NYC Top Comedy Choices for January 2019: Last Updated Friday 1/4

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Please note that these listings are updated frequently. The best way to be instantly notified about new show postings is to subscribe to this BestNewYorkComedy.com blog and allow for email notifications. Other ways to keep up are to follow me on Twitter (@hybender) or Instagram (@hybenderny), and/or to visit the desktop version of this site at HyReviews.com.

In addition, you can use the links below to explore the schedules of all the major comedy venues in NYC; and you can find excellent live comedy recommendations weekly via The New York Times.

That said, my top NYC comedy recommendations for January 2019 (with much more to come soon) include:

Aparna Nancherla: "Whiplash"Friday 1/4: For over nine years, under the guidance of brilliant comedy booker Jeremy Levenbach, and the extraordinary hosting of Leo Allen and Aparna Nancherla, Whiplash became NYC’s best-ever free weekly stand-up show—and one of the finest comedy showcases anywhere—attracting such star drop-ins as Louis C.K., Amy Schumer, Chris Rock, John Oliver, Jim Gaffigan, Daniel Kitson, and pretty much any other top comic who happened to be in town and wanted to try out material. (To learn more, please click here.) The show has now moved from Manhattan’s UCB to Brooklyn’s Union Hall, and from weekly to monthly, but tonight the host is one again comedy giant Aparna Nancherla (above; one of the very finest stand-ups in the country; 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; Conan O’Brien, @Midnight, Comedy Central Half Hour, comedy album Just Putting It Out There), with guests Liza Treyger (fresh, fierce, fearless stand-up; Seth Meyers, Comedy Central Half Hour, This Is Not Happening, @midnight, Horace and Pete, Chelsea Lately), Raanan Hershberg (HBO’s Crashing, TruTV; great FringeNYC 2018 solo show Off the Grid), Tim Dillon (Comedy Central, Netflix, Last Comic Standing; co-host of podcast Stewed), and Abby Rosenquist: Whiplash (7:30 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)

Done!Friday 1/4: In this stage version of their podcast, hosts Betsy Kenney & Dara Katz invite comics to divulge what they’re “done” with (e.g., escape rooms, ghosts, Cheesecake Factory) and creatively purge themselves of the angst, with guests Matt Rogers (co-host of the GAYme Show and the acclaimed Las Culturistas podcast), Ziwe Fumudoh (writer for The Rundown with Robin Thede; host of hilarious webseries Baited with Ziwe), Mike Kelton, and Angelica Pasquini: Done! (10:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)

The Dance Cartel : Friday 1/4: The Dance Cartel (above), Ophira Eisenberg (above left; 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), Dave Hill (@midnight, Inside Amy Schumer, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, This American Life; host for HBO and Cinemax; host of WFMU’s The Goddamn Dave Hill Show; bands Valley Lodge and Diamondsnake; books Tasteful Nudes and Dave Hill Doesn’t Live Here Anymore; comedy album Let Me Turn You On), Evan Kaufman & Rebecca Vigil (powerhouse improv duo Your Love Our Musical), Leah Bonnema (VH1, IFC’s Comedy Drop, WeTV’s Cinematherapy, Logo, Opie & Anthony’s Virus Channel), Lizz Winstead (Comedy Central Presents, The Daily Show, Air America), Jessica Rowboat, and DJ Avg Jo perform for this stand-up and music show: On the Moon Arts Holiday Party (8:00 pm, $20, Brooklyn’s Littlefield at 635 Sackett Street; take R subway to Union Street)

Saturday 1/5-Sunday 1/6: Two of the finest productions to ever grace The Peoples Improv Theater are from the Recent Cutbacks company, which includes superbly inventive director Kristin McCarthy Parker, amazing shape-shifting performers Kyle Schaefer, Nick Abeel, and Matt Zambrano, and stellar foley artists Blair Busbee & Kelsey Didion—and this weekend you can see both magical shows back to back. Kicking off the evening is a live-on-stage ‘shot for shot’ parody of the first chapter in “the most epic fantasy trilogy of all time”—i.e., Lord of the Rings: Fly, You Fools!; and then an unforgettable live shot for shot stage version of Jurassic Park: Hold On To Your Butts…Jurassik Parc (8:00 pm, $30 for the entire double-bill (a great deal, as these shows are normally $20 each), The PIT Mainstage at 123 East 24th Street)

Ophira Eisenberg and Hank Smith: "Downtown Variety Hour"Monday 1/7: The wonderful Ophira Eisenberg (above left; 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), Hank Smith (above right; 20 years as performer, choreographer, stage manager, and associate director of Sesame Street), NYC trivia games with prizes, and more, all hosted by Nat Towsen (VICE, College Humor): Downtown Variety Hour (7:30 pm, $9, UCB East at 153 East 3rd Street)

Fred Firestone: Tuesday 1/8: 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 (a dozen sign-ups and six returning champions) 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, $12, 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)

Judah Friedlander, Aparna Nancherla, Dan St Germain, and Michael KostaTuesday 1/8: Killer lineup of 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), 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; Conan O’Brien, @Midnight, Comedy Central Half Hour, comedy album Just Putting It Out There), Dan St. Germain (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; upcoming album No Real Winners Here), and Michael Kosta (correspondent for The Daily Show) perform stand-up hosted by the charming Ruby Karp: We Hope You Have Fun (10:30 pm, $9, UCB East at 153 East 3rd Street)

MortifiedThursday 1/10: 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, $12, Brooklyn’s Littlefield at 635 Sackett Street; take R subway to Union Street)

Abbi Crutchfield, Lane Moore, and Chase Mitchell: Friday 1/11: A show celebrating the app that redefined online dating, with the lovely and quick-witted Lane Moore (above middle; author of superb bestselling book How to Be Alone; HBO’s Girls; Sex & Relationship Editor of Cosmo; writer for The Onion, McSweeney’s) going on a live Tinder safari for guys while a packed audience watches her every choice with fascination. Offering comments and suggestions are guest comics Abbi Crutchfield (above left; Broad City, MTV, VH1, TBS, TruTV, Witsream), Chase Mitchell (above right; former writer for Jimmy Fallon, the 2017 Golden Globe Awards, and MTV). and Samhita Mukhopadhyay (Executive Editor of Teen Vogue, co-editor of book Nasty Women: Feminism, Resistance, and Revolution in Trump’s America). This show usually sells out, so I highly 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)

Jon GlaserSunday 1/13: 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 material for a stand-up special he’s putting together. Help Jon decide what’s funny and what might destroy his career: Come See If This Works Again (7:30 pm, $12, 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 Underground (Downstairs) Theatre
123 East 24th Street; 40-seater; often more quirky & experimental than upstairs Striker; shows free-$10

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

The Magnet
254 West 29th Street; 60-seat theatre; strong on improv, musical improv, sketch, and energy; shows $5-$10

The Creek and the Cave
Queens’ Long Island City; 40-seat theatre upstairs, 25 downstairs; virtually all weeknight shows free; weekend shows free-$10

Union Hall
702 Union Street in Brooklyn; R to Union Street; 50-seat theatre; shows $5-$20

Littlefield
635 Sackett Street in Brooklyn; R to Union Street; 100-seat theatre; shows $5-$20

Bell House
149 7th Street in Brooklyn; R to 9th Street or F/G to Fourth Ave.; 200-seat theatre; shows $10-$25

QED: A Place to Show & Tell
27-16 23rd Avenue in Astoria Queens; N/W to Ditmars Boulevard; 40-seat theatre; shows free-$10

Best NYC Stand-Up Comedy Clubs

Comedy Cellar
117 MacDougal Street; among the finest daily stand-up lineups in the world; 2-item min.

Village Underground
130 West 3rd Street; Comedy Cellar’s larger sister venue, just around the corner with the same top comics; 2-item min.

The Stand
239 Third Avenue—moving to Union Square this summer; competitor to Comedy Cellar; no drink min.—support this policy!

Carolines Comedy Club
1626 Broadway; focuses on the world’s top headliners, who perform hour-long sets; 2-drink min.

Gotham Comedy Club
208 West 23rd Street; headliners on weekends, specialty & lineup shows weekdays; 2-drink min.

Eastville Comedy Club
moving to Brooklyn in June 2018, please stay tuned; strong weekend lineups; no cover using code HyReviews; 2-drink min.

Greenwich Village Comedy Club
99 MacDougal Street; convenient if Comedy Cellar’s sold out; no cover using code HyReviews; 2-drink min.

Comic Strip Live
1568 Second Avenue, off 81st; Upper East Side club with typically solid lineups; 2-drink min.

Stand Up NY
236 West 78th Street, off Broadway; Upper West Side club with typically solid lineups; 2-drink min.

The Standing Room
4738 Vernon Blvd., by #7 train; Queens LIC club; no drink min.—support this policy!

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

Special thanks to comedy photographers supreme Anya Garrett and Mindy Tucker for creating so many of the stellar photos that grace this site…and the sites of hundreds of NYC comics.

Contact Hy

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 hy@hyreviews.com.

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