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That said, my top NYC comedy recommendations for June 2018 (with more to come soon) include:
Friday 6/29-Sunday 7/1: The 20th Annual Del Close Marathon, which is the undisputed king of improv festivals, will run continuously from 4:00 pm on Friday June 29th, 2018 until 11:30 pm on Sunday July 1st. Improv groups from all around the US and Canada—and a few places further away—will perform over 750 shows, typically in 15- or 30-minute blocks, for around 55 hours. As in past years, the only down side is way more patrons than available space, which will cause long waits to get into UCB Hell’s Kitchen (555 West 42nd Street, off 11th Avenue), which seats 160. However, the congestion will be somewhat eased by 10 additional venues: UCB East, The Magnet, Theater for the New City (4 theatres), All Stars Project (3 theatres), and The Griffin; for details, please click here. For the complete schedule, please click here. To view shows organized by performer, please click here. To buy a festival pass, please click here. To buy premium tickets, please click here. (Please note that if any premium show doesn’t sell out and you have a marathon pass, you can receive a remaining seat free of charge on a first come, first serve basis.) Quite simply, this is the greatest improv festival in the world: 20th Annual Del Close Marathon (DCM20) (4:00 pm Friday-11:30 pm Sunday, $45 for festival pass plus $12-$25 each for premium shows, 11 venues around the NYC theatre district and the East Village)
Friday 6/29: Fifty comics—Josh Gondelman, Julio Torres, Myka Fox, Janelle James, Kevin Allison, Rebecca Vigil, Jay Malsky, and many more—gather to each share a minute’s worth of observations about a bit of pop culture with which he or she can’t be bothered, with hosts Matt Rogers & Bowen Yang (above; hosts of the acclaimed Las Culturistas podcast): Las Culturistas Live: I Don’t Think So, Honey (8:00 pm, $20, Brooklyn’s The Bell House (149 7th Street; take R subway to 9th Street or F/G to Fourth Avenue)
Friday 6/29: A one-woman show by Sydnee Washington (MTV2’s Vidiots, co-host of podcast The Unofficial Expert) about her decade as a high-earning cocktail waitress and why, after 10 years of working in NYC nightlife, she decided to hang up her server dress forever: Death of a Bottle Girl (9:00 pm; $12, LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street—take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Friday 6/29: Hosts Chris Gersbeck & Jenn Wehrung screen a “cheesy” porn movie for them and comics Kat Burdick, Matt Smith McCormick, and Calvin Cato to riff on MST3K-style: Soft Core! (11:00 pm, $15, Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell at 27-16 23rd Avenue)
Friday 6/29: Storytellers share tales of relationships in front of a panel of comics and therapy experts, who then give advice, with tonight’s guests Emily Winter (writer for Fusion’s Come Here and Say That, TVLand, and The New Yorker; co-host of The BackFatlorette, Backfat Variety, and Side Ponytail) and more TBA hosted by Lynn Bixenspan & Morgan Pielli: Relationshit (9:00 pm, $10, Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell at 27-16 23rd Avenue)
Saturday 6/30: Award-winning vaudeville-style sketch duo Chris O’Neill & Paul Valenti perform their favorite bits for this special show: The Best of the Chris and Paul Show (8:00 pm, $15, The PIT Mainstage (Striker) at 123 East 24th Street)
Sunday 7/1: NYLaugh.org’s free summer stand-up shows, which happen Sundays 2:00-4:00 pm at parks all over the city, sponsors its second 2018 event today at The Battery (on Castle Clinton Lawn, in front of the National Monument) with headliner Bonnie McFarlane (HBO, David Letterman, Jay Leno, Last Comic Standing, Comedy Central Presents special; co-host of My Wife Hates Me podcast; author of book You’re Better Than Me) and other comics TBA. Subsequent shows will happen at Washington Square Park (at Garibaldi Plaza, on the east side of the Fountain) July 8th, The Battery again July 15th, and Tompkins Square Park (on the Old Bandshell Lawn) July 22nd, with lineups TBA: Laughter in the Park (2:00 pm-4:00 pm, Free!, Staten Island’s Wolfe’s Pond Park at 420 Cornelia Avenue)
Sunday 7/1: Kerry Coddett (above; writer for HBO’s Wyatt Cenac: Problem Areas; HBO’s Crashing, BET’s The Rundown, Comedy Central’s The Nightly Show, MTV’s Joking Off; host of Brooklyn, Stand Up!) and indie music duo Strange Parts (Attia Taylor & Corey Duncan) perform and are interviewed about “that one song you’ll never forget” at Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell (27-16 23rd Avenue) hosted by Patrick Cartelli & Evan Forde Barden: Repeater: A Little Show About Big Songs (8:30 pm, $5, Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell at 27-16 23rd Avenue)
Monday 7/2: Comics share their observations, fears, dreams, and insanities growing up by reading from their childhood diaries, featuring Lauren Culp, Matt Dittus, Ruthie Dreyer, Emily Evans, Jennifer Gersbeck, Dana Norris, Michael Salgarolo, and Emily Walsh and host Maggie Lalley: Dear Diary: Comics Read Their Weird Childhood Journals (8:30 pm, $8, Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell at 27-16 23rd Avenue)
Tuesday 7/3: Roland Emmerich’s & Dean Devlin’s 1996 film Independence Day is actually quite entertaining—and also a milestone in the history of Hollywood blockbusters (it was the highest-grossing movie of its year). That said, there’s plenty about it to make fun of. Tonight it’ll be screened and mercilessly skewered by comics Frank Conniff (TV’s Frank on Mystery Science Theater 3000; Cinematic Titanic; author of How to Write Cheesy Movies and 25 MST3K Films That Changed My Life In No Way Whatsoever), John Fugelsang (host of Tell Me Everything on Sirius XM; former host of ABC’s America’s Funniest Home Videos), and Jenn Wehrung (BBC; co-host of Soft Core!), who make this solemn promise: “We will be fast forwarding through the Randy Quaid scenes.” Their cruelty will be contrasted by exceptionally kind host Chris Gersbeck (co-host of Soft Core!, which is essentially a porn version of this show, and Bunk Bed Time Open Mic): Movies R Dumb: Independence Day (9:30 pm, $10, Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell at 27-16 23rd Avenue)
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 East
153 East 3rd Street; 99-seater; a top comedy venue that focuses more than sister theatre UCB Hell’s Kitchen on stand-up and screenings, and on experimental shows taking big risks; shows free-$12
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
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 reason by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.