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 330,000 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.
Do you like cross-genre stories (fantasy/comedy, SF/comedy, fantasy/horror, etc.)? Please visit my podcast, Ghosts On Drugs, by clicking here.
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.)
That said, my top NYC comedy recommendations for December 2019 (with much more to come soon) include:
Friday 12/6: 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), Chanel Ali (MTV’s Girl Code, Starz, TruTV), Calise Hawkins (Jimmy Fallon, Last Comic Standing, @midnight, TruTV, Oxygen; writer for Comedy Central, Playboy.com), and Jay Jurden (Jimmy Fallon; written for The New Yorker, McSweeney’s, Vutlure) perform stand-up hosted by Jax Dell’Osso (MTV, Twitch TV) & Alia Janine (former adult film star; host of the Whormones Podcast): Jawbreakers! (7:00 pm, $20 cover and no min., The Stand Upstairs at 116 East 16th Street)
Friday 12/6-Saturday 12/7: Day #2 of the Janelle James Comedy Festival features Baron Vaughn & Open Mike Eagle (above; hosts of Comedy Central’s The New Negroes) hosting stellar comics Kevin Iso, Yassir Lester, Hadiyah Robinson, Janelle James, and more: A Black Ass Show (8:00 pm, $20, Brooklyn’s The Bell House at 149 7th Street; take R subway to 9th Street or F/G to Fourth Avenue)
Friday 12/6: Stand-up from Bonnie McFarlane (HBO, David Letterman, Jay Leno, Last Comic Standing, Comedy Central Presents special; co-host of My Wife Hates Me podcast; author of You’re Better Than Me), Nikki Glaser (host of You Up on SiriusXM; star of former Comedy Central series Not Safe; Comedy Central and Netflix specials; films Trainwreck and I Feel Pretty), Subhah Agarwal (writer for Comedy Central’s The Jim Jefferies Show; TruTV, Fusion), Jim Florentine (co-host of VH1 Classic’s That Metal Show; Comedy Central’s Crank Yankers, MTV; film A Little Help; stand-up album Cringe N Purge), Shane Gillis (co-host of Matt and Shane’s Secret Podcast, frequent guest on Sirius XM’s The Bonfire; very nearly a cast member of SNL), Lev Fer (host of the Yung Daddy podcast), and Yamaneika Saunders (HBO’s Crashing, NBC’s Last Comic Standing, Comedy Central Roast Battle; stand-up album Damsel in Distress): Stars at The Stand (8:00 pm, $25 cover and no min., The Stand Mainstage at 116 East 16th Street)
Friday 12/6: Stand-up from Nikki Glaser (host of You Up on SiriusXM; star of former Comedy Central series Not Safe; Comedy Central and Netflix specials; films Trainwreck and I Feel Pretty), Subhah Agarwal (writer for Comedy Central’s The Jim Jefferies Show; TruTV, Fusion), 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), Shane Gillis (co-host of Matt and Shane’s Secret Podcast, frequent guest on Sirius XM’s The Bonfire; very nearly a cast member of SNL), Charles Engle (co-host of podcast Please Send Nudes), and Yannis Pappas (Comedy Central Half Hour, VH1; co-host of podcast History Hyenas): Nikki Glaser, Subhah Agarwal, and More (9:00 pm, $20 cover and no min., The Stand Upstairs at 116 East 16th Street)
Friday 12/6: Comics Rachel Sennott (above), Kylie Holloway, Ari Durnell, and Bradley Sinanan 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 12/6: Host Chris Gersbeck screens a “cheesy” porn movie that comics make fun of MST3K-style, with tonight’s riffers Laura Merli (above middle; McSweeney’s, Reductress; half of sketch duo Soul Crush Comedy; host of podcast How to be Less Awkward), Brian McGuinness (bottom right; Inside Amy Schumer, co-host of Retro Bits, Playable Characters podcast), Bobby Hankinson (left; host of Kweendom; webseries Single Blonde Failure), and Jenn Wehrung (top right; BBC; this show’s producer): Soft Core! (11:30 pm, $10, Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell at 27-16 23rd Avenue)
Saturday 12/7: This third and final day of the Janelle James Comedy Festival features ace comics Sydnee Washington & Marie Faustin (above middle; hosts of podcast The Unofficial Expert and, with Aminah Imani, highly popular weekly Brooklyn stand-up showcase Comedy at The Knit), The Lucas Brothers (top right; Jimmy Fallon, 22 Jump Street, Netflix’s The Lucas Bros: On Drugs and Lady Dynamite, FOX’s Lucas Bros Moving Company and Arrested Development, HBO’s Crashing), Ayo Edebiri (top left; Comedy Central, The New Yorker), Jaboukie Young-White (bottom left; correspondent for The Daily Show), Ethan Simmons-Patterson (bottom right), Casey Balsham, and more: Comedians Who Flewed Out (8:00 pm, $20, Brooklyn’s The Bell House at 149 7th Street; take R subway to 9th Street or F/G to Fourth Avenue)
Monday 12/9: This solo production, which debuted at the 2018 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.
Tuesday 12/10: Members of the West Wing Writers group (which includes former Presidential speechwriters) will 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; $15; LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street—take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Thursday 12/12: 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 decades of data-driven political research to “help us understand what our political structures are actually doing, why, and how (and whether) to change them. We explore such questions as ‘What does majority rule even mean, and what are the consequences of it? Are we actually getting more polarized? 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)
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.