The 14th annual New York Comedy Festival kicks off today, with hundreds of stand-up, improv, sketch and variety showcases across at least three boroughs through Sunday.
You never know what kind of magic you might see during the festival. Last year at Carnegie Hall, Tig Notaro brought out the Indigo Girls as surprise guests, while Tracy Morgan at the same venue later that night brought out his young daughter.
The biggest and most important event each year is Stand Up for Heroes: A Benefit for the Bob Woodruff Foundation. This year’s formal fund-raiser features Hasan Minhaj, John Mulaney, Trevor Noah, Conan O’Brien, John Oliver, Jon Stewart, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and other surprise guests tonight at the Theater at MSG.
You’ve already probably seen and/or heard about the major headliners in ads, on buses, billboards, and around the city, and I’ve listed them below for you once more, in case you haven’t yet gotten tickets to them (and in some cases, you may be too late!). But as the NYCF has expanded in the past few years to include more venues and more types of comedy — the 2017 NYCF schedule has 19 pages of events online!! — there’s plenty of diamonds in the rough for you to discover this week.
Here. Let me show you some of them.
Through Nov. 19: “Stuffed,” a play by and starring Lisa Lampanelli. The comedian who rose to prominence through Comedy Central Roasts proclaiming herself the queen of mean has written her first play, and it’s about four women and their relationship with food. Also featuring Marsha Stephanie Blake, Lauren Ann Brickman and Eden Malyn. At the Westside Theatre. Performances nightly, plus weekend matinees (dark Wednesdays).
Brian Regan presents Midnight Run as part of Wayne Federman’s annual celebration of comedians celebrating movies. It’s one of my favorite movies, as bounty hunter Robert De Niro drags Charles Grodin across the country in time to collect his award. Mobsters, other bounty hunters,the FBI and the Chicago Police Department attempt to thwart them. Ya-hey, everyone! Find out why Regan loves it in a Q&A afterward! At the Film Forum.
WellRED: The Liberal Redneck comedy tour! Two shows tonight at the Gramercy, featuring Trae Crowder, Drew Morgan and Corey Ryan Forrester. They’ve spent the past year on tour supporting their best-selling book, “Liberal Redneck Manifesto: Draggin Dixie Outta the Dark.”
Tuesday, Thursday and Friday: Luis J. Gomez hosts The RoastMasters at The Stand, competitive one-on-one roasting before a live audience and judges such as Big Jay Oakerson and Rich Vos. Tonight’s main event at The Stand features Mark Normand vs. Aaron Berg. Thursday features Mike Cannon vs. Mike Feeney. And Friday is the biggie, already sold out, with Dina Hashem challenging current RoastMasters champ Eli Sairs, with undercards including Big Jay Oakerson vs. Ari Shaffir, Paul Hooper vs. J.P. McDade, and Dave Sirus vs. Patrick Schroeder.
Stand-Up on the Spot with Jeremiah Watkins, presented by Jeff Ross, at New York Comedy Club. The audience tells the comedians what to make jokes about. On the spot. You get it.
Thursday, Friday and Saturday: By popular demand, the return of Tim Dillon’s NYC bus tour! Buy your tickets from Carolines, then meet at the Northeast corner of Columbus Circle where a festival rep will show you the line. Dillon is a former professional tour guide, and a lifelong New Yorker, and a gut-bustingly funny comedian. Strap in!
Whiplash, the best weekly free stand-up showcase late on a Monday night, offers a special not-so-free showcase at Villain in Williamsburg. You see that lineup, right? Aparna Nancherla, Laurie Kilmartin, Roy Wood Jr., Janeane Garofalo, Michelle Wolf and special guests. All straight-up comedy killers. Even the special guests.
Greta Titleman’s Bat Mitzvah. Even better the second time around, thanks to some of the city’s best comedians. I have no idea, but I’m anxious to find out!
A Toast to the OG’s of Comedy with Cedric the Entertainer and Tracy Morgan. At NYU Skirball Center. Befitting the TBS partnership this year with the festival, we’re treated to a special showcase to promote the upcoming sitcom, The Last OG. Donnell Rawlings, Jak Knight, Derek Gaines, Tracy Ashley, Kevin Iso will perform, then sit down with Tracy and Cedric for a conversation. Proceeds from the event will go to the Fortune Society, a charity that supports successful re-entry from incarceration.
Clayton English, perhaps the last Last Comic Standing, performs for an hour at the UCB Theatre in Chelsea (which itself only has a few weeks left before moving). Catch him there while you can!
If roasts aren’t your thing, then you’ll love Boast Rattle at Union Hall. It’s a competitive compliment contest. Flip that roast and reverse it! Hosted by Kyle Ayers with Adam Conover, Jo Firestone, Mike Drucker, Josh Gondelman and Shalewa Sharpe.
Or how about competitive dancing by comedians? That’s the concept behind Stand Up 2 The Streets, led by team captains Justine Marino and Heidi Heaslet. They usually put on their dance moves monthly at The Comedy Store, but this is their first NYC venture, happening Thursday night at the Highline Ballroom.
Andy Dick has been in the news again recently, and that should make for an even more eventful live edition of Dino’s and Andy’s Skull Juice, the podcast Dick does with Dino Stamatopoulos (aka Starburns). Live from the Gramercy, where the Live Nation entry lists guests Scott Adsit, Ari Shaffir and Big Jay Oakerson.
Ms. Pat is one of my favorites onstage or off (listen to my podcast with her from Just For Laughs to hear more about her), and she’ll get her own hour at the UCB on Friday night.
The annual New York’s Funniest finals take place in the afternoon at Carolines. Find out who everyone in the city is talking about this year. The finalists for the 2017 contest? Jacob Williams, JP McDade, Tom Thakkar, Jared Freid, Martin Urbano, Francis Ellis, Jocelyn Chia, Usama Siddiquee, Kevin Iso, Katie Hannigan, David Angelo, and Frank Liotti.
The Comics to Watch get two showcases Saturday night, at 6 p.m. at Carolines, then 11 p.m. at the TBS Comedy HUB. Chloe Radcliffe, Colin Lewis, Dina Hashem, Erica Spera, Ivan Decker, Jaboukie Young-White, JC Currais, Jordan Temple, Kellen Erskine, Khalid Rahmaan, Michael Longfellow and Rocky Dale Davis are angling for potential performance slots on upcoming episodes of Conan. Wish them luck! And see them live before you see them on TBS.
Aparna Nancherla and Jo Firestone are two funny, too funny, together. You’ve seen them in a webseries tackling all the important issues facing women. You’ll see them taking over Monday nights at Littlefield from Wyatt Cenac’s Night Train. On Saturday night, see what they’ve got up their sleeves in between all that. The Aparna N’ Jo Show at Union Hall.\
American Born Desi Comics brings you four different perspectives on the first-generation American immigrant experience, with comedy from Alingon Mitra, Akaash Singh, Tushar Singh and KC Arora. At Carolines on Broadway.
Sam Jay burst into our collective comedy consciousness this year, emerging as a star of New Faces this summer in Montreal, then getting hired as a writer for Saturday Night Live. Find out what she has to say with a full hour onstage at her disposal. Sunday night at the UCBEast.
And here again are this year’s headlining shows at the NYCF:
TUESDAY, NOV. 7
KEVIN SMITH – “AN EVENING WITH KEVIN SMITH” – 7:00PM – CAROLINES ON BROADWAY
WEDNESDAY, NOV. 8
CHRIS HARDWICK – 7:00PM & 9:30PM – CAROLINES ON BROADWAY
THURSDAY, NOV. 9
HOW DID THIS GET MADE? – 7:00PM & 9:45PM – TOWN HALL
CHRIS HARDWICK – 7:30PM & 10:00PM – CAROLINES ON BROADWAY
VIR DAS – 7:00PM – BMCC TRIBECA PERFORMING ARTS CENTER
truTV’s THE IMPRACTICAL JOKERS STARRING THE TENDERLOINS – “SANTIAGO SENT US” TOUR – 8:00PM – MADISON SQUARE GARDEN
JON LOVETT’S “LOVETT OR LEAVE IT PODCAST” – 8:00PM – BEACON THEATRE
FRIDAY, NOV. 10
TOM SEGURA – “TOM SEGURA: NO TEETH, NO ENTRY TOUR” – 7:00PM – TOWN HALL
CHRIS HARDWICK – 7:30PM & 10:00PM – CAROLINES ON BROADWAY
2 DOPE QUEENS – 8:00PM & 10:00PM – THE BELL HOUSE
RON WHITE – 8:00PM – BEACON THEATRE
SATURDAY, NOV. 11
ILIZA SHLESINGER – “ILIZA LIVE” – 7:00PM – TOWN HALL
NICK OFFERMAN – “NICK OFFERMAN: FULL BUSH” – 7:30PM – BEACON THEATRE
BILL MAHER – “AN EVENING WITH BILL MAHER” – 8:00PM – THE THEATRE AT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN
BRIAN REGAN – “BRIAN REGAN LIVE IN CONCERT” – 8:00PM- CARNEGIE HALL
JIM NORTON – 9:45PM – TOWN HALL