Our Top Picks for What To Do at the New York Comedy Festival


This week the New York Comedy Festival takes over a long list of New York City theaters and clubs. With well over 100 shows to choose from over the course of 5 days, you might be looking for some help deciding which events to attend.

First, there’s the headliners.  You know what you like.  You don’t need us to tell you whether to go see Bill Cosby or Amy Schumer.  In addition to Bill and Amy, you can also catch veteran performers like Tig Notaro, Dane Cook, Marc Maron, Hannibal Burress, Bill Maher, Maria Bamford, Nick Offerman, Bob Odenkirk, Paula Poundstone, Kathleen Madigan and Pete Holmes hitting some of the most famous stages in New York.  Check out our listings or nycomedyfestival.com for dates, times and how to get tickets.


But we’re taking you beyond the theater headlining shows.  There are 100 other shows to check out over the course of the week and we’re giving you our picks for the best shows to hit up each night.  Some of them overlap, so you will have to make some choices on your own, but these are the events we are planning to attend.  Of course, there were tough choices to make and there are many amazing shows to go to beyond this list, so please check out our comprehensive list of every single New York Comedy Festival event for more great choices, and of course, visit the festival’s official website.  All events and lineups are subject to change, and check back for updates throughout the week.

Tuesday November 4 Events: Editors Picks

dave attell8:00 Live at Comedy Underground with Dave Attell.  In 2014 Dave Attell brought his Live at the Comedy Underground show to Comedy Central and it was one of our favorite shows on tv this year.  Not only is Attell one of the greats himself, he knows how to put together the right comics to create an unbelievable show.  On Tuesday you have two chances to go see Dave Attell’s show at one of the newest and best venues in New York for comedy, The Comedy Cellar at the Village Underground.  At the 8:00 show, you’ll catch Dave of course, and comedians Dov Davidoff, Ted Alexandro (whose digital series Teachers Lounge took the internet by storm), and Rich Vos who is one of the fastest comedy minds working today, and is never not funny.  Tickets are $15 and there’s also going to be  a raffle to benefit Mighty Mutts and Ollie’s Place

8:00 Sweet hosted by Seth Herzog at The Slipper Room.  Seth Herzog, who is the warm up comedian for The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, has been hosting “Sweet” for three years now in this lower east side bar, The Slipper Room. So many great comics have taken the stage for Sweet shows over the past three yeras– names like Colin Quinn, Zach Galifianakis, Donald Glover, and Kristin Schaal.  The lineup has not been announced yet, but Herzog always attracts great guests, so we’re adding this one to our list even without knowing who is going to be appearing.  We’ll update with more information as soon as we have some.

attellshow10:00 Live at Comedy Underground with Dave Attell.  At the 10:00 show, catch some more Dave Attell, along with Jessica Kirson who has been an integral part of the New York comedy scene for years, Ari Shaffir— who is easily offensive, and incredibly funny and spent years offending and entertaining LA audiences, toured with Joe Rogan and now calls New York home base, Kurt Metzger— as funny on stage as he is writing for Inside Amy Schumer (and formerly Chappelle’s Show), and Big Jay Oakerson.  Once you see Big Jay, you’re a fan for life.  It’s one of the best bills in the entire festival, at a great venue.  Tickets are $15 and there’s also going to be  a raffle to benefit Mighty Mutts and Ollie’s Place.

Wednesday November 5 Events: Editors Picks

heroes8:00 Stand Up Heroes is an all star evening at the Theater at Madison Square Garden with some incredible names on the bill.  Louis CK, Jon Stewart, Jim Gaffigan, and John Oliver, plus Bruce Springsteen and other surprise guests. It’s all to benefit the Bob Woodruff Foundation,  The mission of the Woodruff foundation is to find and fund programs which help injured veterans to return home and transition back to life here in the States. It’s an amazing cause, and will be an outstanding evening.  Tickets start at just $124 and you’ll be contributing to a truly worthy cause.

8:00 Schtick or Treat.  Comedians Mark Normand and Matt Ruby are hosting what might be the most unique event of the festival.  With a Halloween-ish theme here, the listing promises 30 comedians will be showing up to perform in character of their favorite comedy legends. Get into character and show up as your favorite audience member. Ticket starts at $10 bucks and this spooktacular event takes place at the Littlefield in Brooklyn at 622 Degraw Street.  The space is an old warehouse space in Boerum Hill.  It’s in a warehouse district so plan head, and read these FAQs to make sure you can find the joint.  We don’t know who the comedians are going to be or which comedy veterans they’ll be portraying but we’ll definitely be checking this one out just to see where it goes.

bonnie janeane8:00 Mashup Comedy Show.  Hosted by Adrienne Iapalucci and Luis J. Gomez, this show features two comedians on stage at once, with one mic. So they’re all mashed up.  This is worth attending just to see Bonnie McFarlane sharing the mic with Janeane Garofalo.   That’s bound to be amazing.  But you’ll also get Paul Virzi performing with Yannis Pappas, Judah Friedlander sharing one mic with Brody Stevens, and Big Jay Oakerson and Ari Shaffir splitting one microphone.  This is an amazing line up, an interesting concept, and it all goes down at The Stand, one of the newer clubs, that has become such a big part of New York comedy that it’s easy to forget that it’s still one of the newcomers.  The Stand also has gained a reputation for really good food.  If you’ve ordered food at a club, you’re probably afraid to do it again. Don’t be.  Tickets are $15.

10:00 All Things Comedy Showcase with Dean Edwards, Ari Shaffir, Jordan Klepper, Brody Stevens, Ben Kissel, and Nick DiPaolo. The All Things Comedy podcast network and record label is the brain child of Bill Burr and Al Madrigal. The showcase features some of the comedians who are a part of the ATC network.  At The Stand.

10:00  Race Wars Podcast Taping with Sherrod Small and Kurt Metzger.  Black, white and completely unfiltered, Sherrod Small and Kurt Metzger talk about social, racial and political issues, with truthful, no bullshit opinions.    Just $5 to attend, at the Comedy Center at the Village Underground. Come hang out and then download the episode to hear yourself laugh.  Guests include Dave Attell, Artie Lange, Wil Sylvince, Kareem Green, Kaytlin Bailey.

Thursday November 6, 2014 Events: Editors Picks

8:00  This is Not Happening hosted by Ari Shaffir, with Jim Norton, Bridget Everett, Mike Lawrence and Mark Normand.  This Is Not Happening is a storytelling show.  Four really funny people telling true stories.  The show has been killing in clubs for four years now, and will be launching its third season with ComedyCentralTV in 2015.  TiNH takes place at the Comedy Cellar at The Village Underground and tickets cost $20.

lies sara9:00 Lies Podcast Taping with Sara Schaefer and Mike Doughty.  This summer we got the chance to talk with Sara Schaefer about her career, and she told us about this exciting new podcast that would be coming out in the fall.  Well its out now and it’s terrific and this week New Yorkers have the chance to sit in on a taping with musician and former addict Mike Doughty.  The concept of the podcast is that both the host and guest have to lie.  No big reveals, no truth telling, no old stories.  It’s an interesting experiment in creativity and should be especially fun to watch live, particularly with a guest as interesting as Doughty. Doughty was the founding member of the group Soul Coughing in the 90s, and went through some heavy drug problems.  In 2012 he wrote a book about the band, addiction and recovery.  The taping will take place at the Jerome L. Greene space in lower Manhattan and tickets cost $25.

10:00 What’s Your Effing Deal with Big Jay Oakerson.  Big Jay Oakerson is one of the funniest people performing clubs today and What’s Your Effing Deal is an all crowd work show.  That means none of the comedians will be performing ‘material’ they’ll all be working the room, so show up with all your flaws and prepare to be picked clean.  These are  top comics performing to you, for you and about you. The show has been a huge hit at both the Montreal Just For Laughs Comedy Festival & SXSW.  Performers include Big Jay himself, Luis J Gomez, Dave Smith, Mike Britt, and more to be announced.  This event will take place at the Comedy Cellar at the Village Underground.  Tickets are $15 each.

10:30 Nate Bargatze.  Nate Bargatze is one of the fastest growing comedians working in New York.  His recent special taping was packed with New York’s most popular comedians and he’s someone you  won’t be able to see in a small venue for much longer.  His show takes place at UCB East Village.  Tickets are $15.

Friday November 7, 2014 Events: Editors Picks

6:00 An Evening with Late Show with David Letterman Writers.  Keith Olbermann will be moderating this conversation with the Letterman writing team.   Head writer Matt Roberts, and writers Chris Belair, Alex Buly, Lee Ellenberg, R.J. Fried, Jill Goodwin, Joe Grossman, Matt Kirsch, Mike Leech, Paul Masella, Bill Scheft, Zach Smilovitz, Jeremy Weiner and Steve Young will all be coming together at the Paley Center for Media on Manhattan’s East Side to talk about their craft, the show’s approach to generating ideas, writing comedy and the process of producing material for a nightly program.  Tickets are $35.

uncivil8:00 Uncivil Union: Comedy for Equality.  This event features four tremendous talents.  James Adomian, Jim Gaffigan, Cameron Esposito, and Reggie Watts head up this benefit Concert for The Ally Coalition and New Alternatives at Brooklyn’s famed Bell House. These are four incredible standout talents, and this should be a memorable show, with comedy veteran Jim Gaffigan sharing the stage with the unpredictable creativity of Watts. James Adomian is one of our favorite comics, (check him out in our 7 Comedians ready to blow up)  and we just love Cameron Esposito who is just now becoming known to America after killing comedy stages for years (see our recent interview with Cameron about her new album).  The event is to raise awareness and funds to end discrimination against LGBTQ people. All proceeds from the event will benefit local NYC charity New Alternatives for Homeless LGBT Youth.  VIP tickets are $98 and include a meet and greet, priority seating and an event poster, but you can get tickets starting as low as $25 and still be helping out this great cause, and getting a stellar show.

Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 5.49.26 PM8:00 Big Jay LIVE and Album Release Party.  For his second album, Big Jay Oakerson picked a random night in New York to perform in a club with no material prepared.  Big Jay’s “Crowd Work” CD drops today.  Celebrate with a show from Big Jay himself, followed by a big release party for his new CD upstairs at The Stand.  One of the few parties taking place at the festival, this is will be a very cool event, and everyone who comes to the show will get a code for early access to the CD.  Big Jay is blowing up.  You’ll want to say you were there the night he released his second CD.  Tickets are $20.

Saturday November 8, 2014 Events: Editors Picks

4:00 New Yorks Funniest Finalist Contest. A panel of experts including SiriusXM host Ron Bennington will judge a group of young comedians to find out who is New York’s funniest.  Adam Newman, Dave Smith, Emma Willmann, Joe List, Kevin Iso, Liza Treyger, Matteo Lane, Mike Cannon, Mike Recine, Ricky Velez, and Tommy Pope will be performing for the title at Caroline’s on Broadway.  Tickets are $16.50 and you will be able to hear the event on SiriusXM satellite radio on Sunday night.

5:30 Race Wars Podcast Taping with Sherrod Small and Kurt Metzger.  Black, white and completely unfiltered, Sherrod Small and Kurt Metzger talk about social, racial and political issues, with truthful, no bullshit opinions.    Just $5 to attend, at the UCB Theater in the East Village. Come hang out and then download the episode to hear yourself laugh.  Guest to be announced.

ha musical9:30 Ha! The Musical.  The one and only musical theater performance about the business of stand up comedy, performed by stand up comedians. If you missed this absolutely momentous event this August, you’re very lucky that you have the chance to catch it now.  Some of your favorite New York comedians singing…and….dancing.   It’s been called comedy’s “A Chorus Line” and you will have to see it to fully appreciate it.  An opportunity like this may never come around again– you can’t afford to take that chance.  Starring Big Jay Oakerson, Kevin Farley, Christian Finnegan, Casey Balsham, Bill Dawes, Alyse Kenny, Paul Schissler, Luis J. Gomez, Charles Mcbee, Gibran Saleem, Shawn Pearlman.   If Saturday night is a conflict with another event you’d like to attend, you can also  see Ha! on Wednesday Nov 5 at 9:30pm, or  Sunday November 9  at 7:30pm.  Tickets are $25 at Stage 72, The Triad.

10:00 Stand Up on the Spot.  This is an all improv stand up show, that started in LA four years ago, and is just getting going in New York.  No prepared material, and the audience gets to suggest topics to the comedians who have to create stand up “on the spot.”  Come to the stand and tell Sam Morril, Monroe Martin, Dan Soder, Jeremiah Watkins & Robby Slowik what to do.  Its a tremendous line up and it all goes down at The Stand, and tickets are $20.

Screen Shot 2014-11-02 at 11.55.45 AM10:00 Roast Battle with Jeff Ross.  Your favorite roastmaster Jeffrey Ross is the host of Roast Battle– an event that has been blowing up on the West Coast.  Here’s your chance to check it out without having to fly all the way across the country.  Referee Brian Moses will be judging two battles.  First,  watch Bonnie McFarlane take on Mike Lawrence, and that’s just the warm up battle. Later, in the main event,  Big Jay Oakerson goes toe to toe with Ari Shaffir.  Things are going to get ugly.  That must be why everyone’ calling this Fight Club for Comics.  There are instigators and an official house racist to keep things interesting.  You are warned when you buy tickets that you must have thick skin to attend because “this show is fucking insane.”  It all goes down at The Gramercy Theater.

11:15 Kurt Metzger at Stand Up New York.  Just Kurt Metzger.  Kurt’s written for two of the smartest comedy shows on television, Chappelle’s Show and now  Inside Amy Schumer.  He wrote for the Jim Norton Show, hosts Race Wars with Sherrod Small, was a Last Comic Standing finalist, has appeared on Craig Ferguson, and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and has been a frequent guest on SiriusXM’s Ron and Fez Show.  His one hour special “White Precious” debuted this summer on Comedy Central.  Before starting a career in comedy, he was an ordained minster, and was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness.  He’s one of the most interesting people performing in New York and you’ll love his show.  Tickets are only $15 at Stand Up NY on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

Sunday November 9, 2014 Events: Editors Picks

7:00pm Bob Odenkirk:  A Load of Hooey Book Release ShowBob Odenkirk is bringing some friends to help him out with his “Load of Hooey Book Release Show.” and it’s promising to be a major event.  David Cross, Michael Ian Black, Brandon Wardell all join Bob for this night at the Gramercy Theatre.

7:30 Rachel Feinstein Comedy Central Album Recording.  Rachel Feinstein is recording her album and you can be there, and have your laugh immortalized.  Rachel was a finalist on Season 7 of Last Comic Standing, she was featured on Russell Simmon’s Presents Live at the El Ray, and she has had her own half hour special Comedy Central Presents Rachel Feinstein. Her first Comedy Central stand up special was so popular that she returned to Comedy Central in July 2014 for her second stand up special on The Half Hour.  She also co hosted Tru TV’s Upload with Shaquille O’Neal and has been featured on Showtime’s Women Who Kill comedy special.  It’s just $15 to be a part of it all at SubCulture in Manhattan’s West Village.

all friends9:00 We’re All Friends Here. Hosted by Mark Normand & Matt Ruby.  The show’s been running for over 6 years and is a mainstay of the NYC comedy scene.  It’s described as the comedy chat show with boundary issues.  Mark and Matt will be bringing comedians you know up on stage to talk about sex drugs, race, religion and other pleasant polite topics.  And if you haven’t stopped in for an event at The Creek and the Cave, you can’t really say you’ve covered the New York comedy scene.  Tickets are $15 and if you come early you can grab some mexican food and enjoy pre-show time at a full tequila bar.

10:00 Sam and Joe Show.  Sam Morrill and Joe Machi created the Sam and Joe Show, but with Joe out of town Sam grabbed another incredibly funny Joe to fill in. Joe List will be co-hosting with Sam with a to be announced guest list.  But no matter who shows up, the Sam and Joe show is always a great time, every Sunday, including this one, at Carolines on Broadway.  Tickets are $27.

All show lineups are subject to change.  Check in at www.nycomedyfestival.com for up to date changes, substitutions and cancellations, and to get tickets.


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