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That said, my top NYC comedy recommendations for September 2019 (with more to come soon) include:
Friday 9/20: Improv group Skip Intro, which normally makes up TV shows on the spot, tonight makes up Sunday’s Emmy Awards with a pre-show discussion of the nominees, a red carpet, ceremony parodies, and more: Skip Intro’s Faux Emmy Awards Show (7:00 pm, $12, The PIT Loft at 154 West 29th Street)
Friday 9/20: Yedoye Travis (above; Stephen Colbert, Comedy Central, Netflix’s Russian Doll, TBS’ Search Party) and friends record his podcast Dark Tank, during which white guests TBA pitch solutions for pressing minority issues to a panel of people of color also TBA: Dark Tank Live (7:00 pm; $11.70 in advance online or $15 at the door; LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street; take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Friday 9/20: Sketch comics Reuben Wolf, Theresa Basile, and Rich Inman reveal Mother Goose’s first drafts of her now-classic children’s stories: First Draft Fairy Tales (7:30 pm, $12, The PIT Underground at 123 East 24th Street)
Friday 9/20: Storytelling, sketches, and more about sex, including “practical takeaways for the audience,” from comics Erik Bergstrom (Comedy Central Half Hour, MTV, VH1, Fuse; cartoonist/author of Grimmer Tales, The New Yorker), Keisha Zollar (HBO’s Divorce, Orange Is the New Black, MTV; writer for The Opposition with Jordan Klepper; ace improv trio Doppelganger, sketch group Astronomy Club), Jay Malsky (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), and Calvin Cato (Oxygen’s My Crazy Love, host of Ed Sullivan on Acid, co-host of podcast Playable Characters) hosted by Dani Faith Leonard: Adult Sex Ed (9:30 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 9/20: Surreal sketch group Terrorbird—Sam Fox-Hartin, Zachary Gibson, Kevin Palermo, Spencer Sapienza, Emi Upsome Schaufeld, and Leanne Troutman—performs oddball scenes designed to unsettle and delight you: Terrorbird (9:30 pm, $12, The PIT Loft at 154 West 29th Street)
Friday 9/20: Storytellers TBA share cringe-worthy experiences from their pasts hosted by Brendan Busee & Ron Raganella: Shame!: The Not-So-Honorable Comedy Show (9:30 pm, $8, Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell at 27-16 23rd Avenue)
Friday 9/20: The Punisher is arguably the best of Marvel’s various compelling superhero TV series on Netflix; but it took a number of tries to achieve the current excellent mass media version of the character. The very first attempt was a 1989 movie titled The Punisher starring Dolph Lungren. It failed to be faithful to Marvel’s comic book and ended up earning a paltry 28% on Rotten Tomatoes. Tonight it’ll be screened and mercilessly skewered by comics Frank Conniff (TV’s Frank on Mystery Science Theater 3000; Cinematic Titanic), Jacob Willams (Stephen Colbert, Adam Devine’s House Party, America’s Got Talent), Kat Burdick (Moth Grandslam champion; webseries KCK; host of Let’s Say You’re Right and co-host of Nightmares), and Will Watkins (Zeros on Heroes podcast). Their cruelty will be contrasted by exceptionally kind host Chris Gersbeck (co-host of Soft Core!—essentially a porn version of this show—and producer of many other shows): Movies R Dumb: 1989’s The Punisher (11:00 pm, $10, Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell at 27-16 23rd Avenue)
Friday 9/20: “Are you scared most of the time? Do you list fear as an emergency contact on general paperwork and the occasional PDF? Then maybe you need a little bit more prep time for what most Americans think of as ‘fun,’ ‘a hoot,’ and ‘enjoy.’ That’s why this show explores the spooky, the chilling, the horrific, the terrifying, for those of us who need more of a buffer around frights and some softening around the edges for even the suggestion of the macabre. The night (eee!) will include probably ghosts, definitely creeps (unavoidable on Earth), ghouls (who isn’t these days), unexplainable lighting occurrences (blame the tech booth), and your hosts:” 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) and 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; co-author of #1 bestselling Punderdome: A Card Game for Pun Lovers): Jo & Aparna Present: 41 Days Till Halloween! (8:00 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.)
Saturday 9/21: World-class singing improvisors Rebecca Vigil & Evan Kaufman interview an audience couple about their love life and then turn it into a musical—with breathtaking skill (see my review of their award-winning FringeNYC 2015 shows here). I highly recommend the phenomenal Your Love, Our Musical (7:00 pm; $22.32 for a seat, or $17 for standing room, in advance online for this show that usually sells out; LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street—take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Saturday 9/21: Ziwe Fumudoh (writer for Showtime’s Desus & Mero, and previously for The Rundown with Robin Thede; host of hilarious webseries Baited with Ziwe) invites comics TBA to perform pop songs, preceded by comedic presentations: Pop Show (7:30 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Saturday 9/21: 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; $12 [please be aware that if you buy online, a charge for “EB YOUNG HOT SLUTS” will appear on your bank statement]; Brooklyn’s C’mon Everybody at 325 Franklin Avenue—take the G subway to Classon Avenue)
Sunday 9/22: Enjoy the Emmy Awards with a like-minded comedy audience, featuring comedic performances during the commercials, drinking games, and prizes: Emmy Watch Party (7:00 pm; $17 in advance online or $18 at the door; LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street—take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Monday 9/23: The adorable Laura Merli (above right; Reductress, McSweeney’s, YouTube, host of How to be Less Awkward) and Marissa Stuart (above left; trend forecaster; member of all-gal hip-hop improv troupe DMXX) perform duo sketch comedy designed to provide you with “feel-good dread” (for a video sample, please click here): Soul Crush Comedy (8:00 pm, $10, The PIT Underground at 123 East 24th Street)
Monday 9/23: Big Jay Oakerson (Jimmy Fallon, Comedy Central Presents, Louie, Inside Amy Schumer, HBO, Showtime, MTV, IFC; co-host of podcast The SDR; stellar comedy special Live at Webster Hall; Netflix’s The Degenerates), Dave Smith (FOX; host of podcast Part of the Problem), Luis J. Gomez (special Luis J. Gomez Presents Luis J. Gomez), and other NYC comics “discuss the skankier sides of life, love, and stand-up comedy” for this free weekly podcast taping: Legion of Skanks (9:30 pm, Free!, The Stand Upstairs at 116 East 16th Street)
Monday 9/23: Stand-ups TBA try out material at this free weekly show hosted by Aaron Berg (TV series 24 Hour Rental, documentary A Universal Language) and/or Kerryn Feehan (Comedy Central, TruTV, Spike TV): Frantic Mondays (10:00 pm, Free!, The Stand at 116 East 16th Street)
Tuesday 9/24: Brian Agler, Luke Burns, and James Folta—each of whom has written for both The New Yorker and McSweeney’s—perform readings of their short humor pieces, and also host additional short readings from River Clegg (writer for Stephen Colbert, The Onion, The New Yorker, McSweeney’s), Claire Friedman (writer for Showtime’s Desus & Mero, Saturday Night Live, The New Yorker, McSweeney’s), and Sarah Pappalardo (co-founder of Reductress). Arrive at 6:30 pm to hang out with these writers pre-show: An Evening of Humorous Readings (7:00 pm; $10; LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street—take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Tuesday 9/24: 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)
Wednesday 9/25: Stand-ups and/or storytellers TBA tell tales about losing their virginity hosted by Angela Cobb (Sirius XM): My First Time: A Stand-Up and Storytelling Show (9:00 pm, $10, Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell at 27-16 23rd Avenue)
Thursday 9/26: Learn the history of the MTA via fun lectures, sketches, and more at this ongoing comedic history series about NYC transit, with this month’s topic TBA, hosted by Meg Pierson (TEDx, Alchemy Comedy) and Justin Williams (Comedy Central; host of Death Comedy Jam): Why Your Train is F*cked (7:00 pm; $17 online or $2f0 at the door; LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street—take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Thursday 9/26: One of the best innovations of UCBT-NY Artistic Director Michael Hartney was creating a new category of house teams (beyond those for improv and sketch) devoted to talented comedic character actors. Tonight one of those two groups, Velvet Mommy—Jon Bander, Kami Dimitrova, Desi Domo, Johnny Drago, Woody Fu, Chrissie Gruebel, Adrienne Ianniciello, and Corin Wells—performs original characters or impersonations directed & hosted by Michael Hartney, Eric Feurer, and/or Sarah Parsons: Characters Welcome: Velvet Mommy (7:30 pm, $7, UCB Hell’s Kitchen at 555 West 42nd Street)
Friday 9/27: Because there isn’t enough strife pitting the living against each other, comics TBA roast long-past historical figures and events, ranging from Rasputin to The Beat Generation to The 1968 Democratic Convention: The Roast of History (7:00 pm, $12, LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street; take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Friday 9/27: A unique game show in which an oddball Internet video is screened, and then over a dozen contestants have three minutes to prepare a dance routine inspired by what everyone just experienced. It’ll all be judged by typically cool comics TBA: Dancify That! (8:00 pm, $15, The PIT Mainstage at 123 East 24th Street)
Friday 9/27: “Eliot Glazer, a classically trained vocalist-turned-comedian, takes some of pop music’s most infamous songs and turns them into highbrow, sweeping ballads. Like a twisted version of MTV Unplugged, Austin City Limits, or VH1 Storytellers, it’s an intimate night of bad music made good,” plus guests TBA: Haunting Renditions (8:00 pm, $15, Brooklyn’s Littlefield at 635 Sackett Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Saturday 9/28: Lauren Maul (host of Bitchcraft) hosts this live-on-stage version of her podcast show for Wiccans, featuring “light-hearted talk, magical comedians, musicians, and practicing witches of NYC:” Gathering the Coven: A Talk Show for Witches (7:00 pm, $10, The PIT Underground at 123 East 24th Street)
Saturday 9/28: Mike Drucker (hilarious stand-up and staff writer for TBS’ Full Frontal with Samantha Bee; previously staff writer for Comedy Central’s The President Show and nearly 400 episodes of NBC’s Jimmy Fallon, and contributing writer for Saturday Night Live), Carmen Lynch (America’s Got Talent, David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Stephen Colbert, Inside Amy Schumer, This Week at the Comedy Cellar, @midnight, Last Comic Standing finalist; Sirius XM 2017 comedy album of the year Dance Like You Don’t Need the Money), and more perform stand-up at the only comedy club in Brooklyn: Mike Drucker, Carmen Lynch, and More at Eastville (8:00 pm; normally $21 with no min., but free following these instructions [support this special by optionally buying food or drinks]; Brooklyn’s Eastville Comedy Club at 487 Atlantic Avenue—take 2/3/4/5/B/D/N/Q/R subway to Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center)
Saturday 9/28: A top musical improv troupe that has wowed audiences around the world with its skill at making up an hour-long musical moment by moment. The plot and characters, the musical accompaniment, even the song lyrics and “choreography” are invented on the spot, with no pre-planned structure, by such ace talents as Becky Drysdale, Zack Willis, Katy Barry, Caroline Martin, Amber Ruffin, Tim Sniffen, and Jeff Hiller, plus stellar improv musicians Dan Reitz (keyboards) & Sarah Mullins (drums/percussion). Come see why this show won a FringeNYC Award for Outstanding Unique Theatrical Event: Baby Wants Candy (10:30 pm, $14, UCB Hell’s Kitchen at 555 West 42nd Street)
Sunday 9/29: Stellar comics 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), Julio Torres (marvelously nuanced, outside-the-box stand-up; creator and star of HBO’s Los Espookys; staff writer for Saturday Night Live; Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers, Billy on the Street, HBO’s High Maintenance, Louis C.K.’s Horace and Pete), Karen Chee (staff writer for Seth Meyers; The New Yorker, McSweeney’s), Maeve Higgins (David Letterman, Last Comic Standing, co-host of NatGeo’s StarTalk, host of Maeve in America, co-host of Butterboy), and Cole Escola (At Home with Amy Sedaris, Difficult People) perform at this benefit for Minority Humanitarian Foundation, which provides on-the-ground relief efforts in San Diego and Tijuana: Forever Friends: Comedy Fundraiser for Migrants at the Southern Border (8:00 pm; $25, Brooklyn’s The Bell House at 149 7th Street; take R subway to 9th Street or F/G to Fourth Avenue)
Monday 9/30: Some of the most brilliant improvisors alive (TBA) stumble into theatre scenes of plays they’ve never seen performed by superb Broadway, TV, and/or film stars (also TBA) and make up their dialogue while the actors commit to staying in character and on book. The result is amazingly fun, hosted by actor/director Stephen Ruddy: Gravid Water (7:30 pm, $9, UCB Hell’s Kitchen at 555 West 42nd Street)
Monday 9/30: Chris Gethard is one of the most beloved and mutl-talented comics of our time. His credits include the HBO 90-minute solo special Career Suicide; starring in of TruTV’s & Fusion’s The Chris Gethard Show; co-staring in Mike Birbiglia’s movie Don’t Think Twice, hosting the Webby-winning podcast Beautiful Stories From Anonymous People, and performing on The Office, Comedy Central, IFC, etc. Geth is also the author of the books A Bad Idea I’m About to Do, Weird New York, and Lose Well, and the CD/vinyl/audio Gethard: My Comedy Album. If you’re bummed that Geth’s shows this month in Brooklyn are sold out, this is a chance to catch him in his native land of New Jersey: Chris Gethard in Asbury Park (8:30 pm, $10, New Jersey’s Asbury Park Brewery at 810 Sewall Avenue); take North Jersey Coast Line train to Asbury Park Station)
Monday 9/30: Stand-ups and/or storytellers TBA “share what scares the sh*t out of them” hosted by Tracy Soren: My Nightmare (8:30 pm, $6, Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell at 27-16 23rd Avenue)
Monday 9/30: Big Jay Oakerson (Jimmy Fallon, Comedy Central Presents, Louie, Inside Amy Schumer, HBO, Showtime, MTV, IFC; co-host of podcast The SDR; stellar comedy special Live at Webster Hall; Netflix’s The Degenerates), Dave Smith (FOX; host of podcast Part of the Problem), Luis J. Gomez (special Luis J. Gomez Presents Luis J. Gomez), and other NYC comics “discuss the skankier sides of life, love, and stand-up comedy” for this free weekly podcast taping: Legion of Skanks (9:30 pm, Free!, The Stand Upstairs at 116 East 16th Street)
Monday 9/30: Stand-ups TBA try out material at this free weekly show hosted by Aaron Berg (TV series 24 Hour Rental, documentary A Universal Language) and/or Kerryn Feehan (Comedy Central, TruTV, Spike TV): Frantic Mondays (10:00 pm, Free!, The Stand at 116 East 16th 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.