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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:
6:30 pm ($5): Two shows about which I know nothing audition for a regular spot on the prestigiousUCB Chelsea schedule: Hobby & Grill: Tying the Knot and Cool Future: The 2012 World’s Fair. These might be great or awful; but at $2.50 per show, you can’t go far wrong either way. That’s part of the fun of Spank
[FREE] 6:00 pm: Nate Smith (30 Rock) is tonight’s guest at this weekly open-mic storytelling show, with each performer given a whopping eight minutes to captivate & impress, at UCB East hosted by John Flynn: Oh, Hey Guys!
[TOP PICK] 7:30 pm ($5): “If you were alive in the 70’s, you may have attended some ‘Key Parties’ where you were randomly paired with someone to go home with and engage in free spirited coitus. (Today we either stay at home alone or congregate at an improv theater.) Key Party combines the 70’s arrangement with modern anxiety, exploring the rich moments leading up to that act of coupling and the fallout that follows” at UCB East with stellar comics Jordan Klepper, Laura Grey (delightful old-time radio style theatrical podcast Horrorgasm), and guest improvisors: Key Party; plus in the second half of this double-bill, improv based on the iPods, CDs, and mp3 players provided by audience members, executed by superb performers Fran Gillespie, Ryan Karels, Megan Neuringer, Jesse Falcon, Silvija Ozols, Doug Moe, Lou Perez, Sue Galloway, and Emily Axford: Soundtrack USA
7:30 pm-MIdnight ($7 for the entire evening): The Magnet co-owner helming The Armando Diaz Experience, plus house troupes Phooka, Junior Varsity, The Boss, and Hello Laser performing improv, followed by improv competition Inspirado (like UCBT’s Cage Match, but with a game-like challenge component) with Featherweight and last week’s winner competing at 11:00 pm: The Magnet’s Night Out
[TOP PICK] 8:00 pm ($5): Catie Lazarus hosts a show at UCB Chelsea about what it’s like to have a dreamy job, with tonight’s guests Robert Mankoff (Cartoon Editor of The New Yorker), Caroline Rhea (Sabrina the Teenage Witch, The Caroline Rhea Show, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Comedy Central), Ashrita Furman (most entries in The Guinness Book of World Records), and Rob Lathan (Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Fallon, ABC, Stinson’s Awesome Movie Night), plus and musical guests Chris Sullivan (a.k.a., Shockwave; amazing human boombox; The Daily Show, The Electric Company, Freestyle Love Supreme, co-host of The BEATdown) and Arthur Lewis: Employee of the Month
[MEGA-TOP PICK] [$] 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
8:00 pm ($5): Two singing improv troupes, Hot Diner and THEM, make up entire musicals on the spot in this double-bill at The PIT upstairs theatre for the most on-the-nose show title tonight: Improvised Musical
[TOP PICK] 9:00 pm ($5): Calise Hawkins (Last Comic Standing, Comedy Central), Julieanne Smolinski (GQ, New York Magazine), and Max Silvestri (co-host of Big Terrific) performing at UCB East with best bud hosts Noah Garfinkel & Joe Mande (author of Look At This F*cking Hipster) at Totally J/K
9:00 pm (no cover, 1-item min.): Eddie Brill (over 15 years as booker & warmup for David Letterman; FX’s Louie), Marianne Schaberg, Sabrina Jalees, and more performing at Luca Lounge(222 Avenue B off 14th Street) for a weekly comedy show with hosts Dan Wllber & Sean Crespo and producer Carol Hartsell: Lasers in the Jungle
[TOP PICK] [FREE] 9:00ish pm: Terrific NYC stand-ups (the lineup is typically announced around 3:00 pm; for an update, please click here) performing on this free weekly show at the Kabin Bar and Lounge hosted by Chesley Calloway and comedy genius Sean Patton: Comedy as a Second Language
[MEGA-TOP PICK] 9:30 pm ($5): A spectacular and unforgettable demonstration of the artful power of mime when combined with a wickedly sharp modern sensibility, executed with great wit and style. Street performers have given mime a bad rep; but if you think about it, what mime does is boil a situation down to its essential elements, and then express those elements in a manner that’s instantly and universally understood. That’s really what art is all about; and that’s also what Billy the Mime does, often brilliantly. (For my review of his FringeNYC show in 2006, please click here.): Billy the Mime
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New Year, Healthier You: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Thyroid Disease.