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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:
[FREE] 6:00 pm to midnight: Six free hours of improvisation at The PIT’s Super Free Wednesday
[FREE] 6:00 pm: Open-mic stand-up providing four minutes per comic, with “15 people chosen randomly through e-mail, and five walk-ins; and a guaranteed spot to anyone who performs in character as a famous explorer” at Queens LIC’s The Creek upstairs theatre: Comedic Exploration Club of Long Island City, West
7:00 pm (no cover, 1-item min.): A fun mix of storytelling and stand-up from Robin Gelfenbien (charming comedic storyteller & singer; VH1, Sirius Satellite Radio, FringeNYC), John Knefel (co-host of John and Molly Get Along), Jason Burke, Neil Thornton, and Meghan O’Keefe performing atLuca Lounge (222 Avenue B off 14th Street) with host Selena Coppock: Connotation
7:00 pm-12:30 am ($7 for the entire evening): Magnet house troupes Leviathan, Grappler, The Surge, Horses, Brick, Featherweight, The Wrath, and Chet Watkins performing improv, followed by a free audience interactive show with Grappler at 11:30 pm: The Magnet’s Megawatt
[TOP PICK] 7:30 pm ($5): For this double-bill at UCB East, genius improvisors Gavin Speiller ofDeath By Roo Roo, Ben Rodgers of The Curfew, and Jonathan Gabrus of The Law Firm) perform asOutlook of the Poet; and then Nicole Byer, Sasheer Zamata, and Keisha Zollar are the fiercely energetic & entertaining all-gal improv troupe Doppelganger
[TOP PICK] 8:00 pm ($5): This debut at UCB Chelsea is a unique treat: a show by stand-up veteran Harrison Greenbaum that mixes comedy and bona fide stage magic. While Harrison makes his living from comedy, magic is his other passion, and it’s always nice to see someone sharp combine his two loves for an audience’s enjoyment. Harrison’s told me he’s had top magicians critique his magic for this show, so hope for something quite special at Harrison Greenbaum: What Just Happened?
[MEGA-TOP PICK] [$] 8:00 pm ($25 at the box office or $28 online): UK-based Daniel Kitson is one of the sharpest and most respected writer/performers alive. This is a rare opportunity to spend an intimate 90 minutes with a true genius of both stand-up and storytelling. This show is the latter—a carefully constructed, detail-packed theatrical tale of two people and the small, quiet moments that make up their lives. Daniel says it’s “about everything and nothing,” and that’s precisely right. After you see it, you may find it hard to not consider all the small moments lived by any person you pass by…and what the moments of your own life add up to. This one-man show played to packed houses at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and is now running every day except Mondays through January 29th at Brooklyn’s St. Ann’s Warehouse (38 Water Street): It’s Always Right Now, Until It’s Later
[TOP PICK] [FREE] 8:00 pm: NYC treasure Kurt Braunohler is the producer and host of this comedic “anti-game-show” game show aimed at becoming a TV series. It involves three comedic contestants being asked ridiculous questions so they can provide even more ridiculous answers. The winner, judged by Kurt, is then awarded points—which are meaningless, because no one ultimately wins and there are no prizes. Being taped at Queens LIC’s The Creek upstairs theatre, it’sPointless Live
[FREE—plus FREE PIZZA for first 30 people, from Artichoke Pizza!] 8:00 pm: NYC stand-ups Kendra Cunningham, Gabe Pacheco, Neil Constantine, and Brendan Fitzgibbons performing at the East Village’s Beauty Bar for Negin Farsad’s & Amy Albert’s free weekly show Comedy School Dropout
[FREE] 8:30 pm: NYC stand-ups James Oakes, Tom Steffen, Troy Alan, Kate Wolff, Adam Chisnall, Justin Murray, and Jeff Maurer performing at the only notable weekly comedy show I know of taking place in Astoria Queens—specifically, the Astoria Brewhouse (2850 31st Street) produced by Jesse Jones: Brewhouse Comedy
[TOP PICK] 9:30 pm ($5): At UCB Chelsea, first up is a sketch play about the opening of a trendy restaurant that serves nothing but pig (including “bacon-infused martinis”), written with wit and bite by Leila Cohan-Miccio (Stone Cold Fox), directed with style by Caitlin Bitzegaio (MTV, PBS, ESPN), and performed superbly by comedic actress Lauren Conlin Adams (keep an eye out for her playing Aurora, a hot and hilariously bubble-headed waitress): Pig: A Restaurant …
…and in the other half of this UCB Chelsea double-bill, enormously likable ace improvisor & sketch performer Doug Moe (Conan O’Brien, 30 Rock, Rescue Me, renowned improv troupe Mother) takes a stab at doing a solo show. The writing doesn’t achieve the potential of the subject, but it’s always a pleasure to see Doug on stage, as well as enjoy video clips of his little angel of a 5-year-old daughter: Doug Moe is a Bad Dad
[TOP PICK] 10:00 pm ($5): The instructors of UCB’s classes include some of the finest improvisors in the country. In this new weekly show a bunch of them get on stage at UCB East, along with hosts Betsy Stover and Ari Voukydis: Hot for Teacher: The UCB Faculty Show
[TOP PICK] [FREE] 11:00 pm: As many as a dozen guests packed into 75 minutes performing stand-up, improv, sketch, and occasionally acts that defy categorization. The level of talent can vary wildly, but for some (like me), that’s part of the laid-back fun; and this is often one of the most amazing comedy shows in town. Tonight’s scheduled lineup includes Jena Friedman (staff writer for David Letterman), Brandon Gulya (Stone Cold Fox, Sandino, This is Not a Sketch Show), and David Cope (co-host of Hot Soup); for the complete list, please click here. Come support the experimentation, and periodic magical surprises, that this uniquely organic rollercoaster of a weekly show at UCB Chelsea makes possible—and don’t forget to toss $1 in the bucket on your way out: School Night
[FREE] 11:00 pm: Open-mic stand-up running until 1:00 am, with time divided evenly between performers (up to five minutes), at The Creek downstairs lounge in Queens’ Long Island City with host Rob Stern: Bucket ‘O Buckets
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