New York is comedy central. The biggest names perform here often. The most iconic live franchise on TV shoots here. The city’s venues are legendary.
So it stands to reason that organizers of the New York Comedy Festival, which kicks off its 13th edition on Nov. 1 and runs through Nov. 6, must think big.
And think big they have, with 60 shows and events planned at 20 locations throughout the city this year and a renewed focus on venues outside of Manhattan to supplement mainstays such as the Beacon Theatre and the 92nd Street Y.
“New York is pretty much the capital of the world and one of the most creative cities in the world,” said Caroline Hirsch, the founder of Carolines on Broadway, who created the festival. “Here we have so many different types of people, and different venues for them to perform.”
On Saturday, for example, the popular live comedy show “Big Terrific,” featuring Jenny Slate, Max Silvestri and Gabe Liedman, will be at BRIC House in Brooklyn. Another show, “Dark Spots,” can be found at The Creek and The Cave in Long Island City, and the live comedy sketch show “The Sketch Down” will be at The Point in the Bronx.
Hirsch said spreading the festival around the city is a win for the performers and the fans who asked for closer shows.
“I think a lot of performers do a lot of bigger venues and when they come to these local, smaller places, they feel more at home,” Hirsch said. Beyond standup, Hirsch and her team have chosen to focus on comedy films and shows this year as well.
“A lot of comedy fans are interested in how these are made and how they are made in New York,” she said. “It all adds to the mix of making [the festival] diversified.”
Two such events include “Made in New York: Comedy Makers of NYC,” hosted by “Talk Stoop” host Cat Greenleaf, and another with Tina Fey and her staff from “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” at the 92nd Street Y Saturday.
Hirsch said the New York comedy community has always banded together to help the needy and the festival’s opening night Nov. 1 is the biggest showing of their generosity. The Stand Up for Heroes show at the Theater at Madison Square Garden will feature Louis C.K., Jim Gaffigan, Jerry Seinfeld, Bruce Springsteen and Jon Stewart and raise money for injured military veterans and their families.
Some of those service families will be in the front row for the show, which has raised nearly $40 million for the nonprofit Bob Woodruff Foundation since it started in 2007.
Hirsch hopes the festival helps enrich the city’s vibrant comedy scene and that it inspires new talent to step up to the microphone and share their work with the world. “We feel so proud that we built this and people know about it,” she said.