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The Best Things To Do In NYC This Week, From The Harlem Comedy Festival To The Five-Boro Pizza Challenge


Harlem Comedy Festival @ Harlem

The Harlem Comedy Festival promises a full week of laughs celebrating people of color in comedy. The fourth-annual fest will feature 17 events over seven days, including showcases, improv evenings, podcast tapings, open mics, parties, and a standup competition featuring 20 comedians in three rounds. Headliners will be Tony Woods, Drew Fraser, Chaunté Wayans, and Leonard Ouzts; venues include the National Black Theater, Harlem Wine Bar, Home to Harlem, The Chipped Cup, and more.

Opens Monday, September 23rd // Various Harlem locations // Various prices

Antigone @ Park Ave Armory

Try a unique take on an ancient play at Satoshi Miyagi’s Antigone, reimagined through a Japanese cultural lens. The retelling combines the foundational principles of Sophocles’ Greek tragedy with Japanese Noh theater, Indonesian shadow play, and Buddhist philosophy. Miyagi’s production flourishes include turning the stage into a river of flowing water as well as filling the Park Avenue Armory’s cavernous walls with silhouettes, magnified expressions, and shadow puppetry. Performances run through October 6th.

Opens Monday, September 23rd // Park Avenue Armory, Wade Hall, 643 Park Ave., Manhattan // Tickets: $35–$175

Henry Chalfant: Art vs. Transit, 1977–1987 @ Bronx Museum

The latest exhibit at the Bronx Museum is the first US retrospective by photographer Henry Chalfant. “One of the foremost authorities on New York subway art,” Chalfant focused on graffiti, hip-hop, and street culture in the Bronx and Upper Manhattan, starting in the late 1970s. Art vs. Transit will feature selections from the artist’s voluminous personal archive: photographs, films, iconic images from Style Wars, and rare historical ephemera, including a recreation of his 1980s studio. The show runs through March.

Opens Wednesday, September 25th // Bronx Museum, 1040 Grand Concourse, Bronx // Free

New York Burlesque Festival @ Various venues

Get doused in both glitter and glamour at the 17th-annual New York Burlesque Festival, with 120 burlesque, boylesque, and go-go performances at five venues in four days. Thursday kicks off with a teaser show at the Bell House hosted by World Famous *BOB*, Friday promises the Premiere Party at Brooklyn Bowl with Albert Cadabra and Shelly Watson, then there’s the Saturday Spectacular at Sony Hall, featuring Murray Hill, Julia Atlas Muz, the Evil Hate Monkey, and more. On Sunday there will be a burlesque bazaar with vendors, panels, and a showcase, and the fest closes out that night with the Golden Pastie Awards, an Oscar-style extravaganza with performances by Darlinda Just Darlinda, Scotty the Blue Bunny, Delirious Fenix, and on and on.

Opens Thursday, September 26th // Various venues // Various prices

Night of Women Composers @ National Sawdust

Honoring its roots as a woman-led organization, National Sawdust opens its fifth season with Night of Women Composers. The showcase features music by seven women whose works have “indelibly changed the landscape of classical and new music” and ranges from historical works to new premieres. Pieces include improvisations inspired by Clara Schulmann, a tribute built from fragments of work by swing and bebop icon Mary Lou Williams, arias by Missy Mazzoli, and selections from a new opera by Paola Prestini, National Sawdust’s own co-founder and artistic director.

Friday, September 27th, 7:30 p.m. // National Sawdust, 80 North 6th St., Brooklyn // Tickets: $35

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All the world’s a playground at the Come Out and Play fest.

Come Out and Play

Come Out and Play @ Dumbo Archway Plaza

For the 14th year running, Come Out and Play will turn Dumbo into a giant playground. This celebration of urban gaming, showcasing original and unique games that make innovative use of public space, is designed for all ages: family-friendly games are the focus during the day, and after dark, the social party games, large physical video games, and bizarre new street games appear. Some of this year’s challenges include Useless Technology, where inventors convince a panel of judges that their idea is by far the worst; GPS adventure Glittercade, which turns Dumbo into an intelligence model; UndAR the Sea, a phone-based augmented-reality underwater disco; and Live Action Pocket Monster Snap, a live photography video game.

Saturday, September 28th, 1 p.m. // Dumbo Archway Plaza, 155 Water St., Brooklyn // Free

Chile Pepper Festival @ Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Feel the heat at the BBG’s annual embrace of all things spicy. The Chile Pepper Festival will bedevil your tastebuds with three dozen vendors sharing hot-sauce tastings, a pepper-eating contest, hot-sauce-laden cooking demos, a talk on the peppers of Asia, and a hot-chile-planting workshop for kids. There will also be sultry music all day, including Trinidadian steel drummers, Haitian polyrhythms, and a brass-band second line, plus an evening concert featuring New Orleans living legends Irma Thomas, John “Papa” Gros, Walter “Wolfman’’ Washington, and Big Chief Monk Boudreaux.

Saturday, September 28th, 11 a.m. // Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 990 Washington Ave., Brookyn // Tickets: $30

5 Boro Pizza Challenge @ Citywide

Prove your navigational bona-fides as well as your gastronomical superiority at this year’s 5 Boro Pizza Challenge. Grab your pals and head to the Red Cube in Lower Manhattan, where you’ll receive a list of five pizzerias—one per borough. Using any transportational method except a car, get your team to each shop, scarf a slice, post a pic, and then book it to the after-party. All entrants get a T-shirt, and the team to get it all done first gets the glory (and a medal). The whole shebang is a fundraiser for Transportation Alternatives, which works tirelessly to break NYC’s monomaniacal obsession with cars.

Saturday, September 28th, 11 a.m. // Meet at Red Cube, 140 Broadway, Manhattan // Tickets: $35

A knight in shining armor at the Medieval Fest.

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Go way back in time at the Medieval Fest.

Bill Ritter

35th Annual Medieval Festival @ Fort Tryon Park

Burnish your chain mail and shine your sword for this year’s Medieval Festival. Expect droves of people in historic costumes, as well as entertainments by armored knights, jugglers, jesters, musicians, storytellers, acrobats, and puppeteers. There will be royal jousts with knights on horseback, ensembles performing Medieval dances and songs, and demos by blacksmiths, manuscript illuminators, pottery decorators, wood-carvers, falconers, and other artisans. Not to mention a marketplace brimming with Medieval food and crafts.

Sunday, September 29th, 11:30 a.m. // Fort Tryon Park, Inwood // Free

Fall Feast @ Lefferts Historic House

Celebrate the harvest at one of the oldest homes in Brooklyn, which was built in the late 18th century. The Fall Feast rewards the work of local families, who planted veggies in the Lefferts Historic House garden in the spring and tended them throughout the year. Come early to help harvest the bounty, then play croquet, corn hole, and other lawn games while historic interpreters prepare the feast. After the meal, storyteller Tammy Hall will share harvest tales to round out the afternoon.

Sunday, September 29th, 1 p.m. // Lefferts Historic House, 452 Flatbush Ave., Brooklyn // Free

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