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That said, my top NYC comedy recommendations for April 2018 (with more to come soon) include:
Friday 4/27: The acclaimed Hit The Lights Theater company brings Herman Melville’s Moby Dick to the stage using “shadow puppetry, the interplay between darkness and light, rock ballad sea shanties, and all the curiosity and terror of the sea” in this innovative musical theatre production: Whales (8:00 pm, $20, The PIT Mainstage (Striker) at 123 East 24th Street; running through May 18th)
Friday 4/27: Janelle James (@midnight, SeeSo’s Night Train with Wyatt Cenac), Krystyna Hutchinson (with comedy partner Corinne Fisher, host of popular Guys We Fucked podcast and author of F*CKED: Being Sexually Explorative and Self-Confident in a World That’s Screwed), Jamie Lee (co-star of & writer for HBO’s Crashing; TruTV, Conan O’Brien, MTV’s Girl Code, The Pete Holmes Show), and Katie Goodman (Broad Comedy) perform stand-up for this Second Anniversary show: She Makes Me Laugh (9:30 pm, $16, The PIT Mainstage (Striker) at 123 East 24th Street)
Saturday 4/28: Friends Who Folk (delightful singing duo Rachel Wenitsky & Ned Riseley; TheNewYorker.com), Nate Dendy (magician; Penn & Teller: Fool Us Himself), and Dylan Marron (actor; Ridgefield Middle School Talent Nite, Seriously.tv, Welcome to Night Vale podcast) perform songs, magic, or characters, 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; $13.71 online, $15 at the door; LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street—take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Saturday 4/28: Storytelling, catharsis, and laughter as over a dozen comics who identify as survivors of sexual assault, harassment and, in one case, a lawsuit for speaking out against an alleged rapist share their experiences. This show will be filmed as part of a documentary: Rape Jokes by Survivors (7:00 pm, $12, LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street; take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Saturday 4/28: Seven comics—from Canada, Chicago, Indiana, Ohio, and more—tell stories of where they originally came from and the journey that led them to NYC, hosted by the charming Katie Boyle (above; from Ireland): Transplants (7:30 pm, $7, Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell at 27-16 23rd Avenue)
Saturday 4/28: In this unique show, animators spontaneously bring the jokes of guest stand-ups (TBA) to visual life with lightning speed & wit. Part of the fun is that the comics don’t know what the animators will draw and the animators don’t know how the comics will react. Produced by Sam Varela & Brandie Posey and hosted by Ian Fidance: Picture This! (8:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Saturday 4/28: Stellar comics share their love for the weirdest animals on the planet, with tonight’s zoologists Josh Gondelman (Emmy & Peabody Award-winning writer/producer for HBO’s phenom Last Week Tonight with John Oliver; Conan O’Brien, The New Yorker; stand-up comedy album Physical Whisper), Ariel Dumas (writer for Stephen Colbert), Bowen Yang (Comedy Central’s Broad City; co-host of podcast & stage show Las Culturistas), Larry Owens, Conier Mandt, and X Mayo hosted by Karen Chee (The New Yorker, McSweeney’s): The Biodiversity Jam (9:30 pm, $12, LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street; take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Saturday 4/28: NYC comics TBA perform stand-up or sketch hosted by the fabulous Christi Chiello (Comedy Central’s Roast Battle, MTV’s Girl Code, TruTV, stellar Ars Nova show It’s Christi, B*tch!; unforgettably observed the woman in the photo on the wall of the Union Hall stage looks like Robin Williams in Mrs. Doubtfire) & 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)
Sunday 4/29: In this stage version of their podcast Dead Meet, Jaime Lutz & Maggie Widdoes play mediums who talk to ghosts…performed by ace comics Keisha Zollar (HBO’s Divorce, Orange Is the New Black, MTV; writer for The Opposition with Jordan Klepper; ace improv trio Doppelganger, sketch group Astronomy Club), James Dwyer (Master of None; co-star of UCB’s A Big Dumb Thing), and Nicole Silverberg (writer for Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, Editor-at-Large for Reductress): Dead Meet (Live Show) (8:00 pm; $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Monday 4/30: Some of the most brilliant improvisors alive (TBA) stumble into theatre scenes of plays they’ve never seen—performed by superb Broadway, TV, and/or film stars—and make up their dialogue while the actors commit to staying in character and on book. The result is amazingly fun, hosted by actor/director Stephen Ruddy: Gravid Water (8:00 pm, $9, UCB Hell’s Kitchen at 555 West 42nd Street)
Monday 4/30: Whiplash, which was NYC’s best-ever free stand-up show, has moved to Union Hall (where it’s now $10, but hopefully will continue to be transcendently great). Taking its Mondays-at-11:00 pm time slot at the UCB mainstage is a new show that sounds a great deal like UCB’s much-missed School Night, which packed as many as a dozen guests into 75 minutes performing stand-up, characters, sketch, improv, and occasionally acts that defied categorization. The level of talent varied wildly; but for some, like me, that was part of the laid-back fun. If you care to support experimentation, and can patiently wait for periodic magical surprises, consider giving this new showcase a chance in the hope that, like School Night, it becomes a uniquely organic rollercoaster ride. Hosted by the multi-talented Morgan Miller (sharp improvisor, sketch comic, and stand-up), it’s time to reveal the Dirty Laundry (11:00 pm, Free! (make reservation here), UCB Hell’s Kitchen at 555 West 42nd Street)
Tuesday 5/1: David Cross (comedy legend; Mr. Show, Arrested Development, Modern Family) tries out new stand-up material in Brooklyn: David Cross: Still Shooting the Shit, Still Seeing What Sticks (8:00 pm, $15, Brooklyn’s The Bell House at 149 7th Street; take R subway to 9th Street or F/G to Fourth Avenue)
Tuesday 5/1: This African-American stand-up show features Dillon Stevenson (writer for HBO’s Wyatt Cenac’s Problem Areas), Abbi Crutchfield (Broad City, MTV, VH1, Witsream), Jordan Carlos (cast member of Netflix’s Friends From College; HBO’s 2 Dope Queens and Girls, Comedy Central’s Broad City and The Nightly Show, Showtime, MTV’s Guy Code and Guy Court, VH1, Adult Swim), Shalewa Sharpe (Keith and the Girl; comedy album Stay Eating Cookies), and Chris Lamberth (AXS TV) hosted by Brandon Collins: Don’t Think Once (7:30 pm; $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union 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 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 Best New York Comedy (and HyReviews.com). He is literally the only person in NYC providing daily summaries of what’s happening comedy-wise. 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.
From comedy & rock goddess Lane Moore (host of smash hit Tinder Live; author of How to be Alone; lead singer of Brooklyn band It Was Romance): Hy Bender lives and breathes comedy. He knows what he’s talking about. Listen.
Please feel encouraged to reach out to tell me about comedy shows, provide feedback on my cross-genre short story anthology Ghosts on Drugs, hire me to develop your book or screenplay (please visit BookProposal.net or HyOnYourScript.com), or for any other reason by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.