In 2018, the New York Comedy Festival, presented in association with tbs, celebrated 15 years of laughter. Headlining the NYCF were Bill Burr, Jimmy Carr, David Cross, Desus & Mero, Dan Harmon’s Harmontown, Gabriel Iglesias, Jim Jefferies, Anthony Jeselnik, Jo Koy, Bert Kreischer, Marc Maron, Jay Mewes, Tracy Morgan, Conan O’Brien, Yvonne Orji, Bryan Safi and Erin Gibson’s Throwing Shade, and Jonathan Van Ness and Antoni Porowski. Venues included the BAM, Beacon Theatre, BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center, the Hulu Theater at MSG, Madison Square Garden, Town Hall, among others. TBS presented a new activation to amplify its presence – the TBS Stage at Sony Hall. TBS took over Sony Hall with three nights of exclusive shows during the festival. In addition to presenting the very best stand-up, the NYCF has celebrated comedy in all its forms by featuring a myriad of diverse programming that includes podcasts and radio broadcasts, conversations, panel discussions, improv and sketch comedy, and film screenings. Festival favorites Comics to Watch and New York’s Funniest, returned. Stand Up for Heroes, the Bob Woodruff Foundation benefit, featured performances by Jimmy Carr, Eric Church, Jim Gaffigan, Seth Meyers, Bruce Springsteen and Jon Stewart. To date, Stand Up for Heroes has raised more than $50 million.
The 2017 New York Comedy Festival marked the beginning of The Festival’s partnership with TBS which included the first-ever TBS Comedy Hub at the new hotel property PUBLIC. TBS and The Festival programmed various activations throughout the week including live shows and podcasts at the PUBLIC Arts performance space. The TBS Comedy Hub served as the festival’s official headquarters where fans and NYCF attendees gained free access to TBS-curated programming, all-star talent and fan-forward experiences. Also new to The Festival in 2017 was the addition of The Second City Pop Up Training Center for which The Second City came to New York City for the first time in partnership with Carolines. The center includes a selection of improvisation, writing and stand-up workshops. Headliners for the festival were 2 Dope Queens, Vir Das, Chris Hardwick, How Did This Get Made?, truTV’s The Impractical Jokers Starring The Tenderloins, Lovett or Leave It, Bill Maher, Jim Norton, Nick Offerman, Brian Regan, Tom Segura, Iliza Shlesinger, Kevin Smith and Ron White. Additionally, Conan O’Brien brought his show CONAN to the Apollo Theater for one week of shows. Stand Up for Heroes returned for its eleventh year featuring performances by Hasan Minhaj, John Mulaney, John Oliver, Jon Stewart and Red Hot Chili Peppers with Leslie Odom, Jr. on hand to sing the national anthem.
The 2016 NYCF featured headliners Eric Andre, Fred Armisen, Anthony Atamanuik, Hannibal Buress, Dane Cook, Chris D’Elia, Cameron Esposito, Bridget Everett, Hari Kondabolu, Bill Maher, Marc Maron, T.J. Miller, Tim Minchin, Hasan Minhaj, Tracy Morgan, Trevor Noah and Tig Notaro. Comedy legend Chris Rock turned up at The Apollo to do a guest set on Hannibal Buress’s show, after which he ventured over to Carolines on Broadway and performed with Eric Andre. The festival kicked off by celebrating the 10th anniversary of Stand Up for Heroes, a benefit for The Bob Woodruff Foundation that featured performances by Louis C.K., Jim Gaffigan, Jerry Seinfeld, Jon Stewart and Bruce Springsteen. The Festival featured a unique art installation called Paranoia Man In A Rat Fink Room at the Storefront for Art and Architecture, commissioned by Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe. Inspired by the original Rat Fink Room (the world’s first dedicated stand-up comedy club), Paranoia Man In A Rat Fink Room followed a tradition of spatial experimentation where the boundaries between architecture, art, and the subject were dissolved into one continuous environment. The Festival also presented A Conversation with Writers of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt at the 92Y featuring Tina Fey and Robert Carlock. Harmontown Live with Dan Harmon and SNL alum Jay Pharoah both performed at The Gramercy and Jenny Slate, Max Silvestri and Gabe Liedman brought their show Big Terrific to Bric House in Brooklyn. Also featured at the 2016 Festival was Comics to Watch, an annual showcase featuring a wide range of diversely talented young comedians selected by the NYCF as well as New York’s Funniest Stand-Up competition, open to all performers who think they have what it takes to be “New York’s Funniest.”
The 2015 NYCF featured both a number of returning favorites as well as some festival first-timers. Headliners were Judd Apatow (whose Carnegie Hall show featured friend Mike Birbiglia and Adam Sandler), Bill Burr, Margaret Cho, Billy Crystal and David Steinberg, Nathan Fielder, Kathy Griffin, Gabriel Iglesias, Norm Macdonald, Bill Maher, Kumail Nanjiani, Trevor Noah, Tom Segura, Iliza Shlesinger and Sarah Silverman. The Festival also presented “’Comedy Central Live In Brooklyn,” featuring Hannibal Buress with performances by Nathan Fielder, Nick Kroll and John Mulaney in “Oh, Hello,” Jay Oakerson, Jeff Ross and Roy Wood, Jr. There were conversations with Lewis Black and John Leguizamo and shows that featured James Adomian, Bridget Everett and The Tender Moments, Nikki Glaser, Chris Gethard, a live taping of Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast with Artie Lange. The Festival also featured films from Janeane Garofalo and Larry Wilmore presented by Wayne Federman and Craig Robinson with his band The Nasty Delicious. Also presented was the 9th annual Stand Up for Heroes, returning to The Theater at Madison Square Garden with performances by Chris Botti, Seth Meyers, John Oliver, Ray Romano, Jon Stewart and Bruce Springsteen. The festival also featured panel discussions with the teams behind Comedy Central’s “The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore,” and a “Sit Down” with the writers of “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.” Other festival highlights included the annual Comics to Watch and the New York’s Funniest Competition.
Among other many notable highlights, the 2014 NYCF kicked off with a series of live tapings of Comedy Central’s late night hit @midnight hosted by Chris Hardwick. Festival headliners were Maria Bamford, Hannibal Buress, Dane Cook, Bill Cosby, Chris D’Elia, Bill Maher, Marc Maron, Tig Notaro, Nick Offerman, Amy Schumer and Sommore. The 8th annual Stand Up for Heroes returned to The Theater at Madison Square Garden with performances by Louis C.K., Jim Gaffigan, John Oliver, Bruce Springsteen and Jon Stewart. The festival also featured panel discussions with the teams behind the Comedy Central hit series “Broad City” and “Inside Amy Schumer” and with the writers of “Late Show with David Letterman.” Other festival highlights included the annual Comics to Watch, the finalists of the New York’s Funniest Stand-Up Competition and Jeff Ross’s “Roast Battle.”
The Festival marked its tenth year in 2013, coinciding with the 30th anniversary of Carolines on Broadway and featuring performances by headliners Maria Bamford, Hannibal Buress, Bill Burr, Whitney Cummings, Kathy Griffin, Jim Jefferies, Anthony Jeselnik, Nick Kroll, Bill Maher, John Mulaney, Charlie Murphy, Jay Pharoah, Nick Swardson and Wanda Sykes. Among the many highlights of the festival was a conversation with Larry David and David Steinberg. After three years at the Beacon Theatre, Stand Up for Heroes moved to the larger Theater at Madison Square Garden and featured performances by Bill Cosby, Jim Gaffigan, Jerry Seinfeld and Jon Stewart with musical performances by Bruce Springsteen and Roger Waters. Other festival highlights in 2013 included The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail, Comics to Watch, the New York’s Funniest Stand-Up competition and panel discussions with David Cross and Nick Kroll.
A 20th reunion of the cast of “The Ben Stiller Show,” featuring Ben Stiller, Judd Apatow, Andy DIck, Janeane Garofalo, Jeff Kahn and Rob Cohen, was a highlight of the 2012 NYCF. Festival headliners were Aziz Ansari, Adam Carolla, Rob Delaney, Jim Gaffigan, Ricky Gervais,Artie Lange, Bill Maher, Patton Oswalt, Brian Regan, Shawn and Marlon Wayans and Robin Williams. Kevin Hart became only the second person to sell out back-to-back shows on the same night in the arena at Madison Square Garden when he brought his “Let Me Explain” tour to the NYCF and the World’s Most Famous Arena. The shows were filmed and later released theatrically to critical acclaim and high grosses. Mike Birbiglia, Ricky Gervais, Patton Oswalt and Jon Stewart all performed at Stand Up for Heroes, which also featured music from John Mayer, Bruce Springsteen and Roger Waters. The festival also featured returning shows like Comics to Watch and the New York’s Funniest Stand-Up competition, as well as performances by the likes of Hannibal Buress, Kyle Kinane, Pete Holmes and Comedy Central stars Key and Peele.
At the 2011 NYCF, Louis C.K. taped his show “Louis C.K. Live at the Beacon,” which he later released on his website, an innovation which quickly became another way for comedians to release their specials directly to their fans. Complimenting C.K.’s shows was a stellar line-up of headlining talent that included Bill Burr, Ricky Gervais, Kathy Griffin, Jo Koy, Bill Maher, Norm MacDonald, Tracy Morgan, Russell Peters, John Pinette and Wanda Sykes. Additional shows in 2011 included panel discussions with the writers of “Saturday Night Live,” the Onion News Network and Comedy in the Digital Space, as well as one-man shows from comedians Kurt Braunohler, Hannibal Buress and Kumail Nanjiani. Stand Up for Heroes returned for a fifth year, with performances by Jim Gaffigan, Ricky Gervais, Seth Meyers and Jon Stewart, with another musical performance by Bruce Springsteen and Rogers Waters.
In its seventh year, the festival featured the likes of Aziz Ansari, Louis C.K., Adam Carolla, Margaret Cho, Kevin Hart, Gabriel Iglesias, Maz Jobrani, Joel McHale, Rosie O’Donnell and Brian Regan. Once again, Stand Up for Heroes was the kick-off event. After three years at Town Hall, the event moved to the Beacon Theatre and featured performances by Bill Burr, Jerry Seinfeld and Joel McHale. The Jon Stewart-hosted benefit also featured musical performances by Tony Bennett and Bruce Springsteen. Other events that took place were panel discussions with Lewis Black, Louis C.K., the cast of Comedy Central’s animated series “Ugly Americans” and a New York Times Center Times Talks discussion with Tracy Morgan. 2010 also saw the first “Comics to Watch” show featuring the best up-and-coming comedians from around the country. Another first time event was an innovative, live online event hosted by Bobby Lee through the Comedy Central owned Jokes.com.