Leisure time no longer means catching up on HGTV reruns while couch-bound and slothlike. Whether waiting on the subway platform or taking a casual stroll around the park, we New Yorkers spend our downtime binge-listening to podcasts, serialized radio shows, and TED talks. So it’s no surprise that the combination of leisure and learning has spilled over into NYC’s nightlife. For the best in after-dinner edutainment, slip on your tortoiseshell glasses and smarten up at these actual genius bars.
Founded by an environmental engineer and a chef, this odd pairing has brought eclectic offerings to their textile warehouse–turned–event space. Like Q.E.D. (see below), Littlefield’s comedy events include a side of social commentary. Lane Moore’s Tinder LIVE! is a completely improvised show following along her IRL interactions with online suiters. On the other side of the edutainment spectrum, Mortified is a unique storytelling event in which people read portions from their diaries. Stories range from summer camp sexual mishaps to traveling blunders—but you’ll always leave feeling more connected to those who were utterly embarrassed. 635 Sackett Street, Gowanus
The Bell House
You’ve already heard about our obsession with The Moth and Stuff They Don’t Want You to Know, but we’ve been keeping our favorite Bell House edutainment event secret until now. Every Secret Science Club lecture is different, focusing monthly on a new obscure scientific study or interest. (This month has game theorist Oliver Roeder blowing minds with his knowledge of logic and mathematical puzzles.) Free admission and calculating themed cocktails (don’t overthink it; just drink it) only heighten the learning experience. 149 7th Street, Gowanus
Astoria’s Q.E.D. serves as a community space for crafts, drinking, learning, and political mobilization. Its comedy events particularly come with a side of woke. The monthly showcase, Token White Guy, gives the stage to minorities along with, of course, one lone white dude. Similarly, Not My President: A Monthly Show of Resistance is comedian-songwriter Ro Fino’s way to use comedy to support causes she’s most passionate about. Q.E.D even tries to make tests fun with Pop Quiz Stories; listen attentively to three storytellers and try to answer as many trivia questions as you can. 27-16 23rd Avenue, Astoria
Times Talks’s Screen Times
Most people are familiar with Times Talks, but one hidden gem within its programming is a dedicated film series. Sign up for the newsletter for first-access to prereleases of buzzworthy movies and TV shows. Each showing is followed by a Q&A with members of the cast and production team moderated by a New York Times columnist or other expert. Last month alone had the cast and writer of Crazy Rich Asians discuss the implications of putting an Asian story line at the forefront of the pop culture conversation. Venues vary
Caveat’s catchphrase perfectly exemplifies what it means to be an edutainment venue: “Join us for drinks and go home smarter.” Its subterranean venue situates listeners in the same style as a cabaret performance, with two or three seats around small round tables. It also has a library where you can read while becoming slightly inebriated.
The signature events here focus on science, unconventional storytelling, and history. One of our favorites is Cramming for the Midterms, a series that tries to help us understand how our politics became so polarized and what we can do about it—of course, within the context of comedy. It’s impressive that quantitative researcher–slash–stand-up comedian Andrea Jones-Rooy has found a way to make the sad state of our politics hilarious. 21A Clinton Street (between Stanton and East Houston Streets), Lower East Side