Your guide to the 2016 New York Comedy Festival

Everybody loves a comedy festival. And in this year of 2016, it doesn’t just feel as though every city has its own comedy festival, because not only do they, but oftentimes, several cities have recruited all-star comedy lineups to their region on the same weekend. And New York City can feel like a comedy festival every weekend, anyhow.

But. But! This coming week is still different.

The New York Comedy Festival, now in its 13th year, has grown from something that Caroline Hirsch of Carolines on Broadway started to celebrate the city’s massive talent and capability to laugh and laugh at itself, to something that has for several years included Comedy Central and more and more clubs, theaters and bar venues throughout the city’s boroughs. When the festival throws its annual industry party, you look around at the collection of faces and names in amazement that this is happening all at once (something that only ever also happens in Montreal in July for Just For Laughs). And for the past several years, Stand Up For Heroes has raised more than $33 million for the Bob Woodruff Foundation coming to the aid of wounded veterans with brain injuries. Other sponsors this year include include Citi, New York Magazine, the New York Post, SiriusXM Radio, Taco Bell, Variety and Vulture.

The schedule can seem daunting. Online, the list of shows for the 2016 NY Comedy Festival takes up 18 pages.

Here’s a handier guide to events both big and small(er by comparison) worth your time and attention next week from Nov. 1-6, 2016.


Conan in NYC: Conan O’Brien and Team Coco have returned to NYC for a week’s worth of tapings of Conan for TBS, from Monday through Thursday at the Apollo! If you didn’t already snag tickets to one of the four tapings, then you can still have fun with the show’s own version of Pokemon Go: The Catch Conan app.

The Real New York Tour with Tim Dillon: A big city deserves a big personality to give you the real lowdown on a 90-minute bus tour, so Tim Dillon’s your guy. Buses depart from the southeast corner of Central Park at Columbus Circle, promptly! (TICKETS) (also happening Wednesday and Thursday)


Oh, Hello on Broadway: Nick Kroll and John Mulaney “majestically hit the Broadway stage this fall as a fully thought-out legit stage production, a two-man tour de farce.” Those are my words, from my review! Shows six nights a week with additional weekend matinees at the Lyceum Theatre.

Chris Gethard in “Career Suicide”: Extended through Jan. 8, 2017. I reviewed Gethard’s show last year at the UCB before he took it Off-Broadway this fall under the production of Judd Apatow. Hear Chris Gethard tell me about his career growth in Episode #105 of my podcast, The Comic’s Comic Presents Last Things First. “Career Suicide” plays Wednesdays through Sundays at the Lynn Redgrave Theatre.

TUESDAY, NOV. 1, 2016


  • Stand Up For Heroes: This annual charity event raises millions for the Bob Woodruff Foundation. This year’s performers at the Theater inside Madison Square Garden are legends among all-stars, including Bruce Springsteen, Jon Stewart, Jerry Seinfeld, Louis C.K., and Jim Gaffigan. (TICKETS)


  • The Bonfire LIVE: Watch and listen to the SiriusXM talk show hosted by comedians Big Jay Oakerson and Dan Soder, at the Village Underground. Hear Big Jay Oakerson tell me stories from his career in Episode #98 of The Comic’s Comic Presents Last Things First. Hear Dan Soder tell me about his life and career in Episode #90 of Last Things First! (TICKETS)
  • Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast LIVE: Watch and listen to a live edition of Gilbert Gottfried’s podcast, with special guest Whoopi Goldberg, conducted from Carolines on Broadway. (TICKETS)
  • Kevin McDonald’s Kevin McDonald Show: The member from legendary sketch group Kids In the Hall finally has his own podcast, a variety show throwback, and his guests in front of a live audience at Union Hall will include Rachel Dratch and Ted Leo. (TICKETS)
  • Comedy Central Records Tribute to Mitch Hedberg: Anyone who knows me or who has followed my writings over the years knows how big a fan I was and still am of Mitch Hedberg. Comedy Central Records is releasing a full box set of everything Hedberg, and celebrating with a special tribute show at Carolines that will include his widow, comedian Lynn Shawcroft, plus Bonnie McFarlane, Artie Lange, Tom Rhodes, Tammy Pescatelli and surprise guests! (TICKETS)



  • Judah Friedlander: See the “World Champion” and 30 Rock co-star headline in Long Island City at The Creek and The Cave with a cavalcade of support acts. (TICKETS)


  • A Good Trip with Shane Mauss: Shane Mauss has produced podcasts with many academics and scientists, and now he’s on a special tour focused on psychedelics that’s part stand-up, part storytelling, and part Ted talk. It’s at Union Hall. Hear some of Shane Mauss talking about his journeys on Episode #39 of Last Things First. (TICKETS)
  • Comics To Watch: Now an annual tradition, this showcase of up-and-comers in stand-up, handpicked by Comedy Central, show off their skills at Carolines on Broadway. See them now before they become stars! (TICKETS)
  • Cheech & Chong host Gotham Comedy Live: This isn’t officially on the NY Comedy Fest schedule, but you can catch Cheech & Chong hosting an episode of AXS-TV’s Gotham Comedy Live at Gotham Comedy Club. Showcase performers TBA. (TICKETS)

THURSDAY, NOV. 3, 2016


  • Patton Oswalt: The celebrated comedian who’s currently heard in voiceovers on ABC’s hit sitcom, The Goldbergs, performs at the Beacon. (TICKETS)
  • Tim Minchin: Rock star and comedian extraordinaire, Minchin has been seen on Showtime’s Californication and making Broadway musical adaptations of Matilda and now Groundhog Day. He’s back onstage, one night only at the Beacon. (TICKETS)
  • Bridget Everett: Bridget’s bawdy brilliance has been on display in the past year via Inside Amy Schumer, Lady Dynamite and her own Comedy Central special. If you haven’t seen her yet on the TV or at Joe’s Pub, catch her at Town Hall. (TICKETS)


FRIDAY, NOV. 4, 2016



  • Eric Andre: The star of Adult Swim’s bonkers Eric Andre Show headlines Friday through Sunday night at Carolines. (TICKETS)
  • Fancy Meeting You Here: Dave Hill and Carl Arnheiter lead a comedic museum tour of the Met! (TICKETS)
  • First Set: Giulia Rozzi hosts comedians and talks to them about their starts in comedy, while we get to see the raw footage in this Flashback Friday at Union Hall. Featuring Michelle Buteau, Noah Gardenswartz, Jeffrey Joseph, Liz Miele. (TICKETS)
  • The Lucas Bros: Kenny and Keith Lucas are filming a special at The Bell House. (TICKETS)
  • An Evening with Jessica Kirson: You want this. You need this. Live at The Stand. (TICKETS)
  • Boast Battle: It’s like Roast Battle, but it’s Compliment City up in this beautiful place at Union Hall. Featuring Kyle Ayers, Aparna Nancherla, Joe Zimmerman, Josh Gondelman, Janelle James, Jo Firestone, Ryan Beck, DJ Will Winner. Hear Aparna Nancherla’s story in her own words on Episode #20 of Last Things First. (TICKETS)
  • Monroe Martin Presents System Failure: The former finalist of Last Comic Standing headlines at The Stand. (TICKETS)
  • Al Jackson: Back from Los Angeles for one night only, at UCB Theatre. (TICKETS)
  • Harriet: Blair Socci and Farah Brook host this full night of females at Joe’s Pub, including Jo Firestone, Jacqueline Novak, Three Busy Debras, & more! Music from Free the Mind. (TICKETS)

SATURDAY, NOV. 5, 2016


  • Trevor Noah: The Daily Show host holds his own at the Beacon in two performances, early and late. (TICKETS)
  • Tig Notaro: Tig Notaro stars in Amazon’s One Mississippi and promises to take a risk you’ve never seen before when she headlines Carnegie Hall. (TICKETS)
  • Bill Maher: Real talk from the Real Time host. At The Theater at MSG. (TICKETS)
  • Tracy Morgan: Tracy Morgan’s amazing comeback from a near-death experience culminates in his performance at Carnegie Hall. (TICKETS)
  • Jay Pharoah: The master impersonator and former star of Saturday Night Live headlines at the Gramercy. (TICKETS)
  • Hari Kondabolu: Headlining at NYU’s Skirball Center. Hear Hari Kondabolu’s story in his own words on Episode #106 of Last Things First. (TICKETS)
  • T.J. Miller: The scene-stealing co-star of HBO’s Silicon Valley performs at Town Hall. (TICKETS)


  • A Conversation with the Writers of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: The Netflix series creators and writers, including Tina Fey, Robert Carlock, Sam Means, Dan Rubin, Leila Strachan, Azie Dungey, Meredith Scardino and Lauren Gurganous, at the 92nd Street Y. (TICKETS)
  • New York’s Funniest: The finals of the annual stand-up competition declares a winner at Carolines. Last year’s competition became a Seeso series. (TICKETS)
  • Guys We F*cked: The hit podcast from Corrine Fisher and Krystyna Hutchinson records in front of a live audience at Carolines. (TICKETS)
  • Harmontown LIVE: Dan Harmon’s hit podcast comes back to the Gramercy. (TICKETS)
  • Big Terrific: Jenny Slate, Gabe Liedman and Max Silvestri hosted the hippest Wednesday night in Williamsburg for years before they all went Hollywood. The trio is back in Brooklyn for one night, two shows only. (TICKETS)
  • Goddamn Comedy Jam: The jam is now a Comedy Central series, showcasing stand-up comedians do what you know they do, then belting out a song with a backing band. At the Gramercy. (TICKETS)

SUNDAY, NOV. 6, 2016


  • What’s Your Effing Deal with Big Jay Oakerson: The second season of this Seeso showcase presents stand-up comedians only doing crowd work. Tapings nightly Nov. 6-10 at The Bitter End. (TICKETS)
  • Loyiso Gola: The South African performs and previews his new Vimeo stand-up special. (TICKETS)
  • Sasheer Zamata Party Time: SNL’s Sasheer Zamata hosts, with Aparna Nancherla, Jacqueline Novak, Holly Miranda, at Union Hall. (TICKETS)


Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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