As if comedy isn’t always a huge part of New York City’s entertainment draw, this week it’s doubly huge—you see, the eighth annual New York Comedy Festival hits town this Wednesday and runs through Nov. 13, boasting the absolute biggest names in stand-up and expanding its reach beyond Manhattan to Brooklyn, Queens and yes, even Staten Island. The giant likes of Louis C.K. (who’s playing four shows, including his taping of his new hour-long special at the Beacon Theatre on Nov. 10 as well as hitting the St. George Theater in Staten Island on Nov. 11), Sarah Silverman (Nov. 12 at the BAM Gilbert Howard Opera House in Brooklyn), Ricky Gervais (Nov. 13 at the Kaufmann Concert Hall at the 92nd Street Y), Kathy Griffin (Nov. 12 at Carnegie Hall), Wanda Sykes (Nov. 10 at Town Hall), Russell Peters (seven shows at Carolines on Broadway), Tracy Morgan (Nov. 11 at the Beacon Theatre), Bill Burr (Nov. 11 at Carnegie Hall), John Pinette (Nov. 11 at Town Hall) and Norm Macdonald (Nov. 12 at Town Hall) are set to perform in some of the country’s most celebrated venues.
Beyond that, the festival – produced by Carolines on Broadway – will be shining a light on some smaller, hip venues like the Bowery Ballroom, where Michael Ian Black will be performing on Nov. 10, CB’s Comedy Club downtown where comedian Big Jay Oakerson will be hosting a show called “Filthy Tales” on Nov. 10 and 11 and the Tribeca Performing Arts Center where comedians like Colin Quinn, Eugene Mirman and Robert Kelly will come together on Nov. 9 for a benefit to honor the late comedian Mike DeStefano.
And speaking of benefits, the fest kicks off Wednesday at the Beacon Theatre with the annual Stand Up For Heroes, which benefits the Bob Woodruff Foundation, an organization that helps support wounded soldiers and their familes. This year’s event will feature performances by Jim Gaffigan, the aforementioned Gervais, Jon Stewart and Bruce Springsteen.
And while its clear the fest boasts more than a few big names, this year’s fest is also a place to discover some new and up and coming talent. Comedy Central’s Roastmaster General, comedian Jeffrey Ross will host the Comics To Watch showcase at Carolines on Broadway on Nov. 9; a show that will feature comics hand-selected by Comedy Central and festival producers. And on Nov. 12, also at Carolines on Broadway, industry judges will watch young comics compete onstage for the title of New York’s Funniest Stand-up. The winner will leave the showroom with a cash prize, a week of work at Carolines and, of course, bragging rights— not too shabby.
“I think it’s the caliber of the talent and the fact this all takes place in New York City is what separates us from other comedy festivals,” says Caroline Hirsch, owner of Carolines on Broadway and founder/producer of the festival. “New York is really the capital of the world. It’s an important place to be. And it has some very important venues. You can go to Chicago and you can go to Texas, and you can go to LA but you don’t have the kind of venues you have in New York City—like Carnegie Hall, the Beacon Theater or Madison Square Garden. These are historical sites. That makes it stand out, right there.”
We couldn’t agree more. We highly suggest that if you live within a few hundred miles of the city, you check out one or more of these amazing offerings at the New York Comedy Festival. For a complete list of shows, events, special presentations and more, check out the official fest site at nycomedyfestival.com.