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That said, my top NYC comedy recommendations for July 2018 (with more to come soon) include:
Friday 7/20: Infamous 1988 E.T. ripoff movie Mac and Me is considered one of the worst films of all time, with a rare 0% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The images above provide some clue as to why. It’s also notable for numerous product placements, winning Golden Raspberry Awards for Worst Director (Stewart Ratfill) and Worst New Star (Ronald McDonald). “Enjoy” this screening with comics Christian Finnegan (creator & co-host of A&E’s Black and White; co-star of TBS’ Are We There Yet?; Conan O’Brien; three Comedy Central specials, Netflix special The Fun Part; TBS, VH1, MSNBC), Brian McGuinness, Erin Lynn O’Connor, and Colin Fitzgerald making cruel comments throughout produced by Chris Gersbeck (host of Casual Sets, Soft Core!, and Bunk Bed Time Open Mic): Movies R Dumb: Mac and Me (11:00 pm, $10, Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell at 27-16 23rd Avenue)
Friday 7/20: 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), plus Rob Haze, Greg Stone, Julia Johns, Maria Shehata, and Jill Weiner perform stand-up hosted by Shelby Taylor (host of The Killing Joke, producer of See You In Hell): Bitches’ Brew (8:30 pm, Free!, Brooklyn’s Halyards Bar at 406 Third Avenue)
Friday 7/20: This new free stand-up show features Seaton Smith (rising star stand-up; HBO’s Girls, FOX’s Mulaney, Chris Rock’s film Top Five, Conan O’Brien, Seth Meyers, Inside Amy Schumer, The Nightly Show), Louis Katz (Jimmy Fallon, HBO, Comedy Central Half Hour), Samantha Ruddy (College Humor, Reductress, Someecards), Dan Black (sketches for Jimmy Fallon; TruTV, TLC, Fuse; UCB’s Death by Roo Roo), Joe Rumrill (The Chris Gethard Show; co-host of Cartoon Monsoon), and Mary Kate Doherty (MTV’s 420 Theater) performing for hosts Matt Strickland & Colby Smith: Knapsack (8:30 pm, Free!, Crystal Lake Brooklyn at 647 Grand Street; take L subway to Brooklyn’s Lorimer Street or Graham 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—Nick Kocher and Brian McElhaney—enter the arena, but only one leaves with the title of Queen of the Straights. Lifelines include a Woman Who Gets It (Catherine Cohen) and a Wise Queer (Pat Regan)” 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: Jacqueline Novak (exceptionally smart, fresh stand-up; Jimmy Fallon, James Corden, Comedy Central Half Hour, Inside Amy Schumer, HBO; comedy album Quality Notions; book How to Weep in Public) practices this solo show she’ll be performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which she describes—eerily, in third person—as follows: “Jacqueline finds everything embarrassing…except for the obvious. Revealing intimate details of her life to strangers? Her chosen profession. Crying in public? She wrote a book encouraging it. Being caught for even a moment having something resembling self-esteem? Unbearable. As a woman, shame is constantly dumped upon you…in regards to body, beauty, sexual behavior, and more. As a human, the indignities are near constant. This show weaves Novak’s personal stories with stand-up to parse what does and does not deserve our embarrassment.” For tonight only, it’ll be hosted by John Early (Netflix’s The Characters and Wet Hot American Summer, NBC’s 30 Rock, Comedy Central’s Broad City). “Exquisite banter between J and J will unfold into Jacqueline performing the show—sweaty, personal, passionate, and full notionry—and then afterward John will praise it:” Jacqueline Novak, Hosted by John Early: How Embarrassing for Her (8:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union 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: NYLaugh.org’s free summer stand-up series concludes today with a show at the East Village’s Tompkins Square Park, with comics TBA: Laughter in the Park (2:00 pm-4:00 pm, Free!, at Tompkins Square Park on the Old Bandshell Lawn; take the F subway to Second Avenue)
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: Hari Kondabolu (above left; fresh, sharp, rising star stand-up; David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Comedy Central Presents; fascinating TruTV documentary The Problem with Apu; Netflix special Warn Your Relatives; co-host of Kondabolu Brothers podcast), Michelle Biloon (Craig Ferguson, Chelsea Lately, Comedy Central), Sam Taggart (Live on Broadgay, Lake Homo High), and Maria Shehata perform stand-up for hosts Jo Firestone (staff writer for Jimmy Fallon, co-author of #1 bestselling Punderdome: A Card Game for Pun Lovers), Aparna Nancherla (one of the very finest stand-ups in the country; co-star of HBO’s Crashing and 2 Dope Queens, Netflix’s Master of None and The Standups, and Comedy Central’s Corporate; former writer for Seth Meyers), and/or 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 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)
Monday 7/23: Terrific lineup of Rebecca Vigil (above; rising star powerhouse improv singer; Your Love Our Musical, The Vigilante, Kick It!), 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), Bowen Yang (Comedy Central’s Broad City; co-host of podcast & stage show Las Culturistas), Michael Hartney (TV Land’s Throwing Shade, Broadway’s School of Rock, ; co-host of Characters Welcome), and and Scott Rogowsky (NBC’s The Voice; host of wildly popular trivia game app HQ Trivia) are scheduled to perform stand-up for this free weekly show hosted by the multi-talented Morgan Miller (immensely likeable improvisor, sketch comic, and stand-up): Dirty Laundry (11:00 pm, Free! (make reservation here), UCB Hell’s Kitchen at 555 West 42nd Street)
Tuesday 7/24: Rebecca Vigil (rising star improv singer; Your Love Our Musical, The Vigilante) sings powerhouse songs she makes up on the spot, backed by a superb improv band headed by keyboardist Dan Reitz. Plus she’s joined by typically terrific NYC comics (TBA): Kick It! with Rebecca Vigil (7:30 pm; $11 online using code KICKIT [otherwise $18], plus 2-drink min.; Carolines Comedy Club at 1626 Broadway)
Wednesday 7/25: Stellar storytellers TBA tell comedic tales on this month’s theme TBA for this live podcast taping hosted by the wonderful David Martin: The Nights of Our Lives (7:30 pm, $9, UCB Hell’s Kitchen at 555 West 42nd Street)
Wednesday 7/25: Highly talented singing improvisors Eric Gersen, Zack Willis, Aaron Jackson, Josh Sharp, Lauren Adams, Jessica Morgan, Hannah Solow, Carrie McCrossen, Jeff Hiller, Jake Smith, and/or Jeremy Bent make up an entire musical on the spot springboarding off an audience suggestion as group Rumpleteaser; and for the second half of this double-bill, a bio-sketch show about pharmaceutical insider turned prison inmate Martin Shkreli: Shkreli! Portrait of a Pharma Bro (9:30 pm, $9, UCB Hell’s Kitchen at 555 West 42nd Street)
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)
Thursday 7/26: 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)
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.