The New York Comedy Festival kicks off on Nov. 10, and as it has every year since its inception in 2004, this year’s lineup boasts a who’s-who of the current comedy world. In case you happen to be in New York City for this year’s festival, check out 10 of our picks for the best performers in this year’s lineup – and watch some of their best bits just in case you need a few laughs before next week’s guffaw fest.
1. Trevor Noah
He only recently stepped behind Jon Stewart’s desk as the new host of The Daily Show, but he’s been a star in his native South Africa for years and had been performing comedy in the U.S. since moving here in 2011. Seeing him outside the Daily Show setting will give comedy fans a chance to experience the humor that helped him rise to the top.
She’s been performing standup for nearly 20 years, and she’s evolved into one of the comedians with the funniest takes on all manner of controversial subjects. She’s also notably the ex-girlfriend of Jimmy Kimmel, and their continued friendship has given them multiple opportunities to make fun of each other publicly. (Silverman notably earned an Emmy for her 2009 video "I’m F—— Matt Damon.")
Silverman performs Friday, Nov. 13.
The dude’s been funny for 40 years, and he used his standup career as a springboard to TV, movies, and hosting the Oscars more times than anyone other than Bob Hope. Though only 67 years old, Crystal is a legend. His New York Comedy Festival appearance has him talking – and presumably continuing to be funny – with another longtime comedian, David Steinberg.
Griffin’s brand of comedy works because her delivery makes her seem like she’s just your filterless friend who’s telling you stories and dishing out opinions about celebrities. She’s funny, and it’s taken her far – all the way to Carnegie Hall, in fact, where she’s performing for her New York Comedy Festival appearance. It’s easily one of the classiest places she’s ever unleashed her sense of humor.
Griffin performs Thursday, Nov. 12.
Check out Kathy Griffin’s Fab Pad!
5. Judd Apatow
He’s better known today as the director of The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up and Trainwreck, but Apatow is also a comedian in his own right, and began performing standup when he was only 17 years old. His Carnegie Hall festival appearance is touted as “Judd Apatow and Friends!” and will feature comedian Mike Birbiglia, among others.
Apatow (and his friends) perform Saturday, Nov. 14.
6. Nathan Fielder
He’s the star of the Comedy Central show Nathan for You, but Nathan Fielder is still probably best known as the perpetrator of the infamous "Dumb Starbucks" stunt that ultimately earned the scrutiny of the real Starbucks. Fielder is clever and has an amazing deadpan delivery that he uses to point out the absurdity of everyday life.
Fielder performs Thursday, Nov. 12.
7. Margaret Cho
Cho’s early standup routine lead to the breakout television series All-American Girl. She’s gone on to appear on TV shows as diverse as 30 Rock, Drop Dead Diva, Dancing with the Stars and Sex and the City. And all the while she’s been performing her unique brand of personal, politically progressive comedy. The name of her latest show, “There’s No I in Team But There’s a Cho in Psycho” says it all.
Since Jan. 19, Wilmore has been hosting The Nightly Show, the Comedy Central news satire show that replaced The Colbert Report. Since then, the longtime Daily Show “Senior Black Correspondent” has been finding the comedy in American news, and for his New York Comedy Festival appearance, he’s bringing the entire writing staff of his new show for a conversation moderated by none other than Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Wilmore and the Nightly Show writing staff take the stage Saturday, Nov. 14.
He achieved mainstream fame as the host of Saturday Night Live‘s Weekend Update, where his non sequiturs earned him fans but also got him fired. Then he got to host SNL, and the strangeness of being fired and then brought back as host was not lost on him. That experience did nothing to alter his brand of comedy, and he’s been busy ever since, appearing on late night talk shows and as a frequent guest on The Howard Stern Show. We hope he never changes.
10. Lewis Black
He yells, but there are some good points hidden in all that yelling. The comedy vet has been a regular contributor to The Daily Show since its inception in 1996. He most recently voiced Anger in Inside Out, and he’ll doubtlessly have some anger left to spare for his New York Comedy Festival appearance.