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That said, my top NYC comedy recommendations for June 2018 (with more to come soon) include:
Yesterday: On behalf of myself and the audience at Bell House last night, huge thanks to John Hodgman & Jean Grae for giving us an extra special treat—their surprise guest was Sir Patrick Stewart!!! It was an amazing show, and a wonderful way to cap the One Year Anniversary of Jean and John. The duo are taking the summer off, but will be back with new types of shows, individually and together, in the Fall.
Thursday 6/21: From 6:00 pm to 12:30 am, The PIT Mainstage and The PIT Underground host 10 shows devoted to LGBTQ-themed comedy of all forms—stand-up, storytelling, sketch, improv, musical, drag, and more. Most individual shows cost $11. Alternatively, you might be able to buy an all-you-can see pass at the box office (as I write this, the online purchase option for the festival pass isn’t available). Enjoy this diverse selection of queer comedy while knowing a dollar from each ticket goes to the It Gets Better Project: LolGBTQ Mini-Festival (6:00 pm to 12:30 am, $11 per show, The PIT Mainstage (Striker) and The PIT Underground at 123 East 24th Street)
Thursday 6/21: 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; podcast Hang Out With Me), Dan St. Germain (enormously likeable rising star; Jimmy Fallon, Conan O’Brien, John Oliver, Comedy Central Half Hour, Crashing, @midnight, This is Not Happening, The Electric Company, MTV, VH1; currently writing for Netflix’s The Break with Michelle Wolf, previously staff writer for CBS’ Superior Donuts and TruTV’s Ten Things), Doug Smith (Conan O’Brien, co-host of See You In Hell), and more perform stand-up for stellar hosts (above) Ashley Brooke Roberts (energetic, enormously likeable rising star stand-up, sketch comic, and actress; former writer for NatGeo Explorer and MTV’s Guy Code; UCB Maude sketch groups The Prom and Absolutely) and/or Jim Tews (Louie, Last Comic Standing; host of Homeschooled; New York Times bestselling author of Felines of New York; comedy album I Was in Band): Fresh Out (9:00 pm, $9, UCB East at 153 East 3rd Street)
Friday 6/22: Comics & game nerds Jo Firestone, Samantha Ruddy, Eli Yudin, Alex Navarro, and Robert Dean play and make merciless fun of some of the worst video games of all time (e.g., Shaq-Fu) hosted by Mike Drucker (hilarious stand-up and staff writer for TBS’ Full Frontal with Samantha Bee; previously staff writer for Comedy Central’s The President Show and nearly 400 episodes of NBC’s Jimmy Fallon, and contributing writer for Saturday Night Live): Shit Arcade (10:30 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Friday 6/22: Highly talented hip-hop improv group North Coast attempts to create a Hamilton on the spot by making up a musical based on an audience suggestion of a famous historical figure: Anybody: An Improvised Historical Hip-Hopera (9:30 pm, $16.89 online or $20 at the door, LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street; take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Saturday 6/23: Guests TBA perform stand-up, songs, characters, and/or more, 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)
Sunday 6/24: NYLaugh.org’s free summer stand-up shows, which happen Sundays 2:00-4:00 pm at parks all over the city, kicks off its 2018 series today at Staten Island’s Wolfe’s Pond Park. All subsequent shows will take place in Manhattan—specifically, The Battery (on Castle Clinton Lawn, in front of the National Monument) July 1st and 15th, Washington Square Park (at Garibaldi Plaza, on the east side of the Fountain) July 8th, and Tompkins Square Park (on the Old Bandshell Lawn) July 22nd—with lineups TBA: Laughter in the Park (2:00 pm-4:00 pm, Free!, Staten Island’s Wolfe’s Pond Park at 420 Cornelia Avenue)
Monday 6/25: Singer/songwriter/musician Julian Velard (pianist for NPR’s Ask Me Another; albums include Fancy Words For Failure) fulfills his lifelong dream is to be a Late Night Talk Show Sidekick, “playing Paul Shaffer to different David Lettermans in the hopes of finding his soulmate,” with tonight’s stellar guests Wyatt Cenac (star of TBS’ Friends of Earth; former star correspondent for The Daily Show; writer for South Park; albums Comedy Person, Brooklyn, and Furry Dumb Fighter; host of Night Train), Nikki Glaser (host of You Up on SiriusXM Comedy Central Radio; star of former Comedy Central series Not Safe; films Trainwreck and I Feel Pretty; 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), Brooke Van Poppelen (co-host of TruTV’s Hack My Life; The View, @midnight, HBO, CBS, VH1), Michael Cruz Kayne (HBO’s Crashing, The Chris Gethard Show; ace musical improv group Baby Wants Candy, UCB Saturday night improv group What I Did For Love, co-host of monthly comedy show The Exhibition), and more: Sidekickin’ It with Julian Velard (8:30 pm, $12, Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 3 at 196 Allen Street, near the F subway’s Second Avenue stop)
Monday 6/25: Roy Wood Jr. (correspondent for Comedy Central’s The Daily Show and host of This is Not Happening) and more TBA—mostly stand-ups, but maybe also something different such as an extreme character, a juggler, or a magician—perform for this free weekly show hosted by the multi-talented Morgan Miller (above; sharp improvisor, sketch comic, and stand-up): Dirty Laundry (11:00 pm, Free! (make reservation here), UCB Hell’s Kitchen at 555 West 42nd Street)
Thursday 6/28: A glorious collection of hilarious film & TV clips and lectures by mass media experts hosted by super-fan Kevin Maher (Emmy-nominated writer whose work has appeared on HBO, Comedy Central, and AMC; former host of AMC’s The Sci-Fi Dept.) and guest co-host Kate Wilkinson (Wig Wurq website “judging pop culture’s wigs from lace fronts to split ends”), this month focusing on dance (and if you don’t already know how fun this theme is, please click here), with scheduled guests Tallie Medel (immensely talented comedic dancer/actress and rising star who’s a member of the fabulous Cocoon Central Dance Team), Rob Paravonian (Comedy Central, VH1; to watch his hit video Pachelbel Rant, which has been viewed by over 13 million people on YouTube, please click here), Wendy Mays (host of the Pet Cinematary podcast), and Cristina Cacioppo (cinema programmer for Alamo Drafthouse): Kevin Geeks Out About Dance (7:30 pm; $15—buying in advance is recommended, as this show crammed with rich imagery and fascinating ideas often sells out; Brooklyn’s Alamo Drafthouse Cinema at 445 Albee Square West—take the 2/3 subway to Hoyt Street)
Thursday 6/28: Learn the early history of the MTA via fun lectures, sketches, and more at the second of this comedic history series about NYC transit, with guests TBA, hosted by Meg Pierson (TEDx, Alchemy Comedy) and Justin Williams (Comedy Central; host of Death Comedy Jam): Why Your Train is F*cked: A Love/Hate Show About the History of the MTA (7:00 pm; $16.89 online, $18 at the door; LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street—take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Thursday 6/28: Stand-ups TBA perform for stellar hosts (above) Ashley Brooke Roberts (energetic, enormously likeable rising star stand-up, sketch comic, and actress; former writer for NatGeo Explorer and MTV’s Guy Code; UCB Maude sketch groups The Prom and Absolutely) and/or Jim Tews (Louie, Last Comic Standing; host of Homeschooled; New York Times bestselling author of Felines of New York; comedy album I Was in Band): Fresh Out (9:00 pm, $9, UCB East at 153 East 3rd Street)
Friday 6/29: Fifty comics (TBA) gather to each share a minute’s worth of observations about a bit of pop culture with which he or she can’t be bothered, with hosts Matt Rogers & Bowen Yang (above; hosts of the acclaimed Las Culturistas podcast): Las Culturistas Live: I Don’t Think So, Honey (8:00 pm, $20, Brooklyn’s The Bell House (149 7th Street; take R subway to 9th Street or F/G to Fourth Avenue)
Friday 6/29: A one-woman show by Sydnee Washington (MTV2’s Vidiots, co-host of podcast The Unofficial Expert) about her decade as a high-earning cocktail waitress and why, after a decade of working in NYC nightlife, she decided to hang up her server dress forever: Death of a Bottle Girl (9:00 pm; $12, 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 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.
Special Thanks to Mindy and Anya
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.