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That said, my top NYC comedy recommendations for February 2020 (with much more to come soon) include:
Monday 2/17: 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 (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 Aquarius stand-ups are Devon Walker (Comedy Central), Amamah Sardar (McSweeneys), Jatty Robinson, and Brittany Carney: Star F*ckers: Astrology, But Make It Comedy (7:30 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Monday 2/17: The great 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), Andrew Schulz (Amazon’s Sneaky Pete, Hulu’s There’s…Johnny!, HBO’s Crashing, Netflix, MTV, co-host of podcast The Brilliant Idiots), Krystyna Hutchinson (with comedy partner Corinne Fisher, 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 crewed), Derek Gaines (NBC’s Will & Grace; Jaybird on The Last O.G.; former host of MTV’s Broke A$$ Game Show), Scott Chaplain (Comedy Central Roast Battle), and TV & movie star Janeane Garofalo perform at an elegant Union Square comedy club: Stars at The Stand (8:00 pm, $15 cover and no min., The Stand Mainstage at 116 East 16th Street)
Monday 2/17: Derek Gaines (NBC’s Will & Grace; Jaybird on The Last O.G.; former host of MTV’s Broke A$$ Game Show), Krystyna Hutchinson (with comedy partner Corinne Fisher, 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 crewed), John Hastings (Comedy Central, BBC), 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), Dylan Adler (sketch comic on Maude Night; co-host of Woke AF and Just Come), Jamie Wolf, Keith Carey (writer for Comedy Central’s Lights Out with David Spade and Netflix’s Historical Roast), and Steve Furey perform for hosts Aaron Berg (documentary 25 Sets; TV series 24 Hour Rental; co-host of CompoundMedia.com’s In Hot Water ) & Kerryn Feehan (Comedy Central, TruTV, Spike TV): Frantic (10:00 pm, Free!, The Stand Mainstage at 116 East 16th Street)
Tuesday 2/18: Every Tuesday at 7:00, 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 (7:00 pm, Free!, The PIT Loft at 154 West 29th Street)
Tuesday 2/18: 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; radio host of WFMU’s Dr. Gameshow; co-star of Adult Swim’s Joe Pera Talks With You) hosts this show in which “comics represent you onstage in a live dating game! You may cringe and remain as anonymous as you want in the crowd…or arrive at 7:00 pm to be paired up with a comic and tell everything there is to know about you in 10 minutes or less, and then let them guide your love life in great and maybe horrible ways. Out of over 100 couples matched, four couples have managed to develop actual long-term relationships. One couple moved in together. It’s amazing and defies all odds,” with comics Ashley Brooke Roberts, John Reynolds, Gary Richardson, Josh Sharp, Aaron Jackson, Kevin Iso, Celeste Yim, Samantha Ruddy, Rachel Pegram, and Carmen Christopher: Friends of Single People (8:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Littlefield (635 Sackett Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Tuesday 2/18: Stand-up from Lizz Winstead (co-creator of The Daily Show), Ted Alexandro (one of the very finest stand-ups in the country; David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Kimmel, two Comedy Central Presents half-hour specials; comedy albums I Did It; and Senior Class of Earth; webseries Teachers Lounge; frequently opens for Jim Gaffigan), Maddy Smith (cast member of MTV’s Wild n Out; writer for Comedy Central’s Roast of Alec Baldwin), Xazmin Garza (Sirius XM), and Alex English (Starz, Viceland; former writer of BET’s The Rundown with Robin Thede and Netflix’s The Fix with Jimmy Carr) sponsored by the Abortion Access Front: Feminist Buzzkills of Comedy (8:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Wednesday 2/19: Host Jenny Gorelick (sketches on Seth Meyers; CBS’ Blue Bloods; Improv Anywhere) discusses the past month’s “biggest, sauciest, and most heinous moments of pop culture” with a panel of comics including Jay Jurden (Jimmy Fallon; written for The New Yorker, McSweeney’s, Vulture), Rachel Sennott (HBO’s High Maintenance), Gabe Gonzalez (host for MTV News and ScruffApp), and Devon Walker (Comedy Central), plus guests TBA: PopOp! The Pop Culture Talk Show that Pops Off (7:30 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Thursday 2/20: Pete Lee (Jimmy Fallon, David Letterman; Last Comic Standing, Comedy Central’s Half Hour, Roast Battle, This Week at the Comedy Cellar; TruTV, VH1) performs a deliciously long stand-up set tonight through Saturday at an iconic comedy club: Pete Lee Headlines at Carolines (7:00 pm Thursday, 7:00 pm & 9:30 pm Friday, and 7:00 pm & 9:30 pm Saturday; $27.25 cover plus 2-drink min.; Carolines Comedy Club at 1626 Broadway)
Thursday 2/20: 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) hosts Mary Houlihan (The New Yorker; Billy on the Street, Difficult People, The Chris Gethard Show, Cartoon Monsoon), Monroe Martin (David Letterman, Jimmy Fallon, finalist on Last Comic Standing, Comedy Central’s The Jim Gaffigan Show, Netflix’s Master of None; host of podcast No Need for Apologies), Alex English (Starz, Viceland; former writer of BET’s The Rundown with Robin Thede and Netflix’s The Fix with Jimmy Carr), and more TBA at this showcase of comics who perform on the MNN cable access show Chris Gethard Presents: Chris Gethard Presents All-Stars (7:30 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Thursday 2/20: Talented comedic writer/actors—who may include Desi Domo, Elena Skopetos, Chrissy Shackelford, Antonia Lassar, and/or many more—perform original characters or impersonations directed & hosted by Michael Hartney, Eric Feurer, and/or Sarah Parsons: Characters Welcome (7:30 pm, $7, UCB Hell’s Kitchen at 555 West 42nd Street)
Thursday 2/20: Gastor Almonte (Comedy Central’s This Is Not Happening, host of Stoops2Stages, co-host of Sandwich, comedy album Immigrant Made), Kerry Coddett (writer for HBO’s Wyatt Cenac: Problem Areas; HBO’s Crashing, BET’s The Rundown, Comedy Central’s The Nightly Show, MTV’s Joking Off; host of Brooklyn, Stand Up!), and Gordon Baker-Bone (host of podcast Bad Advice Show; album Nobody? Just Me?) join hosts Mike Brown & Dillon Stevenson in making fun of a bunch of music videos a la MST3K: Super Video Bros (8:00 pm, $15, Brooklyn’s Littlefield (635 Sackett Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Friday 2/21: Comics dub—i.e., provide a verbal soundtrack—by making up narration and dialogue on the spot for silly video and film clips, with this month’s theme Super Reel, starring Solange Azor, Annie Donley, Andrés Govea, Sandy Honig, and Devon Walker hosted by Max Wittert & Joe Castle Baker: Get Reel (7:30 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Friday 2/21: Highly talented singing improv group North Coast turns popular TV shows suggested by the audience into improvised hip-hop musicals on the spot: North Coast’s Hip-Hop Reboot (7:30 pm, $15, The PIT Underground at 123 East 24th Street)
Sunday 2/23: Judah Friedlander (one of the quickest minds and very finest stand-ups in comedy; 30 Rock, Meet the Parents, Along Came Polly; Netflix stand-up special America is the Greatest Country in the United States; bestselling cartoon book If the Raindrops United), Nathan Macintosh (Stephen Colbert, Conan O’Brien), Aminah Imani (host with Sydnee Washington & Marie Faustin of highly popular weekly Brooklyn stand-up showcase Comedy at The Knit; co-host of podcast Wine Before Nine), Carmen Lagala (Stephen Colert; member of sketch group All Female Reboot, co-host of Creek Bros), and Damon Sumner (co-host of podcast Forth and Ten) perform stand-up hosted by Mike Lebovitz (HBO’s The Deuce, Comedy Central, Last Comic Standing): Comedians You Should Know (7:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Littlefield at 635 Sackett Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Sunday 2/23: Gary Gulman (razor-sharp wordsmith who’s one of the best stand-ups in the country; superb recent HBO special The Great Depresh; notable role as stand-up in blockbuster movie Joker; David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Seth Meyers, Jimmy Kimmel, Jay Leno; finalist on Last Comic Standing; other comedy specials include Boyish Man, In This Economy, and It’s About Time) and more TBA 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)
Tuesday 2/25: Improvisors who are fans of the Cartoon Network make up scenes on the spot about adorable super-powered trio PowerPuff Girls: Chemical X: The Powerpuff Girls Improv Show (7:00 pm, $9, The PIT Underground at 123 East 24th Street)
Tuesday 2/25: Every Tuesday at 7:00, 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 (7:00 pm, Free!, The PIT Loft at 154 West 29th Street)
Thursday 2/27: Artie Brennan, Anthony Giordano and friends create comedy chaos with this acclaimed show that “places you into the audience at a live taping of a fictional TV show overflowing with weird characters, interactive games, mysteries, puppets, prizes, and so much more. You have never experienced anything like it:” Super Crazy Fun Time Variety Game Show Hour (7:00 pm, $11, The PIT Mainstage (Striker) at 123 East 24th Street)
Thursday 2/27-Saturday 2/29: A solo play written & performed by Monte D. Monteleagre self-described as follows: “The Puppeteer and his two sock puppet friends, Calvin and Sir Flops-A-Lot, have teamed up to put on a family-friendly play to educate children on the dangers of falling for a check scam. Except Sir Flops-A-Lot doesn’t know his lines. And the puppets aren’t getting paid. And the puppeteer might have turned their box shelter into this stage:” How Not to Fall for a Scam (7:00 pm, $13, The PIT Loft at 154 West 29th Street)
Thursday 2/27: Talented comedic writer/actors—who may include Desi Domo, Elena Skopetos, Chrissy Shackelford, Antonia Lassar, and/or many more—perform original characters or impersonations directed & hosted by Michael Hartney, Eric Feurer, and/or Sarah Parsons: Characters Welcome (7:30 pm, $7, UCB Hell’s Kitchen at 555 West 42nd Street)
Friday 2/28: Natalie Cuomo (Carolines, SirusXM) hosts superb stand-ups Karen Chee (staff writer for Seth Meyers; The New Yorker, McSweeney’s), Leah Bonnema (Stephen Colbert, VH1, IFC’s Comedy Drop, WeTV’s Cinematherapy, Logo, Opie & Anthony’s Virus Channel), Kerryn Feehan (Comedy Central, TruTV, Spike TV; co-host of free Monday stand-up showcase Frantic!), and Chloe LaBranche (host of The Chlo Show pod, Weep at The Stand): That Time of The Month Comedy Show (10:00 pm, $13, The PIT Underground at 123 East 24th Street)
Saturday 2/29: A play based on this premise: “Before Disney announced it would be making National Treasure 3, a strapped-for-cash Nicolas Cage tried to digitally remaster National Treasure on his own. He had to rely on outside funding to make the project happen, and was crushed when Disney threatened to sue if Cage released the film to theaters. Luckily for you, we’ve obtained the final cut of the film:” National Treasure Remastered (9:00 pm, $13, The PIT Loft at 154 West 29th Street)
Saturday 2/29: A top musical improv troupe that has wowed audiences around the world with its skill at making up an hour-long musical moment by moment. The plot and characters, the musical accompaniment, even the song lyrics and “choreography” are invented on the spot, with no pre-planned structure, by ace improvisors TBA, plus stellar improv musicians who are typically Dan Reitz (keyboards) & Sarah Mullins (drums/percussion). Come see why this show won a FringeNYC Award for Outstanding Unique Theatrical Event: Baby Wants Candy (10:30 pm, $14, UCB Hell’s Kitchen at 555 West 42nd Street)
Tuesday 3/3: Every Tuesday at 7:00, 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 (7:00 pm, Free!, The PIT Loft at 154 West 29th 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.