NYC Top Comedy Choices for January 2020: Last Updated Wednesday 1/22

January 22, 2020

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 hy@hyreviews.com.

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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:

Freestyle Comedy ShowWednesday 1/22: Stellar comics Mark Normand (one of the very finest stand-ups in the country; Conan O’BrienStephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, HBO’s 2 Dope Queens, Inside Amy Schumer, @midnight, Last Comic Standing, VH1’s Best Week EverComedy Central Half Hour, stellar Comedy Central special Don’t Be Yourself, comedy album Still Got It; hosts podcast Tuesdays With Stories; tours with Amy Schumer), Sam Jay (writer/performer for Saturday Night Live; Jimmy Kimmel, Comedy Central Stand-Up Presents, Netflix’s The Comedy Lineup, MTV’s SafeWord; former host of Adult Swim’s Ricking Morty; stand-up album Donna’s Daughter), and Joe List (David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Last Comic Standing, Comedy Central Half Hour, Netflix’s The StandUps, comedy albums So Far No Good and Are You Mad at Me?) perform stand-up and more for this interactive audience show that will probably include a rap battle, all hosted by Brendan GayCharles Engle & Santiago AngelFreestyle Comedy Show (7:00 pm, $10 cover and no min., The Stand Upstairs at 116 East 16th Street)

Stars at The StandWednesday 1/22: Great lineup of Mark Normand (one of the very finest stand-ups in the country; Conan O’BrienStephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, HBO’s 2 Dope Queens, Inside Amy Schumer, @midnight, Last Comic Standing, VH1’s Best Week EverComedy Central Half Hour, stellar Comedy Central special Don’t Be Yourself, comedy album Still Got It; hosts podcast Tuesdays With Stories; tours with Amy Schumer), Dan Soder (one of the very finest stand-ups in the country; HBO special Son of a Gary; Dudley Mafee on Showtime’s Billions; films Trainwreck, Drunk Parents; Conan O’Brien, Comedy Central hour-long special Not Special, Comedy Central Half Hour, Netflix’s The Standups, Inside Amy Schumer, MTV’s Guy Code and Guy Court, hosts with Big Jay Oakerson Sirius XM’s The Bonfire), Ron Bennington (host of radio shows Bennington and Unmasked), Jessica Kirson (stellar hour-long special Talking to Myself currently streaming on Comedy Central; HBO’s Crashing, The Tonight Show, The View, Last Comic Standing, Celebrity Apprentice, This Week at the Comedy Cellar, Showtime, Bravo, VH1, Logo one-woman show My Cookie’s Gone), Joe List (David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Last Comic Standing, Comedy Central Half Hour, Netflix’s The StandUps, comedy albums So Far No Good and Are You Mad at Me?), and Richie Redding (HBO) perform stand-up at an elegant Union Square club: Stars at The Stand (7:30 pm, $15The Stand Mainstage at 116 East 16th Street)

The Story ColliderWednesday 1/22: This long-running monthly stage series & podcast presents true personal tales related to science, with this month’s storytellers Michelle Tong (top left corner above; med student and poet), Victoria Ruiz (right of Michelle; Assistant Professor of Medicine at NYU), Anders Lee (right of Victoria; co-host of Pod Damn America), and more TBA hosted by Erin Baker & Nisse Greenberg (above right): The Story Collider (7:30 pm, $15, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street; part of the Brooklyn Podcast Festival)

Ben SinclairWednesday 1/22: Ben Sinclair (co-creator, co-director, and co-star of HBO’s High Maintenance) is the guest of this NPR comedy trivia show taped live in Brooklyn hosted by the wonderful Ophira Eisenberg (one of the finest comedic storytellers and stand-ups in the country; author of bestselling book Screw Everyone: Sleeping My Way to Monogamy, comedy album Bangs!; NBC, CBS, Comedy Central, VH1, Showtime) with music by Jonathan CoultonAsk Me Another (7:30 pm, $15, Brooklyn’s The Bell House at 149 7th Street; take R subway to 9th Street or F/G to Fourth Avenue. PLEASE NOTE: This show has SOLD OUT.)

John Lutz and Scott Adsit: "John and Scott"Wednesday 1/22: Genius comics John Lutz (long-time staff writer & performer for Seth Meyers; numerous VO characters for such animated series as American Dad; seven seasons as staff writer for Saturday Night Live; cast member of 30 Rock) and fellow 30 Rock cast member Scott Adsit (HBO’s Veep; voice of robot Baymax in Disney’s Big Hero 6; co-writer/director/producer & cast member of Adult Swim’s awesome & Emmy-winning Moral Orel) form a super-smart and hilarious star duo crafting in the moment one of the very finest improv shows you’ll ever see: John and Scott (9:00 pm, $9UCB Hell’s Kitchen at 555 West 42nd Street off Eleventh Avenue)

Thirty ThirtyWednesday 1/22: Derek Gaines (NBC’s Will & Grace; Jaybird on The Last O.G.; former host of MTV’s Broke A$$ Game Show) and Napoleon Emill (Carolines’ Comedy Madness 2018 champion) each perform a 30-minute stand-up set to hone an upcoming special or album hosted by Nore Davis (HBO’s Last Week Tonight, Conan O’Brien, Comedy Central’s Inside Amy Schumer and Russell Simmons Presents The Ruckus, Showtime’s Boardwalk Empire, MTV; album You Guys Are Dope) & Nash Rose (producer for Stellar Comedy): Thirty Thirty (9:00 pm, $10 cover and no min., The Stand Upstairs at 116 East 16th Street)

Classic Black DudeWednesday 1/22: The Lucas Brothers (bottom left above; Jimmy Fallon22 Jump Street, Netflix’s The Lucas Bros: On Drugs and Lady Dynamite, FOX’s Lucas Bros Moving Company and Arrested Development, HBO’s Crashing), Larry Owens (top left; joyful, hilarious musical comic; staff writer for TruTV’s Paid Off; HBO’s High Maintenance; feature film To Dust), Josh Johnson (top right; writer for Jimmy Fallon; Comedy Central Half Hour, Kevin Hart’s Hart of the City), and Paris Sashay (bottom right; BET) are interviewed by host Clark Jones (HBO’s Crashing, Comedy Central) for his podcast: Classic Black Dude Live (10:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street; part of the Brooklyn Podcast Festival)

Why Your Train is F*cked: The G TrainThursday 1/23: This monthly comedic show about the MTA is usually full of compaints, but tonight sings the praises of…the G Train! “The New York Times said it best in 2016, with an article titled, ‘Once Mocked, the G Train Is Now Cool. Kind Of.’ Honestly, we think the G line kicks ass and is massively misunderstood. The trains may be short, but their hearts are large. So we’re going to spend an hour and a half telling you why The Little Light Green Line That Could really can,” hosted by Meg Pierson (TEDx, Alchemy Comedy) and Justin Williams (Comedy Central; host of Death Comedy Jam): Why Your Train is F*cked: The G Train (7:00 pm; $16.89 online or $20 at the door; LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street—take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)

Branson ReeseThursday 1/23: “From the mind of Dungeon Master Branson Reese (above; Cartoon Network, Swan Boy), comics, artists, and storytellers join together to spin webs that thrill your heart and break your bowels,” with Tim Platt (Stephen Colbert, Comedy Central, Sesame Street; member of The Story Pirates and Cartoon Monsoon; host of podcast Hampton High), Carly Monardo (Adult Swim, Nick Jr.), Chris Hastings (Dr. McNinja, Gwenpool, Adventure Time), Ali Fisher, and Joe LeporeRude Tales of Magic 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)

Risk!Thursday 1/23: Comedic storytellers TBA join pioneering sketch comic and storyteller Kevin Allison (The State; owner of The Story Studio) at what’s typically one of the finest storytelling shows in the country: Risk! (9:30 pm, $15, LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street—take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)

Jourdain Searles and Bronwyn Isaac: Thursday 1/23: Jourdain Searles (The New York Times) and Bronwyn Isaac (Showtime, Vice) host this podcast “dedicated to exploring all of the tropes and pitfalls of the romantic comedy genre from a place of love. The duo will be bringing their brand of playful but incisive criticism to the rom-com classic Love Actually, joined by cultural critic and popular Youtuber Kyle Kallgren (Brows Held High), who will help them answer the ultimate question about this movie: Is it full of romance or delusion? Or perhaps more accurately, is there a difference between romance and delusion?:” Bad Romance Live Show: Love Actually (10:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street; part of the Brooklyn Podcast Festival)

Sim Yan Ying: Friday 1/24-Sunday 1/26: This solo show is described as follows: “”In my four years of living in New York, I’ve only ever swiped right on white men.’ In this semi-autobiographical stand-up drama, Sim Yan Ying takes a bitingly honest look at white worship, postcolonial baggage, and politically correct culture. She tears apart her escapades with white men in New York and delves into her experiences growing up in Singapore, throwing into question how and why we are sometimes complicit in the very things we outwardly reject:” I Love White Men (7:00 pm, $22, LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street; take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)

Internet Explorers-AmazonFriday 1/24: “Amazon is a crazy big corporation. So big, in fact, it’s hard to even wrap your head around it. Web hosting, groceries, streaming video, home surveillance, holiday gifts…you can get almost anything from Jeff Bezos’ mega-company…” The online store & Web services company that changed the world, Amazon.com, is explored by host Mark Vigeant (Funny Or Die, Prairie Home Companion) with Kashmir Hill (The New York Times), Dhruv Mehrotra (Gizmodo), Caroline Haskins (Buzzfeed News), Samantha Reece (Head Writer of Buzzfeed’s BTW) and Rollie Williams (host of An Inconvenient Talk Show), plus music by Darren WilliamsInternet Explorers: Amazon.com (9:30 pm, $13.71 online or $15 at the door, LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street; take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)

Great Moments in Weed History LiveFriday 1/24: This popular podcast by Abdullah Saeed & David Bienenstock (above right) “blazes joints, cracks jokes, and explores the people, places, and events that make up the complex and fascinating 10,000+ year past of weed and weed culture, from Barack Obama’s time in the Choom Gang, to an exclusive first-hand account of how the Hollywood sign briefly became the Hollyweed sign,” tonight with guest Ben Sinclair (above left; co-creator, co-director, and co-star of HBO’s High Maintenance): Great Moments in Weed History Live (10:00 pm, $20, Brooklyn’s The Bell House at 149 7th Street; take R subway to 9th Street or F/G to Fourth Avenue; part of the Brooklyn Podcast Festival)

Dave Hill: Friday 1/24: Dave Hill (WFMU’s The Goddamn Dave Hill Show; bands Valley Lodge and Diamondsnake; books Tasteful NudesDave Hill Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, and Parking the Moose; comedy album Let Me Turn You On) gives his first-person account of different periods throughout history, while Jodi LennonJim Biederman, and Chris Gersbeck “call bullsh*t on most of what he’s saying:” for this live-on-stage recording of Dave’s weekly podcast: Dave Hill: History Fluffer (10:00 pm, $15, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street; part of the Brooklyn Podcast Festival)

Mission to ZyxxSaturday 1/25: “A fully improvised, obsessively sound-designed science fiction comedy following a team of misfit ambassadors attempting to establish diplomatic relations in the remote and crappy Zyxx Quadrant. Join the crew and celebrate the upcoming Season 4 launch with a special live episode:” Mission to Zyxx (5:00 pm, $15, Brooklyn’s The Bell House at 149 7th Street; take R subway to 9th Street or F/G to Fourth Avenue)

Sydnee Washington & Marie Faustin: Saturday 1/25: Sydnee Washington & Marie Faustin (co-hosts of highly popular weekly Brooklyn stand-up showcase Comedy at The Knit) host this live-on-stage recording of their podcast that tests stand-ups on their masterful knowledge of an intriguing subject (TBA), with tonight’s guests Stavros Halkias (Comedy Central Stand-Up, IFC; co-host of podcast Cum Town; host of Fat Tuesdays) and Paris SashayThe UnOfficial Expert Live (7:30 pm; $13.83 online before day of show, $15 at the door; Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street; part of the Brooklyn Podcast Festival)

Carly Ann Filbin: Saturday 1/25: Carly Ann Filbin (luminous sketch comic/comedic actress/writer; on-camera correspondent for Cosmopolitan.com; host of Let Me Break You Up: An Anti-Dating Game Show) pushes boundaries with this comedic game show in three segments: straight date, lesbian date, and gay date. Carly says, “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)

Thank You For Coming OutSaturday 1/25: Candid conversations about coming out with a diverse array of LGBTQ+ persons (TBA) for a podcast sponsored by Gay City News, the largest LGBT newspaper in the country: Thank You For Coming Out (9:30 pm, $16.89 online or $20 at the door, LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street; take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)

Julia Claire & Kate Willett: Saturday 1/25: Julia Claire & Kate Willett, “two nice ladies doing socialism,” host this “feminist political comedy podcast” with guests Katie Halper and Mohanad ElshiekyReply Guys Live (10:00 pm, $12, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street; part of the Brooklyn Podcast Festival)

Jo Firestone & Manolo Moreno: 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 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)

The Sopranos-The MusicalSunday 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 KenneyThe 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)

Jordan Klepper's Debate Club: 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 TimesThe 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)

An Evening of Humorous Readings 3Tuesday 1/28: Readings of short humor pieces by sharp writers & comics TBA, plus hosts Brian AnglerLuke 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)

Sam Taggart, Marcia Belsky, and Drew Anderson: Tuesday 1/28: Comics TBA perform for this monthly stand-up showcase named after Stevie Nicks and hosted by Marcia BelskySam Taggart, and Drew AndersonStevie (8:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)

Jordan Klepper's Debate Club: 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)

Moses StormWednesday 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)

How I Learned In The Beginning: Origin StoriesThursday 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 KearsleyHow 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)

We Love You 4Friday 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

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.

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.

The Stand
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.

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.

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.

You can also find me on Twitter at @hybender, Instagram at @hybenderny, and Facebook at https://Facebook.com/hybender.


NYC Top Comedy Choices for Monday 9/19/16

September 19, 2016

Judy Gold, Lori Palminteri, Clark Joess, and Ted AlexandroTed 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 album I Did It; frequently opens for Louis C.K.) hosts Judy Gold (Conan O’Brien, Jay Leno, HBO, Comedy Central, VH1, The View), Lori Palminteri (Louie), and Clark Jones (co-host of Comedy Night at the Knit) performing stand-up, plus an interview with Gideon Oliver (the lawyer who represented Ted and other arrested Occupy Wall Street protestors), all at Ted Alexandro & Friends (8:30 pm, $6, Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell at 27-16 23rd Avenue)

More recommendations for the best in NYC comedy tonight (in chronological order, with top picks noted and shows over $10 marked with $) include:

[FREE] 6:00 pm to midnight: Six free hours of improvisation at The PIT downstairs lounge: Super Free Monday

[TOP PICK] 6:30 pm ($5): About a dozen PIT comics—who in the past have included Katie Hartman, Keisha Zollar, Sarah Nowak, and more—each have 5 minutes to perform a character solo at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): The PIT Character Showcase Hour

[TOP PICK] [FREE] 7:00 pm: Award-winning Norwegian comic Daniel Simonsen (BBC, Edinburgh Fringe) tries out new material every night through Saturday at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ LIC (10-93 Jackson Avenue): Week at the Creek: Daniel Simonsen

[TOP PICK] [$] 7:30 pm, 9:30 pm, and 11:30 pm ($12 plus 2-item food/drink min.): Some of the finest stand-ups in the country spread among three shows at Comedy Cellar (117 MacDougal Street, between 3rd Street & Minetta Lane): Comedy Cellar Monday

7:30 pm ($7): Comedy groups Student Council and Dinosaur Jones perform sketch comedy at The Magnet theatre: Magnet Sketch Teams

[TOP PICK] 8:00 pm ($5): At the UCB Chelsea theatre, sketch comedy that aims to have you “laughing until blood pours out of your throat and eyes and you die and you go to hell and you’re like ‘god damn that was worth it!’ to Satan and he’ll be like ‘Yeah, I know, I was there, it was dope’:” O.S.F.U.G. The Fast Fuckin’ Sketch Show

…and in the second half of this double-bill, sketch group One Idiot performs a parody of series such as Serial and Making a Murderer: This Murder A Real Murder

[TOP PICK] 8:00 pm ($8): Roy Wood Jr. (correspondent for The Daily Show; David Letterman, HBO’S Def Comedy Jam, TBS’ Sullivan & Son, Comedy Central), Quincy Jones (see him on Ellen here), Jamie Lee (TruTV, MTV’s Girl Code, The Pete Holmes Show), Emma Willmann (Bravo, Oxygen, Sirius XM), Costaki Economopoulos, Charlie Pickering, and Emily Maya Mills performing stand-up at Brooklyn’s Littlefield (622 Degraw Street) guest-hosted by Seaton Smith (rising star stand-up; HBO’s Girls, FOX’s Mulaney, Seth Meyers, Inside Amy Schumer, The Nightly Show): Night Train

[TOP PICK] 8:00 pm ($5): Character comics performing bits at UCB East hosted by Frank Garcia-Hejl & Justin Tyler: Characters Welcome

[$] 8:00 pm ($5 plus 2-item food/drink min.): Wil Sylvince (Comedy Central, HBO, Showtime) hosts Nick Griffin, Phil Hanley, Nimesh Patel, and more trying out fresh material at The Fat Black Pussycat Lounge (130 West 3rd Street): New Joke City

8:00 pm ($5): Producers, writers, and other staff members of TruTV show Impractical Jokers improvise scenes at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): Impractical Jokers Staff Infection

[FREE] 8:00 pm: Four improvisers form teams with comics they’ve never performed with before at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ Long Island City: The Kaleidoscope

[TOP PICK] 8:30 pm ($10 at the door at $11.59 online): Melissa Villaseñor (newest Saturday Night Live cast member), Hasan Minhaj (correspondent for The Daily Show), Joel Kim Booster (Billy on the Street), and Janelle James performing stand-up, plus The Reformed Whores (raunchy comedic singing duo Marie Cecile Anderson & Katy Frame; albums Ladies Don’t Spit and Don’t Beat Around the Bush; CBS’ The Doctors), all at Brooklyn’s Union Hall hosted by the incomparable Sasheer Zamata (instant star cast member of Saturday Night Live): Sasheer Zamata’s Party Time!

9:30 ($5): House sketch groups Charles and Nipsy try out new material at UCB Chelsea for Maude Night

9:30 pm ($7): Sketch comics perform their material, and then improvisors make up scenes that further explore those worlds of sketch at The Magnet theatre: Works Cited

9:30 pm ($5): Improv veterans Brandon Gardner, Chelsea Clarke, Phil Jackson, and/or Steve Theiss hosting & performing in a show at UCB East with guest improvisors: Improv Nerds

9:00 pm ($5): Musical improv at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street) from group Good Catch

[TOP PICK] [FREE] 10:00 pm: Sean Patton (one of the finest stand-ups in the country; killer sets on Jimmy Fallon and Conan O’Brien, Comedy Central Half Hour, VH1, feature film Wifed Out; former co-host of Esquire Network’s Best Bars in America), Ari Shaffir (Conan O’Brien, host of Comedy Central’s This Is Not Happening, HBO’s Down and Dirty, National Lampoon, Comedy Central special Passive Aggressive), Myka Fox (SNL freelance contributor; host of Myka Fox & Friends podcast on Keith and The Girl Network), Annie Lederman (Comedy Central, Chelsea Lately, co-host of Pirate Party), Joel Kim Booster (Billy on the Street), Dan Wilbur (author of How Not to Read; writer for The Onion, College Humor, McSweeney’s; co-host of Lasers in the Jungle), Joe Bartnick, Yannis Pappas, and Crystian Ramirez performing stand-up at one of best comedy clubs in NYC at absolutely no cost to you (feel encouraged to order food and//or drinks, but you don’t have to) for The Stand Comedy Club (239 Third Avenue, off 20th Street) hosted by Aaron Berg (TV series 24 Hour Rental, documentary A Universal Language): Frantic Mondays: Sean Patton, Ari Shaffir, Myka Fox, Annie Lederman, and More

10:30 pm ($7): Diverse improvisors make up scenes at The Magnet theatre: Diverse City

[MEGA-TOP PICK] [FREE] 11:00 pm: Some of the finest comics in the world-who aren’t announced in advance, but it’s usually a great lineup and often an extraordinary one—at UCB Chelsea typically hosted by Aparna Nancherla (one of the best stand-ups in the country; writer for Seth Meyers; Conan O’Brien, @Midnight, comedy album Just Putting It Out There). Reservations go quickly, but you can probably get in if you arrive early and are okay with standing: Whiplash

Monday Open Mics & Jams

4:30 pm-7:00 pm ($5 plus 1 drink min., with drinks as low as $2): Walk-in stand-up open mic with two rounds, the first providing 5-6 minutes per set and the second 2-3 minutes per set, at The Grisly Pear (107 MacDougal Street) hosted by Tuval Mor: Kickin It Open Mic

5:00 pm ($5): Two-hour open-mic for 20 stand-ups performing for 5 minutes each, with sign-up online here, at the Stand Up NY Comedy Club (236 West 78th Street): Stand Up NY Open Mic

[FREE] 6:00 pm: Open mic stand-up show that provides each performer who shows up time on stage at The Creek downstairs lounge in Queens’ LIC (10-93 Jackson Avenue) hosted by Jacob Lie & Situ Mel ton: Raining Buckets

6:00 pm & 8:00 pm (no cover, 1 drink min. for both comics and audience members): Open mic stand-up providing 5-7 minutes per comic, with each show running 1 hour and 45 minutes. Arrive 30 minutes before the show you want to be in to get on the signup sheet. This is a fine opportunity to perform at the only comedy club in the East Village: Eastville Comedy Club Open Mic

7:30 pm ($10; sign-up starts at 7:00 pm): Open mic for stand-ups, storytellers, singers, poets, actors, and more, with 5 minutes per performer and 25 slots available, at The Parkside Lounge (317 East Houston Street, off Avenue B) hosted by Nathan P., followed by a raucous afterparty with dancing & drink specials from 10:00 to midnight: Inspired Word’s Open Mic Joint

[FREE] 10:30 pm: Improv students are welcomed onto the stage at The PIT downstairs lounge for this weekly open access show hosted by Gary DeNoia & Langston Belton: Base Jam

11:00 pm ($3): Open mic stand-up, with each comic getting 5 minutes and room for 15 comics who sign up per show, at The PIT upstairs theatre hosted by John Field: The Power Exchange

[FREE] 11:00 pm: Open mic stand-up show that provides each performer whose name is pulled from a bucket 4 minutes on stage at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ Long Island City hosted by Joseph Robert: PBR & Scrap Paper Open Mic Stand-Up

For many more shows, please click the following links to top NYC comedy venues:

Best Inexpensive Stand-Up, Improv, Sketch, and Storytelling

Upright Citizens Brigade Chelsea
(307 West 26th Street; 150-seater; one of the most respected comedy theatres in the world; especially strong on improv, sketch, solo shows, and one-act comedic plays; shows free-$10)

Upright Citizens Brigade East
(153 East 3rd Street; 99-seater; a top comedy venue that focuses more than sister theatre UCB Chelsea on stand-up and screenings, and on experimental shows taking big risks; shows free-$10)

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; not at the level of its two sister PIT theatres, but evolving; shows free-$10)

The Magnet
(254 West 29th Street; 60-seat theatre; strong on improv, musical improv, sketch, and energy; shows $5-$10)

The Annoyance Theatre
(367 Bedford Ave. in Brooklyn; J/M/Z to Marcy or L to Lorimer; 50-seat theatre; spinning off from Chicago’s Annoyance Theatre, brings a fiercely fresh, experimental approach to improv and sketch; shows free-$10)

The Creek and the Cave
(Queens’ Long Island City; 40-seat theatre upstairs, 25 downstairs; virtually all shows free)

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

Littlefield
(622 Degraw 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/Q 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.)

The Stand
(239 Third Avenue; recent competitor to Comedy Cellar; 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
(85 East 4th Street; strong weekend lineups; no cover using code HyReviews; 2-drink min.)

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 Standing Room
(4738 Vernon Blvd., by #7 train; Queens LIC club; no drink min.—support this policy!)

Other NYC Live Shows, Heavily Marked Down via Goldstar:

The Stand

From legendary NYC comedy site Brooklyn Vegan: Thank God for Hy Bender’s religiously updated show bible BestNewYorkComedy.com…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, submit material to my short story anthology Ghosts on Drugs, or for any other reason by emailing me at hy@hyreviews.com.