Winter's top comedy shows

Catch the best holiday stand-up comedy shows, Hurricane Sandy benefits and a new podcast festival in New York this season.

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  • Photograph: Mindy Tucker

    Ted Leo and Tom Scharpling

  • Photograph: Camilla Adams

    Black and white photograph of Dylan Moran

  • Photograph: Ted Tremper

    TJ & Dave

  • Lisa DeLarios and Arden Myrin

    Photograph: Seth Olenick

    The Party Machine: Lisa DeLarios and Arden Myrin

    Lisa DeLarios and Arden Myrin
  • Photograph: Karl Giant

    Murray Hill

  • Photograph: Steve Anthony

    Todd Barry

  • Pete Holmes

  • John Hodgman

    John Hodgman

    John Hodgman
  • Photograph: Courtesy of Joe’s Pub

    Sandra Bernhard

  • Photograph: Brian Friedman

    Joe Derosa

  • 50 First Jokes

    Photograph: Mindy Tucker

    50 First Jokes

    50 First Jokes
  • Julie Klausner

    Photograph: Mindy Tucker

    Julie Klausner

    Julie Klausner
  • D.L. Hughley

    Malcolm Mackinnon

    D.L. Hughley

    D.L. Hughley
  • Wanda Sykes

    Wanda Sykes
  • Photograph: Jillian Sorkin

    TJ Miller

  • Photograph: Brian Friedman

    John Mulaney

Photograph: Mindy Tucker

Ted Leo and Tom Scharpling

Stand-up comedy may not cure your seasonal affective disorder, but you just may forget the wintry mix coming down outside while you're laughing. Here, Time Out New York picks some of the season's best comedy shows, be they improv, storytelling, variety or other (like the Peoples Improv Theater's new podcast festival). Also, there are an awful lot of holiday shows coming up—whether or not we survive the apocalypse on December 21 remains to be seen.


A Very Special Hurricane Benefit Show

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Pals and creative cohorts Tom Scharpling (of WFMU fame) and Ted Leo (of Brooklyn rock fame) have brought together some of their best comedic pals to tell jokes while helping out with Sandy recovery efforts. Also taking the stage will be Chris Elliott, John Hodgman, Jon Benjamin, Julie Klausner, Andrew W.K. and more.

  1. The Bell House 149 7th St, between Second and Third Aves
  2. Until Fri Dec 7
More info

Dylan Moran

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

This wildly clever Irish stand-up approaches all of life's issues, from dicks to death, with a wry panache that makes many of his intricate jokes appear tossed off. He may be recognizable to Americans from films such as Shaun of the Dead, but Moran is a lifelong comic and regular at festivals around the world.

  1. Theatre 80 80 St. Marks Pl, between First and Second Aves
  2. Until Sat Dec 8
More info

TJ & Dave

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

TJ Jagodowski and Dave Pasquesi quietly founded their own cult, and we couldn't be happier: Comedy nerds, theater enthusiasts and people who just like to laugh can all agree on their accessible and dynamic improv character studies. Trust us and drink their Kool-Aid.

  1. Barrow Street Theatre 27 Barrow St, at Seventh Ave South
  2. Until Mon Jul 22
More info

The Party Machine Holiday Benefit Spectacular

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Hosts Arden Myrin and Lisa DeLarios bring their usual bash to the Bell House with a number of great performers, to benefit the Red Cross and the Badass Brooklyn Animal Shelter. Their guests include Janeane Garofalo, Jon Glaser, Sheng Wang and Chris Gethard, with musical performances from Adira Amram and the Experience. The after-party DJs will be AndrewAndrew.

  1. The Bell House 149 7th St, between Second and Third Aves
  2. Until Thu Dec 13
More info

A Murray Little Christmas

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

New York’s stalwart drag king, Murray “Mr. Showbiz” Hill, brings his rollicking year-end celebration—one of the highlights of the season, just like your drunk uncle—to Le Poisson Rouge with burlesque titillation, musical mayhem and comedic mirth courtesy of Bridget Everett, Carmine Covelli, Erin Markey, the New York City Burlesque Choir and the Craigslist Quartet. For more information, go to mistershowbiz.com.

  1. Le Poisson Rouge 158 Bleecker St, at Thompson St
  2. Until Sat Dec 14
More info

Todd Barry: 25th Anniversary in Comedy Show

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

It's been a quarter of a century since this bone-dry, eloquently sarcastic stand-up went to his first open mike; this show is a celebration of his dedication to the craft. Join Sarah Silverman, Janeane Garofalo, Ted Alexandro and more for this performance, which was rescheduled after complications created by Hurricane Sandy.

  1. The Bell House 149 7th St, between Second and Third Aves
  2. Until Wed Dec 19
More info

Pete Holmes

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

This chipper comic with a mad, braying laugh has been hosting a great podcast, You Made It Weird, and working for late-night shows such as Conan. All the while, he's been growing stronger and smarter as a stand-up, willing to go to great, goofy lengths to get the audience on his side.

  1. Gramercy Theatre 127 E 23rd St, between Park Ave South and Lexington Ave
  2. Until Fri Dec 21
More info

John Hodgman: That Is All

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

We can't think of anyone we would rather witness the destruction of our world with than this deranged millionaire. Hodgman welcomes the apocalypse with two shows of comedy and music, featuring performance artist Cynthia Hopkins. We recommend saying goodbye to your loved ones, then making for the later performance, where Hodgman will count down to doom—er, we mean midnight.

  1. The Bell House 149 7th St, between Second and Third Aves
  2. Until Fri Dec 21
More info

Sandra Bernhard

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

The Divine Sandra is a mouthy actor, comedian and singer whose best work gives pop culture a big, sloppy kiss, while simultaneously biting it on the lip. The acerbic actor-comedian-singer returns to Joe’s Pub with her band, the Rebellious Jezebels, to further intertwine sentimentality, caustic wit, wistfulness and sarcasm—and to belt out plenty of tongue-in-cheek (or are they?) rock songs.

  1. Joe's Pub at the Public Theater 425 Lafayette St, between Astor Pl and E 4th St
  2. Until Tue Dec 31
More info

Dave Attell

  • Price band: 4/4
  • Critics choice

Attell is a comic’s comic because he works; he’s traveled the world, done innumerable clubs, appeared on all the late-night shows and is currently dissecting adult films on Showtime's Dave's Old Porn. Attell is not just a great joke writer, he also has a big, highly inappropriate imagination and way too much time to exercise it.

  1. Carolines on Broadway 1626 Broadway, between 49th and 50th Sts
  2. Fri Dec 26 - Sun Dec 28
More info

Competitive Erotic Fan Fiction

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Bryan Cook's L.A. comedy show gives the crowd something it never knew it wanted: sexy literature written by comics about favorite characters—say, Theo Huxtable or Bilbo Baggins—or extant fictional universes. After reading a prepared piece, each winner goes on to create a new work on the spot, based on audience suggestions.

  1. Union Hall 702 Union St, between Fifth and Sixth Aves
  2. Until Thu Jun 26
More info

New Year's Eve Spectacular

  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

For those who want to be in Times Square but would rather laugh than freeze, Carolines is the way to go. The evening's comics are a crew of great, young voices Joe DeRosa, Mark Normand, Dan Soder, Nate Bargatze and Vince August. After the late show, watch the ball drop on the big screen before a DJ turns the place into a dance club.

  1. Carolines on Broadway 1626 Broadway, between 49th and 50th Sts
  2. Until Tue Dec 31
More info

50 First Jokes

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Each year in early January, John F. O'Donnell invites 50 of his favorite comics to present their first new joke of the year. It's a meet-and-greet for some of the city's best young comics, and though more than a few jokes come off as a bit too polished, those that play by the rules allow the crowd a peek behind the curtain during the writing process.

  1. The Bell House 149 7th St, between Second and Third Aves
  2. Until Fri Jan 3
More info

The Improvised Shakespeare Company

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

The actors speak in faux-British accents, employ Elizabethan-era speech and play up any number of Shakespearean tropes, yet this hugely popular Chicago show is anything but gimmicky. Good improv rises above.

  1. Theatre 80 80 St. Marks Pl, between First and Second Aves
  2. Until Tue May 13
More info

New York City Podfest

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Capitalizing on the ongoing podcast boom, the PIT brings together some of the city's popular shows and hosts for a weekend marathon of recordings. Among those participating: Kevin Allison's RISK!, Dave Hill's Pocasting Incident, Myq Kaplan's Hang Out with Me and many, many more to be announced.

  1. Peoples Improv Theater 123 E 24th St, between Park Ave South and Lexington Ave
  2. Sat Jan 11 - Sun Jan 12
More info

JB Smoove

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Playing Leon Black on Curb Your Enthusiasm gained this stand-up and former SNL writer the wide audience he rightly deserves. His madcap and jovially physical stage act is just as animated and off-the-wall as Leon.

  1. Carolines on Broadway 1626 Broadway, between 49th and 50th Sts
  2. Thu Apr 10 - Sun Apr 13
More info

Winter Comedy Jam

  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

This lineup brings out some comics—including Joe Torry, Smokey Suarez and Bruce Bruce—big enough to fill the Garden. For our money, give us an extra helping of Earthquake, whose emphatic cadence is funny regardless of his subject matter, and D.L. Hughley, whose mix of family stories and social commentary is always effective.

  1. Theater at Madison Square Garden 4 Pennsylvania Plaza (Seventh Ave), between 31st and 33rd Sts
  2. Sat Jan 25
More info

Garden of Laughs

  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

A varied lineup of big names holds down this benefit stand-up show whose proceeds go to the children's organization Garden of Dreams. As the performers include Brian Regan, Adam Ferrara, Darrell Hammond, Robert Klein, Ray Romano and Wanda Sykes, most of the comedy will be suitable for sensitive ears.

Win tickets for the event here!

  1. Theater at Madison Square Garden 4 Pennsylvania Plaza (Seventh Ave), between 31st and 33rd Sts
  2. Sat Jan 26
More info

TJ Miller

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

As this actor and improviser has snagged parts in movies such as Extract and Get Him to the Greek, he's also come into his own as a stand-up. He's an incorrigibly silly but nonetheless canny writer whose most recent Comedy Central series, Mash Up, turns a lot of hot young comics' tales into sketches.

  1. Gotham Comedy Club 208 W 23rd St, between Seventh and Eighth Aves
  2. Wed Oct 1
More info

John Mulaney

  • Critics choice

John Mulaney is an SNL writer who plowed his way to the top of the local stand-up heap with smart material ranging from youthful tales of misadventure to ongoing thoughts about Ice-T and Law & Order. He's a wunkerkind made good, and he's only getting better.

  1. Carolines on Broadway 1626 Broadway, between 49th and 50th Sts
  2. Until Sat Nov 9
More info


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