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That said, my top NYC comedy recommendations for December 2019 (with more to come soon) include:
Sunday 12/21: Enjoy brunch with laughs at this comedy show that provides free bacon and $20 bottomless mimosas along with witty comics Phoebe Bottoms (Adult Swim’s Decker; Jim Henson Foundation-trained puppeteer; written for Tig Notaro’s Twitter account; 4-time Competitive Erotic Fan Fiction winner), Rosebud Baker (Comedy Central; co-hosts with Corinne Fisher podcast Two Less Lonely Girls), Vladimir Caamaño (Jimmy Kimmel, CW), and host Remy Kassimir (host of podcasts How Cum and We Really Love Island): Bacon Bits Brunch Show (3:00 pm, $15, The Stand Upstairs at 116 East 16th Street)
Sunday 12/22: 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) performs stand-up, as do Rhett Sever (top left), plus assorted silly bits from Mr. Tickles (bottom left): Myq Kaplan, Rhett Sever, and Mr. Tickles (7:00 pm, $10, The PIT Mainstage (Striker) at 123 East 24th Street)
Sunday 12/22: Sam Morril (Stephen Colbert, Conan O’Brien, Comedy Central Half Hour, America’s Got Talent), Alex English (Starz, Viceland; former writer of BET’s The Rundown with Robin Thede and Netflix’s The Fix with Jimmy Carr), Erica Spera (host of podcasts Shooters Gotta Shoot and 20 Minutes of Fire; co-host of Bitches Brew), and more perform stand-up for hosts Zain Sharif & Bassam Shawl: Brown Mirror Comedy (7:00 pm; $5 cover and no min.; The Stand Upstairs at 116 East 16th Street)
Sunday 12/22: In the near future—2021—Joy (Jessy Morner-Ritt) is the only who still cares about upholding Bed and Breakfast culture. This immersive comedy show features air mattresses and pillow mints; stand-up from Rachel Kaly, Celeste Yim; and host Jessy Morner-Ritt, and performances from Ana McCasland, Jeremy Levick, and Rajat Suresh: Joy’s Bed and Breakfast (8:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Sunday 12/22: 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), Corinne Fisher (with comedy partner Krystyna Hutchinson, host of popular Guys We Fucked podcast & stage show, and author of F*CKED: Being Sexually Explorative and Self-Confident in a World That’s Screwed), Tim Dillon (Comedy Central, Netflix, Last Comic Standing; podcast Tim Dillon is Going to Hell), Vladimir Caamaño (Jimmy Kimmel, CW), Lev Fer (host of the Yung Daddy podcast), and Yannis Pappas (Comedy Central Half Hour, VH1; co-host of podcast History Hyenas): Sunday Night Stand-Up at The Stand (8:00 pm, $15 cover and no min., The Stand Mainstage at 116 East 16th Street)
Sunday 12/22: Jes Tom (sharp, fresh rising star; Reductress; solo stand-up show Cold Brew), Eman El Husseini (opens for Patton Oswalt; stand-up albums Unveiled and Handsome Daughter), Halle Kiefer (MTV, TruTV, Friends of the People, Vulture), and Christian Finnegan (creator & co-host of A&E’s Black and White; co-star of TBS’ Are We There Yet?; Conan O’Brien; three Comedy Central specials, Netflix special The Fun Part; TBS, VH1, MSNBC, Chappelle’s Show, The Today Show; stand-up album 60% Joking) 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)
Sunday 12/22: An autobiographical show by Andrew Steiner (host of the podcast True K) about his studying meditation with Zen masters at a temple in Japan—and especially his experiences with Shodo Harada Roshi, sometimes called the Nuclear Reactor of Zen: How To Meditate: Jokes, Burlesque, and Guided Meditation (8:30 pm, $10, Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell at 27-16 23rd Avenue)
Sunday 12/22: This weekly competitive roast battle tonight features a main bout of Katie Boyle (“He didn’t know how to use the Xbox controller and I’ve never been more turned on”) vs. Chloe McGovern (“Guys, let’s make this quick, Sally Ann has to pretend to be unconscious at a frat party”) hosted by Matt Maran: Comedy Fight Club (9:00 pm; $8.13 online using code CFC, otherwise $13.13; The Stand Upstairs at 116 East 16th Street)
Sunday 12/22: 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), Anthony DeVito (Stephen Colbert, Comedy Central Half Hour, This American Life, House of Cards), Carolyn Busa (writer for Emojibator, Liberator, Hello Giggles, and her own My Sex Project; webseries Sexually Speaking; co-host of long-running Brooklyn stand-up show Side Ponytail), Matt Wayne (Adam Devine’s House Party, co-host of See You in Hell), Pamela Ross (co-host of weekly East Williamsburg stand-up show Just Come), Brendan Sagalow (written for MTV’s Joking Off; host of The Stupid Little Podcast) perform stand-up hosted by Robert Dean (Comedy Central): If You Build It (9:30 pm, $9, UCB at SubCulture, 45 Bleecker Street—take #6 subway to Bleecker Street stop)
Monday 12/23: Veteran NYC comic turned Londoner Desiree Burch (Netflix’s Flinch, Comedy Central’s Roast Battle, Live from the BBC, New York Neo-Futurists) describes her award-winning solo show as follows: “Have you ever been caught in a loop? Does the arc of history bend toward justice or chaos? What if it’s just a massive spiral we are all stuck in, being sucked back into the void? How do we escape the narratives that determine our lives in spite of our drives? And how does a black girl with an expensive education and a faltering sense of self-confidence cross an actual desert to reconcile her first-world problems with the cracks she’s had to climb through in order to even have them? I dunno…some dancing, drugs, and a quest for d*ck? Have you ever been caught in a loop?…At a moment in history where societal progress has swung back around to authoritarianism and regression, Desiree embarks on a journey of mythically ridiculous proportions into the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, to figure out how she, and all of us, have gotten here, and how we might turn the dial and alter the course for those of us still to come.” Tonight is the final performance of this Soho run: Desiree’s Coming Early (9:00 pm; $23.75 using code BESTLIFE online, otherwise $39 at the door; Soho Playhouse at 15 Vandam Street; take the C/E subway to Spring Street or 1 subway to Houston Street)
Thursday 12/26-Sunday 12/29: Dave Attell (one of the most respected stand-ups in the biz; Netflix’s Bumping Mics with Jeff Ross & Dave Attell; webseries ComedyUndergroundLive.com; star of Comedy Central’s Comedy Underground, Showtime’s Dave’s Old Porn, Comedy Central’s Insomniac, and two Comedy Central specials; HBO, David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Jay Leno, The Daily Show) headlines through Sunday at Carolines: Dave Attell (8:00 pm Thursday, 8:00 pm & 10:30 pm Friday-Saturday, 8:00 pm Sunday; $43.75 plus 2-drink min.; Carolines Comedy Club at 1626 Broadway, between 49th and 50th Streets)
Friday 12/27: In this one-man show, comic & impressionist Gary DeNoia plays Nicolas Cage, Vin Diesel, and other celebrities teaching children—and you—lessons through books, games, and more (directed by Desmond Thorne): Celebrities Teach Kids Sh*t (9:00 pm, $12, The PIT Underground at 123 East 24th Street)
Friday 12/27: Hari Kondabolu (above 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), Chanel Ali (middle; MTV’s Girl Code, Starz, TruTV), and Chris Castelli (host of Shine Box Comedy) perform stand-up hosted by Sharron Paul (left) & Calvin Cole: Cheap Date Comedy Show (10:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Saturday 12/28: A somewhat scholarly look at early filmed comedy shorts and animation which was thought lost until recently discovered in New Zealand, curated & hosted by Nelson Hughes and Tommy Jose Stathes: That Slapstick Show (4:30 pm, $10, Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell at 27-16 23rd Avenue)
Saturday 12/28-Monday 12/30: Maryann Aita describes her one-woman show as follows: “After several disappointing visits with a gynecologist, and many failed efforts to Sex and the City it up with friends, ‘Detective’ Maryann takes it upon herself to figure out what’s going on with her body and how to fix it, relying mostly on whatever she could find on Amazon.com. This is a hilarious (and just a touch sentimental) show about a woman taking charge of her own body that’s perfect for fans of Law & Order, vibrators, and vagina: My Dysfunctional Vagina (7:00 pm, $12, The PIT Loft at 154 West 29th Street; running tonight, Sunday, and Monday at 7:00 pm)
Saturday 12/28: Aminah Imani (co-host of highly popular weekly Brooklyn stand-up showcase Comedy at The Knit; host of podcast Wine Before Nine) performs a deliciously long stand-up set, with openers her Comedy at The Knit co-hosts Sydnee Washington (Conan O’Brien, MTV2’s Vidiots; co-host of podcast The Unofficial Expert) and Marie Faustin (MTV’s Girl Code and Vidiots; co-host of 99.5 FM’s Tall Tales in the Big City; the other co-host of The Unofficial Expert): Aminah Imani with Sydnee & Marie (7:30 pm, $15, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Saturday 12/28: Seven comics who weren’t born here perform stand-up that might include material about where they came from and the journey that led them to NYC, produced and/or hosted by the charming Katie Boyle (above; from Ireland): Transplants (7:30 pm, $10, Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell at 27-16 23rd Avenue)
Saturday 12/28: Ben Tomassetti & Kevin C. Hill play rock duo Tips Moncrief & Gary Van Patten, a band named Jeez “known for its pedestrian ‘hits’ in the 80’s such as ‘Teen Crocodile,’ ’96 Olympics in Cincinatti,’ and ‘Talk to Me (You Dirty Dirty Dirty Computer).’ The guys are hitting the road again in support of a Greatest Hits album—as bands do. Tonight they discuss their songs Storyteller’s style—or at least that’s what their tour manager told them they were doing. Come see your oddball uncle’s second favorite band:” Jeez! The “Greatest Hits of 1979-1992” Tour (8:00 pm, $12, The PIT Loft at 154 West 29th Street)
Sunday 12/29: Evan Forde Barden & Patrick Cartelli, who host music podcast Repeater, recap the year by inviting some of their favorite comics to make their case for the best song of 2019. “After the arguments have been made, Evan and Pat will mercilessly rank their selections.” Purchase tickets in advance online to be entered to win vinyl from Astoria’s HiFi Records & Cafe: Repeater’s Top 10 Countdown of 2019 (7:00 pm, $10, Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell at 27-16 23rd Avenue)
Sunday 12/29: This charming show puts comics who are duos behind the scenes on stage for an evening to adorably perform together,with tonight’s close friends and/or couples TBA hosted by lovers Naomi Ekperigin (dynamite rising star stand-up; Seth Meyers, Comedy Central Half Hour; staff writer for NBC’s Great News; former writer for Comedy Central’s Broad City and Hulu’s Difficult People; MTV, VH1, FX) & Andy Beckerman (The Pete Holmes Show, host of podcast Beginnings): Couples Therapy (7:30 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s The Bell House at 149 7th Street; take R subway to 9th Street or F/G to Fourth Avenue)
Sunday 12/29: Comics Nick Naney (Stephen Colbert, Comedy Central), Sandy Honig (one-third of sketch group Three Busy Debras; host of Pig and The Bongo Hour), and Annie Donley (Chris Gethard Presents; host of Poppin’ Off) perform for this monthly stand-up showcase named after Stevie Nicks and hosted by Marcia Belsky, Sam Taggart, and Drew Anderson: Stevie (8:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union 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—so far including Martin Urbano (Jimmy Kimmel) and Meg Stalter (National Lampoon Comedy Hour, The Chris Gethard Show)—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)
Tuesday 12/31: Heating up your New Year’s Eve with comedy are Rachel Pegram (Stephen Colbert, Samantha Bee, Comedy Central’s Alternatino, MTV, BET; movies Don’t Think Twice and The Week Of; member of National Lampoon Radio Hour and UCB star improv group ASSSSCAT 3000), Jared Goldstein (ABC’s Modern Family, SNL, Starz, TNT), Mary Beth Barone (Viceland; host of podcast Mildly Offensive), and Junior Mint hosted by Jenny Gorelick (host of Jenny’s Birthday Party, co-host of First Impressions) and Zach Teague (TruTV): Hot & Fun New Year’s Eve (7:30 pm, $12, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Tuesday 12/31: Ring in the New Year’s Eve with a night of drag, burlesque, comedy, singing, dance, and more hosted by Ellipsis Queen: Creatures Of The Night (11:00 pm, $10, The PIT Mainstage (Striker) at 123 East 24th 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.