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 340,000 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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Please note that these listings are updated frequently. The best way to be instantly notified about new show postings is to subscribe to this BestNewYorkComedy.com blog and allow for email notifications.
Other ways to keep up are to follow me on Twitter at @hybender, and/or to visit the desktop and ad-free version of this site at HyReviews.com. (I’m also on Instagram at @hybenderny and Facebook at hybender; but honestly, you’ll be doing me the most good if you follow and retweet me on Twitter.)
In addition, you can use the links below to explore the schedules of all the major comedy venues in NYC; and you can find excellent live comedy recommendations weekly via The New York Times.
That said, my top NYC comedy recommendations for January 2020 (with much more to come soon) include:
Sunday 1/26: It’s the second and final day of the first NYC Asian Comedy Festival—produced by Otter Lee, Kate Moran, and Edward Pokropski—celebrating the growing Asian comedy scene with shows playing continously for seven hours at both of The PIT’s East Side theatres: Asian Comedy Festival (4:00-11:00 pm Sunday; $13 per show, or $30 for an all-you-can-see-pass which does not cover sold out shows); The PIT Mainstage/Striker and The PIT Underground at 123 East 24th Street)
Sunday 1/26: The spectacular 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; co-host of Butterball; comedy album The Hits) & Manolo Moreno (America’s Funniest Home Videos) host this show revolving around games created by their listeners, with tonight’s stage version including audience members playing those games for prizes: Dr. Gameshow Live (7:30 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street; part of the Brooklyn Podcast Festival)
Sunday 1/26: Mary Houlihan (The New Yorker; Difficult People, The Chris Gethard Show, Cartoon Monsoon) & Nick Naney (Stephen Colbert, Comedy Central) spearhead “a special lost episode HBO’s classic The Sopranos put on by a local high school’s drama department,” with the other cast members Bardia Salimi Tommy McNamara, and Betsy Kenney: The Sopranos: The Musical (8:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street; part of the Brooklyn Podcast Festival)
Monday 1/27: Jordan Klepper (star of docuseries Klepper; former star of Comedy Central’s The Opposition and correspondent for The Daily Show) hosts a comedic debate about whether the US should pay reparations, with Kenice Mobley (host of podcast Love About Town, co-host of The Pasta Show), 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), Nelini Stamp (National Organizing Director at the Working Families Party), and Coleman Hughes (undergrad at Columbia University who’s written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The National Review): Debate Club: Should the US Pay Reparations? (9:30 pm, $22.20 online or $25 at the door, LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street; take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Tuesday 1/28: Readings of short humor pieces by sharp writers & comics TBA, plus hosts Brian Angler, Luke Burns, and James Folta (all writers for The New Yorker and McSweeney’s): An Evening of Humorous Readings (7:00 pm—arrive at 6:30 to hang out a bit with the guests, $12, LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street—take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Tuesday 1/28: Comics TBA 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 1/28: Jordan Klepper (star of docuseries Klepper; former star of Comedy Central’s The Opposition and correspondent for The Daily Show) hosts a comedic debate about whether the US should pay forgive student loan debt, with 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), Lou Perez (former producer for Impractical Jokers; half of sketch duo Greg and Lou), and more: Debate Club: Should the US Forgive Student Loan Debt? (9:30 pm, $22.20 online or $25 at the door, LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street; take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Wednesday 1/29: Moses Storm (co-starred in NBC’s Sunnyside; Conan O’Brien; Last Comic Standing, This is Us,, Showtime’s I’m Dying Up Here, NPR’s Livewire) performs a solo show in Brooklyn for one night only: Moses Storm (7:30 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Thursday 1/30: Stellar storytellers 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), Gastor Almonte (Comedy Central’s This Is Not Happening, host of Stoops2Stages, co-host of Sandwich, comedy album Immigrant Made), David Heatley (The New Yorker; Qualification: A Graphic Memoir), Angel Yau (Asian American Film Thing), and Julian Fleisher (Joe’s Pub: The Naked American Songbook) tell tales about how they started out hosted by Blaise Allysen Kearsley: How I Learned In The Beginning: Origin Stories (9:30 pm, $13.71 online or $15 at the door, Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street; take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Friday 1/31: Alise Morales (above right; News & Politics Editor of Betches; Reductress, Above Average), Michael Hartney (top left; TV Land’s Throwing Shade, Broadway’s School of Rock; co-host of Characters Welcome), Natasha Vaynblat (left; Comedy Central, IFC, Funny or Die, McSweeney’s, Reductress; ace improv group What I Did For Love), and John Trowbridge (Huffington Post videos; co-founder of BOOGIEMANJA) perform comedy for hosts Amanda Giobbi & Ariel Gitlin (middle), 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 (7:30 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union 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 Underground (Downstairs) Theatre
123 East 24th Street; 40-seater; often more quirky & experimental than upstairs Striker; shows free-$10
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
254 West 29th Street; 60-seat theatre; strong on improv, musical improv, sketch, and energy; shows $5-$10
The Creek and the Cave
Queens’ Long Island City; 40-seat theatre upstairs, 25 downstairs; virtually all weeknight shows free; weekend shows free-$10
702 Union Street in Brooklyn; R to Union Street; 50-seat theatre; shows $5-$20
635 Sackett Street in Brooklyn; R to Union Street; 100-seat theatre; shows $5-$20
149 7th Street in Brooklyn; R to 9th Street or F/G to Fourth Ave.; 200-seat theatre; shows $10-$25
QED: A Place to Show & Tell
27-16 23rd Avenue in Astoria Queens; N/W to Ditmars Boulevard; 40-seat theatre; shows free-$10
Best NYC Stand-Up Comedy Clubs
117 MacDougal Street; among the finest daily stand-up lineups in the world; 2-item min.
130 West 3rd Street; Comedy Cellar’s larger sister venue, just around the corner with the same top comics; 2-item min.
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.
116 East 16th Street; Club closest to competing with Comedy Cellar, featuring top stand-ups on a main stage and upstairs stage; no drink min.—support this policy!
Carolines Comedy Club
1626 Broadway; focuses on the world’s top headliners, who perform hour-long sets; 2-drink min.
Gotham Comedy Club
208 West 23rd Street; headliners on weekends, specialty & lineup shows weekdays; 2-drink min.
Eastville Comedy Club
487 Atlantic Avenue (near the Barclays Center); only comedy club in Brooklyn; strong weekend lineups; no cover using code HyReviews; some shows have 2-drink min., but many don’t
Greenwich Village Comedy Club
99 MacDougal Street; convenient if Comedy Cellar’s sold out; no cover using code HyReviews; 2-drink min.
Comic Strip Live
1568 Second Avenue, off 81st; Upper East Side club with typically solid lineups; 2-drink min.
Stand Up NY
236 West 78th Street, off Broadway; Upper West Side club with typically solid lineups; 2-drink 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
Special thanks to comedy photographers supreme Anya Garrett and Mindy Tucker for creating so many of the stellar photos that grace this site…and the sites of hundreds of NYC comics.
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.
You can also find me on Twitter at @hybender, Instagram at @hybenderny, and Facebook at https://Facebook.com/hybender.