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That said, my top NYC comedy recommendations for June 2019 (with much more to come soon) include:
Wednesday 6/12: Two exceptionally appealing comics, Ophira Eisenberg (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, comedy album Bangs!) and Adira Amram (spectacular comedic singer & dancer; HBO, Funny or Die; album Hot Jams for Teens), perform and host Josh Gondelman (one of the sharpest comics in the country; writer/producer for Showtime’s Desus & Mero; previously Emmy & Peabody Award-winning writer/producer for HBO’s phenom Last Week Tonight with John Oliver; Conan O’Brien, The New Yorker; stand-up albums Dancing On a Weeknight and Physical Whisper), Kendra Cunningham (SNL, Jimmy Fallon, The Tyra Banks Show, Law & Order), and Matthew Holtzclaw (magician who Rolling Stone called “unforgettable”): Ophira & Adira (8:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Wednesday 6/12: Comedic hosts Sarah Burton (showrunner for HuffPost’s ICYMI on Apple TV and YouTube), Clara Morris (writer for TruTV’s Impractical Jokers, Funny or Die, College Humor, Above Average, Reductress), Johnna Scrabis (writer for College Humor, Reductress, BRIC TV; host of UCBT’s Teacher Feature), and Sabrina Jordan (improv group Frog Basket; co-host of Star Trek Trek podcast) do their best to destroy a highly popular book in this live-on-stage taping of their podcast, with this month’s victim the feel-good classic How to win Friends and Influence People: Mean Book Club Live (9:30 pm, $12, LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street; take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Thursday 6/13: The delightful Erin Hall has for years been one of the finest comedic musicians in NYC under the name Erin and Her Cello, performing silly, sly songs while nestling a large instrument between her legs. Tonight Erin celebrates the release of her third studio album, this time of mostly serious songs (though I bet there’s lots of playful wit throughout) titled Great Blue. Opening for Erin will be the Lars Jacobsen Trio, who are part of her band. Listen to one of Erin’s catchy new songs, titled “Taxi,” via YouTube by clicking here (and the live pre-album version here), and then nab tickets for Erin Hall’s Album Release Show (7:00 pm; $20, plus 1-drink min. if you sit on a bar stool or stand, or 2-drink min. if you sit at a table; Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 2 at 196 Allen Street, near the F subway’s Second Avenue stop)
Thursday 6/13: 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), Hari Kondabolu (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), Liz Miele (David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Comedy Central, animated webseries Damaged, comedy album Mind Over Melee), Joanna Briley (Lifetime), and Ashley Gavin (MTV) perform stand-up hosted by Brian Parise & Kenice Mobley: The Pasta Show (7:30 pm for the free Cacio e Pepe pasta, 8:00 pm for the show; $10; Frank’s Cocktail Lounge at Brooklyn’s 660 Fulton Street, near the G subway’s Fulton Street stop or A/C Lafayette Avenue stop)
Friday 6/14: 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 5/15: 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). Don’t miss tonight’s FIfth Year Anniversary event! I highly recommend the phenomenal Your Love, Our Musical (7:00 pm; $22.32 in advance online; LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street—take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Saturday 6/15: The fab Killy Dwyer hosts a show that, unfortunately, couldn’t be much more timely—female comics & storytellers share their tales of abortion, with Youngmi Mayer, Bricken Sparacino, Courtney Antonioli, Janet Hyde, Sriya Sarkar, Mimi Fischer, Tess Henry, and duo Carolyn Gage & Barbara Kahn: My Abortion (7:00 pm, $20, Under St. Marks at 94 St. Marks Place, off First Avenue)
Saturday 6/15: Scientific lectures and/or stand-up from Aparna Nancherla (one of the very finest stand-ups in the country; co-star of Super Bowl 2019 commercial, Comedy Central’s Corporate, and HBO’s Crashing; also performed on HBO’s 2 Dope Queens, Netflix’s Master of None and The Standups, TBS’ Conan O’Brien, and Comedy Central’s @Midnight and Half Hour; former writer for Seth Meyers; comedy album Just Putting It Out There), Josh Sharp (superb sketch writer/performer; HBO’s 2 Dope Queens, CBS’ Two Broke Girls, Comedy Central’s The Opposition, IFC’s How Shit Works, MTV; co-host of Cool Shit/Weird Shit), John Thibodeaux (writer for Stephen Colbert), Zach Zimmerman (The New Yorker, McSweeney’s; comedy album Clean Comedy), and Anne Cunninham hosted by Madelyn Freed (ace improvisor & computer programmer): The Scientists (10:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Sunday 6/16: Tales of humiliating failure from comedic storytellers 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, Chappelle’s Show; new album 60% Joking), Prachi Gupta (senior reporter and former co-host for Jezebel; CNBC, WNYC, Cosmopolitan.com), David Arroyo, and Michele Carlo hosted by Ritija Rice Gupta: Mistakes Were Made: Storytelling About Failure (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)
Sunday 6/16: Josh Sharp (superb sketch writer/performer; HBO’s 2 Dope Queens, CBS’ Two Broke Girls, Comedy Central’s The Opposition, IFC’s How Shit Works, MTV) performs a new hour of comedy that involves PowerPoint, aided by Bowen Yang (Comedy Central’s Broad City, HBO’s High Maintenance; co-host of popular podcast & stage show Las Culturistas): Josh Sharp: Psychobabble (8:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Monday 6/17: Christi Chiello is a delightful rising star stand-up, writer, and actress with an infectiousness enthusiasm and a unique voice who’s appeared on Comedy Central’s Roast Battle, MTV’s Girl Code, TruTV, and PBSKids, and is co-host of superb monthly comedy shows Battle of the Divas and White Chocolate. Tonight Christi performs a solo production that demonstrates she’s one of the funniest and most talented comics in NYC. Kudos also go to directors Randy Blair and Giulia Rozzi for helping Christi show off what a powerhouse she is at her confident best. I gladly paid $18 twice to see this, so tonight’s $12 tickets are real bargains. If you like fun, I happily recommend you come enjoy Christi Chiello: It’s Christi, B*tch! (7:30 pm, $12, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Monday 6/17: Stellar writers of late-night comedy TV shows perform stand-up, with Josh Gondelman (one of the sharpest comics in the country; writer/producer for Showtime’s Desus & Mero; previously Emmy & Peabody Award-winning writer/producer for HBO’s phenom Last Week Tonight with John Oliver; Conan O’Brien, The New Yorker; stand-up albums Dancing On a Weeknight and Physical Whisper), Ziwe Fumudoh (writer for Showtime’s Desus & Mero; previously writer for The Rundown with Robin Thede; host of hilarious webseries Baited with Ziwe; host of Pop Show), Django Gold (writer for Stephen Colbert), and Jordan Carlos (HBO, Netflix; former writer for The Nightly Show) hosted by Matt Goldich (staff writer for Seth Meyers; Comedy Central, VH1): The Writers’ Room: A Stand-Up Show (8:00 pm, $16.87 in advance online, Brooklyn’s Eastville Comedy Club at 487 Atlantic Avenue; take 2/3/4/5/B/D/N/Q/R subway to Atlantic Avenue)
Tuesday 6/18: The talented and petite Becca Beberaggi (Paste Magazine) describes herself as “a Brooklyn-based bicoastal Ecuadorian-American writer, comedian, and tiny brown human.” Tonight she debuts a comedic solo show about depression: “Mental illnesses lie to you and make you believe things that aren’t real. But for Becca, it’s just made her really bad at parties. Come join her as she tells some of her favorite stories about how parties are bad, why parties are bad, and how she was probably the reason why:” Party Animal (9:30 pm; $12, The Tank at 312 West 36th Street between Eighth & Ninth Avenues)
Tuesday 6/18: Fifteen comics each make a case for US reparations for slavery, hosted by Marcela Onyango and guest co-host Andrea Coleman: Profiled: The Case for Reparations (8:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Littlefield at 635 Sackett Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Friday 6/21: Decades before every Marvel movie was an instant classic came 1986 box office and critical disaster Howard the Duck, executive produced by no less than George Lucas. Costing $37 million, the movie made just $15 million domestically; plus it won four Golden Raspberry awards, for Worst Screenplay, Worst New Star, Worst Visual Effects, and Worst Picture. Tonight it’ll be screened and mercilessly skewered by comics Frank Conniff (TV’s Frank on Mystery Science Theater 3000; Cinematic Titanic; author of How to Write Cheesy Movies and 25 MST3K Films That Changed My Life In No Way Whatsoever), Kat Burdick (Moth Grandslam champion; host of Let’s Say You’re Right; webseries KCK), Laura Merli (host of How to be Less Awkward podcast), and Colin Fitzgerald (Cosmic Castoff). Their cruelty will be contrasted by exceptionally kind host Chris Gersbeck (co-host of Soft Core!, which is essentially a porn version of this show, Casual Sets, and Bunk Bed Time Open Mic): Movies R Dumb: Howard the Duck (11:00 pm, $10, Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell at 27-16 23rd Avenue)
Saturday 6/22: This solo production, which debuted at last year’s FringeNYC and is now enjoying a monthly revival at LES’ Caveat, starts out pretending to be a scientific lecture about and demonstration of chaos theory.
But it’s really a highly interactive show that uses comedy and thoughtfully structured game-play for nudging audiences to explore their wishes and desires, push past boundaries, connect with everyone around them, and be open to anything.
It’s all courtesy of writer/performer Jessica Ellen Creane, who cycles between faux-shyly giving illustrated talks about such things as fractals, love, and velociraptors, making herself fearlessly vulnerable, and improvising quick-witted responses to audience choices. For example, when Creane asked me to name a goal, I replied, “writing and selling a movie.” She immediately gave me the best pep talk I’ve ever had, stating beyond doubt that I’d succeed. In gratitude, I added, “I’ll cast you in it.” Without missing a beat, and fully committing to her scientist character (wearing thick black-frame glasses with no lenses), Creane tossed off, “I’m not good at acting” before moving on to help someone else. That she even thought of that line demonstrates what a superb actress Creane is…and how completely she performs in the moment.
Because this show relies so deeply on interaction, each edition will be different based on the decisions made by you and your fellow audience members. Along the same lines, how much you enjoy it, and genuinely get out of it, will depend heavily on what you bring to it.
For me, it was a **** (out of 4) show. If you come experience this—and you should—I hope you have a wonderful time too; and that it moves you closer to your dreams.
Chaos Theory (9:30, $27.63 in advance online or $30 at the door, LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street; take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Sunday 6/23: Exceptionally sharp, inventive, and funny stand-up Raanan Hershberg (HBO’s Crashing, TruTV; superb FringeNYC 2018 solo show Off the Grid) records his second comedy album, with the aid of your laughter, 7:00 pm and 9:15 pm. Help Raanan create a great show and get your vocal joy immortalized at Raanan Hershberg’s Album Recording (7:00 pm & 9:15 pm; $13.26 online using discount code RAANAN [otherwise $30.90], plus two-drink min.; New York Comedy Club at 241 East 24th Street between Second & Third Avenues)
Sunday 6/23: “Part comedy special and part rock concert” from Tessa Skara (Pop Roulette) and her band, which Tessa describes as “kind of like if a stand-up special was made by Stevie Nicks, if Stevie Nicks was a messy queer millennial,” featuring Marcia Belsky (band Free the Mind): Tessa Skara: Rock Goddess (8:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Sunday 6/23: Two men have been watching 2008’s Sex and the City: The Movie twice a week for six months. See them review it live at The Worst Idea of All Time: Endlessly Sex and the City—The Movie (8:00 pm, $20, 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 at SubCulture
45 Bleecker Street; What used to be a top comedy venue called UCB East has sadly gone under, but some of its shows live on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights at respected East Village indie theatre SubCulture at Bleecker & Lafayette Streets, direclty by the #6 subway’s Bleecker Street stop; shows $7-$14
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
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
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 eason by emailing me at email@example.com.