I’m one of the finest ghostwriters in the country; my 20+ books include two New York Times bestsellers, a phenom megaseller that hit #16 on Amazon.com, and an interview book with legendary author Neil Gaiman that hit #240 on Amazon.com. I’ve also written five Dummies books and a Complete Idiot’s Guide. I cover comedy as a labor of love. But if you need help with a book, let’s chat, because there’s no one better at ghostwriting, editing, and/or coaching. Alternatively, if you know someone who should have a book, please refer him or her to me; for a year, you’ll get 10% of all revenue I receive from the referral (e.g., if the client pays me $50,000, you’ll get $5,000). To learn more about my services, please visit BookProposal.net and then email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you like cross-genre stories (fantasy/comedy, SF/comedy, fantasy/horror, etc.)? Please visit my podcast, Ghosts On Drugs, by clicking here.
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 February 2019 (with much more to come soon) include:
Saturday 2/9: UCB East closes tonight (with the final shows sold out), but UCB Hell’s Kitchen remains a stellar comedy stage. Tonight’s events include a top musical improv troupe that has wowed audiences around the world with its skill at making up an hour-long musical moment by moment. The plot and characters, the musical accompaniment, even the song lyrics and “choreography” are invented on the spot, with no pre-planned structure, by such ace talents as Becky Drysdale, Zack Willis, Katy Barry, Caroline Martin, Amber Ruffin, Tim Sniffen, and Jeff Hiller, plus stellar improv musicians Dan Reitz (keyboards) & Sarah Mullins (drums/percussion). Come see why this show won a FringeNYC Award for Outstanding Unique Theatrical Event: Baby Wants Candy (10:30 pm, $14, UCB Hell’s Kitchen at 555 West 42nd Street)
Saturday 2/9: Mike Zakarian performs a one-man autobiographical show about being “a cool Christian teen in New England looking forward every year to an event called Snow Camp:” Christ Kid: A Journey Through Snow Camp (7:00 pm, $10, The PIT Mainstage (Striker) at 123 East 24th Street)
Saturday 2/9 (also 2/16 & 2/23): A highly talented freestyle rapping long form improv group takes the stage for an hour: North Coast (9:00 pm, $12, The PIT Underground at 123 East 24th Street)
Sunday 2/10: Phoebe Robinson (co-star of HBO’s 2 Dope Queens; host of podcast Sooo Many White Guys; Seth Meyers, Conan O’Brien, Broad City, MTV’s Girl Code; feature films What Men Want and Ibiza; author of You Can’t Touch My Hair and Other Things I Still Have to Explain) Wyatt Cenac (star of HBO’s Problem Areas and TBS’ Friends of Earth; former star correspondent for The Daily Show; writer for South Park; albums Comedy Person, Brooklyn, and Furry Dumb Fighter), and Alex English (writer for BET’s The Rundown with Robin Thede) are the stellar guests at this podcast taping 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 (7:30 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Sunday 2/10: The spectacular 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; radio host of WFMU’s Dr. Gameshow, co-author of #1 bestselling Punderdome: A Card Game for Pun Lovers) hosts this show in which “comics represent you onstage in a live dating game! You may cringe and remain as anonymous as you want in the crowd…or arrive at 7:30 pm to be paired up with a comic and tell everything there is to know about you in 10 minutes or less, and then let them guide your love life in great and maybe horrible ways. Out of over 100 couples matched, four couples have managed to develop actual long-term relationships. One couple moved in together. It’s amazing and defies all odds:” Friends of Single People (8:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Littlefield (635 Sackett Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Monday 2/11: Emily Flake (above left; brilliant writer/cartoonist; The New Yorker, The New York Times) & Kate Willett (Comedy Central’s The Jim Jeffries Show and This Is Not Happening; VICE’s Flophouse, Netflix’s Comedy Lineup; comedy album Glass Gutter) host this monthly show & podcast that features wonderfully funny people sharing their nightmares, with tonight’s guests iconic star John Hodgman (above right; bestselling author of Vacationland, The Areas of My Expertise, More Information Than You Require, and That Is All; Humor Editor of The New York Times Magazine; former stellar correspondent of The Daily Show; former personification of a PC in Apple Mac ads), Jason Chatfield (cartoonist for The New Yorker, Mad Magazine; Australia’s most widely syndicated cartoonist), Jennifer Finney Boylan (columnist for The New York Times, author of 15 books), Carole Montgomery (Comedy Central, Oprah, ABC, Showtime, MTV, VH1, A&E, Lifetime), and Kenice Mobely (host of Person About Town): Nightmares: The Best People Tell Their Worst Dreams (6:30 pm doors, 7:00 pm show; no cover but 2-drink min.; KGB Bar’s upstairs Red Room at 85 East 4th Street off Second Avenue; please arrive early if you want to ensure getting in, as the room is likely to fill up fast)
Tuesday 2/12 (also 2/19 & 2/26): Comics creators join super-hosts Alex Zalben, Justin Tyler, and Pete LePage in a lively & hilarious discussion about four-color pop culture, with giveaways of comics and gift certificates: Comic Book Club (8:00 pm, Free!, The PIT Loft at 154 West 29th Street)
Wednesday 2/13: The quick-witted & hilarious Tyler Richardson (ReelzChannel; host of New Bedtime Stories) & Brian Mitchell (sketch group Laser Baby) celebrate both Black History Month and Valentine’s Day with guest stand-ups Alex English, Boris Khaykin, Kelsey Caine, Kristin Manna, Stu Melton, Mackenzie Graves, Amamah Sardar, Calvin S. Cato, and Mike Guild: Black Guys (8:00 pm, Free!, Brooklyn’s Starr Bar at 214 Starr Street; take L subway to Jefferson Street)
Thursday 2/14: World-class singing improvisors Rebecca Vigil & Evan Kaufman 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; $17 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; Please Note: This Valentine’s Day edition of the show has SOLD OUT, but you can buy tickets for next month’s performance by clicking here.)
Friday 2/15: A game show that describes itself as follows: “Ever talk to a straight guy and think, ‘Jesus Christ you’re boring!’ Two straight men TBD 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” hosted by Matt Rogers & Dave Mizzoni, who invite you to “come witness the ultimate test of who Is honorarily Gay As Fuck:” GAYme Show (9:30 pm, $12, LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street; take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Saturday 2/16: Eight performers from the Ten Bones Theatre Company attempt to recreate infamous 2004 tearjerker The Notebook, with each comic using only what he or she can remember from seeing the movie just once. To add to the fun are a few rules: “Performers must incorporate lines written by the audience; performers must incorporate any sound effect played by the tech booth; one lucky audience member will be given a bell that they can ring three times—once rung, the actors must create a scene that has no business being in The Notebook but makes perfect sense given where they are in the story:” The Notebook…Entirely From Memory (8:00 pm, $10, The PIT Mainstage (Striker) at 123 East 24th Street)
Thursday 2/21: Six comedic actors, including Gianmarco Soresi (ABC’s Deception; acclaimed FringeNYC play <50%), perform sketch in this acclaimed group: Uncle Function (8:00 pm, $10, The PIT Mainstage (Striker) at 123 East 24th Street)
Thursday 2/21: Surreal sketch group Terrorbird performs its oddball version of a Disney feature film: “The brave Princess Heckena and her marketably adorable sidekick Bonesy journey upwards through the kingdom of Heck for a musical adventure we’re contractually obligated to say the whole family will enjoy. Will Heckena make it to the mortal world and finally achieve her playfully ironic dream of ice skating? Or will she marry Caligula and spend the rest of her life presiding over the eternal torment of the dang-ed?”: Terrorbird: Heck—Follow Your Nightmares (9:30 pm, $10, The PIT Mainstage (Striker) at 123 East 24th Street)
Friday 2/22: 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, $17 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 2/23: Sketch comedy duo Jeff Ronan & Matt Bovee reenact all 50+ movies nominated for Oscars this year in under an hour: The Movie Idiot’s Guide to the Oscars (9:00 pm, $10, The PIT Loft at 154 West 29th Street)
Sunday 2/24: Watch the Oscars with a live audience, and with comics and celebrity impersonators entertaining you during the commercials, in a classy LES venue with full bar: Oscar Watch Party at Caveat (7:00 pm, $17 online or $18 at the door, LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street; take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Tuesday 2/26: Celebrating Black History Month, comics Kenice Mobley, Sharon Paul, Ariel Evans, and Khalid Rahmaan share their experiences with racial profiling hosted by Marcela Onyango (host of Feel the News) & guest co-host Andrea Coleman: Profiled (9:30 pm, $12, LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street—take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Thursday 2/28: Jamie Aderski (exceptionally honest & funny storyteller; stellar solo show Cry Baby) is pregnant, while Destiny Mabry (abuse conqueror; host of Triumphs, Tampons, and Tears) is single and often sexless. Both share memorable tales blending storytelling and stand-up: Celibate and Pregnant (7:30 pm, $8, The PIT Underground at 123 East 24th 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
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
702 Union Street in Brooklyn; R to Union Street; 50-seat theatre; shows $5-$20
635 Sackett Street in Brooklyn; R to Union Street; 100-seat theatre; shows $5-$20
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
117 MacDougal Street; among the finest daily stand-up lineups in the world; 2-item min.
130 West 3rd Street; Comedy Cellar’s larger sister venue, just around the corner with the same top comics; 2-item min.
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
487 Atlantic Avenue (near the Barclays Center); only comedy club in Brooklyn; strong weekend lineups; no cover using code HyReviews; some shows have 2-drink min., but many don’t
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.
Lost its space, aiming to move to Union Square sometime in 2019: competitor to Comedy Cellar; 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.
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.