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That said, my top NYC comedy recommendations for November 2019 (with much more to come soon) include:
Friday 11/1: Stars Jean Grae (top left; renowned, seminal hip hop recording artist; also sharp pro comic and comedy host), Arturo Castro (top right; Comedy Central’s Broad City and Alternatino), and Tim Herlihy (The Wedding Singer) are the guests of brilliant improvisor & character comic Connor Ratliff (bottom right; Netflix’s Orange is the New Black, Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Stephen Colbert, John Oliver, Comedy Central, TBS, TruTV), who transforms into “filmmaker George Lucas (Radioland Murders) as he embarks upon an exciting new career as a comedian and talk show host!” He’s joined by talk show sidekick Griffin Newman (bottom left; brilliant character/improv comic; Arthur on Amazon’s The Tick, Jared Kushner on Showtime’s Our Cartoon President, HBO, CBS, MTV, TBS; feature films Draft Day, Fort Tilden, Night Moves) “as they revolutionize the talk show format the same way Lucas once revolutionized cinema:” The George Lucas Talk Show (7:30 pm, $14, UCB Hell’s Kitchen at 555 West 42nd Street)
Friday 11/1: David Cross (right; comedy legend; Mr. Show, Arrested Development, Modern Family), Josh Gondelman (left; 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; author of book Nice Try; stand-up albums Dancing On a Weeknight and Physical Whisper), Myka Fox (SNL freelance contributor; host of Myka Fox & Friends podcast on Keith and The Girl Network), Kerry Coddett (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 Alex English (writer for BET’s The Rundown with Robin Thede) perform stand-up at this comedy show that’s also a voter registration drive for 2020 hosted by Selena Coppock, Alison Klemp, Matt Nedostop, and Jarret Bernstein: Standup 2020 (7:30 pm, $15, The PIT Underground at 123 East 24th Street)
Friday 11/1: TV & movie star Janeane Garofalo, 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; author of book Nice Try; stand-up albums Dancing On a Weeknight and Physical Whisper), The Lucas Brothers (Jimmy Fallon, 22 Jump Street, FOX’s Lucas Bros Moving Company, Arrested Development), Tom Thakkar (Conan O’Brien, Comedy Central Half Hour; co-host of podcast Stand by Your Band), Shalewa Sharpe (Comedy Central’s The New Negroes; HBO’s 2 Dope Queens; comedy album So, You Just Out Here?), and more perform for this seminal monthly stand-up show: Whiplash (7:30 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Friday 11/1: Because there isn’t enough strife pitting the living against each other, comics Alise Morales (News & Politics Editor of Betches; Reductress, Above Average), Kevin Bauer (MTV), Julian Edward Williams (co-host of WALT), Lucyana Randall, and Danny Groh roast long-past historical figures and events, ranging from Rasputin to The Beat Generation to The 1968 Democratic Convention hosted by Matt Strickland (Comedy Central): 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 11/1: Musical improvisors make up the story, songs, and dances of a new musical on the spot based on periodic “fill in the blank” audience suggestions: Blank! The Musical (9:30 pm; $22 in advance online or $25 at the door; The PIT Loft at 154 West 29th Street)
Saturday 11/2: In this unique show, animators spontaneously bring the jokes of stand-ups Rachel Pegram, Mary Houllihan, Martin Urbano, Tim Platt, Nick Naney, and Carmen Christopher 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 Clare O’Kane (Amazon, Viceland, stand-up album Let It Be): Picture This! (7:30 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Saturday 11/2: Dan St. Germain (right; 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), Brian Parise (staff writer and Emmy Award winner for HBO’s phenom Last Week Tonight with John Oliver; co-host and chef of The Pasta Show), Nimesh Patel (exceptionally sharp stand-up; staff writer for Saturday Night Live; Comedy Central, TruTV; written for Chris Rock hosting the 2016 Oscars; co-host of Broken Comedy), Molly Kornfeld, Fareeha Khan, Maddy Smith, and Kevin Sean perform stand-up for host Khalid A. Rahmaan (Conan O’Brien): Electric Laughs (7:30 pm; Free!, plus free punch!; Brooklyn’s Work Heights/Franklin Electric at 650 Franklin Avenue; take the S subway to Park Place or the A/C to Franklin 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)
Tuesday 11/5: 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 11/6: The National Lampoon Radio Hour ran weekly from November 1973 through December 1974. A number of its comics then moved on to Saturday Night Live, including John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, Harold Ramis, and brilliant writer Michael O’Donoghue. Decades later, you can come see NLRH resurrected as a podcast and stage show with a brand new cast of writers and performers: Jo Firestone, Maeve Higgins, Aaron Jackson, Brett Davis, Alex English, Rachel Pegram, Lorelei Ramirez, Meg Stalter, Martin Urbano, and Cole Escola: The National Lampoon Radio Hour (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)
Wednesday 11/6: Comics share their rejected comedy material at this all-star show with Aparna Nancherla (left, abandoned by Elmo; 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), Michelle Collins (middle, holding axed jokes; 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), and Scott Rogowsky (right, dumped by umbrella; NBC’s The Voice, WB’s Penn & Teller: Fool Us; host of wildly popular trivia game app HQ Trivia), plus music from superb duo Stuckey & Murray, fab band The Defibulators, and SNL Musical Director Eli Brueggemann, all hosted by Jon Friedman (Jimmy Fallon; former writer for MTV’s Guy Code and Girl Code, YouTube series Part Timers): The Rejection Show (7:30 pm, $11, Chelsea Music Hall at 407 West 15th Street)
Wednesday 11/6: Mind reader Eric Dittelman (America’s Got Talent, Ellen) hosts professional magicians testing out new acts—including comedic bits—for this long-running free monthly show: Amazeballs (10:00 pm, Free!, The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ LIC at 10-93 Jackson Avenue; take 7 subway to Vernon Boulevard–Jackson Avenue)
Friday 11/8: Superb storyteller David Lawson (Comedy Central; solo shows include The Flyer Guy, No Oddjob, The Prequels; host of The Astoria Bookshop Storytelling Show) performs a one-man show “standing onstage judging people who are seeking The White House in 2020. The only qualification David has? He’s read their books:” David Lawson’s 2020 Book Report (7:00 pm, $15, The Kraine Theatre at 85 East 4th Street off Second Avenue)
Friday 11/8: Sarah Squirm, who created the infamous Adult Swim video here, gifts us with a live show filled with her disturbingly gross dark comedy, plus musical guests Ana Fabrega & Lorelei Ramirez (as duo Beautiful Souls Al Fresco): Sarah Squirm’s HellTrap Nightmare (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)
Saturday 11/9: This “woke” Japanese-style game show will push to the max the problem-solving skills of stars 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), Wyatt Cenac (star of HBO’s Problem Areas and TBS’ Friends of Earth; former star correspondent for The Daily Show; writer for South Park; albums Comedy Person, Brooklyn, and Furry Dumb Fighter; host of Night Train, Shouting at the Screen), and one other comic TBA hosted by the charming Atsuko Okatsuka (HBO’s Room 104; writer for Adult Swim’s wonderfully surreal The Eric Andre Show and Soft Focus with Jena Friedman): Let’s Go, Atsuko! (8:30 pm, $11, Chelsea Music Hall at 407 West 15th Street)
Saturday 11/9: 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 guests Jean Grae (left; renowned, seminal hip hop recording artist; also sharp pro comic and comedy host), Connor Ratliff (right; brilliant improvisor & character comic; The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Orange is the New Black, Broad City, The Chris Gethard Show, The President Show; co-star of legendary improv group The Stepfathers; host of The George Lucas Talk Show), and Chase Mitchell (staff writer for FOX’s What Just Happened?; former long-time staff writer for Jimmy Fallon): 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)
Saturday 11/9: Director, writer, actor, and national treature Kevin Smith (Clerks, Chasing Amy, Comic Book Men, Jay and Silent Bob) and Jason Mewes (co-star of the View Askewniverse; host of popular and long-running podcast Jay & Silent Bob Get Old) perform a storytelling and Q&A show—which I’ll be attending—promoting their just-released latest movie Jay and Silent Bob Reboot: The Jay and Silent Bob Reboot Roadshow (9:45 pm, BMCC Tribecca Performing Arts Center at 99 Chambers Street; take the 1/2/3 subway to Chambers Street. PLEASE NOTE: This show has SOLD OUT.)
Tuesday 11/12: 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 11/13: 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; author of book Nice Try; stand-up albums Dancing On a Weeknight and Physical Whisper), Katie Boyle (co-host of podcast The Shift; host of Transplants Comedy), Zain Sharif, Jared Goldstein, and Ronnie Fleming perform stand-up hosted by Emily Winter, Julia Shiplett, Carolyn Busa, and/or Ben Wasserman: Side Ponytail Comedy (8:00 pm, Free!, Brooklyn’s Friends and Lovers at 641 Classon Avenue)
Thursday 11/7-Sunday 11/10: Hilarious, quick-witted Norm MacDonald both gets in trouble and is beloved for not being afraid to make waves. For example, way back in 1997 Norm got the biggest laugh ever out of Conan O’Brien when he began by declaring that if Carrot Top is the star of the new movie of another guest, a good title for the film would be “Box Office Poison.” Conan then asked the guest for the actual title, and she responded Chairman of the Board. Conan turned to Norm and said, “Do something with that, you freak.” Without missing a beat, Norm replied, “I bet Board is spelled B-O-R-E-D.” Conan, and the audience, went into hysterics. (Also famed is Norm’s moth story.) Norm was a popular cast member of Saturday Night Live for five seasons and the anchor of Weekend Update for three seasons. He was also a regular on several network sitcoms, and even starred in his own ABC sitcom The Norm Show, which ran for three seasons. More recently, Norm is the voice of Yaphit on The Orville and hosts the Netflix interview program Norm Macdonald Has a Show. Norm is also one of the most acclaimed stand-ups in the biz., and well worth catching. He’s headlining Thursday through Sunday as part of the New York Comedy Festival: Norm Macdonald (8:00 pm & 10:30 pm, $57.25 plus 2-drink min., Carolines Comedy Club at 1626 Broadway)
Sunday 11/10: Each of us endures a lot more, and is far tougher, than is apparent from surface appearances. And that refers to not only emotional and spiritual hardships, but permanent bodily mementos. In this show, Ophira Eisenberg (one of the very finest storytellers in the country; NBC’s The Today Show, CBS’ The Late Late Show, Comedy Central, VH1, Showtime, host of NPR’s trivia/puzzle show Ask Me Another, bestselling book Screw Everyone, comedy album Bangs!; for a sampling of Ophira’s remarkably deep comedic tales, please click here) reveals “I have a lot of scars. And I don’t mean metaphorical ones, I’m talking actual physical scars. I’m actually covered in them. They stem from incidents throughout my life, from putting my finger into a meat grinder at age 4 to surviving a near-fatal car crash. This show is about my scars, filled with both comedic and tragic stories, and how to accept these patterns etched in my skin day after day after day.” Opening for Ophira during this 90-minute show are storytellers Michaela Murphy (recommended by The New Yorker) and Mike Albo (writer for The New Yorker, The New York Times, New York Magazine; author of novels Homito and The Underminer): Ophira Eisenberg: How to Get Rid of Scars (2:00 pm, $20, The Kraine Theatre at 85 East 4th Street off Second Avenue)
Wednesday 11/20: Mike Drucker (left; 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), Caitlin Peluffo (right; Stephen Colbert), Richie Owens, and more TBA perform stand-up hosted by Emily Winter, Julia Shiplett, Carolyn Busa, and/or Ben Wasserman: Side Ponytail Comedy (8:00 pm, Free!, Brooklyn’s Friends and Lovers at 641 Classon Avenue)
Friday 11/29: Patrick McCartney (member of acclaimed theatrical improv group Centralia) performs a comedic solo show about addiction and recovery, directed by Shira Piven (HBO’s Divorce and Room 104, Amazon’s Transparent), that’s received raves from the likes of Elizabeth Gilbert (superstar author of Eat Pray Love), who wrote, “Patrick McCartney is a phenomenally gifted performer, whose work I have admired for years. But we almost lost this extraordinary artist to alcoholism and drug addiction—which would have been a tragedy on so many levels. Now McCartney has returned to the stage with a one-man show about his struggle with substance abuse. Miraculously, it manages to be simultaneously brilliant, devastating, hilarious, humble, searching, and triumphant. Go see it. It’s a beautiful piece of work:” Sinister Kid (7:00 pm, $12, The PIT Loft at 154 West 29th Street)
Sunday 12/1: Michelle Buteau (HBO’s 2 Dope Queens and High Maintenance, Netflix’s Russian Doll, 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; films Always Be My Maybe and Someone Great; comedy album Shut Up) performs a deliciously long stand-up set: Michelle Buteau (9:30 pm, $20, Brooklyn’s The Bell House at 149 7th Street; take R subway to 9th Street or F/G to Fourth 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 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.
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 email@example.com.