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That said, my top NYC comedy recommendations for October 2019 (with more to come soon) include:
Saturday 10/19: In this unique show, animators spontaneously bring the jokes of stand-ups Rosebud Baker, Chanel Ali, Dee Nasty, Rebecca O’Neal, and Doug Smith to visual life with lightning speed & wit. Part of the fun is that the comics don’t know what the animators will draw and the animators don’t know how the comics will react. Produced by Sam Varela & Brandie Posey and hosted by Samantha Ruddy: Picture This! (7:30 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Saturday 10/19: TV & movie star Janeane Garofalo, Jo Firestone (top right; one of the most relentlessly inventive comics in the biz; staff writer for Jimmy Fallon; star of Comedy Central Stand-Up Presents special; HBO’s Crashing, Comedy Central’s Broad City; radio host of WFMU’s Dr. Gameshow; comedy album The Hits), Joyelle Johnson (top middle; Seth Meyers, HBO’s Crashing, TruTV; former writer for Broad City), and Christina Glaston (top left; co-host of NYC Blunt Club podcast) perform stand-up for hosts Gastor Almonte (Comedy Central’s This Is Not Happening, host of Stoops2Stages, co-host of I’m Dead Comedy, comedy album Immigrant Made) & Jess Salomon (former UN war crimes lawyer turned comic; Jimmy Fallon, CBS, Sirius XM): Sandwich (10:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Saturday 10/19: Comedic personal tales about mental health and getting through tough times from Julie Ann Korpi (left; teacher), Nelson Lugo (middle; magician), Bryan Berlin (right; Moth Storyslam winner; host of podcast Love Hurts), and Christine Magee: Speak Up, Rise Up: Navigating the Dark (11:00 pm, $20, Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell at 27-16 23rd Avenue)
Sunday 10/20: The multitalented Jamie Loftus (writer for Adult Swim’s Robot Chicken and Chelsea Handler; animator for Comedy Central; co-host of podcast The Bechdel Cast) performs her acclaimed Edinburgh Fringe Festival solo show about “a toxic corporate feminist who is teaching all fellow girlbosses how to use technology to steal data for fun, profit, and #feminism:” Boss Whom Is Girl (5:00 pm, $15, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Sunday 10/20: 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; podcast Broccoli and Ice Cream), and more TBA try out new jokes via deliciously long sets at this popular weekly safe space for the stand-up creation process hosted by Nat Towsen (Esquire, VICE, College Humor, host of Downtown Variety): New Material Night (8:00 pm, $12, The PIT Underground at 123 East 24th Street)
Tuesday 10/22: Amy Zimmer (The New Yorker) & Spike Einbinder (above) provide “elaborate slapstick psycho-thrillers in this dizzying array of vignettes showcasing the most romantic, obsessive, and eccentric duos you never knew you wanted, and definitely didn’t know you needed,” with guests Ana Fabrega (breakout star of HBO’s Los Espookys; Am Home with Amy Sedaris, Portlandia, The Jim Gaffigan Show, The Chris Gethard Show) and Cole Escola (At Home with Amy Sedaris, Difficult People): Together At Last (8:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Tuesday 10/22: Gary Gulman (razor-sharp wordsmith who’s one of the best stand-ups in the country; superb recent HBO special The Great Depresh; notable role as stand-up in blockbuster movie Joker; David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Seth Meyers, Jimmy Kimmel, Jay Leno; finalist on Last Comic Standing; other comedy specials include Boyish Man, In This Economy, and It’s About Time), The Lucas Brothers (Jimmy Fallon, 22 Jump Street, FOX’s Lucas Bros Moving Company, Arrested Development, Crashing), Brett Davis (HBO’s Animals; TruTv’s Jon Glaser Loves Gear; creator/host of weekly Manhattan cable TV show The Special Without Brett Davis; winner of the 2015 Andy Kaufman Award), and more, all hosted by Seth Herzog (long-time staff comic for Jimmy Fallon; 30 Rock, @midnight, CBS, VH1): Sweet-O-Ween (9:00 pm, $13 at the door or $15.61 in advance online, Chelsea Music Hall at 407 West 15th Street)
Wednesday 10/23: 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 Joyelle Johnson (Seth Meyers, HBO’s Crashing, TruTV; former writer for Broad City), Becky Yamamoto (Web series Uninspired), 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)
Thursday 10/24: Fareeha Khan (MTV, The ‘Sup Show) invites comics to “share what feeling like an outcast means to them,” with Sara Hennessey (Canadian TV star/writer of such series as Terrific Women; comedy albums They Know Too Much and Trouble in Saradise), Joe Rumrill (The Chris Gethard Show; co-host of Cartoon Monsoon), Marcia Belsky (Reductress; Handmaid’s Tale The Musical; lead singer of band Free the Mind), Martin Urbano (Jimmy Kimmel), and Okay Kaya: Outcast (7:30 pm, $8, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Friday 10/25: Pairs of comics face off in “passionate, high-stakes debates about absolutely unimportant, low-stakes topics,” with Asher Perlman, Jes Tom, Steve Waltien, Shane O’Neill, and Heben Nigatu hosted by Karen Chee (staff writer for Seth Meyers; The New Yorker, McSweeney’s) & Ariel Dumas (staff writer for Stephen Colbert): Big Debates, Lil Issues (7:30 pm, $12, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Saturday 10/26: A modern conflict of epic proportions. Evil villains, menacing alien beasts, and giant, city-crushing monsters threaten to destroy the planet. Who will save the helpless humans from total ruin? The Heroes, of course; plus a few privileged audience members getting in on the action, as they try to contain danger within the three-roped arena of Kaiju Big Battel (6:00 pm, $15, Brooklyn’s The Bell House at 149 7th Street; take R subway to 9th Street or F/G to Fourth Avenue)
Saturday 10/26: Sydnee Washington (Conan O’Brien, MTV2’s Vidiots, co-host of podcast The Unofficial Expert) performs a new solo show, with Eudora Peterson opening: Sydnee Washington: My Favorite Open Book Of Beautiful Garbage (7:30 pm, $15, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Saturday 10/26: Friends Who Folk—i.e., delightful singing duo Rachel Wenitsky (writer for Jimmy Fallon, freelance writer for SNL; Deputy Editor of Reductress; co-host of Mouth Time! podcast; Head Writer of The Story Pirates podcast) & Ned Riseley; TheNewYorker.com—host guests Larry Owens, Jes Tom, Amelia Bande, David Sidorov, Hannah Hiaasen, and Dan Chamberlain: Friends Who Folk & Friends (10:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Monday 10/28: For the 12th year of this fabulous annual event, scores of NYC comics get a couple of minutes each to do a set as a famous comedian (e.g., Amy Schumer, George Carlin, Jimmy Fallon, Rodney Dangerfield, Joan Rivers…the possibilities are endless) hosted by Mark Normand & Matt Ruby. For highlights of last year’s show, please click here, and then nab tickets to The 12th Annual Schtick or Treat (8:00 pm; $16.41 online or $12 at the door (if it doesn’t sell out in advance, which it often does); Brooklyn’s Knitting Factory at 361 Metropolitan Avenue—take the G subway to Metropolitan Avenue or L subway to Lorimer Street)
Monday 10/28: Seven comics—Desi Domo, Rachel Pegram, Tim Platt, Jes Tom, Thomas Whittington, Zach Teague, and Donald Chang—and one audience member compete to win the hearts of celebrity single Aparna Nancherla (Aparna is actually in a relationship, but suspend your disbelief) for this 1990’s-style dating game show hosted by Taylor Ortega, John Everett Trowbridge, Jenny Gorelick, and Jonathan Yoni Lotan: First Impressions: The 90’s Dating Game Show (8:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Tuesday 10/29: Fine lineup of Jo Firestone, Karen Chee, Clare O’Kane, Rachel Pegram, and Larry Owens performing stand-up for hosts Sam Taggart and Pat Regan: Stevie Presents (8:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Tuesday Tuesday 10/29: Hosts Austin Bernhardt (writer for Comedy Central, The New Yorker, McSweeney’s) & Megan Meadows (Reductress) “invite you and your worst impulses to a night of gripes, games, and non-scary audience participation,” featuring petty complaints from Alison Leiby (writer for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, former writer for Comedy Central’s The Opposition and The President Show; VICE, Triumph The Insult Comic Dog; host of It’s a Long Story), Alex English (writer for BET’s The Rundown with Robin Thede), Mary Cella (Comedy Central, The New Yorker, The New York Times), Nicole Boyce (Comedy Central, The New Yorker), and Brian Bahe (Vulture): Where Do You Get Off?: A Show for Petty People (8:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Littlefield at 635 Sackett Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Wednesday 10/30: Enjoy a blend of stand-up, sketch, music, and murder with Caroline Portu & Marty Miller, Avra Friedman, Alex Boyce, John Everett Trowbridge, Michael Kayne, Maya Deshmukh, and Milly Tamarez hosted by Jenny Gorelick: Jenny’s Birthday: Murder Mystery Party! (8:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Thursday 10/31: Stand-ups share true personal stories about supernatural experiences, with Adam Mamawala (Comedy Central, MTV, BET; stand-up album One of the Good Ones), Pranav Behari (co-host of Mango Bae podcast), Maria Wojciechowski (editor at Comedywire), Srilatha Rajamani, and Jericho Davidson hosted by Emily Winter (writer for NPR’s Ask Me Another; The New Yorker, The New York Times) and Larry Mancini (ESPN radio; band member of The Tracys): BackFat Variety Presents: Comedians with Ghost Stories (9:30 pm, $15, LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street; take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Tuesday 11/5: 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. This special Halloween edition also features a spooky Pun-Costume competition: Punderdome 3000: Halloween Special (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)
Wednesday 11/6: The National Lampoon Radio Hour ran weekly from November 1973 through December 1974. A number of its comics then moved on to Saturday Night Live, including John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, Harold Ramis, and brilliant writer Michael O’Donoghue. Decades later, you can come see NLRH resurrected as a podcast and stage show with a brand new cast of writers and performers: Jo Firestone, Maeve Higgins, Aaron Jackson, Brett Davis, Alex English, Rachel Pegram, Lorelei Ramirez, Meg Stalter, Martin Urbano, and Cole Escola: The National Lampoon Radio Hour (7:30 pm, $25, Brooklyn’s The Bell House at 149 7th Street; take R subway to 9th Street or F/G to Fourth Avenue)
Wednesday 11/6: Mind reader Eric Dittelman (America’s Got Talent, Ellen) hosts professional magicians testing out new acts—including comedic bits—for this long-running free monthly show: Amazeballs (10:00 pm, Free!, The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ LIC at 10-93 Jackson Avenue; take 7 subway to Vernon Boulevard–Jackson Avenue)
Friday 11/8: Sarah Squirm, who created the infamous Adult Swim video here, gifts us with a live show filled with her disturbingly gross dark comedy, plus musical guests Ana Fabrega & Lorelei Ramirez (as duo Beautiful Souls Al Fresco): Sarah Squirm’s HellTrap Nightmare (7:30 pm, $15, Brooklyn’s The Bell House at 149 7th Street; take R subway to 9th Street or F/G to Fourth Avenue)
Sunday 12/1: Michelle Buteau (HBO’s 2 Dope Queens and High Maintenance, Netflix’s Russian Doll, Comedy Central’s Key & Peele, Amazon’s The Tick, VH1’s Morning Buzz and Best Week Ever, FOX’s Enlisted, Craig Ferguson, Last Comic Standing, @midnight; films Always Be My Maybe and Someone Great; comedy album Shut Up) performs a deliciously long stand-up set: Michelle Buteau (9:30 pm, $20, Brooklyn’s The Bell House at 149 7th Street; take R subway to 9th Street or F/G to Fourth 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.
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.