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That said, my top NYC comedy recommendations for October 2019 (with much more to come soon) include:
Friday 10/4-Sunday 10/6: The highlights of the first day of New York Comic Con included a gloriously long Q&A session with the writers and voice actors of Big Mouth—who are some of the funniest comics in the world (among the panelists were Nick Kroll, Jason Mantzoukas, and Jessi Klein)—plus the screening of the Season 3 premiere, which is a jaw-dropping, laugh-crammed epic about Florida. You can actually see all the episodes right now, as Netflix released Season 3 in its entirely last night. Netflix also renewed the series for another three seasons—and green-lit a spin-off devoted to the monsters, titled Human Resources. Highly recommended.
Another highlight was Randall Munroe giving a thoroughly entertaining and thought-provoking talk about his new book How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems, which encourages thinking in ridiculous ways to come up with uniquely effective solutions. Too many Comic Con panels are little more than self-congratulatory PR stunts. In contrast, Munroe championed an uncommon way of thinking, with uniformly funny examples, that could end up being life-altering for anyone with an open mind. You still have a chance to see Munroe, as he’s doing a show tonight at Caveat with Zach Weinersmith (please see directly below).
My biggest difficult decision yesterday was choosing between a Dragon Ball panel with stellar voice actors Sean Schemmel and Christopher Sabat and a panel about bad movies. I let love for greatness win over love for terribleness, and had a delightful time. But I expect the movie panel was also way fun, so want to recommend the book it celebrated, titled Rotten Movies We Love: Cult Classics, Underrated Gems, and Films So Bad They’re Good by the razor-sharp editors of the popular Rotten Tomatoes movie reviews site.
Comedy-related panels for Day 2 of NYCC19 include “SpongeBob Squarepants Appreciation Day” (10:30 am, Hammerstein Ballroom), “Adult Swim’s Robot Chicken” 4:30 pm, Hammerstein Ballroom), “TruTV’s Impractical Jokers” 6:15 pm, Main Stage 1D), “CollegeHumor’s Dropout” (6:45 pm, Room 1A21), and “The George Lucas Talk Show” (9:15 pm, Room 1A21).
I’m attending all four days. If you spot me, please feel encouraged to come over, say hey, and share your personal highlights from the fest: New York Comic Con 2019 (Thursday-Saturday 10:00 am-10:00ish pm, Sunday 10:00 am-5:00 pm; Jacob K. Javits Convention Center at 11th Avenue between 34th and 40th Streets)
Friday 10/4: Engineer, author, and cartoonist (webcomic xkcd) Randall Munroe was a clear highlight of yesterday’s New York Comic Con, delivering a funny and fascinating talk about his new book How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems, which encourages outside-of-the-box thinking to create great solutions that might otherwise be overlooked. Tonight you can have Randall and host Zach Weinersmith try to solve your problems…via ridiculous ideas. The audience will then break into groups for a hackathon, challenging each other to devise the most oddball fixes before pitching them in a lightning round competition for the entire room’s most non-obvious solution: How To: A Night of Absurd Problem-Solving (7:00 pm, $35 (includes a copy of Randall’s superb book), LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street; take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Friday 10/4-Saturday 10/5: One of the smartest and nicest guys in show biz—who hosts NBC’s The Wall, AMC’s Talking shows, and popular podcast ID10T, and used to host the great @midnight—headlines for two more nights at Carolines (while he’s here for New York Comic Con) to tell jokes and make you feel good: Chris Hardwick (7:00 pm & 10:00 pm, $41 plus 2-drink min., Carolines Comedy Club at 1626 Broadway)
Saturday 10/5: Don’t tell anyone, but tonight is the last chance to spend an evening with the immensely popullar and charming host of AMC’s Talking shows, NBC’s The Wall, podcast ID10T, and more performing jokes and Q&A: Chris Hardwick (7:00 pm & 10:00 pm, $41 plus 2-drink min., Carolines Comedy Club at 1626 Broadway)
Sunday 10/6: This solo production, which debuted at last year’s FringeNYC and is now enjoying a monthly revival at LES’ Caveat, starts out pretending to be a scientific lecture about and demonstration of chaos theory.
But it’s really a highly interactive show that uses comedy and thoughtfully structured game-play for nudging audiences to explore their wishes and desires, push past boundaries, connect with everyone around them, and be open to anything.
It’s all courtesy of writer/performer Jessica Ellen Creane, who cycles between faux-shyly giving illustrated talks about such things as fractals, love, and velociraptors, making herself fearlessly vulnerable, and improvising quick-witted responses to audience choices. For example, when Creane asked me to name a goal, I replied, “writing and selling a movie.” She immediately gave me the best pep talk I’ve ever had, stating beyond doubt that I’d succeed. In gratitude, I added, “I’ll cast you in it.” Without missing a beat, and fully committing to her scientist character (wearing thick black-frame glasses with no lenses), Creane tossed off, “I’m not good at acting” before moving on to help someone else. That she even thought of that line demonstrates what a superb actress Creane is…and how completely she performs in the moment.
Because this show relies so deeply on interaction, each edition will be different based on the decisions made by you and your fellow audience members. Along the same lines, how much you enjoy it, and genuinely get out of it, will depend heavily on what you bring to it.
For me, it was a **** (out of 4) show. If you come experience this—and you should—I hope you have a wonderful time too; and that it moves you closer to your dreams.
Monday 10/7: Comedic storytellers and/or scientists TBA share tales on this month’s theme of opening doors and taking chances: The Story Collider: Enter at Your Own Risk (8:00 pm, $12, LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street—take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Tuesday 10/8: Gabe Gonzalez (Scruff, MTV News) and Steve Dean (dating industry consultant & relationship coach) will choose audience members with dating woes and use data to transform their lives by helping them find who they’re looking for. “Along the way we’ll hear some crazy stories, learn insane truths about the dating industry, and meet some new people:” The Nerds & the Bees (9:30 pm, $12, LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street; take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Wednesday 10/9: Rebecca Vigil (above; powerhouse improv singer; Your Love Our Musical, The Vigilante), Doug Smith (Conan O’Brien, co-host of See You In Hell), Nore Davis (HBO, Showtime, CBS, Comedy Central, MTV, Netflix; album You Guys Are Dope), Rita Sengupta (Buzzfeed), and Brittany Carney perform music or stand-up for hosts Sean Crespo, Katina Corrao, and Matt Little: Lasers in the Jungle (9:30 pm, $12, LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street; take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Thursday 10/10: Phoebe Robinson (co-star of HBO’s 2 Dope Queens; host of podcast Sooo Many White Guys; Conan O’Brien, Seth Meyers, Broad City, MTV’s Girl Code; feature films What Men Want and Netflix’s Ibiza; author of Everything’s Trash, But It’s Okay and You Can’t Touch My Hair and Other Things I Still Have to Explain) is giving us New Yorkers one last chance to enjoy her national stand-up comedy tour, which runs tonight at Bowery Ballroom and then moves on to venues in California and Philadelphia: Phoebe Robinson: “Sorry, Harriet Tubman” Tour (6:00 pm doors, 7:00 pm show; $35; East Village’s The Bowery Ballroom at 6 Delancey Street)
Thursday 10/10: Andrea Jones-Rooy, who is a Professor and Director of Undergraduate Study at the NYU Center for Data Science—and also a fire-wielding circus performer—uses data-driven political research to answer such questions as “What does majority rule even mean and what are the consequences of it?”, “Are we actually getting more polarized?”, and “Why, despite the historical records in the midterm election, do so many candidates and leaders still look the same?”: Political Circus: Why Democracy is F*cked (And What to Do About It) (7:00 pm, $15, LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street; take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Thursday 10/10: Enjoy a comic excavation of teen angst artifacts (journals, letters, poems, lyrics, home movies, stories, and more) shared by their original authors before total strangers at this popular monthly show: Mortified (8:00 pm, $12, Brooklyn’s Littlefield at 635 Sackett Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Thursday 10/10: Comics Pat Regan, Lily Marotta, and Tawanda Gona try to figure out and articulate the meaning of a piece of art. Then an actual art expert tells them what the piece is generally considered to be about and its cultural impact. Plus select audience members—maybe including you—will draw their art on the spot and have it interpreted by the comics. According to hosts Matt Hartin & Akmal Tajihan, “This is the only show you’ll want to Van Gogh to:” Modern Whitney (9:30 pm; $12, LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street—take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Friday 10/11: The wonderful Brian Posehn (hilarious stand-up, comedic actor, and writer; recurring roles on The Big Bang Theory, New Girl, The Sarah Silverman Program, Just Shoot Me, Mr. Show, and more; star of indie film Uncle Nick; Netflix special The Fartist; writer of Marvel Comics’ wildly popular Deadpool; author of book Forever Nerdy) correspondents on The Opposition with Jordan Klepper) graces Brooklyn with his wild wit for one night only: Brian Posehn (7:30 pm; $25, Brooklyn’s The Bell House at 149 7th Street; take R subway to 9th Street or F/G to Fourth Avenue)
Friday 10/11: Multitalented rising star Emma Vernon (hip-hop musical improvisor, stand-up, actor, writer, and romance expert) uses her exceptional matchmaking skills to bring together love applicants and have them experience their first dates live on stage…while using improvisors to instantly create the settings for those dates (e.g., a music festival, a bowling alley, under the sea). To get a feel for this long-running monthly extravaganza, please click here, and then nab tickets for In A World: The Dating Show (8:00 pm, $12 online or $15 at the door,, The PIT Mainstage (Striker) at 123 East 24th Street)
Friday 10/11: A show celebrating the app that redefined online dating, with the lovely and quick-witted Lane Moore (above middle; author of bestselling book How to Be Alone; HBO’s Girls; Sex & Relationship Editor of Cosmo; writer for The Onion, McSweeney’s) going on a live Tinder safari for guys while a packed audience watches her every choice with fascination. Offering comments and suggestions are guest comics Scott Rogowsky (bottom row; NBC’s The Voice, WB’s Penn & Teller: Fool Us; host of wildly popular trivia game app HQ Trivia), Liz Plank (right; Senior Producer and Political Correspondent at Vox Media; author of book For the Love of Men), and Cat Cohen (left; Seth Meyers; host of podcast Seek Treatment): Tinder Live (8:30 pm, $18 at the door or $19.51-$22.76 online; Brooklyn’s Littlefield at 635 Sackett Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Saturday 10/12: Hilariously oddball amateur VHS videos discovered & curated by Joe Pickett (The Onion) & Nick Prueher (The Colbert Report), with this year’s finds including the 1987 Miss Junior America Wisconsin pageant, a mysterious tape labeled “bonion sergery,” home movies taken at a Canadian hose factory, and a fitness video called Jugglercise: The Found Footage Festival Volume 9 (8:00 pm; $17, Brooklyn’s The Bell House at 149 7th Street; take R subway to 9th Street or F/G to Fourth Avenue)
Saturday 10/12: Carly Ann Filbin (luminous & delightful sketch comic/comedic actress/writer; on-camera correspondent for Cosmopolitan.com; host of Let Me Break You Up: An Anti-Dating Game Show) explains this comedic game show as follows: “Romance today isn’t what it used to be—swiping, clicking, dick-picing. It’s time we went retro with an old fashioned IRL dating show! Millennials choose their hottie based on how well they answer questions like ‘If you wanted morning sex, how would you initiate it?’, all while I make fun of them because, well, why not? Let’s make some love connections or, at the very least, a one-night stand to talk about at brunch:” Young Hot Sluts: A Matchmaking Show (8:00 pm; $15 at the door or $14.30 online; Brooklyn’s C’mon Everybody at 325 Franklin Avenue—take the G subway to Classon Avenue)
Sunday 10/13: Corinne Fisher & Krystyna Hutchinson (authors of F*CKED: Being Sexually Explorative and Self-Confident in a World That’s Screwed) record their wildly popular Guys We Fucked: The Anti Slut-Shaming Podcast live on stage: Guys We F*cked (7:00 pm; $22.32 in advance online or $24 at the door; LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street; take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Tuesday 10/15: Members of the West Wing Writers group (which includes former Presidential speechwriters) break down their favorite speeches, give behind-the-scenes looks at the speech drafting process, and even lead you in crafting your own keynote speech, all hosted by Chandler Dean (McSweeney’s): SpeakEasy (7:00 pm; $12; LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street—take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Thursday 10/17: Host Molly Gaebe invites female storytellers, comics, and historians to share the tales of “some of the greatest women the world has ever known, but history erased” for this live-on-stage podcast recording, with this month’s theme Women in the Horror Genre tackled by guests TBA: Nevertheless She Existed: Horror Queens (7:00 pm, $17 online or $20 at the door, LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street—take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Saturday 10/19: In this unique show, animators spontaneously bring the jokes of stand-ups Rosebud Baker, Dee Nasty, Rebecca O’Neal, Chanel Ali, and Doug Smith to visual life with lightning speed & wit. Part of the fun is that the comics don’t know what the animators will draw and the animators don’t know how the comics will react. Produced by Sam Varela & Brandie Posey and hosted by Samantha Ruddy: Picture This! (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 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.
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 eason by emailing me at email@example.com.