NYC Top Comedy Choices for May 2019: Last Updated Thursday 5/16

May 16, 2019

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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 (@hybender) or Instagram (@hybenderny), and/or to visit the desktop version of this site at HyReviews.com.

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 May 2019 (with much more to come soon) include:

Jay Malsky and Taylor OrtegaThursday 5/16: A showcase for the comedic singing talents of Jay Malsky (above left; highly talented, super-charged improvisor & character comic; host of This Live Show, co-host of DED Talks; UCB sketch group Pretty Boys; PIT improv group Peaches Galore; FringeNYC solo show Elaine Stritch: Still Here; Solocom & UCB solo show Jay Malsky Slept With My Boyfriend), with music from Taylor Ortega (above right; Shego in Disney Channel’s live-action Kim Possible, HBO’s Succession, TruTV) and stand-up from comic/singer Sophie Elizabeth Santos: Lady Jay: Live in Concert (7:00 pm, $10, The PIT Mainstage (Striker) at 123 East 24th Street)

New York Comedy Music Festival 2019Friday 5/17-Sunday 5/19: This annual comedic music event run by Jessica Delfino & Killy Dwyer (which began in 2012 as the New York Funny Songs Festival) this year includes over 20 shows running Friday through Sunday. Highlights include 50 Funny Songs featuring 2-minute songs from 50 musical comics such as Stuckey & Murray, Rob Paravonian, Jay Malsky, Tim Ellis, Killy Dwyer, and Victor Varnado Friday at 9:30 pm at the Friars Club (57 East 55th Street, between Park and Madison Avenues); Night of Dirty Songs, which is exactly what it sounds like, Saturday at 8:00 pm at Club Cumming (505 East 6th Street, between Avenues A and B); and Chicks with Licks with superb female comedic musicians Erin and Her Cello, Jessica Delfino, show host Killy Dwyer, and more Saturday at 10:00 pm at Club Cumming: New York Comedy Music Festival 2019 (6:00 pm-11:30 pm Friday, 2:00 pm-1:00 am Saturday, and 1:00 pm-10:00 pm Sunday; $10 per show, or buy an all-you-can-see pass for the whole weekend for just $35; happening at multiple venues in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens)

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

The Magnet
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

Union Hall
702 Union Street in Brooklyn; R to Union Street; 50-seat theatre; shows $5-$20

Littlefield
635 Sackett Street in Brooklyn; R to Union Street; 100-seat theatre; shows $5-$20

Bell House
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

Comedy Cellar
117 MacDougal Street; among the finest daily stand-up lineups in the world; 2-item min.

Village Underground
130 West 3rd Street; Comedy Cellar’s larger sister venue, just around the corner with the same top comics; 2-item min.

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.

The Stand
Lost its space, aiming to move to Union Square sometime in 2019: competitor to Comedy Cellar; no drink min.—support this policy!

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.

Contact Hy

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.

From comedy & rock goddess Lane Moore (host of smash hit Tinder Live; author of How to be Alone; lead singer of Brooklyn band It Was Romance): Hy Bender lives and breathes comedy. He knows what he’s talking about. Listen.

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 hy@hyreviews.com.

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NYC Top Comedy Choices for Saturday 6/9/12

June 9, 2012

For more, please visit HyReviews.com.
For excerpts from Dave Hill’s new bestselling book, please click here.

Mindy Raf, Camille Harris, and Esther Ku

Smokin’ comedic singers Mindy Raf, Camille Harris, Esther Ku, and scores more rock out at 50 Funny Songs

Tonight’s recommendations for the best in New York City comedy (in chronological order, with top picks noted and shows over $10 marked with $) include:

[FREE] 4:00 pm: An unusually early weekly open-mic stand-up show (“starts late enough to sleep off that hangover but ends just in time to begin a new one”) at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ Long Island City hosted by Jhoel Walkowski & Evan Davis: The Amateur Hour

6:00 pm ($5): Improv troupes Genetic Freaks, Uncalled For, and LD50 at The Magnet kicking off your Saturday evening: The Rundown

[FREE] 6:00 pm: An improv show that asks you to drop written suggestions into a box before it begins and then dips into the collection of suggestions throughout to propel new scenes: The Drop Box

[MEGA-TOP PICK] 7:00 pm ($8): On the third night of the New York Funny Songs Festival is this show featuring over 50 comedic singers, including Jessica Delfino, Ben Lerman, Mindy Raf, Mel & El, Camille Harris, Livia Scott, Rob Paravonian, Carolyn Castiglia, Esther Ku, Rob Cantrell, Boris Khaykin, Red Peters, Tim Ellis, Jen Kwok, The Parodivas, The Wigmaker’s Son, Devo Spice—to name but a few. The magic happens at Tammany Hall (152 Orchard Street): 50 Funny Songs

[TOP PICK] 7:00 pm ($5): A comedy quiz show full of heavily researched quirky facts in which brilliant contestants from the NYC comedy community get points if their answers are correct but get more points if their answers are “quite interesting” at UCB East created & hosted by Katey Healy-Wurzburg: The Fascinator

7:00 pm ($8): At this PIT double-bill, Allison Dembek & Mike Burton “explore a single, specific and textured world in an improvised play that emphasizes the endearing humanity of the characters and the relatable comedy of the worlds and situations around them” as GCA, and then all-gal improvisors Alexis Saarela, Brigid Boyle, Elizabeth Findlay, and Ashley Ward perform as troupe Taco Supreme

[TOP PICK] 7:30 pm ($10): TV & movie star and NYC comedy treasure Kristen Schaal practices for her upcoming one-hour taped special (in San Francisco) at UCB Chelsea. This has already sold out, but you can probably still see one of the funniest women alive tonight if you’re okay with standing: Kristen Schaal: Going Blue

[$] 7:30 pm ($38.25 & 2-drink min.) A Curb Your Enthusiasm star headlining one last night at the Carolines Comedy Club: Susie Essman

7:30 pm ($7): Five veteran improvisors make stuff up at The Magnet as troupe Lead McEnroe

[$] 8:00 pm & 10:00 pm ($25 & 2-drink min.) A veteran stand-up who’s performed on HBO, Comedy Central, and Logo, and won two Emmys as a writer/producer for The Rosie O’Donnell Show, headlining through Sunday at the Gotham Comedy Club: Judy Gold

8:00 pm ($10): Two of the most respected PIT improv troupes performing on this weekly double-bill—and occasionally with comedy giants Kristen Schaal and/or Kurt Braunohler participating: Big Black Car and The Baldwins

8:00 pm ($5): A true tale of international love gone wrong from Greg Wilker, intermixed with improv troupe 1-800-London making up scenes based on his storytelling, at The PIT downstairs lounge: From London to Prague

[TOP PICK] 8:30 pm ($10): James Adomian (hilarious, super-charged character comic/impressionist; finalist on final Last Comic Standing; Harold and Kumar 2), Nate Bargatze (David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Comedy Central Presents), Annie Lederman (Comedy Central, co-host of Pirate Party), Adam Conover (host of Fresh Out), and Jake Weisman performing stand-up at UCB East hosted by Kara Klenk: If You Build It

[TOP PICK] 9:00 pm ($10): One of the gutsiest and most hilarious troupes in comedy history—with honors including being Cage Match Champion for three years in a row, and winning the 2011 ECNY Award for Best Improv Group—UCB Chelsea’s genius improvisors Death by Roo Roo

[TOP PICK] [$] [DISCOUNTED] 9:00 pm & 11:00 pm (FREE TICKETS if you reserve in advance by calling (212) 260-2445 and mention HyReviews.com, but there’s still a 2-drink min. per person): TV & movie star Janeane Garofalo (9:00 pm only), Gary Gulman (Last Comic Standing, Tourgasm, Comedy Central hour-long special), Mike Britt, Maddog Mattern, and more performing at the only comedy club in the East Village: Eastville Comedy Club

[TOP PICK] 9:00 pm ($7): A sharp musical improv troupe at The Magnet makes up stories with song and dance based on an audience suggestion: Choral Rage

9:00 pm ($5): From the producers of The Scene, improvisors make up one-act plays on the spot at The PIT downstairs lounge: Act One

9:30 pm ($15): “A cabaret of darkly funny songs and topical sketch comedy about culture and politics,” following sold out shows at Joe’s Pub and now enjoying a long run at The PIT upstairs theatre: Political Subversities

[TOP PICK] [$] 10:00 pm ($15): Ted Greenberg (Emmy-winning David Letterman writer) performing a fun, fast-paced theatrical comedy show—complete with audience interaction and audience rides home!—at The Complete Performer

[TOP PICK] 10:30 ($8): NYC’s heavy metal version of a sketch troupe, which doesn’t always ht the mark but provides odd, unsettling, and fearless dark comedy—and won the 2010 ECNY Award for Best Sketch Group: Murderfist: Late and Dirty

[TOP PICK] 10:30 pm ($10): Improv troupe Grandma’s Ashes—which includes stellar talents Ryan Karels, Morgan Grace Jarrett, Brandon Scott Jones, and more—promises to “take your stories of the tragic and depraved and scatter them into laughter” at this newest UCB Chelsea show to be honored with a weekend time slot: Grandma’s Ashes Gets Dark

[TOP PICK] 10:30 pm ($10): UCBT Harold Night improv troupe Airwolf—which in a phenomenal run has crushed 12 improv troupes in a row so far at Cage Match—makes stuff up at UCB East for an entire hour: Airwolf: Let’s Go Back to Your Place

10:30 pm ($7): Nick Kanellis & Peter McNerney perform at The Magnet as comedy duo Trike

[TOP PICK] 11:00 pm ($8): “Jack Dishel is best known as a songwriter and musician, touring all over the world performing as Only Son and also playing lead guitar in The Moldy Peaches. This year he’s exploded onto the comedy scene, doing a two-month run of hour-long shows at the Sidewalk Cafe—without ever repeating material. It’s sometimes hilarious, sometimes dark, but always interesting. Whether speaking as one of his many characters or in his own voice, his ideas come through loud and clear, and it’s a fast hour. Let’s see what happens when Dishel brings the drunken night club insanity into The PIT upstairs theatre:” Jack Dishel: And Then Things Got Weird

[TOP PICK] 11:30 ($5): The lovely Zoe Farmingdale celebrates her birthday (which is today) onstage as she “performs some of her favorite songs and invites some guests to perform whatever they want. She is going to dress up hot, and sing about some historical stuff. Also, cake. Come party. Please give her love” at The PIT downstairs lounge: The ZoeShow: Birthday’s Greatest Hits

Midnight ($5): Caitlin Bitzegaio directs this UCB Chelsea sketch show that’s “a super-positive lifestyle program for teenage girls hosted by two guys with a huge passion for glossy pop music, Lisa Frank school supplies, and all that the world presents as ‘hip’ to young women during the melodramatic years of adolescence. With help from their outstanding panel of experts, Dan Chamberlain & Jason Flowers rap about entertainment, fashion, boys, and more in an effort to bring empowerment and enlightenment to the teen girl inside all of us:” Cool Show 4 Teen Girlz

Midnight ($5): NYC stand-ups Amber Nelson (sketch troupe Thunder Gulch, co-host of Late Night Stand and Mustache Party), Matt Koff (Onion News Network, WitStream, 9 Am Meeting), Neil Constantine, Rae Sanni, and Jason Saenz performing at UCB East hosted by Adam Conover: Fresh Out

[FREE] Midnight: NYC stand-ups at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ Long Island City, with host Andy Haynes promising “a rowdy late night comedy melee with beers being thrown, jokes being told, partial nudity, audience participation…there’s no telling what might happen:” Midnight Run

Midnight ($10): Typically disturbing and semi-obscene sketches at The PIT upstairs theatre from troupe FUCT

[FREE] Midnight: A weekly chance for you to shine at The Magnet, as students and veteran improvisors share the stage to form “rare and wonderful one-night-only teams,” with sign-up starting at 11:30 pm: Magnet Mixer

For more, please visit HyReviews.com.