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That said, my top NYC comedy recommendations for November 2018 (with more to come soon) include:
Friday 11/9: One of the greatest stand-ups of all time performs for one night only at Town Hall. I’m a bit amazed there are even any tickets left, but there are indeed some single seats scattered about, so please consider taking advantage of this opportunity to enjoy comedy royalty: Anthony Jeselnik: Fire in the Maternity Ward (7:00 pm & 9:45 pm, $39.50-$51.50 depending on seating location, Town Hall at 123 West 43rd Street, between 6th Avenue & Broadway)
Friday 11/9: Jo Firestone (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) hosts a show that is purportedly from the UK but more likely from Jo’s relentlessly inventive imagination, with contestants Conner O’Malley, Josh Sharp, Matt Barats, Joe Pera, Larry Owens, Sandy Honig, Patti Harrison, Edy Modica, and Bardia Salimi: Zingers: The UK Game Show (8:00 pm, $15, Brooklyn’s The Bell House (149 7th Street; take R subway to 9th Street or F/G to Fourth Avenue)
Friday 11/9 & Saturday 11/10: Do you miss seeing improv and sketch at the legendary UCB Chelsea theatre? Then you should know it’s back…but under new management. Boston’s Improv Asylum is branching out to NYC, and it’s taken over the magical comedy basement under a Gristedes. Come reunite with this beloved venue, and enjoy a talented troupe of comics—which includes spectacular rising star Dana Shulman (third from right; host of Student Driver, half of wonderful improv duo Ouiser and Clairee, improv group Poor Melissa; winner of the 2017 PIT Teacher of the Year Award): Improv Asylum Main Stage Show (7:30 pm, $15, Improv Asylum at 307 West 26th Street)
Friday 11/9: A unique show based on the premise “Let’s be honest, love doesn’t exist, couples suck, and Valentine’s Day is bullshit. We test real life couples to see if they are meant to be together (they aren’t). The couple with the least amount of points at the end of the night will have to break up, because we all die alone anyway and what’s the point of anything really? It’ll be fun!” hosted by spectacular rising star Carly Ann Filbin (above; video correspondent for Cosmopolitan.com): Let Me Break You Up: An Anti-Dating Game Show (Midnight, $12, UCB East at 153 East 3rd Street)
Monday 11/5-Sunday 11/11: Hundreds of comics perform in the annual New York Comedy Festival on November 5-11 in dozens of venues all over NYC. For the complete list of shows and to buy tickets, please click New York Comedy Festival 2018
Saturday 11/10: Comics write scripts for famous movies and TV series they’ve heard of but have never seen, and then other comics act out those scripts on stage, with tonight’s performers Jean Grae (famed rapper and comic) and Lane Moore (HBO’s Girls, MTV, VH1; author of new bestselling book How to be Alone; Sex & Relationship Editor of Cosmo; writer for The Onion, McSweeney’s; host of smash hit show Tinder Live), plus scores played by Tommy McNamara, all hosted by Kyle Ayers (Fuse’s Uproarious; written for CBS, Comedy Central, TBS, BBC, The New York Times): Never Seen It (7:30 pm, $12, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Saturday 11/10: Sabrina Jalees (irresistible dynamo stand-up and red-hot rising star who could make reading a grocery list hilarious; Comedy Central’s Nightly Show and Adam Devine’s House Party, Last Comic Standing, VH1’s Best Week Ever, MTV’s Failosophy, host of My Sexy Podcast) returns to us for NYCF to perform this solo show. Sabrina is one of my all-time favorites, and I’ve greatly missed her since her move to LA, so I’m especially looking forward to this: New York Comedy Festival Presents: Sabrina Jalees (8:30 pm, $15, UCB East at 153 East 3rd Street)
Saturday 11/10: The wonderful 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) hosts this game show that rewards comics who “brighten the lives of the audience,” with guests 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; podcasts Broccoli and Ice Cream), Julia Shiplett (HBO’s Crashing), and Joyelle Nicole: Make My Day: A Comedy Game Show (10:00 pm, $12, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Monday 11/12: This weekly stand-up show’s hosts Jo Firestone (staff writer for Jimmy Fallon, co-author of #1 bestselling Punderdome: A Card Game for Pun Lovers), Aparna Nancherla (co-star of HBO’s Crashing, Netflix’s Master of None, and Comedy Central’s Corporate), and/or Maeve Higgins (Maeve in America, co-host of Nat Geo’s Star Talk) celebrate their One Year Anniversary with guests Jacqueline Novak, Janelle James, Joel Kim Booster, Violet Gray, and more: Butterboy with Jo, Aparna, and Maeve (8:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Littlefield at 635 Sackett Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Tuesday 11/13: 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), Rachel Feinstein (HBO’s Crashing, Netflix’s The Standups, Comedy Central special Only Whores Wear Purple; finalist on Last Comic Standing; Jimmy Fallon, Conan O’Brien, Inside Amy Schumer, The View; films include Trainwreck and Top Five), Matthew Matthew Broussard (Conan O’Brien, Comedy Central Half Hour), Damien Lemon (host of TruTV’s Comedy Knockout; Comedy Central Half Hour; MTV’s Guy Code, Girl Code, Guy Court), Harris Stanton (SNL, BET; opened for Tracey Morgan), and Marc Theobald (Chappelle’s Show) perform stand-up hosted by Jordan Carlos: Comedy Co-Op (7:30 pm, $15, Brooklyn’s Littlefield at 635 Sackett Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Sunday 11/18: Jon Glaser (HBO’s Girls, NBC’s Parks and Recreation, star of Adult Swim’s Delocated and TruTV’s Jon Glaser Loves Gear; long-time writer/performer and 5-time Emmy nominee for Conan O’Brien) tries out new stand-up material. Be a part of Jon’s process at Jon Glaser: Come See If This Works Or Not (7:30 pm, $12, Brooklyn’s Littlefield at 635 Sackett Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Monday 11/19: The wonderful Ophira Eisenberg (above; one of the finest comedic storytellers and stand-ups in the country; host of weekly NPR/WNYC show Ask Me Another, author of bestselling book Screw Everyone: Sleeping My Way to Monogamy, comedy album Bangs!; NBC, CBS, Comedy Central, VH1, Showtime), Beth Stelling (Jimmy Kimmel, Comedy Central; comedy album Sweet Beth), Dan Wilbur (author of How Not to Read; website Better Book Titles; writer for The Onion, College Humor, McSweeney’s), Mamoudou N’Diaye (MTV’s Decoded), and Jess Salomon (former war crimes lawyer; host of Dirty Laundry) perform stand-up for stellar hosts Jo Firestone (staff writer for Jimmy Fallon, co-author of #1 bestselling Punderdome: A Card Game for Pun Lovers), Aparna Nancherla (co-star of HBO’s Crashing, Netflix’s Master of None, and Comedy Central’s Corporate), 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 11/26: Dulcé Sloan (above; powerhouse comic and correspondent for The Daily Show; Conan O’Brien, @midnight), Joe Rumrill (The Chris Gethard Show; co-host of Cartoon Monsoon), Jacob Williams (America’s Got Talent), Sara Hennessey (comedy albums They Know Too Much and Trouble in Paradise), and Negin Farsad perform stand-up for stellar hosts Jo Firestone (staff writer for Jimmy Fallon, co-author of #1 bestselling Punderdome: A Card Game for Pun Lovers), Aparna Nancherla (co-star of HBO’s Crashing, Netflix’s Master of None, and Comedy Central’s Corporate), 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)
Wednesday 11/28: The sultry Karen Chee (above; Stephen Colbert, The New Yorker, The New York Times, McSweeney’s), Ryan Beck, and Benito Skinner get drunk and present comedic dissertations about sex, with science judge Dr. Zhana Vrangalova PhD and hosts Joanna Rothkopf (Deputy Editor of Esquire), Shannon Odell (neuroscience PhD student at Weill Cornell), and Jordan Mendoza (once played doctor in webseries): Drunk Science Presents Sex (8:00 pm, $8, Brooklyn’s Littlefield at 635 Sackett 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.
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.