Every year, the good people behind the New York Comedy Festival seem to outdo themselves, and 2015 was no exception. Picking and choosing which shows to catch is the most difficult part of the gig, but when it all boils down, so many performances are impressive that it’s difficult to find a dud. From more than 200 comedians in over 60 venues, here are our choices for the best acts at this year’s festival.
Stand Up for Heroes
The Theater at Madison Square Garden on November 10, 2015
Stand Up For Heroes has become a staple of the New York Comedy Festival — and for great reason. (That great reason is, of course, because it’s all for a great cause.) Presented in association with the Bob Woodruff Foundation, the ninth annual event included a gorgeous national anthem sung by Chris Botti as well as hilarious sets from Seth Meyers, Ray Romano, John Oliver, and Jon Stewart. Bruce Springsteen also rocked the house not just with tunes, but with some raunchy jokes, too. (Go Bruce!) The event honored returning service members, veterans, and their families, raising a lot of money through an exciting cash auction along with donations from the crowd — including Bruce Springsteen, mama Springsteen, and Harley Davidson. If you missed this year’s fantastic show, be sure to get on board next time. Trust us, it’s exceptional.
Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast
Carolines Comedy Club on November 11, 2015
The live taping of Gilbert Gottfried’s “Amazing Colossal Podcast” was co-hosted by Frank Santopadre, featured special guest Artie Lange, and all went down at Caroline Comedy Club. To say the show was hilarious would be an enormous understatement — it transcended hilarity. Gottfried and Lange’s amazing chemistry wowed the crowd with conversations and stories about Tracy Morgan, Donald Trump, Klan meetings, Hitler, Tom Cruise, and arrests, as well as old TV and movies. They also discussed the differences between comedians being seen as offensive these days versus the old standards “back in the day.” Side note: We never knew Gilbert could do such a great Bill Cosby impression, but boy did he nail it. You can jump on Gottfried’s site and download the episode for an hour of non-stop laughter.
Carnegie Hall on November 12, 2015
Kathy Griffin doesn’t hold back when it comes to her comedy and if you were in the house to see her “Like a Boss Tour” at Carnegie Hall during the festival, you witnessed it first hand. Filled with lots of energy, Griffin captivated the sold-out crowd with brand new material that covered dating young dudes, T-Swift, Donald Trump, sexism in stand-up, powerful kids, Caitlyn Jenner, and the Kardashians. Besides looking more gorgeous than ever, this ridiculously funny gal’s set seems to be getting better and ballsier by the day. We know we’re not alone in thinking that, thanks to the standing ovation she earned.
The Theater at Madison Square Garden on November 14, 2015
Due to extra security, the antsy crowd waited for Bill Maher to take the stage for an extra 20 minutes on Saturday night. When he did appear, all was forgotten, and he was met with uproarious applause. No one was safe and no topic was off limits as Maher discussed marijuana laws, the presidential candidates, Ben Stein, ISIS, “Clock Boy” Ahmed Mohamed, boner pills, Michael Jackson, Bill Cosby, and the TSA. Never one to push his own agenda (just kidding), Maher also gave some suggestions to help our economy, gun control, and how not be anti-Muslim but rather to become “anti-hate.” It wouldn’t have been Maher without a touch of religion, and he gave it to the crowd with a holy wholly hysterical talk about the Pope a.k.a. “the cum police.” (Brilliant.)
Not part of the festival but honorable mention worthy…
We were awestruck when we were lucky enough to slip down to the Comedy Cellar to catch Big Jay Oakerson’s set. He delivered a complete crowd-work set fueled with a little help from fellow comic Wil Sylvince bantering from the audience. Fortunately for you New York locals, you Jay frequents comedy clubs around the city. He can also be heard on his podcast Legion of Skanks as well as alongside Dan Soder on the Bonfire. Do yourself a solid and check him out.