NYC Top Comedy Choices for January 2020: Last Updated Sunday 1/5

January 5, 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.

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.)

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:

Stand-Ups AnonymousSunday 1/5: Comics tell true tales of how drink, drugs, and/or sex addiction have ruined their lives in the past and for what they’re now grateful, with Mike CannonMehran KhaghaniCorinne FisherKrystyna HutchinsonJonas BarnesLouis Katz, and host Jeff LeachStand-Ups Anonymous (7:00 pm, $15The Stand Upstairs at 116 East 16th Street)

Bacon Bits Brunch ShowSunday 1/5: Enjoy brunch with laughs at this comedy show that provides free bacon and $20 bottomless mimosas along with jokes from NYC stand-ups Ashley Hesseltine (co-host of podcast Girls Gotta Eat), Jeff Leach (host of podcast Savage Snowflake and show Stand-Ups Anonymous—which happens tonight at 7:00 pm in the same room), Ian Lara (HBO, Jimmy Fallon, Comedy Central Stand-Up, NBC’s Bring the Funny; former host of Out of Tune music app), and Ben DeMarco hosted by Remy Kassimir (host of podcasts How Cum and We Really Love Island): Bacon Bits Brunch Show (3:00 pm, $15The Stand Upstairs at 116 East 16th Street)

Golden Globes Watch PartySunday 1/5: Watch the Golden Globes Awards with an audience, and enjoy comedic observations and characters by NYC comics performing for you during the commercials. The show is hosted by Jenny Gorelick, with a voting explanation by Andrea Jones-Rooy, color commentary by Rachel PegramAllie CarieriGabe Gonzalez, and Miz Diamond Wigfall, and celebrity impersonations by John Everett TrowbridgeSophie Elizabeth SantosAna McCaslandAbby HeroldMicaela FaganJoey Dardano, and Jeremy MoultonGolden Globes Watch Party (6:30 pm doors, 7:00 pm show; $16.89 in advance online or $20 at the door; LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street; take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)

John Reynolds and Matt BaratsSunday 1/5: John Reynolds (co-star of Search Party, cast member of Stranger Things; previously writer for The President ShowCraig Ferguson, and Celebrity Deathmatch) & Matt Barats (HBO’s High MaintenanceSeth MeyersThe New Yorker) perform duo comedy: John Reynolds & Matt Barats (8:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)

Karleigh Chase: Sunday 1/5: Seven art portrait masterpieces come to life and reveal the stories behind their creation—explaining why Mona Lisa was smiling, what Frida was staring at, the cause of the desperately sad eyes of the girl with a pearl earring, and more—written & directed by Karleigh Chase, and performed by Alexa Harris (Narrator), Marlee Dater (Mona Lisa), Karleigh Chase (Girl with a Pearl Earring), Rory Lipede (Dora Maar), Rory Kelsch (American Gothic), Duvall O’Steen (Gala Dali), Juanita Castro-Ochoa (Frida Kahlo), and Maureen Toomey (Marilyn Monroe): Memoirs of a Painted Woman (8:00 pm, $12The PIT Mainstage (Striker) at 123 East 24th Street)

Sunday Night Stand-Up at The StandSunday 1/5: Sharp stand-up from Rachel Feinstein (HBO’s Crashing, Amazon’s Red Oaks, Netflix’s The Standups, Comedy Central special Only Whores Wear Purple; finalist on Last Comic StandingJimmy Fallon, Conan O’Brien, Inside Amy SchumerThe View; films include Trainwreck and Top Five), Derek Gaines (Jaybird on The Last O.G.; NBC’s Will & Grace; former host of MTV’s Broke A$$ Game Show), Stavros Halkias (Comedy Central Stand-Up, IFC; co-host of podcast Cum Town; host of Fat Tuesdays), Aaron Berg (TV series 24 Hour Rental, documentaries 25 Sets, A Universal Language, co-host of CompoundMedia.com’s In Hot Water and The Stand’s Frantic!), Yannis Pappas (Comedy Central Half Hour, VH1; co-host of podcast History Hyenas), and Tom CassidySunday Night Stand-Up at The Stand (8:00 pm, $15 cover and no min., The Stand Mainstage at 116 East 16th Street)

Comedy at The KnitSunday 1/5: Casey James Salengo (Jimmy Kimmel, Comedy Central Stand-Up Presents; album Wild Country Phoenix), Alex Babbitt (HBO’s All Def Comedy), Mike Brown (TBS’ Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, TruTV, MTV, Adult Swim; co-host of Comedy Outliers), Jocelyn Chia (2-time Moth StorySlam winner), and JJ Mattise (Brooklyn’s Best) perform stand-up for stellar hosts Sydnee WashingtonAminah Imani, and Marie FaustinComedy at The Knit (9:00 pm, Free!, Brooklyn’s Knitting Factory at 361 Metropolitan Avenue; take the G/L subway to Lorimer Street-Metropolitan Avenue)

Comedy Fight Club 11Sunday 1/5: This weekly competitive 1-on-1 roast battle tonight features a main bout of Jess Feeney (“I’m really nice till you get to know me”) vs. Chris Lamadieu (“You have the confidence of a man who doesn’t know he looks like that”) judged by Corinne FisherTrey Galyon, and Dale Cheeseman, and hosted by Matt MaranComedy Fight Club (9:00 pm; $8.13 online using code CFC, otherwise $13.13; The Stand Upstairs at 116 East 16th Street)

If You Build ItSunday 1/5: Doug Smith (Conan O’Brien, co-host of See You In Hell), Subhah Agarwal (writer for Comedy Central’s The Jim Jefferies Show; TruTV, Fusion), Kevin Iso (Hulu’s High Fidelity, Comedy Central’s This Week at the Comedy Cellar and Adam Devine’s House Party), Marcia Belsky (Reductress; Handmaid’s Tale The Musical; lead singer of band Free the Mind), Mike Lebovitz (HBO’s The Deuce, Comedy Central, Last Comic Standing), and Noah Savage (ESPN) perform stand-up hosted by Robert Dean (Comedy Central): If You Build It (9:30 pm, $9UCB at SubCulture45 Bleecker Street—take #6 subway to Bleecker Street stop)

Fred Firestone: Tuesday 1/7: 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. Be prepared to boo 2020 puns anything less than stellar: Punderdome 3000: New Year! (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)

Dan St. GermainTuesday 1/7: Dan St. Germain (above; Jimmy Fallon, Conan O’Brien, John Oliver, Comedy Central Half Hour, Crashing, @midnight, This is Not Happening, The Electric Company, MTV, VH1; former staff writer for CBS’ Superior Donuts, Netflix’s The Break with Michelle Wolf, and TruTV’s Ten Things; album No Real Winners Here), Olga Namer (“Unorthodox Jewish comedian”), Justin SmithAlex Babbitt, and Stephon Bishop perform stand-up 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) representing both well-known and less-known comics considered worthy of your attention by comedy blog Stellar Underground (8:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)

No Turning Back: A Storytelling Show to Flip the SenateWednesday 1/8: Comedic storytellers, musicians, and/or political organizers “tell inspiring, funny, and absolutely true personal stories about turning points, and no turning back points. With special remarks from Swing Left about its 2020 strategy to flip the Senate, plus specific calls to action and ways for you to get involved in the fight for our lives. 100% ticket proceeds go directly to Swing Left’s Senate funds,” with performers 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), Shaina Taub (Emmy-nominated singer/songwriter who’s written songs for TV shows ranging from The TONY Awards to Julie Andrews’ Julie’s Greenroom to Sesame Street; albums Visitors and Die Happy), Paola Mendoza (activist who co-founded @WeAreSoze, @ResistanceRev, and Women’s March OG; author of Together We Rise), Kevin Allison (legendary MTV sketch series The State, HBO, Comedy Central, VH1, host of award-winning storytelling show and podcast Risk!, owner of The Story Studio), Sandi Marx (PBS, 7-time Moth StorySlam winner), and more hosted by Nicole Ferraro (founder of Art, Humanity & Action) and Liat Olenick (Indivisible Nation BK): No Turning Back: A Storytelling Show to Flip the Senate (7:30 pm, $35-$60The Bell House at 149 7th Street; take R subway to 9th Street or F/G to Fourth Avenue)

Emily Flake & Ophira Eisenberg:Wednesday 1/8: Comics who are parents vent by telling mean stories about their children (and guest comics who aren’t revel in their freedom), with tonight’s cruel jokesters Jenny Hagel (staff writer for Seth Meyers; iO, Second City), Iris Bahr (actress in numerous TV shows including Friends, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and The King of Queens, and such films as Larry the Cable Guy and The Last Exorcism), Doogie Horner (NBC’s America’s Got Talent; author of A Die Hard ChristmasThis Might Hurt a Bit, and Home Alone Hard; stand-up album A Delicate Man), Gastor Almonte (Comedy Central’s This Is Not Happening, host of Stoops2Stages, co-host of Sandwich, comedy album Immigrant Made), and Katie Goodman (member of Broad Comedy; YouTube hits I Didn’t F*ck It Up and Sorry Babe, You’re a Feminist) hosted by the wonderful Ophira Eisenberg (one of the finest comedic storytellers and stand-ups in the country; host of weekly NPR/WNYC show Ask Me Another, author of bestselling book Screw Everyone: Sleeping My Way to Monogamy, comedy album Bangs!; NBC, CBS, Comedy Central, VH1, Showtime) and Emily Flake (star cartoonist for The New Yorker, The New York Times, Time, Forbes, etc.; author of books Mama Tried, Lulu Eightball, and These Things Ain’t Gonna Smoke Themselves): Shitshow (7:30 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)

Michelle Collins 5Thursday 1/9: Michelle Collins (host of TLC’s 90 Day Live and Sirius XM’s The Michelle Collins Show; former co-host of ABC’s The View and Bachelor in Paradise: After Paradise) performs a deliciously long stand-up club set for one night only: Michelle Collins Headlines Carolines (7:00 pm, $32.75 plus 2-drink min., Carolines Comedy Club at 1626 Broadway, between 49th and 50th Streets)

Shalewa Sharpe, Daniel Simonsen, Mohanad Elshieky, and AmelitaThursday 1/9: Stand-ups Shalewa Sharpe (HBO’s 2 Dope Queens, Comedy Central’s The New Negroes; comedy album So, You Just Out Here?), Daniel Simonsen (Stephen Colbert, Comedy Central’s This Week at the Comedy Cellar; cast member of BBC’s House of Fools; toured with Simon Amstell), Mohanad Elshieky (Conan O’Brien; Epix’s Unprotected Sets; digital producer for Full Frontal with Samantha Bee), and Amelita (“Future icon blazing through the intersection of diva pop music and comedy that some would argue does not actually exist”) perform for hosts Emily Winter (writer for NPR’s Ask Me AnotherThe New Yorker, The New York Times) & Larry Mancini (ESPN Radio; band member of The Tracys): BackFat Variety (7:00 pm; $12, LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street; take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)

Ask Me AnotherThursday 1/9: A guest or guests TBA (not available yet, but to be reported here pre-show) will be the focus 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)

MortifiedThursday 1/9: 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—which is now also a six-part series titled The Mortified Guide on Netflix: Mortified (8:00 pm, $12, Brooklyn’s Littlefield at 635 Sackett Street; take R subway to Union Street)

Oh, Such A HUGE Show, Oh!: A Benefit for The Innocence ProjectFriday 1/10: Great lineup of Eva Victor (Twitter comedic characters video superstar; The New Yorker), Dulcé Sloan (powerhouse comic and correspondent for The Daily Show; Conan O’Brien, @midnight), Ego Nwodim (cast member of Saturday Night Live), Larry Owens (staff writer for TruTV’s Paid Off; HBO’s High Maintenance; feature film To Dust), Conner O’Malley (former staff writer/performer for Seth MeyersLouie, Broad City), Taylor Garron (editor for Reductress), and Dan Licata (writer for Adult Swim’s Joe Pera Talks To YouThe Chris Gethard Show) hosted by Ethan Beach & Josh NasserOh, Such A HUGE Show, Oh!: A Benefit for The Innocence Project (7:30 pm, $20, Brooklyn’s The Bell House at 149 7th Street; take R subway to 9th Street or F/G to Fourth Avenue)

Tiff Stevenson: Friday 1/10: A solo show by Tiff Stevenson (UK-based comic/actress; numerous UK/US TV show appearances include The Office, Drunk History, Never Mind the Buzzcocks, Mock the Week) about which one reviewer said, “It’s jaw-droppingly remarkable how much ground she covers, how funny she is, how intelligent her attacks are:” Tiff Stevenson: Mother (7:30 pm, $15, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)

Jennifer Wright, Lane Moore, Laura Benanti, and Daniel Kibblesmith: Friday 1/10: 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 Laura Benanti (Tony Award winner for Broadway musical She Loves Me; cast member of TBS’ The Detour; NBC’s The Sound of Music Live, CW’s Supergirl, CBS’ The Good Wife, Showtime’s Nurse Jackie; album Songs From My Fair Lady), and married couple Jennifer Wright (right; political Editor-at-Large for Harper’s Bazaar; The New York Times; author of numerous books including It Ended Badly: Thirteen of the Worst Breakups in HistoryWe Came First: Relationship Advice from Women Who Have Been There, and Killer Fashion: Poisonous Petticoats, Strangulating Scarves, and Other Deadly Garments Throughout History) & Daniel Kibblesmith (left; staff writer since 2015 for Stephen ColbertThe New Yorker, McSweeney’s; writer of such Marvel comic books as Loki and Black Panther vs. Deadpool; author of books How to Win at Everything and Santa’s Husband; former Humor Editor for Buzzfeed): Tinder Live (8:30 pm, $18 at the door or $19.51-$22.76 online; Brooklyn’s Littlefield at 635 Sackett Street)

Evan Kaufman & Rebecca Vigil: "Your Love, Our Musical"Saturday 1/11: 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, online; LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street—take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street. Please note this show consistently sells out, so buying in advance online is highly recommended.)

Doctors Without BoundariesSunday 1/12: Real-life ER doctors Andrés Mallipudi and Darien Sutton host “chronically over-sharing comics” Peter MuthSherm Jacobs, and Todd Montesi to tell stories of their weirdest diagnoses, and then “break down the insane history of how the medical community has treated that condition, why that condition has been stigmatized, and the real facts you should know when dealing with the condition yourself;” plus you can ask the doctors “your own embarrassing medical questions:” Doctors Without Boundaries (9:30 pm, $16.89 online or $20 at the door, Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street; take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)

Shalewa Sharpe: "Don't Reach in the Bag"Sunday 1/12: “A young woman applies for a job at an adult video store because she figures the dress code will be lax.” Shalewa Sharpe (HBO’s 2 Dope Queens, Comedy Central’s The New Negroes; comedy album So, You Just Out Here?) performs a solo show “about the people who need porn and the folks brave enough to sell it to them:” Shalewa Sharpe: Don’t Reach in the Bag (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)

Taylor Ortega & Jay Malsky: "Turnt Valley Church Club"Sunday 1/12: Highly talented & hilarious duo Taylor Ortega (HBO’s Succession, Shego in Disney Channel’s live-action Kim Possible, TruTV) & Jay Malsky (acclaimed solo shows Elaine Stritch: Still Here and Jay Malsky Slept With My Boyfriend) play “Leaeah and Jacobs, the founders and resident pastors of a church for the Instagram generation that is known for its celebrity parishioners and hot, relatable take on Christianity. Bear witness to this clearly closeted married couple’s latest fame-hungry venture: Jesus. Sing with them in praise. Become the rock upon which they build their religious empire for Christ-horny millennials:” Turnt Valley Church Club (7:00 pm, $12Caveat 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 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 December 2019: Last Updated Sunday 12/1

December 1, 2019

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 hy@hyreviews.com.

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.)

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 December 2019 (with much more to come soon) include:

Rage Blooms Within Me: An Anger Open MicSunday 12/1: There are open mics for stand-up, storytelling, poetry, and music. And now there’s also an open mic devoted to a particular emotion: rage. Come get stuff off your chest for just $5 (notably cheaper than therapy) at host Jennifer Harmon‘s Rage Blooms Within Me (3:00 pm, $5, Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell at 27-16 23rd Avenue)

Test Tube Comedy 3Sunday 12/1: Comics Shalewa Sharpe (above left; Comedy Central’s The New Negroes; HBO’s 2 Dope Queens; comedy album So, You Just Out Here?) and Courtney Fearrington (above right; co-host of Thug Passion Presents) help host Raj Sivaraman (middle)—and science—determine if telling jokes related to racism deflates or promotes actual racism: Test Tube Comedy: Exploring Racist Humor (7:00 pm, just $5!, LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street—take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)

Doug Smith: Sunday 12/1: Doug Smith (Conan O’Brien, co-host of See You In Hell) celebrates the release of his stand-up album Barely Regal by performing and hosting fellow comics Matt Wayne (Adam Devine’s House Party; co-host with Doug of See You in Hell), Alison Leiby (writer for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, former writer for Comedy Central’s The Opposition and The President Show; VICE, Triumph The Insult Comic Dog; host of It’s a Long Story), Rebecca Vigil (powerhouse improv singer; Your Love Our Musical, The Vigilante), George Gordon (co-host of The Afterlife; stand-up album Your Good Friend), and Robert Dean (Comedy Central): Doug Smith’s Album Release Party (7:30 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)

Gary Gulman: "The Great Depresh"Sunday 12/1: If you haven’t already seen Gary Gulman’s HBO special The Great Depresh, do. In addition to delivering his usual razor-sharp and hilarious stand-up, Gary allows himself to be exceptionally open and vulnerable about his struggles with clinical depression, making it clear it’s a disease as real and potentially deadly as any other serious illness. Creating a new show to follow this special is no small challenge—and you can help tonight by offering visceral reactions with your laughs as Gary tries out a bunch of new jokes. Also on the lineup of this safe space for stand-up development will be Jay Welch (McSweeney’s, Someecards), Paul Oddo (host of podcast ScienPaulogy), and host Nat Towsen (Esquire, VICE, College Humor): New Material Night (8:00 pm, $12, The PIT Underground at 123 East 24th Street)

If You Build It 12-1-19Sunday 12/1: 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), brilliant and Emmy-nominated rising star stand-up who’s performed on Stephen Colbert and in a Comedy Central Half Hour; staff writer for Stephen Colbert; comedy album Party Nights), Joe Mande (Conan O’Brien, Seth Meyers, Comedy Central Half Hour, Ben on Modern Family; former writer for The Good Place, Parks & Recreation, Kroll Show, Delocated, Master of None; author of book Look at This F*cking Hipster, comedy album Bitchface; Netflix’s Joe Mande’s Award-Winning Comedy Special), Sean Donnelly (David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Comedy Central Half Hour, Last Comic Standing, MTV; host of Celebrate! on Sirius Raw Dog 99; host of podcast Defend Your Movie; stand-up album Manual Labor Face), Petey DeAbreu (host of Petey’s World and co-host of White Chocolate), Eliot Chang (Comedy Central Half Hour, Chelsea Lately, Showtime), Mike Lebovitz (HBO’s The Deuce, Comedy Central, Last Comic Standing), and Sophie Buddle perform stand-up hosted by Robert Dean (Comedy Central): If You Build It (9:30 pm, $9, UCB at SubCulture, 45 Bleecker Street—take #6 subway to Bleecker Street stop)

Michelle ButeauSunday 12/1: Michelle Buteau (co-star of Netflix’s Always Be My Maybe and BET+’s “The First Wives Club; co-host of popular WNYC podcast Adulting; HBO’s 2 Dope Queens, Comedy Central’s Key & Peele, Amazon’s The Tick, VH1’s Morning Buzz and Best Week Ever, FOX’s Enlisted, Craig Ferguson, Last Comic Standing, @midnight, comedy album Shut Up) performs a solo stand-up show: Michelle Buteau (7:30 pm [sold out] & 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)

Comedy Fight ClubSunday 12/1: Comics competitively roast each other, with tonight’s main bout Jess Feeney (“I’m really nice till you get to know me”) vs. Jake Vevera (podcast “Too Ugly for TV”), all hosted by Matt Maran: Comedy Fight Club (10:00 pm, $10, The Stand Mainstage at 116 East 16th Street)

Krystyna Hutchinson and Corinne Fisher: Monday 12/2: 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 (6:00 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)

Flying LessonsMonday 12/2: If you love shadow puppetry—as I do—check out this show playing in NYC tonight only as part of a national tour (please see trailer here). The recipient of two Jim Henson Foundation grants and two years in the making, creators by Kite & Cadaver describe it as follows: “As a storm brews on the horizon, three women take refuge in an abandoned house. Their presence awakens a strange and shadowy world of memory and desire where fantasies are possible…if only for a night. This surreal, enchanting production is told entirely without words and features original music, agile scenery, and intricate shadow design:” Flying Lessons (7:00 pm, $17.35 in advance online or $18 at the door, The PIT Mainstage (Striker) at 123 East 24th Street)

Douglas Widdick & Ken McGraw : "Toxic Masculinity-The Musical"Monday 12/2: Tonight is probably the last chance to see Douglas Widdick & Ken McGraw’s hour-long musical, directed by Caitlin Bitzegaio, in its original version developed for and performed at the UCBT-NY theatre. The show is about the myriad wrong ways to try to pick up women and live a bachelor lifestyle: Toxic Masculinity: The Musical (7:30 pm, $9, UCB Hell’s Kitchen at 555 West 42nd Street)

The Stand 12-2-19Monday 12/2: Stand-up from Mark Normand (one of the very finest stand-ups in the country; Conan O’Brien, Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, HBO’s 2 Dope Queens, Inside Amy Schumer, @midnight, Last Comic Standing, VH1’s Best Week Ever; Comedy 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), Ari Shaffir (Conan O’Brien, former host of Comedy Central’s This Is Not Happening, HBO’s Down and Dirty, National Lampoon, Comedy Central special Passive Aggressive, Netflix special Double Negative), TV & movie star Janeane Garofalo, Mike Vecchione (Jimmy Fallon, Conan O’Brien, Comedy Central’s Half Hour and Inside Amy Schumer, Last Comic Standing, Howard Stern; stand-up album Muscle Confusion), 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), and Aminah Imani (host with Sydnee Washington & Marie Faustin of highly popular weekly Brooklyn stand-up showcase Comedy at The Knit; host of podcast Wine Before Nine): Stars at The Stand (8:00 pm, $15, The Stand Mainstage at 116 East 16th Street)

Frantic 10.jpgMonday 12/2: Mark Normand (one of the very finest stand-ups in the country; Conan O’Brien, Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, HBO’s 2 Dope Queens, Inside Amy Schumer, @midnight, Last Comic Standing, VH1’s Best Week Ever; Comedy 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), Ari Shaffir (Conan O’Brien, former host of Comedy Central’s This Is Not Happening, HBO’s Down and Dirty, National Lampoon, Comedy Central special Passive Aggressive, Netflix special Double Negative), Mike Vecchione (Jimmy Fallon, Conan O’Brien, Comedy Central’s Half Hour and Inside Amy Schumer, Last Comic Standing, Howard Stern; stand-up album Muscle Confusion), 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), Janelle Draper (IFC), Danny Polishchuk (co-host of podcast Fckonomics), Francis Ellis (co-host of Oops the Podcast), Joe Praino, and more 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 Mainstage at 116 East 16th Street)

Sam Dingman: Tuesday 12/3: Family Ghosts is a podcast that “investigates the true story behind a mysterious figure whose legend has followed a family for generations. Grandmothers who were secretly jewel smugglers, uncles who led double lives, siblings who vanished without a trace, and other specters who cast shadows over family members in ways that might not be immediately obvious. We’re all formed in part by our familial collections of secrets, intrigues, and myths. Engaging with each others’ legends can help us see each others’ realities more clearly.” Host Sam Dingman (Moth GrandSlam Champion) celebrates the kickoff of Season Three with this live-on-stage edition: Family Ghosts Live (7:00 pm; $15; LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street; take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)

Punderdome 3000 Tuesday 12/3: 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: Punderdome 3000 (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)

The Lucas Bros.Tuesday 12/3: The Lucas Brothers (above; Jimmy Fallon, 22 Jump Street, FOX’s Lucas Bros Moving Company, Arrested Development), Matthew Broussard (Jimmy Fallon, Conan O’Brien, Comedy Central Half Hour), Sam Morrison (writer for Bravo’s Blind Date), Ja-Ron Young, and Brian Enck perform stand-up 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) representing both well-known and less-known comics considered worthy of your attention by comedy blog Stellar Underground (8:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)

Jo Firestone, Adam Friedland, and Stavros Halkias: "Fat Tuesdays"Tuesday 12/3: 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), Adam Friedland (co-host of podcast Cumtown), and more perform stand-up for host Stavros Halkias (Comedy Central Stand-Up, IFC, co-host of podcast Cum Town): Fat Tuesdays (8:00 pm, $15 cover and no min., The Stand Upstairs at 116 East 16th Street)

Tracy Soren: Tuesday 12/3: Stand-ups and/or storytellers Ben Hargrave, Tim Keck, Laura Zabolotsky, Maritza Montañez, Brian Allen Mitchell, Amanda Van Nostrand, and Shenuque Tissera”share what scares the sh*t out of them,” with tonight’s guests Ben Hargrave, Tim Keck, Laura Zabolotsky, Maritza Montañez, Brian Allen Mitchell, Amanda Van Nostrand, and Shenuque Tissera, all hosted by Tracy Soren: My Nightmare (8:30 pm, $6, Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell at 27-16 23rd Avenue)

Big Jay Oakerson: "The Worst"Tuesday 12/3: With brutal honesty, comics Ron Bennington (host of radio shows Bennington and Unmasked), Yamaneika Saunders (HBO’s Crashing, NBC’s Last Comic Standing, Comedy Central Roast Battle; stand-up album Damsel in Distress),and Stavros Halkias (Comedy Central Stand-Up, IFC; co-host of podcast Cum Town; host of Fat Tuesdays) each shares a story of one of the worst things he or she has ever experienced, with periodic questions and other interjections from host Big Jay Oakerson (Jimmy Fallon, Comedy Central Presents, Louie, Inside Amy Schumer, HBO, Showtime, MTV, IFC; co-host of Sirius XM’s The Bonfire, and podcasts Legion of Skanks and The SDR; stellar comedy special Live at Webster Hall): The Worst (9:00 pm, $15 cover and no min., The Stand Mainstage at 116 East 16th Street)

The Nerds and the BeesTuesday 12/3: Gabe Gonzalez (Scruff, MTV News) and Steve Dean (dating industry consultant & relationship coach) will choose audience members with dating woes and use data to transform their lives by helping them find who they’re looking for. “Along the way we’ll hear some crazy stories, learn insane truths about the dating industry, and meet some new people:” The Nerds & the Bees (9:30 pm, $15, LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street; take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)

Chanel AliWednesday 12/4: Chanel Ali (MTV’s Girl Code, Starz, TruTV) records a comedy album via early and late shows. Come lend your joy and get your laughs immortalized at Chanel Ali Stand-Up Album Recording (7:00 pm and 9:30 pm, $12, LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street; take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)

Sweethearts of ComedyWednesday 12/4: 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), Clare O’Kane (Comedy Central Half Hour, Amazon’s Budding Prospects, Viceland’s Flophouse, webseries Semi-Famous; former writer for SpongeBob SquarePants; stand-up album Let It Be), Megan Stalter (star of webseries The Megan Stalter Show; member of Nattional Lampoon Radio Hour), Alex English (writer for BET’s The Rundown with Robin Thede), and Joe Castle Baker (host of monthly Williamsburg show Get Reel) perform stand-up for happy couple Drew Anderson & Tim Platt: Sweethearts of Comedy (7:30 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)

The Astoria Bookshop Storytelling ShowThursday 12/5: Open mic storytelling show, with each yarn-spinner whose name is picked from a basket receiving 5 minutes on stage to share something that happened in his or her life, hosted by David Lawson (Comedy Central; solo storytelling shows include The Flyer Guy, No Oddjob, The Prequels; and The 2020 Book Report): The Astoria Bookshop Storytelling Show (7:00 pm, Free!, Astoria Bookshop at 31-29 31st 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.