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That said, my top NYC comedy recommendations for December 2019 (with more to come soon) include:
Monday 12/30: Legendary retired professional wrestler—and current comic—Mick Foley, whose characters have included Cactus Jack Manson, Dude Love, and Mankind, celebrates the 20th Anniversary of his bestselling book Have a Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks with this national tour in which he tells stories of his decades in the ring “with explosives, golden thumbtacks, and barbed wire instead of rope,” “the missing ear that was ripped off during a bout in which he kept fighting,” and much more; plus a concluding 45-minute Q&A session, all hosted by fellow comic Alia Janine (former adult film star; host of podcast Whormones). For one day only in NYC: Mick Foley: The Nice Day Tour (7:00 pm, $25; or $75 for both the show and a VIP meet & greet 6:00-7:00 pm; The Stand Mainstage at 116 East 16th Street)
Monday 12/30: Tonight concludes the three-night PIT Loft run of a solo show Maryann Aita describes 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, $10, The PIT Loft at 154 West 29th Street)
Monday 12/30: Comics who’ve worked as teachers—Lana Schwartz (left), Andrew Barlow (middle), Scott Lamica (right), Tiffany Firebaugh, and Eitan Levine—reveal what actually happens behind the scenes in schools hosted by Mike Zakarian (solo show Christ Kid: A Journey Through Snow Camp; sketch teams Mom’s Night Out and Physically Bold Comedy): The Teacher’s Lounge (7:30 pm, $8, Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell at 27-16 23rd Avenue)
Monday 12/30: Stand-up by Erin Maguire (co-host of Dear Pod), Sue Funke (host of Happy Place Comedy), Lauren Hope Krass (co-host of Casual Sets), Gianmarco Soresi (ABC’s Deception; sketch group Uncle Function; acclaimed FringeNYC play <50%; co-host of The Last Laugh), and Caitlin Peluffo (Stephen Colbert; co-host of podcast Beasts; co-host of Karen): QED Presents (9:00 pm, $10, Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell at 27-16 23rd Avenue)
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)
Thursday 1/2-Saturday 1/4: Comedy legend Sinbad—who in addition to his acting and music is an acclaimed stand-up—performs a deliciously long club set Thursday, Friday, and Saturday: Sinbad Headlines Carolines (8:00 pm Thursday, 8:00 pm & 10:30 pm Friday-Saturday, 8:00 pm Sunday; $46.50 plus 2-drink min.; Carolines Comedy Club at 1626 Broadway, between 49th and 50th Streets)
Friday 1/3: Stand-up, stories, or characters from Zach Zimmerman (The New Yorker, McSweeney’s; album Clean Comedy), 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), Michael Cruz Kayne (sketches on Seth Meyers and The Chris Gethard Show; HBO’s High Maintenance; former writer for @midnight and Billy on the Street; member of ace musical improv group Baby Wants Candy and UCB Saturday night improv group What I Did For Love; co-host of monthly comedy show The Exhibition), Tracy Soren (host of My Nightmare), Angela Palladino (Funny Or Die), Gwynn Ballard, and Julian Edward Williams: WALT (10:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Saturday 1/4: Sketches, characters, riffs, bits, and vids from five-gal comedy group Ladies Who Ranch, consisting of Kelly Cooper, Caitlin Dullea,Maya Sharma, Caroline Yost, and Sophie Zucker; plus an opening stand-up set from Mary Beth Barone (Viceland; host of podcast Mildly Offensive): Ladies Who Ranch (10:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Sunday 1/5: John Reynolds (co-star of Search Party, cast member of Stranger Things; previously writer for The President Show, Craig Ferguson, and Celebrity Deathmatch) & Matt Barats (HBO’s High Maintenance, Seth Meyers, The New Yorker) perform duo comedy: John Reynolds & Matt Barats (8:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Tuesday 1/7: Dan St. Germain (above; Jimmy Fallon, Conan O’Brien, John Oliver, Comedy Central Half Hour, Crashing, @midnight, This is Not Happening, The Electric Company, MTV, VH1; former staff writer for CBS’ Superior Donuts, Netflix’s The Break with Michelle Wolf, and TruTV’s Ten Things; album No Real Winners Here), Olga Namer (“Unorthodox Jewish comedian”), Justin Smith, Alex Babbitt, and Stephon Bishop perform stand-up hosted by Nore Davis (HBO’s Last Week Tonight, Conan O’Brien, Comedy Central’s Inside Amy Schumer and Russell Simmons Presents The Ruckus, Showtime’s Boardwalk Empire, MTV; album You Guys Are Dope) representing both well-known and less-known comics considered worthy of your attention by comedy blog Stellar Underground (8:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Wednesday 1/8: Comics who are parents vent by telling mean stories about their children (and guest comics who aren’t revel in their freedom), with tonight’s cruel jokesters Jenny Hagel (staff writer for Seth Meyers; iO, Second City), Iris Bahr (actress in numerous TV shows including Friends, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and The King of Queens, and such films as Larry the Cable Guy and The Last Exorcism), Doogie Horner (NBC’s America’s Got Talent; author of A Die Hard Christmas, This Might Hurt a Bit, and Home Alone Hard; stand-up album A Delicate Man), Gastor Almonte (Comedy Central’s This Is Not Happening, host of Stoops2Stages, co-host of Sandwich, comedy album Immigrant Made), and Katie Goodman (member of Broad Comedy; YouTube hits I Didn’t F*ck It Up and Sorry Babe, You’re a Feminist) hosted by the wonderful 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: Sleeping My Way to Monogamy, comedy album Bangs!; NBC, CBS, Comedy Central, VH1, Showtime) and Emily Flake (star cartoonist for The New Yorker, The New York Times, Time, Forbes, etc.; author of books Mama Tried, Lulu Eightball, and These Things Ain’t Gonna Smoke Themselves): Shitshow (7:30 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Thursday 1/9: Michelle Collins (host of TLC’s 90 Day Live and Sirius XM’s The Michelle Collins Show; former co-host of ABC’s The View and Bachelor in Paradise: After Paradise) performs a deliciously long stand-up club set for one night only: Michelle Collins Headlines Carolines (7:00 pm, $32.75 plus 2-drink min., Carolines Comedy Club at 1626 Broadway, between 49th and 50th Streets)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.