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That said, my top NYC comedy recommendations for October 2019 (with much more to come soon) include:
Thursday 10/10: Aparna Nancherla (one of the very finest stand-ups in the country; co-star of Super Bowl 2019 commercial, Comedy Central’s Corporate, and HBO’s Crashing; also performed on HBO’s 2 Dope Queens, Netflix’s Master of None and The Standups, TBS’ Conan O’Brien, and Comedy Central’s @Midnight and Half Hour; former writer for Seth Meyers; comedy album Just Putting It Out There), Rob Cantrell (HBO, Comedy Central, NBC’s Last Comic Standing, VHI, FX; documentary Metaphysical Graffiti, High Times; comedy album Pure Uncut Joy), Usama Siddique, Jordan Jenson, and Xazmin Garza perform stand-up hosted by Brian Parise & Kenice Mobley: The Pasta Show (7:30 pm for the free Pasta e Ceci, 8:00 pm for the show; $10; Frank’s Cocktail Lounge at Brooklyn’s 660 Fulton Street, near the G subway’s Fulton Street stop or A/C Lafayette Avenue stop)
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: A burlesque comedic horror tribute to the works of Stephen King is spearheaded & hosted by Cherry Pitz (a.k.a. sharp storyteller Cyndi Freeman) and Brad Lawrence (Moth GrandSlam Champion), who are both pictured above, and features acts by Brief Sweat as Georgie from IT, Candy Apples as Annie Wilkes from Misery, Fem Appeal as Pennywise from IT, Matt Knife paying tribute to the 237 Documentary, Venatrix as Jessie Burlingame from Gerald’s Game, and Bimini Cricket as Carrie from Carrie: Hotsy Totsy Burlesque Tribute to Stephen King (8:00 pm, $15-$25, The Slipper Room at LES’ 167 Orchard 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: Storytellers Matt Dennie (MTV, IFC, co-creator of Cool Shit/Weird Shit), Julia Whitehouse (Moth StorySlam winner; host of Happy Hour Story Time open mic; solo show Naked People), and Adam Wade (two-time Moth GrandSlam Storytelling Champion (2006 & 2009) and record-breaking 20-time StorySlam Champion; album The Human Comedy; for a sampling of Adam’s award-winning tales, please click here) tell comedic tales on this month’s theme Nightmares for this long-running stage series and podcast hosted by the wonderful David Martin: The Nights of Our Lives: Nightmares (8:30 pm, $7, The Magnet at 254 West 29th Street)
Thursday 10/10: Comics tell true stories and jokes about drug, alcohol, and/or sex addictions, featuring Mark Normand, Jessica Kirson, Sean Donnelly, Matt Richards, Jonas Barnes, and Richie Redding hosted by Jeff Leach: Stand-Ups Anonymous (9:30 pm, $15 cover and no min., The Stand Upstairs at 116 East 16th 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)
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; PLEASE NOTE: This show has SOLD OUT.)
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)
Friday 10/11: Two stand-ups each perform a deliciously long 30-minute set, with tonight’s headliners rising star Christi Chiello (above; Comedy Central’s Roast Battle, MTV’s Girl Code, TruTV, PBSKids, stellar solo show It’s Christi, B*tch!, co-host of Battle of the Divas and White Chocolate) and Mary Beth Barone (Viceland; host of podcast Mildly Offensive), all hosted by Gavin Matts (Conan O’Brien, Comedy Central): The Half Hours: Christi Chiello and Mary Beth Barone (9:00 pm, $12, The Stand Upstairs at 116 East 16th 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)
Saturday 10/12: Sydnee Washington & Marie Faustin (above) host this live-on-stage taping of their podcast that tests comics on their exceptional knowledge, with tonight’s topic Flirting, and the experts Mary Beth Barone and Jay Jurden: The UnOfficial Expert Live (10:00 pm, $15, Brooklyn’s Union Hall (702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
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)
Sunday 10/13: Comedic singer/songwriter Killy Dwyer is taking a break from NYC: “October marks my 25th year here in the Big Apple, and what a fuckin’ ride! I’d compare it to the Coney Island Cyclone: fun, but painful, you don’t really go anywhere, and you can only take so much. So we’re heading west for awhile! A year?! Who knows. We need a change of venue, baby! This evening is part retrospective, part new material, lot’s of special guests who SCREAM NYC to me, and an after-party not soon to be forgotten,” with scheduled comics including Lauren Maul, Mike Milazzo, Jackson Sturkey, Dan Ricker, David Turner Jr., Joe Crow, and Ryan Sourdoe: Goodbye NY! A Killy Dwyer Farewell Show (8:00 pm doors, 8:30 pm show; no cover but 2-drink min., with cheapest options $8 each, so figure on spending at least $16 plus tip; KGB Bar’s upstairs Red Room at 85 East 4th Street off Second Avenue)
Monday 10/14: Emily Flake is a brilliant writer/cartoonist whose work appears in The New Yorker, The New York Times, and more. She’s also the author of cartoon books These Things Ain’t Gonna Smoke Themselves and Mama Tried—and now, the just-released That Was Awkward: The Art and Etiquette of the Awkward Hug. Emily will be celebrating her new book with guests Josh Gondelman (one of the sharpest comics in the country; writer/producer for Showtime’s Desus & Mero; previously Emmy & Peabody Award-winning writer/producer for HBO’s phenom Last Week Tonight with John Oliver; Conan O’Brien, The New Yorker; stand-up albums Dancing On a Weeknight and Physical Whisper, author of book Nice Try) and Shalewa Sharpe (Comedy Central’s The New Negroes; HBO’s 2 Dope Queens; comedy album So You Just Out Here?): Emily Flake’s That Was Awkward Book Release Celebration (7:30 pm, Free!, Brooklyn’s Books Are Magic at 225 Smith Street; take the F/G subway to Bergen 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)
Tuesday 10/16: Every Tuesday at 8:00 pm, 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 (8:00 pm, Free!, The PIT Loft at 154 West 29th 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)
Friday 10/18: Comics TBA pitch the worst ideas for Halloween TV specials they can think of, only to have them nickel-and-dimed by a panel of TV exec judges, in this monthly show hosted by Ned Ehrbar: Bad Pitches: Halloween TV Special Edition (8:30 pm, Free!, Crystal Lake Brooklyn at 647 Grand Street; take L subway to Brooklyn’s Lorimer Street or Graham Avenue)
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)
Saturday 10/26: A modern conflict of epic proportions. Evil villains, menacing alien beasts, and giant, city-crushing monsters threaten to destroy the planet. Who will save the helpless humans from total ruin? The Heroes, of course; plus a few privileged audience members getting in on the action, as they try to contain danger within the three-roped arena of Kaiju Big Battel (6:00 pm, $15, Brooklyn’s The Bell House at 149 7th Street; take R subway to 9th Street or F/G to Fourth Avenue)
Tuesday 11/5: A raucous monthly pun competition hosted by Fred Firestone (co-author with Jo Firestone of #1 bestselling Punderdome: A Card Game for Pun Lovers), with 18 audience members (a dozen sign-ups and six returning champions) fiercely competing for wordplay dominance—and the chance to become an instant star based on verbal cleverness, and the ability to drum up the most applause from a packed and loudly cheering crowd. This special Halloween edition also features a spooky Pun-Costume competition: Punderdome 3000: Halloween Special (8:00 pm, $12, Brooklyn’s Littlefield at 635 Sackett Street—take R subway to Union Street; show up early—doors open at 7:00—to nab a seat, or plan on standing)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.