It’s about that time: The New York Comedy Festival is back. This year, from November 7 to November 12, the city will see over 200 comedians performing more than 60 shows at venues around the city. And as always, the festival is produced by Carolines on Broadway — this year, in partnership with TBS.
We talked to the woman behind the festival, Caroline Hirsch, who has long been credited with boosting New York City’s stand up comedy scene, about her favorite up and coming comedians and why she relates more to young female comedians than young male ones.
You’ve got such an eye for picking out new talent — what young comedians are you into these days?
I like Tim Dillon. We’re doing bus tours with him, he’s a great stand up. Also keep an eye out for Amanda Seales. There’s lots of people to be watching here during the festival.
Do the comedians you like sort of have a common thread?
They’re smart and have their own voice. That’s pretty much what makes people stand out over the years. I was just watching a little interview Tiffany Haddish had with Stephen Colbert, and she was so fun and refreshing and so honest. And she’s hysterical. I’m laughing here at my computer, so that’s what it is. It’s fresh and having your own take on things. And that’s what makes people break out.
Another part of it is you have to work hard also, after you get that initial buzz, you have to work really, really hard to make sure you still have those same standards going.
Do you see more diversity in comedy as well?
I’m really really impressed with how many women want to be in this business. It kind of floors me. When I first started there, were no women around who wanted to work in this industry. But now it’s changed a lot. Which is, you know, I’m glad for that. I can kind of relate more with the young women who have come through here than the young men who come through here.
How do you think the comedy scene has changed in the last 30 or so years?
Years ago when I started, stand ups wanted to be on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson,” because that was sort of the stamp of approval. In today’s age, with social media and Youtube, somebody can be a viral sensation on one thing that they put out. Doesn’t mean that they’re going to be great in the stand up world, but it does mean they’ll get noticed. So social media is very, very important today.
Shows to look out for
Here are some of the events Hirsch is most excited about.
Full Hour with Full Frontal’s Samantha Bee hosted by Ana Gasteyer, TBS Main Stage
An intimate conversation with icon in the making Samantha Bee, hosted by SNL alumni and “People of Earth” star Ana Gasteyer.
November 7, 5pm
Conan Presents: The Writers of “Conan” Live, TBS Main Stage
This event will bring together the comedy writers of “Conan” for a stand up comedy showcase.
November 7, 9pm
A Toast to the OG’s of Comedy, NYU Skirball Center
This tribute to Tracy Morgan and Cedric the Entertainer — who both star in the upcoming series, “The Last O.G.” — will bring together comedians like Donnell Rawlings, Derek Gaines and Tracey Ashley for an unforgettable night of stand up comedy.
November 9, 8pm
Refinery29 Presents: In Charge of Being Funny, TBS Main Stage
17-year-old comedian wunderkind Ruby Karp will host a panel on being a woman in a leadership position in the world of comedy. The talk will bring together show runners, head writers, creators and other visionaries, like “Difficult People” creator and star Julie Klausner.
November 10, 3pm
“Search Party” Presents: Season 2 Watch Party & Bloody Maria Brunch, The Hub
A binge and brunch, compliments of Patrón? Yes please. Here’s your chance to watch the second season of the hit series — which premieres November 19 — while enjoying complimentary Bloody Marias, of course.
November 11, 11am