NYC Top Comedy Choices for October 2019: Last Updated Monday 10/14

October 14, 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 October 2019 (with much more to come soon) include:

Bonus FeatureMonday 10/14: A sketch show springboarding off the “bonus feature” content of beloved movie DVDs auditions for a spot on the UCB schedule, written by Alex Field, directed by Eric Feurer, and starring Claire Burns, Alex Field, Tim Girrbach, Eliza Kingsbury, Xave A Flave. and Michael Stevens: The Bonus Features (6:00 pm, $7, UCB Hell’s Kitchen at 555 West 42nd Street; on a double-bill with another Spank audition show, Branded Content Reloaded: The Feminine Mystique)

Emily Flake's Monday 10/14: Emily Flake is a brilliant writer/cartoonist whose work appears in The New Yorker, The New York Times, and more. She’s also the author of cartoon books These Things Ain’t Gonna Smoke Themselves and Mama Tried—and now, the just-released That Was Awkward: The Art and Etiquette of the Awkward Hug. Emily will be celebrating her new book with guests Josh Gondelman (one of the sharpest comics in the country; writer/producer for Showtime’s Desus & Mero; previously Emmy & Peabody Award-winning writer/producer for HBO’s phenom Last Week Tonight with John Oliver; Conan O’Brien, The New Yorker; stand-up albums Dancing On a Weeknight and Physical Whisper, author of book Nice Try) and Shalewa Sharpe (Comedy Central’s The New Negroes; HBO’s 2 Dope Queens; comedy album So You Just Out Here?): Emily Flake’s That Was Awkward Book Release Celebration (7:30 pm, Free!, Brooklyn’s Books Are Magic at 225 Smith Street; take the F/G subway to Bergen Street)

Aparna Nancherla, Jo Firestone, and Maeve Higginsa:

Monday 10/14: Aparna Nancherla (co-star of HBO’s Crashing, Netflix’s Master of None, and Comedy Central’s Corporate), Jo Firestone (staff writer for Jimmy Fallon, co-author of #1 bestselling Punderdome: A Card Game for Pun Lovers), and Maeve Higgins (Maeve in America, co-host of Nat Geo’s Star Talk) host Emmy Blotnick (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), Seaton Smith (rising star; HBO’s Girls, FOX’s Mulaney, Chris Rock’s film Top Five, Conan O’Brien, Seth Meyers, Inside Amy Schumer, The Nightly Show; album Greatest Album of the Year), Aisling Bea (Netflix’s The Comedy Lineup, The Great British Bakeoff), Chris Duffy (staff writer for HBO’s Wyatt Cenac: Problem Areas; stellar host of You’re the Expert and You Get a Spoon), Becky Yamamoto (Web series Uninspired), and Usama Siddiquee performing stand-up, plus music from DJ Donwill: Butterboy with Jo, Aparna, and Maeve (8:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Littlefield at 635 Sackett Street—take R subway to Union Street; 10:00 pm afterparty at Parklife at 636 Degraw Street)

West Wing Writers: "SpeakEasy"

West Wing Writers: Tuesday 10/15: Members of the West Wing Writers group (which includes former Presidential speechwriters) break down their favorite speeches, give behind-the-scenes looks at the speech drafting process, and even lead you in crafting your own keynote speech, all hosted by Chandler Dean (McSweeney’s): SpeakEasy (7:00 pm; $12; LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street—take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)

The Writers' Room: A Stand-Up ShowTuesday 10/15: Stellar writers of late-night comedy TV shows perform stand-up, with 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), 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), Jourdain Fisher (writer for The Tonight Show), and Randall Otis (writer for The Daily Show) hosted by Matt Goldich (staff writer for Seth Meyers; Comedy Central, VH1): The Writers’ Room: A Stand-Up Show (8:00 pm; normally $13 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)

Comic Book ClubTuesday 10/15: 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)

Molly Gaebe: Thursday 10/17: Host Molly Gaebe invites female storytellers, comics, and historians to share the tales of “some of the greatest women the world has ever known, but history erased” for this live-on-stage podcast recording, with this month’s theme Women in the Horror Genre tackled by guests TBA: Nevertheless She Existed: Horror Queens (7:00 pm, $17 online or $20 at the door, LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street—take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)

Bad Pitches: Halloween TV Special EditionFriday 10/18: Comics TBA pitch the worst ideas for Halloween TV specials they can think of, only to have them nickel-and-dimed by a panel of TV exec judges, in this monthly show hosted by Ned Ehrbar: Bad Pitches: Halloween TV Special Edition (8:30 pm, Free!, Crystal Lake Brooklyn at 647 Grand Street; take L subway to Brooklyn’s Lorimer Street or Graham Avenue)

Picture This!Saturday 10/19: In this unique show, animators spontaneously bring the jokes of stand-ups Rosebud Baker, Dee Nasty, Rebecca O’Neal, Chanel Ali, and Doug Smith to visual life with lightning speed & wit. Part of the fun is that the comics don’t know what the animators will draw and the animators don’t know how the comics will react. Produced by Sam Varela & Brandie Posey and hosted by Samantha Ruddy: Picture This! (7:30 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)

Kaiju Big BattelSaturday 10/26: A modern conflict of epic proportions. Evil villains, menacing alien beasts, and giant, city-crushing monsters threaten to destroy the planet. Who will save the helpless humans from total ruin? The Heroes, of course; plus a few privileged audience members getting in on the action, as they try to contain danger within the three-roped arena of Kaiju Big Battel (6:00 pm, $15, Brooklyn’s The Bell House at 149 7th Street; take R subway to 9th Street or F/G to Fourth Avenue)

The 12th Annual Schtick or TreatMonday 10/28: For the 12th year of this fabulous annual event, scores of NYC comics get a couple of minutes each to do a set as a famous comedian (e.g., Amy Schumer, George Carlin, Jimmy Fallon, Rodney Dangerfield, Joan Rivers…the possibilities are endless) hosted by Mark Normand & Matt Ruby. For highlights of last year’s show, please click here, and then nab tickets to The 12th Annual Schtick or Treat (8:00 pm; $16.41 online or $12 at the door (if it doesn’t sell out in advance, which it often does); Brooklyn’s Knitting Factory at 361 Metropolitan Avenue—take the G subway to Metropolitan Avenue or L subway to Lorimer Street)

Where Do You Get Off?: A Show for Petty PeopleTuesday Tuesday 10/29: Hosts Austin Bernhardt (writer for Comedy Central, The New Yorker, McSweeney’s) & Megan Meadows (Reductress) “invite you and your worst impulses to a night of gripes, games, and non-scary audience participation,” featuring petty complaints from 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), Alex English (writer for BET’s The Rundown with Robin Thede), Mary Cella (Comedy Central, The New Yorker, The New York Times), Nicole Boyce (Comedy Central, The New Yorker), and Brian Bahe (Vulture): Where Do You Get Off?: A Show for Petty People (8:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Littlefield at 635 Sackett Street; take R subway to Union Street)

BackFat Variety Presents: Comedians with Ghost StoriesThursday 10/31: Stand-ups share true personal stories about supernatural experiences, with Adam Mamawala (Comedy Central, MTV, BET; stand-up album One of the Good Ones), Pranav Behari (co-host of Mango Bae podcast), Maria Wojciechowski (editor at Comedywire), Srilatha Rajamani, and Jericho Davidson hosted by Emily Winter (writer for NPR’s Ask Me Another; The New Yorker, The New York Times) and Larry Mancini (ESPN radio; band member of The Tracys): BackFat Variety Presents: Comedians with Ghost Stories (9:30 pm, $15, LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street; take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)

Punderdome 3000: Halloween SpecialTuesday 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)

The National Lampoon Radio HourWednesday 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)

Sarah Squirm's HellTrap NightmareFriday 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)

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.

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