So we’re back in the swing of things it seems? A zillion fingers crossed that the positive momentum and low infection numbers continue as we head into the winter, but so far things are looking up and that fact alone makes my Thanksgiving! This month, we’ve got the exciting return of the NYC Marathon and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on tap, but there are also some smaller events to celebrate, like the fact that 5 different people have told me this week that they went back into a movie theater for the first time in two years to see Dune. Hell, I even went to an in-person work conference this week and that felt like something to be happy about.
As luck would have it, there are loads of new releases and openings and premieres on offer this November to give us a reason to yet again ponder our shoe choices (sidenote: why is this so hard?) and venture out into the world. Here are just a few of the cultural events and activities happening in the month ahead that caught our eye — hopefully some of them will inspire you to get out there and immerse yourself in the wealth of creativity that is the lifeblood of this great city.
1. Clyde’s, now playing
If you’ve not yet been back to a theater, it seems as if Clyde’s, a new comedy from two-time Pulitzer prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage, is a great opportunity to get over that hump. The story follows a crew of recently incarcerated people who work in a truck stop kitchen and are perpetually seeking to create the perfect sandwich. The cast includes Uzo Aduba, Ron Cephas Jones, and rising star Kara Young, and previews began this week at Helen Hayes Theater.
2. Ai Weiwei at BAM, Nov. 10
Ai Weiwei is one of the most influential and important artists alive today, and this month he will be appearing at BAM to celebrate the release of his highly-anticipated memoir, 1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows. It was written while he was detained by the Chinese government on no charge (but due to his vocal criticism its stance on human rights and democracy), and explores his remarkable life as an activist and the legacy of his father, a celebrated Chinese poet who lived in exile for most of Ai Weiwei’s childhood. On November 10, Ai Weiwei, who lives in England, will be at Howard Gilman Hall in conversation with Debbie Millman, as part of BAM’s Fall Unbound series.
3. The Shrink Next Door, Nov. 12
If you are looking for a new show to get excited about, you’d be hard-pressed to come up with a more intriguing premise than that of The Shrink Next Door, which is based on the true story of a celebrity psychiatrist who slowly manipulated and inserted himself into one of his patient’s lives, eventually moving into his house in the Hamptons and becoming president of his family business. Throw in the star power behind this project, which boasts Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd, and Kathryn Hahn as cast members and is directed by Michael Showalter, and you’ve got yourself a bonafide television event. The Shrink Next Door premieres on November 12 on Apple TV+.
4. Gary Gulman, Nov. 13
The New York Comedy Festival is back this year, and with it more than 200 comedians performing in over 100 different shows at venues in all 5 boroughs the week of November 8-14. There are lots of big names on the roster, including Marc Maron, Nick Kroll, Michelle Wolf, Bill Maher, and many more opportunities to see rising stars who you might not be as familiar with. If I can swing it, I’d love to catch Gary Gulman at Carnegie Hall on November 13, as I really enjoyed his latest HBO special about his own struggle with mental illness, The Great Depresh.
5. Pop-Up Magazine, Nov. 16
I’ve experienced Pop-Up Magazine — which I only describe as having an incredible, curated magazine covering a diverse array of stories and artworks performed live for you on stage using video, music, and visual art — several times over the years and it’s always been a night to remember, with at least one or two very special things that I take away and think about long afterwards. After an extended hiatus of live shows thanks to you know what, the event is back on tour again and is making a stop at BAM on November 16. The Fall Edition features Cord Jefferson, Chanel Miller, Shima Oliaee, Ben-Alex Dupris, and a host of other contributors you won’t want to miss.
6. Andy Warhol: Revelation, Nov. 19
The Brooklyn Museum opens a new Andy Warhol exhibition on November 19, and it will be the first to explore the iconic artist’s work and legacy through the lens of his Catholic faith. As an out gay man at the center of the 20th century avant garde, Warhol’s relationship with the religion he was raised in was complicated, and Andy Warhol: Revelation will examine that tension through key pieces from the Pop Art legend’s oeuvre.
7. C’mon C’mon, Nov. 19
C’mon C’mon, a new film from A24 starring Joaquin Phoenix, Gaby Hoffman, and breakout child star Woody Norman, premiered to rave reviews at the Telluride Film Festival a few months back and is scheduled to hit theaters on November 19. Filmed in black-and-white, the story follows a radio journalist who is constantly on the road and is suddenly called upon to care for his young nephew, and the transformational relationship between them that ensues. Phoenix’s performance is being hailed as one of his best, and this feels like it might be a real Oscar contender.
8. Joseph E. Yoakum: What I Saw, Nov. 21
This month, MoMA will open the first major museum exhibition of the work of Joseph E. Yoakum in over 25 years, and it will bring together over 100 of the artist’s unique landscape drawings of the various places he traveled throughout his life. Yoakum, who said he had been “all over this world four times,” began drawing these scenes from memory at the age of 71, and he captured naval voyages, UFO sightings, and notable figures of African American history and culture in new and unexpected ways. What I Saw opens to the public on November 21.
9. Get on Your Knees, Nov. 26
Just before the pandemic hit, I had the chance to see Jacqueline Novak perform her one-woman show, Get on Your Knees, at The Cherry Lane Theater and it was fantastic. Billed as “the most highbrow show about blow jobs you’ll ever see,” the unique monologue is equal parts personal history, philosophy, and feminist outcry —oh yeah, and it’s really, really funny. Novak will be performing Get on Your Knees at the Bell House on November 26, and I suggest you snatch up a ticket before they sell out.