The Ten New York Comedy Festival Shows You Absolutely Can’t Miss

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The New York Comedy Festival is a massive city-wide multi-borough event, and no, you can’t see every show unless you’ve figured out how to be in two places at once. This year’s festival has a huge lineup of headliner shows taking place with big names. Tig Notaro is back after having a huge festival show last year, Patton Oswalt is back on stage after a long hiatus after the death of his wife, T.J. Miller whose fame has jumped up yet another level after last year’s hit film Deadpool, plus Hannibal Buress, Bill Maher, Trevor Noah, Tracy Morgan, Hari Kondabolu, Dane Cook, Cameron Esposito, Hasan Minhaj, Chris D’Elia, Tim Minchin, Fred Armisen, Marc Maron and Eric Andre. And of course, there’s the MSG Stand Up for Heroes Show that is an all star event. You can’t pick a bad show if you threw a dart at those names, and on top of that, there are another 50 to 60 shows to choose from. Here are our top ten picks for the shows you absolutely can’t miss.

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1. TUESDAY 11/1:  Comedy 101. 9pm

Of course our #1 pick is opening night, and it’s our show, Comedy 101. Yes, we’re biased, but Comedy 101 really is the funniest, cringiest, most merciless show at the festival. Five open mic comedians will take the stage and try their best to get some of their jokes out while three of the most sharpest, and fastest comic minds in New York City interrupt them with “advice.” No it’s not helpful advice, but it’s hilariously funny. It’s open mic meets a roast, hosted by the funniest people we could find- Ron Bennington and Gail Bennington. The bad news is, by the time you read this, the show has already probably sold out.  If you can’t convince someone to give you their tickets, there are two other KILLER shows playing on Tuesday night. Caroline’s is hosting a tribute to one of the funniest comedians who ever lived– Comedy Central Records Tribute to Mitch Hedberg and LOCA (Ladies of Comedy Association) is teaming up with BanterGirl to put on an incredible line up at Union Hall with with Damn She’s Funny hosted by Kerry Coddett and featuring Michelle Wolf, Emma Willmann, Subhah Agarwal, Liza Treyger, Janelle James, Aparna Nancherla. These women are all comedy goddesses.



2. WEDNESDAY 11/ 2: The Real New York Tour with Tim Dillon. 7:30pm.

Tim Dillon is on the verge of breaking out big time. He absolutely brought the HOUSE down in Montreal this year at the prestigious New Faces show, but before he started sharpening his stage skills, he was performing during his day job as a New York City tour bus guide. So whether you’re visiting the city, or you’re just a local who never took a double decker bus tour because- why would you, you live here, but this is a great opportunity to play tourist for the night while seeing one of the hottest rising comics perform along with some of his comedy friends- and maybe you learn something too.



3. WEDNESDAY 11/2: Would You Bang Him? 10:00

Quite possibly the funniest podcast in all of podcastdom, My Wife Hates Me, brings one of their live game shows to the Village Underground with WYBH. Rich and Bonnie want to test the idea that a sense of humor is the #1 quality women look for in a man. Male comics show off their stand up prowess in front of a panel of hot funny women. After each set, every woman on the panel weighs in on the big question- would they bang him? Rich Vos and Bonnie McFarlane- two of the funniest people on the planet– brought this show to the Village Underground once before with rave reviews, and it’s going to be one of those shows everyone will be talking about this week.



4. THURSDAY 11/3: Trump Dump: The Last Rally. 7:30

In the battle for domination as the best Trump impression, Tony beat America’s most known Trump– Alec Baldwin– with 80% of the vote. Anthony Atamanuik’s so good that some alleged that SNL may have ‘borrowed’ from his Trump act when creating Alec Baldwin’s Trump. Atamanuik toured the U.S. earlier this year during the primaries with James Adomian as Bernie Sanders, and their Trump/Sanders show was incredible to watch. Absolutely amazing! Bernie’s out, but you won’t want to miss Trump Dump: The Last Rally at the NYU Skirball Center. It’s going to be madness and must see. How do you decide between these three spectacular Thursday shows? Be in three places at once.



5. THURSDAY 11/3: Mash Up Show. 8:00

Two comics. Two microphones. 1 stage…at the same time. The mash up show is a New York City stand up staple, hosted by Luis J. Gomez and Adrienne Iapalucci with some very special guests, to be announced.  You’re just going to have to trust us because we can’t tell until they do.



6. THURSDAY 11/3: Bridget Everett at Town Hall 9:00pm.

If you’re trying to figure out where to best spend your big theater ticket dollars, you won’t find a better show than Bridget’s. This is a one of a kind show. She’s taking over Town Hall and she’s not just the best at what she does, she’s the only one doing it, and it’s exciting, revelatory, and a fucking party. Raucous, raunchy, bawdy and beautiful. You will fall in love with Bridget Everett in ways you never imagined possible. Quite possibly the best time you will ever have in a theater, with the only competition coming from #10 on our list.



7. FRIDAY 11/4: Fancy Meeting You Here 7pm.

We confess it. We’ve never seen Dave Hill’s traveling comedy series, but our confidence level is at a 10 that this will be an event that you want to be able to say you were there for. Fancy Meeting You Here is a roving comedy show led by Dave Hill and Carl Arnheiter that takes audiences on a tour of cultural landmarks. No painting is too abstract, no modern art too modern, no study of the human form overlooked. It’s so unique and seems so well suited to Dave Hill’s personality- and speaking of Dave Hill’s personality, we’re prepared to recommend this show on that alone. Dave Hill is so frigging funny — and smart– he’s one of our absolute favorite comics in New York City, and the festival.



8. SATURDAY 11/5: New York’s Funniest. 4pm.

Every single year Carolines Comedy Club finds the funniest up and coming comedians and puts them all in a room together. Saturday afternoon is your chance to see the next wave of names in one place, without running around from club to club.  If you think it’s less fun, or less jam packed just because the line up is a little less famous, you’re wrong.  This show sells out every year, and always has a killer host.  Lock this one in, and get ready to start drinking early.



9. SATURDAY 11/5. The Goddamn Comedy Jam. 10pm.

This is going to be the biggest party of the festival and has been for the last two years. The Goddamn Comedy Jam will sell out. It sells out every year, and it is an absolute blast. Live comedy and music, performed by your favorite comedians with a live band and they kill it.  It’s so much fun for the comics, and the audience goes crazy. The line up hasn’t been announced yet, but we know a few of the names and it’s going to be another home run.



10. SUNDAY 11/6. What’s Your Fucking Deal!? 7:00 and 9:00

Big Jay Oakerson’s all-crowd work show is always full of fantastic surprises. We saw it in Montreal. We saw it in Toronto. We’ve seen it many times in New York City. We’ve seen it on Seeso. And now, WYFD is back, taping a brand new Season 2 slew of episodes for Seeso with completely new lineups.  The show is taping all week, but the Sunday shows are part of the comedy festival. Plus, it’s your chance to be on TV, because the audience is a big big part of the show.


We forced ourselves (for no apparent reason) to pick the ten absolute must see shows of the festival, but the truth is there are far more than ten amazing fantastic terrific shows you absolutely have to see. Here are a few more to add to your list. The New Negroes, featuring Open Mike Eagle and Baron Vaughn missed our top ten list by a whisker, but seriously, consider this as top ten as anything else. We saw their show at Riot LA earlier this year and it absolutely delivered.  They’ll be at the Bell House on Thursday.

There are three amazing industry panels taking place during festival week in New York City. If you can get in, our top pick is the Comedy Writers Round Table III at the Friars Club on Thursday 7:00. Yes, we realize we’ve already convinced you there are 4 can’t miss shows on Thursday, and they all overlap, but it’s not our fault. Moderated by Alan Zweibel. Featuring Pamela Adlon, Mike Reiss, Phil Rosenthal, & Larry Wilmore, this show packs some serious punch. There’s also a Conversation with the Writers of Kimmy Schmidt on Saturday at 1:00pm at the 92nd Street Y with Tina Fey, Robert Carlock, Sam Means, Dan Rubin, Leila Strachan, Azie Dungey, Meredith Scardino and Lauren Gurganous.  And Comedy Makers of NYC will feature Jeannie Gaffigan, Julie Rottenberg, Carrie Keagan, Liz Tuccillo and more at Carolines on Thursday at 5:30.  If industry interests you, this is a must– comedy manager/producer Barry Katz brings two chances to watch his Industry Standard Podcast tape at the Friars Club on Saturday and Sunday at 3pm. His guests have not yet been announced, but you can count on them both being well worth your time- all of Barry’s guests are industry giants.

We can’t recommend Oh Hello on Broadway enough, that’s showing every night (see our review here), and a visit to the The Creek and The Cave is obligatory, and Saturday at 2pm is a great time to do it. Last year, we went out on Saturday afternoon to see Peggy O’Leary’s Late Late Breakfast and it was a scream and we discovered some of our favorite comics on that well curated line up. See them now- this show always has a great selection from the ‘soon to be famous’ crowd.  Head out to La Sala at Cantina Royale on Friday night for Hindsight – Dan Perlman and Billy Prinsell’s storytelling show.  Top stand-ups tell funny, true stories, then face interjections and follow-up questions from the mic’d up hosts and audience. Part-stand-up, part-storytelling, part-interview, Hindsight is interactive and unpredictable. Last year we had a blast and can’t wait to check out this year’s edition.

Finally, calling all Campers, don’t miss your chance to see The Bonfire– Dan Soder and Big Jay Oakerson- bring yet another killer live show to the Village Underground on Tuesday night. Crackle Crackle.


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