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 has sold over 305,000 copies to date, 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. To learn more about my services, please visit BookProposal.net and then email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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That said, my top NYC comedy recommendations for June 2019 (with more to come soon) include:
If you missed famed playwright Terrence McNally’s Lifetime Achievement speech at the June 9th Tony Awards—because CBS chose to broadcast commercials in its place—please consider taking five minutes to watch it online. Although McNally is speaking about theatre, his comments apply to all arts, very much including comedy. Here are some of the highlights:
The 80-year-old playwright of such classics as Master Class and Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune came out with breathing tubes in his nose, and began, “Lifetime Achievement? Not a moment too soon…”
He then shared that after his first play “crashed and burned,” John Steinbeck told him “to get right back on the horse. If you ain’t been throwed, you ain’t rode.”
McNally said writing plays are important because “Theatre changes hearts. That secret place where we all truly live.”
He related that his parents’ lives were changed by Death of a Salesman. After seeing it, “my father quit his job at General Foods and struck out on his own.”
He also expressed pride when “something I wrote softened the hearts of parents who had banished their son or daughter from their lives when they came out to them as gay or lesbian.”
And he said of the writing profession, “It’s a club with open admissions. The only dues are your heart, your soul, your mind, and your guts. All of you.”
McNally added, “What we do matters. The world needs artists more than ever to remind us what kindness, truth, and beauty are.”
You can watch the entire speech at https://youtube.com/watch?v=EE8YRnGauYw.
And also keep an eye out for Terrence McNally: Every Act of Life, a superb documentary that recently started airing on PBS stations as part of the American Masters series.
Thursday 6/20: 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), Christi Chiello (Comedy Central’s Roast Battle, MTV’s Girl Code, TruTV, PBSKids, stellar solo show It’s Christi, B*tch!, co-host of Battle of the Divas and White Chocolate), and more perform stand-up for this free weekly LES show hosted tonight by J.P. McDade: Too Many Cooks (9:00 pm, Free!, Lucky Jack’s Pub at 129 Orchard Street between Rivington & Delancey Streets)
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)
Tuesday 6/25: Liza Treyger (fresh, fierce, fearless stand-up; Seth Meyers, Comedy Central Half Hour, This Is Not Happening, @midnight, Horace and Pete, Chelsea Lately) performs a long set in an intimate setting, with several other talented stand-ups as openers: Liza Treger Tells It Like It Is (7:00 pm, $10 plus 2-item food/drink min., The Fat Black Pussycat Lounge at 130 West 3rd Street)
Wednesday 6/26: Friends Who Folk (delightful singing duo Rachel Wenitsky & Ned Riseley; TheNewYorker.com) host this show, with stellar guests Melissa Villaseñor (Emmy-winning star cast member of Saturday Night Live; force-of-nature voiceover artist who’s performed characters for Family Guy, Scooby Doo, and many other shows), Rachel Wenitsky (freelance writer for SNL; Deputy Editor of Reductress; co-host of Mouth Time! podcast; Head Writer of The Story Pirates podcast), Franchesca Ramsey (YouTube star with over 29 million views; host of MTV’s Decoded; The Nightly Show), Rachel Joravsky (member of The Story Pirates; founder of sketch production company Damn Lady Laugh), and Rachel Kaly (host of Ellen Degenerous is the Only Ally): Friends Who Folk (8:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Sunday 6/30: Comics who are parents vent by telling mean stories about their children (and guest comics who aren’t revel in their freedom), with tonight’s cruel jokesters Beth Newell (co-founder and editor of Reductress; written for The New Yorker, The Onion, McSweeney’s; host of We Knows Parenting podcast), Kate Tellers (staff host and writer for The Moth; host of I’m Still Here podcast about making art after having children), Seth Herzog (long-time staff comic for Jimmy Fallon; 30 Rock, @midnight, CBS, VH1; host of Sweet), Abby Sher (author of Amen, Amen, Amen: Memoir of a Girl Who Couldn’t Stop Praying (Among Other Things) and Breaking Free: True Stories of Girls Who Escaped Modern Slavery; The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Elle), Hollie Harper (playwright & filmmaker; solo show American Candy), and Raquel D’Apice (Bust Magazine), hosted by the wonderful 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: Sleeping My Way to Monogamy,” comedy album Bangs!; NBC, CBS, Comedy Central, VH1, Showtime) and Emily Flake (star cartoonist for The New Yorker, The New York Times, Time, Forbes, etc.; author of books Mama Tried, Lulu Eightball, and These Things Ain’t Gonna Smoke Themselves): Shitshow (8:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union 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.