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 330,000 print 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 December 2019 (with much more to come soon) include:
Tuesday 12/10: Members of the West Wing Writers group (which includes former Presidential speechwriters) will break down their favorite speeches, give behind-the-scenes looks at the speech drafting process, and even lead you in crafting your own keynote speech, all hosted by Chandler Dean (McSweeney’s): SpeakEasy (7:00 pm; $15; LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street—take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Tuesday 12/10: A beloved Broadway, TV, and film star who said, “The thing that drives me crazy is when comics say ‘I have low self-esteem.’ No, you don’t. You’re standing on stage asking people to pay. You don’t play an instrument. You want people to pay to hear what’s in your mind. You don’t have low self-esteem. You might have other problems.” 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 12/10: 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 12/10: Top comics Dan Soder & Big Jay Oakerson do a live-on-stage version of their highly popular Comedy Central Radio Sirius XM 95 show to celebrate the season. This is SOLD OUT, but you can try getting in by arriving early and waiting on the stand-by line: The Bonfire Live Holiday Spectacular (8:30 pm, $14 plus 2-item food/drink min., West Village’s Village Underground at 130 West 3rd Street off Sixth Avenue)
Tuesday 12/10: Rich Vos (stand-up star on two seasons of Last Comic Standing and on Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn; four Comedy Central specials; HBO, Showtime, Jimmy Kimmel; Opie & Anthony radio show, co-host of My Wife Hates Me podcast) tapes his sixth stand-up album. (Rich’s fifth one, titled simply V, hit #1 on iTunes and Billboard, and was voted Best Comedy Album of the Year by the readers of Interrobang.) Come help Rich make this evening electric by lending your joy and getting your laughs immortalized at an intimate West Village club: Rich Vos Album Recording (8:30 pm, $10 plus 2-item food/drink min., Comedy Cellar’s Fat Black Pussycat Lounge at 130 West 3rd Street)
Tuesday 12/10: Nikki Glaser (host of You Up on SiriusXM; star of former Comedy Central series Not Safe; Comedy Central and Netflix specials; films Trainwreck and I Feel Pretty), 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), Ian Lara (Jimmy Fallon, Comedy Central Stand-Up, NBC’s Bring the Funny; former host of Out of Tune music app), Ray DeVito (The Jim Gaffigan Show, MTV; co-host of The Ghole Podcast) and Yannis Pappas (Comedy Central Half Hour, VH1; co-host of podcast History Hyenas) perform stand-up for host Josh Carter (Comedy Central’s Broad City and The Jim Gaffigan Show): Northern Discomfort (9:30 pm, $10 cover and no min., The Stand Upstairs at 116 East 16th Street)
Tuesday 12/10: Great lineup of Rachel Feinstein (HBO’s Crashing, Amazon’s Red Oaks, Netflix’s The Standups, Comedy Central special Only Whores Wear Purple; finalist on Last Comic Standing; Jimmy Fallon, Conan O’Brien, Inside Amy Schumer, The View; films include Trainwreck and Top Five), 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; hosts podcast Tuesdays With Stories; tours with Amy Schumer), Sean Patton (one of the very finest stand-ups in the country; killer sets on Jimmy Fallon and Conan O’Brien; Comedy Central’s Half Hour, This Week at the Comedy Cellar, Inside Amy Schumer, @midnight, This Is Not Happening, The Meltdown; VH1, TruTV, IFC, Viceland; feature film Wifed Out; former co-host of Esquire Network’s Best Bars in America), Michael Kosta (correspondent for The Daily Show), Derek Gaines (Jaybird on The Last O.G.; NBC’s Will & Grace; former host of MTV’s Broke A$$ Game Show), Subhah Agarwal (writer for Comedy Central’s The Jim Jefferies Show; TruTV, Fusion), and Janelle Draper (IFC): $5 Funnies (10:00 pm, $5 cover and no min., The Stand Mainstage at 116 East 16th Street)
Wednesday 12/11: Ziwe Fumudoh (writer for Showtime’s Desus & Mero, and previously for The Rundown with Robin Thede; host of hilarious webseries Baited with Ziwe) invites comics Joyelle Nicole, Natalie Walker, Rachel Pegram, and Max Wittert to perform pop songs, preceded by comedic presentations: Pop Show (7:30 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Wednesday 12/11: Alise Morales (News & Politics Editor of Betches; Reductress, Above Average), Michael Hartney (TV Land’s Throwing Shade, Broadway’s School of Rock, ; co-host of Characters Welcome), and Natasha Vaynblat (Comedy Central, Funny or Die, McSweeney’s, Reductress; ace improv group What I Did For Love) perform comedy for hosts Amanda Giobbi & Ariel Gitlins (above), who ask you to “join us as we welcome some people we love to do some comedy they love and that we think you’ll love too:” We Love You: A Fucking Positive Comedy Show (10:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Thursday 12/12: Andrea Jones-Rooy, who is a Professor and Director of Undergraduate Study at the NYU Center for Data Science—and also a fire-wielding circus performer—uses decades of data-driven political research to “help us understand what our political structures are actually doing, why, and how (and whether) to change them. We explore such questions as ‘What does majority rule even mean, and what are the consequences of it? Are we actually getting more polarized? Why, despite the historical records in the midterm election, do so many candidates and leaders still look the same?”: Political Circus: Why Democracy is F*cked and What to Do About It (7:00 pm, $15, LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street; take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Thursday 12/12: Enjoy a comic excavation of teen angst artifacts (journals, letters, poems, lyrics, home movies, stories, and more) shared by their original authors before total strangers at this popular monthly show—which is now also a six-part series titled The Mortified Guide on Netflix: Mortified (8:00 pm, $12, Brooklyn’s Littlefield at 635 Sackett Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Thursday 12/12: Following an established audition format for shows like SNL, sketch/character comics Melissa Aquiles, Gary DeNoia, Sarah Ann Houghton, Mary Cait Kelly, Dejen Tesfagiorgis, and Kaili Y. Turner will each perform three characters and three impersonations in an attempt to impress you—and whoever else might be watching: TV Sketch Show Audition Show (8:30 pm, $10, The PIT Underground at 123 East 24th Street)
Friday 12/13: Musical improvisors—typically including the stellar and multi-talented Desi Domo (Comedy Central’s Alternatino; film The Conjuring; UCB’s Characters Welcome; indie improv group Miles From Pete) make up the story, songs, and dances of a new musical on the spot based on “fill in the blank” audience suggestions: Blank! The Musical (9:30 pm; $22.60 in advance online or $25 at the door; The PIT Loft at 154 West 29th Street)
Saturday 12/14: 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 Jo Firestone (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; live-on-stage co-host of Butterball; comedy album The Hits), Max Wittert (HBO’s High Maintenance), and Francesca D’Uva: Friends Who Folk & Friends (7:30 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Saturday 12/14: A highly popular show that reenacts bizarre events of the past, with all sketches researched, written, and directed by award-winning journalist Malorie Cunningham (ABC News, NBC News) and Heath Harckham (Food Network), and performed by comics including Malorie, Heath, Victoria Hoffman, Sophia Shefner, Mike Mike, Talia Heller, Ian Mather, and/or Mike Newkirk: Sketchy History (7:00 pm, $12, The PIT Mainstage (Striker) at 123 East 24th Street)
Saturday 12/14: Groundbreaking acclaimed improvisors Patrick McCartney, Matt Higgins, Jay Rhoderick, and Kevin Scott make up scenes that often have a theatrical quality: Centralia (8:00 pm; $12, The PIT Loft at 154 West 29th Street)
Saturday 12/14: Blythe Roberson (bottom left; The New Yorker, The Onion, McSweeney’s; author of How to Date Men When You Hate Men) & Colin Stokes (bottom right; Associate Cartoon Editor at The New Yorker; The Onion, GQ) select a book, and then each guest comic uses it as a springboard for a set that might provide insights about the work but, more typically, have almost nothing to do with the book. If you actually love the book—which this month is cookbook Nothing Fancy by Alison Roman—you may find this a painful experience; but if you love snark, come. Plus this month’s comics are stellar: 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; live-on-stage co-host of Butterball; comedy album The Hits), Karen Chee (top left; staff writer for Seth Meyers; The New Yorker, McSweeney’s), Fran Hoepfner (The Onion, Vulture, ClickHole, Maxim), and Dash Turner (improvisor): Book Club—A Comedy Show: Nothing Fancy (10:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Saturday 12/14: Using low-brow horror films often purchased in local gas stations and bodegas, host J.W. Crump plays select clips for 30 seconds, then asks his talented cast of improvisers—Sean Reidy, Connor McClure, B. J. Thorne, Josh Krebs, Kaitlin Fontana, Sam Jackel, Michelle Francesca Thomas, Tim Mele, Ali Gordon, Jordan Hirsch, Alyson Cripps, and/or Táhlia Robinson—to complete the scene: Gas Station Horror (10:30 pm, $12, The PIT Underground at 123 East 24th Street)
Sunday 12/15: “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,” with an incredible lineup of singing Saturday Night Live cast members: Melissa Villaseñor (force-of-nature voiceover artist who’s performed characters for Family Guy, Scooby Doo, and many other shows; also a brilliant illustrator and moving singer/songwriter whose first music album is Dreamer), Cecily Strong (left), and Ego Nwodim (right); plus iconic fashion designer Isaac Mizrath!: Haunting Renditions (7:00 pm, $15, Brooklyn’s Littlefield at 635 Sackett Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Sunday 12/15: UK-based comic Sean McLoughlin (Comedy Central, Viceland; co-hosts the podcast Sean & Eliot Read The Bible; album Support Act) performs an hour of stand-up in Brooklyn for one night only: Sean McLoughlin (7:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Monday 12/16: This show is about “the science of astrology, which is very real and definitely not fake. Each month, hosts Melissa Stokoski, Karolena Theresa, and Brian Bahe (famously all Virgos) along with resident Astrologist Lizzie Martinez (Taurus) welcome a lineup of comedians all born under the current zodiac.” This month’s group of Sagittarius stand-ups include Larry Owens (staff writer for TruTV’s Paid Off; feature film To Dust), Alex English (writer for BET’s The Rundown with Robin Thede), and Jes Tom (Reductress): Star F*ckers: Astrology, But Make It Comedy (7:30 pm, $8, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Tuesday 12/17: 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)
Thursday 12/19: 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 (7:30 pm, $15, The Kraine Theatre at 85 East 4th Street off Second Avenue; followed at 9:00 pm by a live screening of the Democratic Debate)
Friday 12/20: “When a mutant-hunting robot decimates the X-Men mansion on Christmas Eve, can our heroes overcome their differences to create the best X-Mas yet? Not if that grinch Magneto has anything to say about it!” This musical’s book & lyrics are by Sarah A. Mucek and its music by Christian Duhamel; for a sample from 2017, please click here. There are just two chances to experience the show this year at The PIT, tonight and Saturday: X-MAS: A Merry Mutant Musical in Concert (8:00 pm, $17.35 in advance online or $20 at the door, The PIT Mainstage (Striker) at 123 East 24th Street)
Friday 12/20: Musical improvisors—typically including the stellar and multi-talented Desi Domo (Comedy Central’s Alternatino; film The Conjuring; UCB’s Characters Welcome; indie improv group Miles From Pete) make up the story, songs, and dances of a new musical on the spot based on “fill in the blank” audience suggestions: Blank! The Musical (9:30 pm; $22.60 in advance online or $25 at the door; The PIT Loft at 154 West 29th Street)
Saturday 12/21: 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 Josh Gondelman (left; 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), Hari Kondabolu (top right; fresh, sharp, rising star stand-up; David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Comedy Central Presents; fascinating TruTV documentary The Problem with Apu; Netflix special Warn Your Relatives; co-host of Kondabolu Brothers podcast), and Frank Conniff (bottom right; TV’s Frank on Mystery Science Theater 3000; Cinematic Titanic) : 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)
Friday 12/20: “When a mutant-hunting robot decimates the X-Men mansion on Christmas Eve, can our heroes overcome their differences to create the best X-Mas yet? Not if that grinch Magneto has anything to say about it!” This musical’s book & lyrics are by Sarah A. Mucek and its music by Christian Duhamel; for a sample from 2017, please click here. This is the final performance of its two-night PIT run: X-MAS: A Merry Mutant Musical in Concert (10:00 pm, $17.35 in advance online or $20 at the door, The PIT Mainstage (Striker) at 123 East 24th Street)
Tuesday 12/31: Chris Gethard (star of HBO 90-minute special Career Suicide; star of TruTV’s & Fusion’s The Chris Gethard Show; host of Webby-winning podcast Beautiful Stories From Anonymous People; producer of fresh comedy webseries Chris Gethard Presents) and a bunch of his friends TBA perform comedy on New Year’s Eve. Come for just the show, running from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm, or buy a “Party Package” that includes drinks, music and dancing post-show to celebrate 2020: Pregame with Gethard and Friends (7:00 pm; $15 for 2-hour show only, $35 for “Party Package” that also includes food/drinks at Parklife and a Littlefield afterparty; Brooklyn’s Littlefield at 635 Sackett 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
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.