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That said, my top NYC comedy recommendations for September 2019 (with more to come soon) include:
Tuesday 9/24: Brian Agler, Luke Burns, and James Folta—each of whom has written for both The New Yorker and McSweeney’s—perform readings of their short humor pieces, and also host additional short readings from River Clegg (writer for Stephen Colbert, The Onion, The New Yorker, McSweeney’s), Claire Friedman (writer for Showtime’s Desus & Mero, Saturday Night Live, The New Yorker, McSweeney’s), and Sarah Pappalardo (co-founder of Reductress). Arrive at 6:30 pm to hang out with these writers pre-show: An Evening of Humorous Readings (7:00 pm; $10; LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street—take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Tuesday 9/24 (also 9/25): A beloved Broadway, TV, and film star (Trainwreck, Sandy Wexler, Drunk Parents), and star of Netflix specials Red State Blue State, The New York Story, and Unconstitutional, tries out new material in an intimate club for his next mass media solo show: Colin Quinn (7:00 pm, $10 plus 2-item food/drink min., West Village’s The Fat Black Pussycat Lounge at 130 West 3rd Street)
Tuesday 9/24: Every Tuesday at 8:00 pm, 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)
Tuesday 9/24: Mark Normand (one of the very finest stand-ups in the country; Conan O’Brien, Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, HBO’s 2 Dope Queens, Inside Amy Schumer, @midnight, Last Comic Standing, VH1’s Best Week Ever; Comedy Central Half Hour, stellar Comedy Central special Don’t Be Yourself, comedy album Still Got It; tours with Amy Schumer) hosts stand-ups TBA at an intimate Comedy Cellar venue: Hot Soup (10:30 pm, $10 plus 2-item food/drink min., West Village’s The Fat Black Pussycat Lounge at 130 West 3rd Street)
Wednesday 9/25: Stand-ups and/or storytellers TBA tell tales about losing their virginity hosted by Angela Cobb (Sirius XM): My First Time: A Stand-Up and Storytelling Show (9:00 pm, $10, Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell at 27-16 23rd Avenue)
Thursday 9/26: The burning issue of “Which decade was better, the 1980s or the 2000s?” is debated by comics (starting from top left) Gabe Pacheco (Eat Pray Judge), Isabel Hagen (stand-up and classic violinist), Dave Hill (author of new book Parking the Moose), Jes Tom (Reductress), Mehran Khaghani (Iranian-British stand-up; HBO’s High Maintenance), and Adam Wade (record-breaking 20-time Moth StorySlam Champion). For a sample of what goes on at this show, check out Michael Showalter making a case for cats vs. dogs here and Kristen Schaal making a case for old people vs. babies here. If you’re amused, you can experience this concoction live tonight: hosted by the loveable Matthew Love: Uptown Showdown: The Eighties vs. The Aughts (7:30 pm, $16, Symphony Space at 2537 Broadway, off 95th Street)
Thursday 9/26: Learn the history of the MTA via fun lectures, sketches, and more at this ongoing comedic history series about NYC transit, with this month’s topic TBA, hosted by Meg Pierson (TEDx, Alchemy Comedy) and Justin Williams (Comedy Central; host of Death Comedy Jam): Why Your Train is F*cked (7:00 pm; $17 online or $2f0 at the door; LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street—take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Thursday 9/26: One of the best innovations of UCBT-NY Artistic Director Michael Hartney was creating a new category of house teams (beyond those for improv and sketch) devoted to talented comedic character actors. Tonight one of those two groups, Velvet Mommy—Jon Bander, Kami Dimitrova, Desi Domo, Johnny Drago, Woody Fu, Chrissie Gruebel, Adrienne Ianniciello, and Corin Wells—performs original characters or impersonations directed & hosted by Michael Hartney, Eric Feurer, and/or Sarah Parsons: Characters Welcome: Velvet Mommy (7:30 pm, $7, UCB Hell’s Kitchen at 555 West 42nd Street)
Friday 9/27: Because there isn’t enough strife pitting the living against each other, comics TBA roast long-past historical figures and events, ranging from Rasputin to The Beat Generation to The 1968 Democratic Convention: The Roast of History (7:00 pm, $12, LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street; take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Friday 9/27: A unique game show in which an oddball Internet video is screened, and then over a dozen contestants have three minutes to prepare a dance routine inspired by what everyone just experienced. It’ll all be judged by typically cool comics TBA: Dancify That! (8:00 pm, $15, The PIT Mainstage at 123 East 24th Street)
Friday 9/27: “Eliot Glazer, a classically trained vocalist-turned-comedian, takes some of pop music’s most infamous songs and turns them into highbrow, sweeping ballads. Like a twisted version of MTV Unplugged, Austin City Limits, or VH1 Storytellers, it’s an intimate night of bad music made good,” plus guests TBA: Haunting Renditions (8:00 pm, $15, Brooklyn’s Littlefield at 635 Sackett Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Saturday 9/28: Lauren Maul (host of Bitchcraft) hosts this live-on-stage version of her podcast show for Wiccans, featuring “light-hearted talk, magical comedians, musicians, and practicing witches of NYC:” Gathering the Coven: A Talk Show for Witches (7:00 pm, $10, The PIT Underground at 123 East 24th Street)
Saturday 9/28: Mike Drucker (hilarious stand-up and staff writer for TBS’ Full Frontal with Samantha Bee; previously staff writer for Comedy Central’s The President Show and nearly 400 episodes of NBC’s Jimmy Fallon, and contributing writer for Saturday Night Live), Carmen Lynch (America’s Got Talent, David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Stephen Colbert, Inside Amy Schumer, This Week at the Comedy Cellar, @midnight, Last Comic Standing finalist; Sirius XM 2017 comedy album of the year Dance Like You Don’t Need the Money), and more perform stand-up at the only comedy club in Brooklyn: Mike Drucker, Carmen Lynch, and More at Eastville (8:00 pm; normally $21 with no min., but free following these instructions [support this special by optionally buying food or drinks]; Brooklyn’s Eastville Comedy Club at 487 Atlantic Avenue—take 2/3/4/5/B/D/N/Q/R subway to Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center)
Saturday 9/28: 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)
Sunday 9/29: Stellar comics 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), Julio Torres (marvelously nuanced, outside-the-box stand-up; creator and star of HBO’s Los Espookys; staff writer for Saturday Night Live; Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers, Billy on the Street, HBO’s High Maintenance, Louis C.K.’s Horace and Pete), Karen Chee (staff writer for Seth Meyers; The New Yorker, McSweeney’s), Maeve Higgins (David Letterman, Last Comic Standing, co-host of NatGeo’s StarTalk, host of Maeve in America, co-host of Butterboy), and Cole Escola (At Home with Amy Sedaris, Difficult People) perform at this benefit for Minority Humanitarian Foundation, which provides on-the-ground relief efforts in San Diego and Tijuana: Forever Friends: Comedy Fundraiser for Migrants at the Southern Border (8:00 pm; $25, Brooklyn’s The Bell House at 149 7th Street; take R subway to 9th Street or F/G to Fourth Avenue)
Monday 9/30: Some of the most brilliant improvisors alive (TBA) stumble into theatre scenes of plays they’ve never seen performed by superb Broadway, TV, and/or film stars (also TBA) and make up their dialogue while the actors commit to staying in character and on book. The result is amazingly fun, hosted by actor/director Stephen Ruddy: Gravid Water (7:30 pm, $9, UCB Hell’s Kitchen at 555 West 42nd Street)
Monday 9/30: Chris Gethard is one of the most beloved and mutl-talented comics of our time. His credits include the HBO 90-minute solo special Career Suicide; starring in of TruTV’s & Fusion’s The Chris Gethard Show; co-staring in Mike Birbiglia’s movie Don’t Think Twice, hosting the Webby-winning podcast Beautiful Stories From Anonymous People, and performing on The Office, Comedy Central, IFC, etc. Geth is also the author of the books A Bad Idea I’m About to Do, Weird New York, and Lose Well, and the CD/vinyl/audio Gethard: My Comedy Album. If you’re bummed that Geth’s shows this month in Brooklyn are sold out, this is a chance to catch him in his native land of New Jersey: Chris Gethard in Asbury Park (8:30 pm, $10, New Jersey’s Asbury Park Brewery at 810 Sewall Avenue); take North Jersey Coast Line train to Asbury Park Station)
Monday 9/30: Stand-ups and/or storytellers TBA “share what scares the sh*t out of them” hosted by Tracy Soren: My Nightmare (8:30 pm, $6, Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell at 27-16 23rd Avenue)
Monday 9/30: Big Jay Oakerson (Jimmy Fallon, Comedy Central Presents, Louie, Inside Amy Schumer, HBO, Showtime, MTV, IFC; co-host of podcast The SDR; stellar comedy special Live at Webster Hall; Netflix’s The Degenerates), Dave Smith (FOX; host of podcast Part of the Problem), Luis J. Gomez (special Luis J. Gomez Presents Luis J. Gomez), and other NYC comics “discuss the skankier sides of life, love, and stand-up comedy” for this free weekly podcast taping: Legion of Skanks (9:30 pm, Free!, The Stand Upstairs at 116 East 16th Street)
Monday 9/30: Stand-ups TBA try out material at this free weekly show hosted by Aaron Berg (TV series 24 Hour Rental, documentary A Universal Language) and/or Kerryn Feehan (Comedy Central, TruTV, Spike TV): Frantic Mondays (10:00 pm, Free!, The Stand at 116 East 16th Street)
Wednesday 10/2: The fabulous Christi Chiello (above; 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) hosts a talk show about being rebuffed, refused, and disapproved, with Katie Hartman (brilliant, fearless dark comedy writer/performer and actress; HBO’s High Maintenance, Netflix’s The Week Of; sketch groups Skinny Bitch Jesus Meeting and Hartman & Carl, ace improv group Straight to Video) and Carly Ann Filbin (luminous & delightful sketch comic/comedic actress/writer; on-camera correspondent for Cosmopolitan.com; host of Hot Young Sluts and Let Me Break You Up: An Anti-Dating Game Show): Rejection: A Talk Show (11:00 pm, streaming free on public access station MNN and ChrisGeth.com/live)
Friday 10/11: Multitalented rising star Emma Vernon (hip-hop musical improvisor, stand-up, actor, writer, and romance expert) uses her exceptional matchmaking skills to bring together love applicants and have them experience their first dates live on stage…while using improvisors to instantly create the settings for those dates (e.g., a music festival, a bowling alley, under the sea). To get a feel for this long-running monthly extravaganza, please click here, and then nab tickets for In A World: The Dating Show (8:00 pm, $12 online or $15 at the door,, The PIT Mainstage (Striker) at 123 East 24th Street)
Saturday 10/12: Carly Ann Filbin (luminous & delightful sketch comic/comedic actress/writer; on-camera correspondent for Cosmopolitan.com; host of Let Me Break You Up: An Anti-Dating Game Show) explains this comedic game show as follows: “Romance today isn’t what it used to be—swiping, clicking, dick-picing. It’s time we went retro with an old fashioned IRL dating show! Millennials choose their hottie based on how well they answer questions like ‘If you wanted morning sex, how would you initiate it?‘, all while I make fun of them because, well, why not? Let’s make some love connections or, at the very least, a one-night stand to talk about at brunch:” Young Hot Sluts: A Matchmaking Show (8:00 pm; $15 at the door or $14.30 online; Brooklyn’s C’mon Everybody at 325 Franklin Avenue—take the G subway to Classon Avenue)
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
Fat Black Pussycat Lounge
130 West 3rd Street; Comedy Cellar’s smaller, intimate, and lower-priced sister venue (next door to Village Underground), which serves as its primary home for solo shows and experimental shows—which means it’s sometimes the most exciting choice; 2-item min.
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.