comedy booker Jeremy Levenbach to find the stand-ups to perform each week. Starting September 2008, the two of them set a standard of excellence that made Whiplash not only the best free comedy show in NYC but one of the very finest stand-up showcases in the world. When Leo decided to move on in 2014 and pursue opportunities in LA, he left very big shoes to fill.
Aparna Nancherla stepped into the role with extraordinary ease and grace. An exceptionally supportive host and prolific writer, Aparna churned out brilliant material week after week to start the show with great comedic energy. The vibe Aparna created made Whiplash continue to attract such star drop-ins as Louis C.K., Chris Rock, Amy Schumer, John Oliver, Jim Gaffigan, Daniel Kitson, and pretty much any other top comic who happened to be in town and wanted to try out material in front of one of the friendliest and sharpest comedy audiences on the planet.
Two things recently changed. First, Aparna has taken on a paid role Mondays at 8:00 pm, co-hosting the stand-up show Butterboy with Jo, Aparna, and Maeve at Brooklyn’s Littlefield. And second, UCB’s recent mainstage move from West 26th Street (near a number of colleges) to way West 42nd Street (near the Hudson River) has at least temporarily altered the audience and vibe of Whiplash, making it a more difficult gig for both the host and guest comics.
Whoever takes over from Aparna will have an amazing history to live up to, and fresh challenges. Meanwhile, enormous kudos are due to Aparna for making one of the greatest shows in comedy even better for a glorious three years and change: Whiplash (11:00 pm. Free! (but make a reservation), UCB Hell’s Kitchen at 555 West 42nd Street)
Tuesday 3/6: A wild monthly pun competition hosted by father-daughter duo Fred Firestone (co-author with Jo of #1 bestselling Punderdome: A Card Game for Pun Lovers) and Jo Firestone (one of the most relentlessly inventive comics in the biz; staff writer for Jimmy Fallon; star of Comedy Central Stand-Up Presents special; HBO’s Crashing, Comedy Central’s Broad City; radio host of WFMU’s Dr. Gameshow), with 18 audience members fiercely competing for wordplay dominance: Punderdome 3000 (8:00 pm; $10—sold out of advance tickets, but there’ll be 150 tickets available at the door; Brooklyn’s Littlefield at 622 Degraw 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 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, $15, Brooklyn’s Littlefield at 635 Sackett Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Saturday 3/24: Emma Carmichael (above left; former Editor-in-Chief of Jezebel), Ashley Brooke Roberts (above right; energetic, enormously likeable stand-up, sketch comic and actress; stellar co-host of Fresh Out and Camp; former writer for Nat Geo Explorer and MTV’s Guy Code; UCB Maude sketch groups The Prom and Absolutely),and Celisse Henderson (singer/songwriter/musician; recently performed with Ke$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)
Saturday 3/24: Seven comics—tonight including Rob Haze (Jimmy Fallon; from Alanta) and Kimberly Dinaro Massachusetts (Reductress; from Massachusetts)—tell stories of where they originally came from (ranging from Memphis to Columbia) and the journey that led them to NYC, all performing at Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell (27-16 23rd Avenue) hosted by the charming Katie Boyle (above; from Ireland): Transplants (7:30 pm, $10, Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell at 27-16 23rd Avenue)
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 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.