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That said, my top NYC comedy recommendations for November 2019 (with much more to come soon) include:
Thursday 11/7-Sunday 11/10: Hilarious, quick-witted Norm MacDonald both gets in trouble and is beloved for not being afraid to make waves. For example, way back in 1997 Norm got the biggest laugh ever out of Conan O’Brien when he began by declaring that if Carrot Top is the star of the new movie of another guest, a good title for the film would be “Box Office Poison.” Conan then asked the guest for the actual title, and she responded Chairman of the Board. Conan turned to Norm and said, “Do something with that, you freak.” Without missing a beat, Norm replied, “I bet Board is spelled B-O-R-E-D.” Conan, and the audience, went into hysterics. (Also famed is Norm’s moth story.) Norm was a popular cast member of Saturday Night Live for five seasons and the anchor of Weekend Update for three seasons. He was also a regular on several network sitcoms, and even starred in his own ABC sitcom The Norm Show, which ran for three seasons. More recently, Norm is the voice of Yaphit on The Orville and hosts the Netflix interview program Norm Macdonald Has a Show. Norm is also one of the most acclaimed stand-ups in the biz, and well worth catching. He’s headlining Thursday through Sunday as part of the New York Comedy Festival: Norm Macdonald (8:00 pm & 10:30 pm, $57.25 plus 2-drink min., Carolines Comedy Club at 1626 Broadway; #NYCF2019)
Thursday 11/7: Writer/actress/producer/comic Quinta Brunson has co-starred on HBO’s A Black Lady Sketch Show, the webseries Girl Who Has Never Been on a Nice Date, a bunch of Buzzfeed videos, and more—including a pilot she’s developing for CBS. Tonight you can see this red-hot rising star live on stage hosting Sam Jay (writer for Saturday Night Live; performed on Jimmy Kimmel, Comedy Central Stand-Up Presents, Take My Wife), Sydnee Washington (Conan O’Brien, MTV2’s Vidiots, co-host of podcast The Unofficial Expert), Taylor Garron (editor for Reductress), Ayo Edebiri (Comedy Central), and Anthony Moore: Quinta Brunson + Friends (7:30 pm, $20, Brooklyn’s The Bell House at 149 7th Street; take R subway to 9th Street or F/G to Fourth Avenue; #NYCF2019)
Thursday 11/7: Superb UCB character comics—including such rising stars as Desi Domo and Michael Cruz Kayne—perform some of their best solo bits for the New York Comedy Festival: UCBT Character Showcase (7:30 pm, $12, UCB Hell’s Kitchen at 555 West 42nd Street; #NYCF2019)
Thursday 11/7: Open mic storytelling show, with each yarn-spinner whose name is picked from a basket receiving 5 minutes on stage to share something that happened in his or her life (and that’s interesting enough to make the audience feel okay about missing tonight’s debate), hosted by David Lawson (fresh, sharp, edgy storyteller; The Flyer Guy): The Astoria Bookshop Storytelling Show (7:00 pm, Free!, Astoria Bookshop at 31-29 31st Street)
Thursday 11/7: A group of nearly a dozen Philadelphia comics (Joe Bell, Shannon Fahey, Caitlin Feeney, Ari Fishbein, Kyle Harris, Rose Luardo, Pete Steele, Dan Vetrano, Christine Walden, Michael S. Watkins, and Andrew Jeffrey Wright) visits us to participate in #NYCF2019, with stellar 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 Sarah Squirm (creator of infamous Adult Swim video here): Darlings (8:00 pm, $5, The Kraine Theatre at 85 East 4th Street, off Second Avenue)
Thursday 11/7: Douglas Widdick & Ken McGraw perform an hour-long musical, directed by Caitlin Bitzegaio, on the myriad very wrong ways to try to pick up women and live a bachelor lifestyle: Toxic Masculinity: The Musical (9:00 pm, $12, UCB Hell’s Kitchen at 555 West 42nd Street; #NYCF2019)
Thursday 11/7: With brutal honesty, top comics Dan Soder (one of the very finest stand-ups in the country; Dudley Mafee on Showtime’s Billions; films Trainwreck, Drunk Parents; Conan O’Brien, Comedy Central hour-long special Not Special, Comedy Central Half Hour, Netflix’s The Standups, Inside Amy Schumer, MTV’s Guy Code and Guy Court, upcoming HBO special; hosts with Big Jay Oakerson Sirius XM’s The Bonfire), Robert Kelly (Louie, Trainwreck, HBO, CBS, two Comedy Central specials, YKWD podcast), and Lynne Koplitz (star of stand-up specials Hormonal Beast on Netflix and a Comedy Central Presents; HBO’s Crashing; upcoming Judd Apatow movie Staten Island; Joan Know’s Best, IFC’s Z Rock, host of WB’s Life & Style, Chris Rock movie Top Five) each shares a story of one of the worst things he or she has ever experienced, with periodioc questions and other interjections from host Big Jay Oakerson (Jimmy Fallon, Comedy Central Presents, Louie, Inside Amy Schumer, HBO, Showtime, MTV, IFC; co-host of podcasts Legion of Skanks and The SDR; stellar comedy special Live at Webster Hall): The Worst (9:00 pm, $20 cover and no min., The Stand at 116 East 16th Street)
Thursday 11/7: Stand-ups Chris Gethard (star of HBO 90-minute special Career Suicide; star of TruTV’s & Fusion’s The Chris Gethard Show; co-star of Mike Birbiglia film Don’t Think Twice; host of Webby-winning podcast Beautiful Stories From Anonymous People) and Meg Stalter (National Lampoon Comedy Hour) each performs a stand-up set and is then analyzed by a genuine professional therapist based on the material, all hosted by by Michael S. Watkins & Joe Bell: Comedian Psychoanalysis (9:30 pm, $5, The Kraine Theatre at 85 East 4th Street, off Second Avenue; #NYCF2019)
Friday 11/8: Superb storyteller David Lawson (Comedy Central; solo shows include The Flyer Guy, No Oddjob, The Prequels; host of The Astoria Bookshop Storytelling Show) performs a one-man show “standing onstage judging people who are seeking The White House in 2020. The only qualification David has? He’s read their books:” David Lawson’s 2020 Book Report (7:00 pm; $13.72 online using code 8YEARS; The Kraine Theatre at 85 East 4th Street off Second Avenue)
Friday 11/8: Ace comics Jo Firestone, Ana Fabrega, Sydnee Washington, Catherine Cohen, Natalie Walker, Ayo Edebiri, and James Harvey perform for host Larry Owens (staff writer for TruTV’s Paid Off; feature film To Dust): Larry Owens + Friends (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; #NYCF2019)
Friday 11/8: Storytelling, catharsis, and laughter as comics who identify as survivors of sexual assault or harassment share their experiences, featuring Amber Rollo, Wendi Starling, Arti Gollapudi, Irene Fagan Merrow, Rebecca O’Neal, and Dylan Adler hosted by Kelly Bachman (filmmaker/comic; recent op-ed in The New York Times). This show will be filmed as part of a documentary: Rape Jokes by Survivors (7:30 pm, $17, UCB at SubCulture at 45 Bleecker Street—take #6 subway to Bleecker Street stop; #NYCF201)
Friday 11/8: Baron Vaughn (Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Fallon, Comedy Central Half Hour, co-host of Comedy Central’s The New Negroes; Tom Servo in the Netflix reboot of Mystery Science Theater 3000; cast member of Netflix’s Grace and Frankie and USA’s Fairly Legal; films Cloverfield, Black Dynamite, and his own documentary Fatherless) and Open Mike Eagle (stand-up and hip-hop artist; Adult Swim; co-host with Baron of The New Negroes) perform and host other notable stand-ups in this stage version of their Comedy Central showcase: The New Negroes Live (8:00 pm, $25, Brooklyn’s Littlefield at 635 Sackett Street; take R subway to Union Street; #NYCF2019)
Friday 11/8: 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 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 (10:00 pm, $15, Brooklyn’s The Bell House at 149 7th Street; take R subway to 9th Street or F/G to Fourth Avenue; #NYCF2019)
Friday 11/8: A solo stand-up show self-described as “fiercely personal, remorselessly dark, morally bankrupt comedy” from a comic who’s performed on Comedy Central and Amazon Prime: Rosebud Baker (7:30 pm, $15, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street; #NYCF2019)
Saturday 11/9: This “woke” Japanese-style game show will push to the max the problem-solving skills of comedy giants (in alphabetical order) Wyatt Cenac, Judah Friedlander, Aparna Nancherla, and Larry Owens. Hosting this star-studded event, which promises to be enormous fun, will be the charming Atsuko Okatsuka (HBO’s Room 104; writer for Adult Swim’s wonderfully surreal The Eric Andre Show and Soft Focus with Jena Friedman): Let’s Go, Atsuko! (8:30 pm, $11, Chelsea Music Hall at 407 West 15th Street)
Saturday 11/9: A show celebrating the app that redefined online dating, with the lovely and quick-witted Lane Moore (above middle; author of bestselling book How to Be Alone; HBO’s Girls; Sex & Relationship Editor of Cosmo; writer for The Onion, McSweeney’s) going on a live Tinder safari for guys while a packed audience watches her every choice with fascination. Offering comments and suggestions are guests Jean Grae (left; renowned, seminal hip hop recording artist; also sharp pro comic and comedy host), Connor Ratliff (right; brilliant improvisor & character comic; The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Orange is the New Black, Broad City, The Chris Gethard Show, The President Show; co-star of legendary improv group The Stepfathers; host of The George Lucas Talk Show), and Chase Mitchell (staff writer for FOX’s What Just Happened?; former long-time staff writer for Jimmy Fallon): Tinder Live (8:30 pm, $18 at the door or $19.51-$22.76 online; Brooklyn’s Littlefield at 635 Sackett Street; take R subway to Union Street; #NYCF2019)
Saturday 11/9: Gastor Almonte (Comedy Central’s This Is Not Happening, host of Stoops2Stages, co-host of Sandwich, comedy album Immigrant Made) hosts a Brooklyn-style long-form storytelling show (guests TBA) that, like a good meal, will safisfy and sustain you: Beef & Broccoli (8:30 pm, $20 cover and no min., The Stand at 116 East 16th Street; #NYCF2019)
Saturday 11/9: Every Saturday night, 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; #NYCF2019)
Saturday 11/9: Director, writer, actor, and national treasure Kevin Smith (Clerks, Chasing Amy, Comic Book Men, Jay and Silent Bob) and Jason Mewes (co-star of the View Askewniverse; host of popular and long-running podcast Jay & Silent Bob Get Old) perform a storytelling and Q&A show—which I’ll be attending—promoting their just-released latest movie Jay and Silent Bob Reboot: The Jay and Silent Bob Reboot Roadshow (9:45 pm, BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center at 99 Chambers Street; take the 1/2/3 subway to Chambers Street; #NYCF2019. PLEASE NOTE: This show has SOLD OUT.)
Sunday 11/10: Each of us endures a lot more, and is far tougher, than is apparent from surface appearances. And that refers to not only emotional and spiritual hardships, but permanent bodily mementos. In this show, Ophira Eisenberg (one of the very finest storytellers in the country; NBC’s The Today Show, CBS’ The Late Late Show, Comedy Central, VH1, Showtime, host of NPR’s trivia/puzzle show Ask Me Another, bestselling book Screw Everyone, comedy album Bangs!; for a sampling of Ophira’s remarkably deep comedic tales, please click here) reveals “I have a lot of scars. And I don’t mean metaphorical ones, I’m talking actual physical scars. I’m actually covered in them. They stem from incidents throughout my life, from putting my finger into a meat grinder at age 4 to surviving a near-fatal car crash. This show is about my scars, filled with both comedic and tragic stories, and how to accept these patterns etched in my skin day after day after day.” Opening for Ophira during this 90-minute show are storytellers Michaela Murphy (recommended by The New Yorker) and Mike Albo (writer for The New Yorker, The New York Times, New York Magazine; author of novels Homito and The Underminer): Ophira Eisenberg: How to Get Rid of Scars (2:00 pm; $17.96 in advance online using code 8YEARS; The Kraine Theatre at 85 East 4th Street off Second Avenue)
Sunday 11/10: Amazing lineup of some of the finest comics in the biz—Judah Friedlander, Aparna Nancherla, Mark Normand, Alison Leiby, and Peter Grosz—performing stand-up hosted by Robert Dean: If You Build It (9:30 pm, $12, UCB at SubCulture, 45 Bleecker Street—take #6 subway to Bleecker Street stop; #NYCF2019)
Sunday 11/10: Mothers, and nonprofit group MIMSI that “offers life-saving prenatal care to mothers in areas of the world that need it most,” are celebrated by Judy Gold (star of HBO’s At The Multiplex With Judy Gold; star of multiple stand-up specials on HBO, Comedy Central, and LOGO; former writer & producer for The Rosie O’Donnell Show, for which Judy won two Daytime Emmy Awards; Showtime’s I’m Dying Up Here; Stephen Colbert, Conan O’Brien, Jay Leno, The View; popular weekly podcast Kill Me Now), Karen Chee (staff writer for Seth Meyers; The New Yorker, McSweeney’s), Krystyna Hutchinson (with comedy partner Corinne Fisher, host of popular Guys We Fucked podcast and author of F*CKED: Being Sexually Explorative and Self-Confident in a World That’s Screwed), Chris Distefano (star of Comedy Central’s hour-long special Size 38 Waist and weekly interstitial series Stupid Questions; David Letterman, Seth Meyers, MTV2’s Guy Code), and Lucas O’Neil in this fundraiser hosted by X Mayo (The Daily Show): Another Mother’s Day (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; #NYCF2019)
Sunday 11/10: It’s the final night of the annual Roastmasters Tournament, with comics who survived the first two brutal evenings facing off to determine the competition’s champion for 2019, with judges TBA, all hosted by master insulter Kim Congdon: Roastmasters NYC Tournament 2019 (10:00 pm, $10, The Stand at 116 East 16th Street #NYCF2019)
Tuesday 11/12: 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)
Wednesday 11/13: 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; author of book Nice Try; stand-up albums Dancing On a Weeknight and Physical Whisper), Katie Boyle (co-host of podcast The Shift; host of Transplants Comedy), Zain Sharif, Jared Goldstein, and Ronnie Fleming perform stand-up hosted by Emily Winter, Julia Shiplett, Carolyn Busa, and/or Ben Wasserman: Side Ponytail Comedy (8:00 pm, Free!, Brooklyn’s Friends and Lovers at 641 Classon Avenue)
Wednesday 11/20: Mike Drucker (left; 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), Caitlin Peluffo (right; Stephen Colbert), Richie Owens, and more TBA perform stand-up hosted by Emily Winter, Julia Shiplett, Carolyn Busa, and/or Ben Wasserman: Side Ponytail Comedy (8:00 pm, Free!, Brooklyn’s Friends and Lovers at 641 Classon Avenue)
Friday 11/29: Patrick McCartney (member of acclaimed theatrical improv group Centralia) performs a comedic solo show about addiction and recovery, directed by Shira Piven (HBO’s Divorce and Room 104, Amazon’s Transparent), that’s received raves from the likes of Elizabeth Gilbert (superstar author of Eat Pray Love), who wrote, “Patrick McCartney is a phenomenally gifted performer, whose work I have admired for years. But we almost lost this extraordinary artist to alcoholism and drug addiction—which would have been a tragedy on so many levels. Now McCartney has returned to the stage with a one-man show about his struggle with substance abuse. Miraculously, it manages to be simultaneously brilliant, devastating, hilarious, humble, searching, and triumphant. Go see it. It’s a beautiful piece of work:” Sinister Kid (7:00 pm, $12, The PIT Loft at 154 West 29th Street)
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 (7:30 pm (sold out) & 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.