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That said, my top NYC comedy recommendations for July 2018 (with much more to come soon) include:
Tuesday 7/3: Roland Emmerich’s & Dean Devlin’s 1996 film Independence Day is actually quite entertaining—and also a milestone in the history of Hollywood blockbusters (it was the highest-grossing movie of its year). That said, there’s plenty about it to make fun of. Tonight it’ll be screened and mercilessly skewered by comics Frank Conniff (TV’s Frank on Mystery Science Theater 3000; Cinematic Titanic; author of How to Write Cheesy Movies and 25 MST3K Films That Changed My Life In No Way Whatsoever), Carolina Hidalgo (co-host with MST3K’s Frank Conniff & Trace Beaulieu of Movie Sign with the Mads podcast), John Fugelsang (host of Tell Me Everything on Sirius XM; former host of ABC’s America’s Funniest Home Videos), and Jenn Wehrung (BBC; co-host with Chris Gersbeck of Soft Core!), who make this solemn promise: “We will be fast forwarding through the Randy Quaid scenes.” Their cruelty will be contrasted by exceptionally kind host Chris Gersbeck (co-host of Soft Core!, which is essentially a porn version of this show, and Bunk Bed Time Open Mic): Movies R Dumb: Independence Day (9:30 pm, $10, Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell at 27-16 23rd Avenue)
Tuesday 7/3: Storytellers Phillip Comella, Rose DF, Dan Freed, Mia Lipsit, and Lorena Russi tell tales on this month’s science theme of Transformation, hosted by Tracy Rowland & Nisse Greenberg: The Story Collider: Transformation (8:00 pm, $12, LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street—take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Tuesday 7/3: Julio Torres (marvelously nuanced, outside-the-box stand-up; staff writer for Saturday Night Live; Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers, Billy on the Street, HBO’s High Maintenance, Louis C.K.’s Horace and Pete), Sydnee Washington (MTV2’s Vidiots, co-host of podcast The Unofficial Expert), Mary Kate Doherty (MTV), and Alexandra Sanchez perform material on social issues they feel passionately about hosted by Nicole Pasquale & William Martinez: WOKE AF: A Mind-Opening Variety Show (9:00 pm, $9, UCB East at 153 East 3rd Street)
Friday 7/6: “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 Joe Pera (star of Adult Swim’s Joe Pera Talks With You; Conan O’Brien, Seth Meyers, Comedy Central), Steven Markow (The New Yorker), Lucy Cottrell (Reductress), Eudora Peterson (The Special without Brett Davis), and Rachel Pegram 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)
Tuesday 7/10: A raucous monthly pun competition hosted by Fred Firestone (co-author with Jo Firestone of #1 bestselling Punderdome: A Card Game for Pun Lovers), with 18 audience members fiercely competing for wordplay dominance—and the chance to become an instant star based on verbal cleverness, and the ability to drum up the most applause from a packed and loudly cheering crowd: Punderdome 3000 (8:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Littlefield at 635 Sackett Street—take R subway to Union Street; show up early—doors open at 7:00—to nab a seat, or plan on standing)
Tuesday 7/10: Comics TBA go deep on their weird obsessions with seemingly boring things (e.g., “The History of the Rubber Duck”) hosted by Raj Sivaraman (co-host of Universe City podcast): Monotony: A Smart Comedy Show about Stupid Stuff (7:00 pm, $8, LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street; take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Tuesday 7/10: Comics share tales of their favorite femme fatales, with guests Robin Browne and Stephanie Fagan (hosts of the That’s the Spirit podcast), Sabrina McMillin (project manager at feminist creative agency Grey Horse), and Tija Mittal (storyteller) hosted by Allison Huntington Chase (owner & star of Madame Morbid’s Trolley Tours): Death Becomes Her (9:30 pm; $13.71 in advance online or $15 at the door; LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street—take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Monday 711: Hasan Minhaj (correspondent for The Daily Show), Sherrod Small (writer/performer on TBS’ Are We There Yet?, Comedy Central, VH1), DJ Donwill (co-host with Wyatt Cenac of Shouting At The Screen), Negin Farsad (Comedy Central, MTV, Netflix), and Lauren Ashley Smith perform stand-up or music hosted by Michelle Buteau (VH1’s Morning Buzz and Best Week Ever, Comedy Central’s Key & Peele, FOX’s Enlisted, Craig Ferguson, Last Comic Standing, @midnight, comedy album Shut Up) & Jordan Carlos (HBO’s Girls, Comedy Central’s Broad City and The Nightly Show, Showtime, MTV’s Guy Code, Guy Court, VH1, Adult Swim): Adulting (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)
Wednesday 7/11: Cutting-edge tech topics are tackled by one or more guests TBA and hosts David Ryan Polgar & Joe Leonardo for this live recording of their podcast: Funny as Tech (7:00 pm, $10, LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street; take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Wednesday 7/11: Highly talented singing improvisors Eric Gersen, Jeff Hiller, Michael Hartney, Jessica Morgan, Zack Willis, Hannah Solow, and Jake Smith interview an audience member about his or her college major, minor, classes, and final thesis, and then use the information to make up a complete musical on the spot: Rumpleteaser: Major and Minor (9:30 pm, $10, LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street; take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Thursday 7/12: This show focused on gender diversity features stand-ups Marie Faustin (co-host of 99.5 FM’s Tall Tales in the Big City and podcast The Unofficial Expert; former host of Oxygen’s Very Real Talk; VH1, TruTV, MTV’s Girl Code and Vidiots), Shalewa Sharpe (Keith and the Girl; comedy album Stay Eating Cookies), 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, live-on-stage co-host of Butterball; co-author of #1 bestselling Punderdome: A Card Game for Pun Lovers), Pooja Reddy, Caroline Doyle, and Maggie Crane: The ‘SUP Show: A Comedy Showcase for Female, Queer, and Gender Non-conforming Voices (9:30 pm, $10, LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street; take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Thursday 7/12: 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—which is now also a six-part series titled The Mortified Guide on Netflix!: Mortified (8:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Littlefield at 635 Sackett Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Friday 7/13: 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 7/14: A show celebrating the app that redefined online dating, with the lovely and quick-witted Lane Moore (above; HBO’s Girls; Sex & Relationship Editor of Cosmo; writer for The Onion, McSweeney’s; author of upcoming book How to be Alone) going on a live Tinder safari for guys while a packed audience watches her every choice with fascination. Offering comments and suggestions are guests Emmy Blotnick (brilliant rising star stand-up who’s performed on Stephen Colbert and stars in an upcoming Comedy Central Half Hour; writer for Stephen Colbert; Head Writer for Comedy Central’s The President Show; former writer for Comedy Central’s @midnight, Roast of Rob Lowe, and Not Safe with Nikki Glaser; MTV, VH1), 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), and Scott Rogowsky (NBC’s The Voice; host of wildly popular trivia game app HQ Trivia). This show consistently sells out, so I recommend nabbing tickets in advance online for Tinder Live (8:30 pm, $15, Brooklyn’s Littlefield at 635 Sackett Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Sunday 7/15: Comics Josh Gondelman (one of the sharpest comics in the country; Emmy & Peabody Award-winning writer/producer for HBO’s phenom Last Week Tonight with John Oliver; Conan O’Brien, The New Yorker; stand-up album Physical Whisper), Ashley Brooke Roberts (energetic, enormously likeable rising star stand-up, sketch comic, and actress; stellar host of Fresh Out; former writer for NatGeo Explorer and MTV’s Guy Code; UCB Maude sketch groups The Prom and Absolutely), and Dylan Marron (Ridgefield Middle School Talent Nite, Seriously.tv, Welcome to Night Vale podcast) demonstrate their quick wits by hilariously answering questions about what a guest scientist’s job entails at this live taping of the wonderful Chris Duffy’s superb podcast: You’re the Expert (7:00 pm, $16.89 in advance online or $20 at the door, LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street—take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Tuesday 7/17: Comics Nore Davis (HBO, Showtime, CBS, Comedy Central, MTV, Netflix; album You Guys Are Dope), Sydnee Washington (MTV2’s Vidiots, co-host of podcast The Unofficial Expert), Ayo Edebiri, and Karmen Naidoo share their horrible experiences of being profiled, hosted by Marcela Onyango (host of Feel the News) & Lauren Clark (The Story Pirates): Profiled (7:00 pm, $10, LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street—take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Tuesday 7/17: Comedic storytellers Al Jacobs, Mollena Williams-Haas, and more join pioneering sketch comic and storyteller Kevin Allison (The State) to celebrate the release date of RISK! True Stories People Never Thought They’d Dare To Share, a collection of some of the best true stories to be featured on the RISK! stage and/or podcast, which is typically one of the finest storytelling shows in the country: Risk! Book Launch (9:30 pm, $15, LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street—take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Wednesday 7/18: Emmy Blotnick (brilliant rising star stand-up who’s performed on Stephen Colbert and stars in an upcoming Comedy Central Half Hour; writer for Stephen Colbert; Head Writer for Comedy Central’s The President Show; former writer for Comedy Central’s @midnight, Roast of Rob Lowe, and Not Safe with Nikki Glaser; MTV, VH1), Michelle Collins (host of E!’s Daily Pop, People Mag TV”s Search History, and @SiriusXM’s The Michelle Collins Show; former co-host of ABC’s The View and Bachelor in Paradise: After Paradise), Sasheer Zamata (cast member for three seasons of Saturday Night Live; Comedy Central’s Inside Amy Schumer, Amazon’s Transparent, TBS’ People of Earth), and Lauren Ashley Smith (Head Writer of The Rundown with Robin Thede) perform stand-up for this fundraiser hosted by Alison Leiby (writer for The Opposition with Jordan Klepper, previously writer for The President Show; VICE, Triumph The Insult Comic Dog; host of It’s a Long Story): Night of Self(Less) Care (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)
Friday 7/20: A game show that describes itself as follows: “Ever talk to a straight guy and think, ‘Jesus Christ you’re boring!’ Two straight men enter the arena, but only one leaves with the title of Queen of the Straights. Lifelines include a Woman Who Gets It and a Wise Queer,” with guest comics TBA, hosted by Matt Rogers & Dave Mizzoni, who invite you to “come witness the ultimate test of who Is honorarily Gay As Fuck:” GAYme Show (9:00 pm, $10, LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street; take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Saturday 7/21: A guest celebrity answers arcane questions on a topic he or she claims to be expert in by hosts J. Keith van Straaten & Helen Hong for this live podcast recording: Go Fact Yourself (Noon; $11.59 in advance online or $15 at the door; LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street—take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street; a second edition of this show happens Sunday)
Saturday 7/21: World-class singing improvisors Evan Kaufman & Rebecca Vigil interview an audience couple about their love life and then turn it into a musical—with breathtaking skill (see my review of their award-winning FringeNYC 2015 shows here). I highly recommend the phenomenal Your Love, Our Musical (7:00 pm; $16.89 in advance online or $20 at the door; LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street—take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Sunday 7/22: “Eliot Glazer, a classically trained vocalist-turned-comedian, takes some of pop music’s most infamous songs and turns them into highbrow, sweeping ballads. Like a twisted version of MTV Unplugged, Austin City Limits, or VH1 Storytellers, it’s an intimate night of bad music made good,” with guests Matt Robers & Bowen Yang (hosts of the acclaimed Las Culturistas podcast) and Yamaneika Saunders (Last Comic Standing, Comedy Central Roast Battle): Haunting Renditions (8:30 pm, $15, Brooklyn’s The Bell House at 149 7th Street; take R subway to 9th Street or F/G to Fourth Avenue)
Sunday 7/22: In the second of two editions this weekend, a guest celebrity answers arcane questions on a topic he or she claims to be expert in by hosts J. Keith van Straaten & Helen Hong for this live podcast recording: Go Fact Yourself (Noon; $11.59 in advance online or $15 at the door; LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street—take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Sunday 7/22: A show for hypochondriacs and victims of terrible insurance, these comedic stories of healthcare nightmares range from self-diagnosis via Internet to at-home surgery, with this month’s topic Women’s Health by comics TBA, hosted by Sarah Burton and Allie Kokesh: I’m a Doctor Now: Stories About Self-Diagnosis (7:00 pm, $10, LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street—take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Monday 7/23: Tales of humiliating failure from comedic storytellers Vanessa Golembewski (NBC, Moth StorySlam winner), David Hu (Moth StorySlam winner), Harmon Leon (VICE), Alan I. Ross (Risk!), and ChaChanna Simpson (writer) hosted by Tija Mittal: Mistakes Were Made: Storytelling About Failure (7:00 pm, $15, LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street—take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Monday 7/23: Jessica Walter (Archer, Arrested Development, Play Misty For Me, Grand Prix) is tonight’s guest of this NPR weekly comedy trivia show taped live in Brooklyn and hosted by the wonderful Ophira Eisenberg (one of the finest comedic storytellers and stand-ups in the country; author of bestselling book Screw Everyone: Sleeping My Way to Monogamy, comedy album Bangs!; NBC, CBS, Comedy Central, VH1, Showtime): Ask Me Another (7:30 pm, $20, The Bell House at 149 7th Street; take R subway to 9th Street or F/G to Fourth Avenue)
Thursday 7/26: Learn the early history of the MTA via fun lectures, sketches, and more at the third 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 on<line, $18 at the door; LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street—take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Sunday 7/29: Comedy duo Marty Scanlon (musical improv team Good Catch) & Ali Gordon (musical improv group Rumpleteaser), plus guest Grey Henson (Tony Nominee for Broadway’s Mean Girls; previously Elder McKinley in The Book of Mormon), improvise on-the-fly pitches for sequels to movies that definitely do not need them for this live recording of their podcast: Making Number 2: Sequels = Comedy + Time (9:30 pm; $9.47 online or $12 at the door; LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street—take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Monday 7/30: Historic gastronomist Sarah Lohman (Cooking Channel’s Food: Fact or Fiction?) will unearth the stories behind your favorite ice cream treats and share some of history’s wildest bygone flavors that may be due for a revival. By the end of the night, you’ll be able to answer such questions as “Which came first, chocolate or vanilla? The ice cream sandwich or the ice cream cone? Neapolitan or liquid nitrogen?” Plus Jonathan Soma will show you the science behind making the perfect batch at home; reveal Big Ice Cream’s tricks for plumping up their profit margins; and track frozen desserts across the globe, from Italian gelato to dondurma, the magically stretchy ice cream from Turkey: The Secret History of Ice Cream—Presented by Masters of Social Gastronomy (7:00 pm; $12, LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street—take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Tuesday 7/31: Comedic storytellers share tales of reclaiming power, with Aparna Nancherla (brilliant stand-up and TV star), Danny Artese (Moth GrandSlam champion), Sandi Marx (7-time Moth StorySlam champion), Elana Lancaster (Moth StorySlam winner), Dawn Fraser (TED@NYC), Stephanie Summerville (The Moth mainstage), Lily Herman (founder of Get Her Elected), and Mark Pagá—plus political organizers Adrienne Lever (Director of Swing Left) and Asher Novek (President of Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats) offer ways to support a blue wave for the 2018 elections, all hosted by Nicole Ferraro: Our House: A Storytelling Benefit for Swing Left (7:00 pm; $20, 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 email@example.com.