NYC Top Comedy Choices for Friday 5/20/11

May 20, 2011

For full details, please visit

If you know anyone who might have a thyroid problem, please tell them about my new book: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Thyroid Disease.

Joe Bill

Improv legend Joe Bill will likely put on one of the finest shows you'll ever see at "Lights Out, Shirley!"...

Horatio Sanz

...while improv legend Horatio Sanz will host a pre-show for the end of the world at "The Judgment Day Eve Gong Show"

Tonight’s recommendations for the best in New York City comedy (in chronological order, with top picks noted and shows over $10 marked with $) include:

[TOP PICK] 7:00 pm ($10): A beloved high-concept sketch troupe that delights in exploring silly ideas and wordplay (for example, demonstrating that a caveman and the Cookie Monster sound remarkably alike when saying such things as “Me have problem with subject/verb placement…”) debuts an all-new show: Elephant Larry

[TOP PICK] 7:00 pm ($5): Chicago-trained improv veterans gather in NYC to make you laugh, with tonight’s scheduled participants including Jodi Lennon (Exit 57, Second City, iO, Annoyance Theatre), Doug Stoley (Conan O’Brien), Ari Voukydis (VH1), Soren McCarthy, and the show’s producer Dan Abrams performing at The PIT’s basement loungeChicago Improv Gorillas

[TOP PICK] 7:30 pm ($10): Red-hot rising star Mamrie Hart somehow manages to be razor-sharp and immensely warm & accessible at the same time, and is always worth catching (for Mamrie’s genius Mother’s Day video, please click here). Her show tonight with sketch partner Stephen Soroka is more sweet & silly than hilarious, but come to have luminous Mamrie make you smile atBoF: It’s Pronounced ‘Boaf’!

 …and in the other half of this double-bill, Jordan Klepper and Laura Grey perform an acclaimed sketch show in which “they’re bringing their baggage to the stage and dumping it all on you” in Baggage

[FREE] 8:00 pm: NYC stand-ups (not yet announced) performing at O’Hanlon’s (14th Street off 1st Avenue) hosted by someone also not yet announced: Hot Soup

[TOP PICK] 8:00 pm ($10): Groundbreaking and highly acclaimed improvisors Matt Higgins, Jay Rhoderick, and Kevin Scott performing with a three-piece rock ensemble: Centralia

[MEGA-TOP PICK] [$] [DISCOUNTED] 8:00 pm ($35.50 with discount code BOX): Mike Birbiglia performing a unique blend of stand-up and storytelling that’s one of the best theatrical shows in NYC. For my more detailed write-up, please click here; and then grab tickets at the Barrow Street Theatre (27 Barrow Street, just one block from the #1 subway’s Christopher Street stop) for Mike Birbiglia: My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend

[TOP PICK] [$] 8:30 pm ($27.50 & 2-drink min.): A Mad TV and YouTube star headlining through Saturday at the Gotham Comedy Club: Anjelah Johnson

[TOP PICK] 9:00 pm ($10): Some of the finest improv in NYC from the comedy genius members of The Stepfathers

9:00 pm ($7): “In March of 2009 a gaggle of performers were born. Some died, some wandered off into the woods, others went to work in the private sector. Those that remained grew strong by feeding on the nectar of specific choices and the gruel of strong character work. The 2-year-old terror that exists today is akin to watching a Tsunami of hair and teeth attack a baby Blue Whale and destroy it with the will of a thousand hungry Burnese Mountain Dogs. What does it all mean? We don’t know.” In other words, improv from Chet Watkins

[TOP PICK] [$] 9:30 pm ($15): Always fresh and imaginative world-class sketch troupe that uses song, movement, and clever scenarios to turn familiar rituals on their head (for a video about awkward goodbyes at the end of a party, please click here) delivering a brand new collection of sketches: The Harvard Sailing Team

[TOP PICK] [FREE] 10:00 pm: Brooke Van Poppelen (brilliant stand-up, writer, and storyteller; blogger for trutV; TLC; co-host of Dive Comedy; for stand-up videos about overindulging at 30 and impersonating Morrisey, please click here and here) is performing a delicously long half-hour set tonight, along with John F. O’Donnell, at The Creek in Queens’ Long Island City, with host Sean Donnelly: Brooke Van Poppelen and JFOD Need a Tape

10:00 pm ($7): Singing improvisors who use an interview with a n audience member to craft The Made-Up Musical

[TOP PICK] 10:30 pm ($10): Comedy genius Thomas Middleditch (when he’s not in LA), Nate Lang, Craig Rowin, Matt Fisher, Fran Gillespie Sue Galloway, and other superb improvisors make up scenes about an audience member’s legal dispute at The Law Firm: Law & Disorder

10:30 pm ($5): A double bar mitzvah celebration as Dan Abrams turns 26 (well, technically his birthday is May 31st, but whatever…) with relatives, friends, and stand-ups creating a combination show and party at The PIT’s basement loungeDan Abrams’ Double Bar Mitzvah

11:00 pm ($8): J Hobart and Grace Helbig welcome NYC talents for a morning chat show…that’s happening late at night. Tonight’s guests include deliciously dark comedy stand-up Jena Friedman, Joe Garden (The Onion), and music group Fresh Hearts: The Morning Show with Hobart and Grace

[MEGA-TOP PICK] 11:30 pm ($5): One of the finest improvisors alive, Joe Bill (Bassprov, iO, co-founder of the Annoyance Theatre) spearheads a breathtakingly brilliant group of improvisors from Chicago and New York who’ll blow the roof off at this spectacular monthly show that offers lightning-quick dark comedy unlike anything else in NYC. The other players are Jodi Lennon (Comedy Central’s Exit 57), Ari Voukydis (UCB instructor, VH!’s Best Week Ever), Doug Stoley (Conan O’Brien, UCB), Rick Andrews (Magnet performer), Mark Grenier (Magnet instructor), Jen Sanders (Magnet performer), and Chet Siegel (Magnet performer). The previous show I caught was one of the finest comedy hours I’ve ever been lucky enough to experience (but no pressure, Joe; am just sayin’….). You don’t want to miss Lights Out, Shirley!

[TOP PICK] Midnight ($5): “A whole lot of Christians believe that May 21, 2011 will be the day Jesus comes back to rapture his followers to join him in the sky. Who are we to argue? But shouldn’t we get one last chance to earn our way into heaven? Join us on Judgment Day Eve for a very special Gong Show. Comedians, singers, magicians, weirdoes and more will do everything they can to prove they deserve a spot in Paradise. Satisfy the judges and they’re going to heaven! But get gonged and they’re going straight to hell. Hosted by Anthony King, with special guest judges St. Peter, the Angel Gabriel, and Horatio Sanz. And a special appearance by Satan:” The Judgment Day Eve Gong Show

 For full details, please visit

If you know anyone who might have a thyroid problem, please tell them about my new book: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Thyroid Disease.