Sure, you could stay home and watch the best stand-up comedians’ specials, or you could head out to the best comedy clubs in NYC and see some world-class performances in person. Below you’ll find our picks of the absolute best shows happening this month, from improv to open mic nights and everything in-between.
RECOMMENDED: Complete comedy shows in NYC guide
Best comedy shows this month
You may know David Carl from his portrayal of Gary Busey in his standout one-man comedy show, David Carl’s Celebrity One-Man Hamlet. Now Carl plays an actor named Carl David (try to keep up), who evokes the wrath of Donald Trump by portraying the President in a solo version of King Lear, Shakespeare's portrait of a senescent ruler whose vanity tears his country apart. Count on an uncanny performance from this virtuoso.
As part of comedy trio Three Busy Debras—who took over Carnegie Hall in 2016 and will rule human civilization in an ideal future—Alyssa Stonoha has exhibited a brilliant eye for self-aware silliness. At this monthly night of nonsense, the bleak and brilliant creator curates comedians, singers and all sorts of wild acts on the UCB East stage. This time, she welcomes Sydnee Washington, Matt Rogers, Lorelei Ramirez, Ayo Edebiri and Edy Modica. Trust her tastes.
The lovely duo of Chrissie Mayr and Oscar Aydin host this monthly showcase of dope queer and queer-appealing comics at the historic Stonewall. On April 21, catch Doug Smith, Luke Touma, Whitney Chanel Clark, Margo Reiss and Ratnesh Dubey; May 19 boasts Emma Willmann, Justin Covington, Justin Perez, Christine Meehan and Dante Plush; and the June 2 five-year anniversary show features some of the show's greatest hits.
Twin brothers and vaudeville aficionados Max and Nicky Weinbach bring class back to the comedy scene at their monthly affair, at which stand-ups and musical performers dress up and serve their best sets. This time, they're joined by Kyle Mooney, Jacqueline Novak, Matthew Broussard, Nina Daniels and magician Christian Cagigal.
Anything goes at this variety show, at which demented characters, strange songs and nonsensical stand-up sets abound. Artist, video maker, surreal stand-up and indefatigably chill host Lorelei Ramirez reigns over the dark tidings, with comedy from Eliza Hurwitz, Sam Jay and Alexis Guerreros; music by Secret Sibling; a performance by AfroPunk's Linda LaBeija; videos and more.
This show hosted by Meg Pierson and Justin Williams digs into the long and unfortunate history of the MTA. Episode one, "Bedlam on Wheels - MTA Origins," goes back to the 1830s to look at shady politics and subway microbes. It's not exactly an auspicious beginning, nor is it a surprise, but at least these talented folks make it funny. Come witness—and laugh at—the dawn of our shared misery.
Every month, two of our most beloved comedic minds craft a mysterious new night of deranged performances at the legendary Slipper Room, leading us to ask...what madness awaits at the Bongo Hour? Join night creatures Peter Smith, Sandy Honig and silky-smooth musical director Ben Moss for this off-the-wall night of comedy, variety, music and dance breaks.
The hilarious Zoe Yellen turns her late night talk show into a wild, boozy comedy get down, with drinking games, sketches and stand-up every month. For the May edition, she welcomes Suzanna Ramos, Orli Matlow and Shannon Burke to play. Stand-up sets come courtesy of Alex Fossella, Yaari Tal and Julian Williams.
One and One hosts this local talent showcase every Friday, with Phil Stamato, Daniel Raderstrong and Fume Abe wrangling acts from across town to headline the bill. Past guests have included Myq Kaplan, Shane Torres and Aparna Nancherla. After the show, performers get the weekend started by joining the audience for a lively afterparty. The best part? It's free.
This stellar weekly stand-up show, hosted by Albert Kirchner, Evan Morrison and Jane Harrison and produced by Jamie Rabinovitch, costs a five spot and goes down in a private room in an East Village karaoke bar. May 24 features some of our favorite acts, including Martin Urbano, Sam Evans, Sydnee Washington and Catherine Cohen. And catch even more all-stars on May 31, including Matt Goldich, Dan Perlman, Kelsey Caine and Marie Faustin.
If you think about it, history is a bit like a word in a Rick Ross rhyme: It tends to repeat itself. That’s not the only thing history and rap have in common at this hilarious show, inspired by that other hip-hop musical. Hip-hop improv group North Coast invites audience members to suggest a favorite historical figure—be it Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Bea Arthur or beyond—then performs a fully improvised and factually accurate musical based on that person’s life.
Lucas Connolly beats his Friday night competition by offering guests free pizza and beer, along with some solid stand-up. For May, you get quite a lineup with your slice: the legendary Janeane Garofalo joins Frank Conniff, Leah Bonnema, Sean Patton, Khalid Rahmaan, Morgan Miller and Dean Delray.
You can always bet on Harris Mayersohn and Jessy Morner-Ritt's monthly evening of bizarre and hysterical comedy for a deliriously fun night. For May, the duo brings Shane Torres, Fareeha Khan, Dan Gill, Nick Nemeroff, Jake Head and Mara Wiles to show off their best sets.
Veteran playwrights show up to the PIT Loft with the first act of an unfinished play, then watch a cast of deranged improvisors take their story in wild new directions, starting with the second scene. Watch as Marybess Pritchett, Alex Curtis, Diana DiCostanzo, Mateo Ervin, Tom Kelley, Greg Kinsey, Carolyn Faye Kramer, Lizzy Ana Lincoln, Tobin Mollett, Anne Veal and Patrick Williams spin theatrical brilliance at this monthly show.
This free weekly getdown from Carolyn Busa, Julia Shiplett, Chelsea Taylor, Ben Wasserman and Emily Winter is a reliable night for solid laughs and surprise stars in Crown Heights. For the Memorial Day special, count on happy hour drink specials and giddy sets by Jono Zalay, Sharron Paul, Noa Osheroff and Michael Svetich.
Count on Pete DeAbreu to shut it down at this weekly Lower East Side gig, featuring DJ Juanyto spinning hip-hop and R&B. In addition to his wild Wednesday night gig, DeAbreu throws a lit Memorial Day party, featuring co-host Cipha Sounds, DJ Frei and a joyous after party. It's guaranteed that some very special guests will drop in for the special holiday event, so don't miss it.
Get you a glamazon who can do both: humor and drama. Alt-comedy princess Mo Fry Pasic returns to Union Hall to turn looks and serve her fishiest Oscar bait at this wild variety night. She's joined by gonzo comedy collaborator Tim Platt and millennial maniac Ruby McCollister for songs, sets and over-the-top scenes.
Fireball performer Nadia Pinder claims her throne at this twisted take on the talk show format, at which performers and characters jump between sets and hilarious, nonsensical talk on the couch. Pinder is joined in May by Caitlin Peluffo, LeClerc Andre, Maggie Crane, Rachel Kaly, Yotam Tubul, Jacob Ready and guest co-host Wendy Steiner.
Healer, comedian and tarot reader Kate Wolff welcomes stand-up buddies onstage to share their personal woes and receive very funny (and very real) advice, spiritual guidance and card-based direction. This month, the Invasion of Privacy podcast host welcomes Andy Fiori, Liz Miele, Jason Salmon and Emily Lubin to consult with the oracles.
Sydnee Washington and Marie Faustin— two of our favorite comedians in NYC and cohosts of podcast The Unofficial Expert—round up their funniest friends to dress up and get down at this monthly stand-up show. Fall in love with a diverse range of acts at this month's edition of the always-bangin' show.
Very campy hexes abound at this redoubtable night of free comedy, consecrated in honor of supreme witch Stevie Nicks. Hosts Drew Anderson, Sam Taggart and Marcia Belsky summon their funniest friends to the rooftop to join in—with guests Sasheer Zamata, Kelsey Caine, Julio Torres, Friends Who Folk, Anna Drezen and Larry Owens hitting the stage at this month's edition. Worship your new dark overlords!
The very clever duo of Jed Feiman and Nehemiah Markos welcome funny (and talented) New Yorkers to share their new one- to four-minute comedy videos and short films at this quirky viewing night. It's the one-year anniversary so expect some really top-notch vids.
Hit the best NYC comedy clubs
Since 2004, the four partners behind Cringe Humor (cringehumor.net)—a blog turned event production company and talent management agency—have capitalized on an expanding audience for audacious comedy. After producing popular stand-up shows for years, it’s only fitting that they cofounded a venue in which to promote their favorite comics—think bawdy, raw and dark acts like Jim Norton and Dave Attell. This bi-level Gramercy spot, which opened last month, is already going full tilt, offering cocktails and embellished comfort food upstairs while shows take place seven nights a week in its long, narrow basement. The snug 75-seat room places the audience of frat guys and young professionals in close proximity to the performers, and they get pumped when one of their idols (Dane Cook, for instance) drops by.
Al Martin, the longtime owner of both the New York Comedy Club and Broadway Comedy Club, follows the same basic tenets in his new room—an intimate basement space below an Indian restaurant—as in his other ventures. Though a few pillars in the 60-seat room interfere with sight lines, the pub grub, extensive cocktail selection and long list of stars who just might do a spot while passing through town are drawing crowds every night. Regulars include staples Christian Finnegan, Marina Franklin and Tom Shillue.
The atmosphere in this spot—not to be confused with the space’s previous occupant, the Tribeca Comedy Club—is a congenial one. Its brick walls and makeshift stage remind you that you’re in a basement, but the doting waitstaff, haute Italian menu from Brick NYC upstairs and roomy layout will please fans of creature comforts, or those too claustrophobic for the likes of the Comedy Cellar. Adam Strauss, the owner-booker and a burgeoning comic himself, makes sure that his programming is packed with next-wave talent (young, funny stars such as Sara Schaefer, Dan St. Germain and Kevin Barnett) while also saving stage time for himself.
Last December, working comic Steve Hofstetter and business partner Jacob Morvay opened their shoebox of a club on a charming strip of Vernon Boulevard in Long Island City. Since then, the pair have been able to draw big talent—smart, outspoken acts like Todd Barry and Ted Alexandro—away from Manhattan five to seven nights a week; he’s also created some ambitious projects such as the She-Devil Comedy Festival, a stand-up competition for ladies from across the country, happening Thursday 25 through Sunday 28. The club, a 15-minute ride from Times Square, features a winning Mexican-American menu, cocktails named after comedy legends and 14 beers on tap. Though the only thing that separates club from bar in this long, narrow room is a curtain, the clear views of the stage and friendly vibe make the place a cozy and relaxed alternative to some of Manhattan’s stuffier venues.