The offerings at the annual New York Comedy Festival, which takes place across the city Friday through Nov. 12, are vast enough to be overwhelming. Stars like Bill Burr, Anthony Jeselnik, Nicole Byer and Michelle Wolf stand out. Then there are New York club veterans like Sam Morril and Matteo Lane moving up a class by playing big rooms at Madison Square Garden and Carnegie Hall. And if you study the schedule, you can also find many smaller acts. The best way to enjoy the festival is by seeing some familiar names, but also taking a few shots in the dark on comics you don’t know or only a little. That’s the fun part for me. If you’re looking for a start, here are a few promising options.
Nov. 11, Gramercy Theater
“Money Never Wakes“Nathan Macintosh’s YouTube special, was among the funniest hours I saw this year. His new show, “Down With Tech,” should provide solace to anyone exhausted with our current digital overlords.
Triumph the Insult Comic Dog
Monday, Murmrr Theater
Who says the borscht belt is dead? Inspired by the great insult comics of the Catskills, this cigar-chomping hand puppet, controlled by the masterly Robert Smigel, is among the most hilarious long-running characters of the past half-century. He will be making an appearance in Brooklyn to show clips, sing songs, run a game show and discuss his arrest in Washington, DC There will be guests, not yet known. And the name of the show, which riffs on a catchphrase, is: “Let’s Make a Poop.” Do it.
Wednesday, Town Hall
An absolute legend of stand-up, Margaret Cho is a touchstone for many performers. With this new show, she celebrates 40 years in the business, but while that number may surprise some people, she does not confuse accumulating experience with becoming mellow. She says she cycled through several titles, including “Absolutely Angry,” before settling on “Live and Livid.”
Sagher and Gethard
Thursday, Brooklyn Comedy Collective
Judging by the institutions moving into or returning to town, like Second City and UCB, improvised might be on the verge of a comeback in this city. If so, expect the talented duo of Tami Sagher and Chris Gethard to play a part. They have worked on both coasts and accumulated many television creditsbut they will operate out of a leading house of improvisation.
Nov. 12, Chelsea Music Hall
A seasoned television sketch writer, Alex English is a reliable killer in stand-up sets. His new show, “Alex English Prays the Gay Away,” finds him in a longer form, and there should be a bounty of hard-hitting punchlines.
For more details on the shows, go to nycomedyfestival.com.