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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 this BestNewYorkComedy.com blog and allow for email notifications. Other ways to keep up are to follow me on Twitter (@hybender) or Instagram (@hybenderny), and/or to visit the desktop version of this site at HyReviews.com.
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 Star Wars Day include:
Friday 5/4: 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 Christian Finnegan, Carolina Hidalgo, Jake Vevera, and FreddyG hosted by Chris Gersbeck (co-host of Everythign Is Dumbn, and Bunk Bed and Murray Povich open mics): Movies R Dumb: The Star Wars Holiday Special (7:30 pm, $8 if you use code STARWARS online (otherwise $10), Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell at 27-16 23rd Avenue; followed, for optional additional charges, by a Star Wars Drawing Class and a Star Wars Laser Light Show)
Friday 5/4: “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 Dylan Marron (Ridgefield Middle School Talent Nite, Seriously.tv, Welcome to Night Vale podcast, Conversations with People Who Hate Me), Marcia Belsky (singing songs from Handmaids Tale: The Musical), Lucas Michael (TBS’ Miracle Workers), and Alex Song (Netflix) hosted by Colin O’Brien & Michael Wolf: Literati: A Comedy Show About Books and the Idiots Who Write Them (9:00 pm, $10, LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street; take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Friday 5/4: Brilliant improvisor & character comic Connor Ratliff (right; TruTV’s The Chris Gethard Show; The Stepfathers) transforms into “filmmaker George Lucas (Radioland Murders) as he embarks upon an exciting new career as a comedian and talk show host!” He’s joined by talk show sidekick Griffin Newman (left; brilliant character/improv comic; Arthur on Amazon’s The Tick, Jared Kushner on Showtime’s Our Cartoon President, HBO, CBS, MTV, TBS; feature films Draft Day, Fort Tilden, Night Moves), plus guests Jordan D. White (Editor of Marvel’s X-Men, Wolverine, and Guardians of the Galaxy comics, and long-time editor of its Star Wars comics), Zach Cherry (HBO’s Crashing), and Jackie Jennings (The Chris Gethard Show), “as they revolutionize the talk show format the same way Lucas once revolutionized cinema:” The George Lucas Talk Show (Midnight, $9, UCB East at 153 East 3rd 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 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 email@example.com.