When you’re looking for a night out in NYC, we all know the big names — Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, or one fo the many Broadway theaters. But I’ve recently found some super cool organizations that operate their own event venues that I’m excited to share with you. Here we go…
I’ve been to two events recently at the 92nd Street Y (92Y), and they did not disappoint. First a screening of Tick, Tick, Boom followed by an interview with star Andrew Garfield. And a few weeks later, a conversation with actor Josh Peck to celebrate the release of his first book Happy People are Annoying followed by a book signing. Both of these guys came across as genuine, inspiring, funny, humble and somehow related celebrities…Are they really just like us?
Located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, 92Y houses multiple venues within its walls. A nonprofit community and cultural center, its events list is extensive and includes some heavy-hitters across multiple industries. I’m excited to see Mayim Bialik and a screening of her directorial debut As They Made Us, as well as a interview with music industry legend Clive Davis next month.
Other upcoming options include Bachelor contestants Jason Tartick, Tyler Cameron and Matt James, makeup icon Bobbi Brown, celebrity fashion designers Tory Burch or Tommy Hilfiger, a screening of The Dropout followed by an interview with star Amanda Seyfried and others, The Handmaid’s Tale author Margaret Atwood, comedy extraordinaire Judd Apatow, and the list literally goes on and on. 92Y also hosts classes on a variety of subjects.
With your ticket purchase, you can add an additional donation to support 92Y’s mission to “create, provide and disseminate programs of distinction that foster the physical and mental health of human beings throughout their lives, their educational and spiritual growth and their enjoyment.”
The Paley Center for Media has locations in Midtown Manhattan and LA, where it hosts ongoing exhibits and special events, including the annual PaleyFest. Founded in 1975 by broadcasting pioneer William S. Paley, The Paley Center is “a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that leads the discussion about about the cultural, creative, and social significance of television, radio, and emerging platforms, drawing upon its curatorial expertise, and international collection, and close relationships with the media community.”
I attended an event there a few years back, during which Seth Meyers hosted a conversation with the female comedy writers on his late-night show. At that time, there was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles exhibit. While I haven’t seen as many special events on the calendar since The Paley Center reopened after Covid, that will hopefully change with time…And in the meantime, you can purchase admission to view the ongoing exhibits and access the curated collection of programs and advertisements in the Paley Archives during operating hours. There is a library database of the Paley Archive available on its website. In case you were wondering, there were 34 results for my Jason Bateman search.
PaleyFest is about a week-long festival that features some of the biggest shows and actors in town. I was planning to celebrate my 40th birthday at PaleyFest LA 2020, as there was going to be an Ozark event with the cast prior to Covid shutting down the world and forcing the event to be cancelled. While we don’t know yet what PaleyFest NY 2022 has in store, the LA version is happening next month with events at The Dolby Theatre highlighting This Is Us, Cobra Kai, Riverdale and Emily in Paris, among others.
Also in Midtown Manhattan, The Town Hall is a “501(c)(3) non-profit national historic landmark venue in the heart of New York City, created by suffragists in 1921 and host to countless cultural and musical milestones,” including Bob Dylan’s first major concert and Marian Anderson’s first New York recital. In addition to specials events, The Town Hall also operates school and senior center outreach programs.
I’ve seen an eclectic mix of events at this venue, including Antoni Porowski and Jonathan Van Ness from Queer Eye (with special guest Justin Theroux), the Drama Desk Awards (for outstanding theater) and the PEN America Literary Awards (with host Seth Meyers). I also have a ticket to see comedian Taylor Tomlinson, who just released her second Netflix special Look at You, next month.
The Town Hall is also home to Seth Rudetsky’s Broadway series, in which the music director and host welcomes some of Broadway’s finest for a conversation and a concert. The docket includes dates for Brian Stokes Mitchell, Vanessa Williams and Jane Krakowski.
As if we needed more reasons to check out these unique venues, the tickets tend to be more reasonably priced, typically in the $30-50 range, and support a worthy cause. And if the mission of any of these organizations particularly speaks to you, they all offer annual memberships that not only support the work they do but also offer benefits like early ticket access, discounts, etc. A definite win-win.
Hopefully, these ideas have inspired you to venture outside your norm the next time you’re looking for something fun and different to do in the city. I’ve never been disappointed when I attend an event with no prior knowledge or expectations — In fact, those have been some of the best!