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That said, my top NYC comedy recommendations for November 2019 (with much more to come soon) include:
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 (top left; 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 (bottom left; staff writer for Seth Meyers; The New Yorker, McSweeney’s), Krystyna Hutchinson (bottom right; 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 (top right; 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, $25, 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: Aasif Mandvi (HBO’s The Brink, Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, numerous films; former correspondent for The Daily Show; author of No Man’s Land), Erik Bergstrom (Comedy Central Half Hour, MTV, VH1, Fuse; cartoonist/author of Grimmer Tales, The New Yorker), and Kelsey Claire Hagen (host of Don’t Grab My Pussy) try out new jokes 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)
Sunday 11/10: Comics competitively roast each other, with tonight’s main bout Anya Volz (writer for Riot Fest, The Hard Times; host of Thirst Trap With Anya Volz) vs. Dan Wickes (producer of Popped Collar Comedy and Stationary Circus), all hosted by Matt Maran: Comedy Fight Club (9:00 pm, $10, The Stand Upstairs at 116 East 16th Street; #NYCF2019)
Sunday 11/10 SOLD OUT, but buy tix for Tuesday 11/12: Jena Friedman (wry dark political stand-up; star of Adult Swim’s Soft Focus; Conan O’Brien, Stephen Colbert, @midnight, The New Yorker, Netflix mockumentary Undecided; former staff writer for David Letterman and Roseanne; former producer for The Daily Show) performs a solo show “as America slips into fascism that celebrates free speech, while she still has it.” Sunday’s 7:00 pm show quickly sold out, so a 5:00 pm show was added…and it sold out too. So if you didn’t nab tickets in time, you can’t see this show today. However, you can still buy tickets for one more performance (outside #NYCF2019) this Tuesday 11/12 at 10:00 pm—which I recommend you do right now, before it sells out too: Jena Friedman: Miscarriage of Justice (Tuesday 11/12 at 10:00 pm, $15, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Sunday 11/10 SOLD OUT, but buy tix for Saturday 11/16: Courtney Pauroso (Jimmy Kimmel, Key & Peale, American Housewife) performs her hit Edinburgh Fringe show that “takes its audience on an intense and hilarious journey in an hour of chaos that somehow portrays a deep, life-spanning story.” Today’s show is SOLD OUT, but you can still nab tickets for additional performances (outside #NYCF2019) on Saturday 11/16: Gutterplum (Saturday 11/16 at 7:30 pm or 10:00 pm, $15, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
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.