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That said, my top NYC comedy recommendations for November 2018 (with more to come soon) include:
Thursday 11/15-Sunday 11/18: It’s the sixth year of this annual 4-day PIT festival devoted to over 100 new comedic solo shows. (The fest was originally created by Peter Michael Marino & co-produced by Ronny Pascale, both giants in PIT history, but they’ve moved on to let others curate & run the extravaganza.) The only requirements for any production are that it’s a one-person show that’s funny and has never been performed in public before. The types of entertainment are therefore wide-ranging, encompassing sketch, characters, storytelling, stand-up, cabaret, music, dance, puppetry, magic, clowning, multimedia, and more. Based on the descriptions, shows that sound promising include Matt Zambrano’s Invisible Idiot Friday at 7:00 pm; Adrian Sexton’s BeatleMania Friday at 8:00 pm; David Frasure’s Erdnase Friday at 9:30 pm; Kevin McNair’s Community Theatre Master Class Saturday at 4:00 pm; Ghostboy and Parker Denton’s Occult-Themed Spook Show Saturday at 5:30 pm; Mike Zakarian’s Christ Kid: A Journey Through Snow Camp Saturday at 7:00 pm; Daniela Jones’ “What Are You?” Sunday at 2:00 pm; Zach Zimmerman’s New Stuff Sunday at 3:00 pm; Reilly Willson’s Frederich Nietzsche Is A F**Kboi Sunday at 8:30 pm; and Brittany Halls’ I’ll Be There For You: The Courteney Cox Story Sunday at 9:00 pm: Solocom 2018 ($10 per show, or $30 for an all-you-can-see festival pass (a great deal for a vibrant, fun festival with scores of shows): The PIT Upstairs, Downstairs, and Attic Theatres at 123 East 24th Street and The PIT Loft at 154 West 29th 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 11/19: 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 people 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. Tonight’s special edition pits college improv group members from Columbia, NYU, and Fordham vs. corporate execs from Google, OKCupid, and West Wing Writers vs. former Punderdome champions: Punderdome 3000 (8:00 pm, $20, Chelsea’s Highline Ballroom at 431 West 16th 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 email@example.com.