NYC Top Comedy Choices for Thursday 1/26/12

January 26, 2012

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Julie Klausner

Julie Klausner and other stellar comics tell stories at Risk!...

Kurt Braunohler

...and Kurt Braunohler tapes an episode of his IFC game show Bunk

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: Brad Lawrence (Moth GrandSlam Champion, FringeNYC, co-host of The Standard Issues) 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!

[FREE] 6:00 pm: Open-mic stand-up with comics’ names drawn from a bucket and each chosen one receiving three minutes at The Creek’s upstairs theatre in Queens’ Long Island City: Corby Haas

6:30 pm ($5): Two shows about which I know nothing audition for a regular spot on the prestigiousUCB Chelsea schedule: MC Harold and The HOB Conference. 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

[TOP PICK] [FREE] 7:00 pm: NYC treasure Kurt Braunohler is the producer and host of this comedic “anti-game-show” game show that will soon be a TV series on IFC. 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 tonight at The PIT downstairs lounge, it’sBunk

[FREE] 7:00 pm: In this free Magnet show, audience members (signing in at 6:00) can join in with improv troupe Hello Laser to make up scenes on the spot: Magnet Mixer

[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

[TOP PICK] 8:00 pm ($5): At UCB Chelsea, a troupe specializing in meta-comedy—that is, comedy about the process of making comedy—performs their most meta show yet, which is billed as a “best of” show but actually is a series of internal spats that delay any of the promised sketches from being performed. It’s smart and clever, and all four members of the group are highly appealing. But it’s such a purely “from the head, not the heart” show that it feels increasingly repetitive and one-note as it goes on. I wish the guys had been less concerned with the purity of their one-joke idea and more with creating an emotional rollercoaster experience for the audience. (The reason their best sketch ever is a spelling bee for fart jokes is because it’s a perfect blend of their conceptual approach with laugh-out-loud funny. Sadly, no such sketch is in this show…) If you like concept comedy, though, these guys are great at it; and you’re likely to enjoy at least the first 10 minutes before the novelty wears off from Pangea 3000: 12 Years of Hard Work

…and in the second half of this double-bill, a witty and ultimately exhilarating exploration of baring it all by fabulous long-time nudist Julia Wiedeman (who I had the great fortune of seeing about a decade ago as she walked around with zero clothing, like a glorious tigress, in broad daylight on the streets of the East Village): Naked People

8:00 pm ($5): Desiree Nash wrote and co-stars in a sketch show revolving around the comedic travails of dating: Check Please!

[FREE] 8:00 pm: NYC stand-ups (for tonight’s lineup, please click here) performing at The Creek’supstairs theatre in Queens’ Long Island City accompanied by banjo music from Doug Goldstein and hosted by Andy Kleinman: Happy Sounds Comedy

8:00 pm-MIdnight ($7 for the entire evening): The Magnet co-owner helming The Armando Diaz Experience, plus house troupes The Boss, Hello Laser, Phooka, and Junior Varsity performing improv, followed by improv competition Inspirado (like UCBT’s Cage Match, but with a game-like challenge component) with Leviathan and The Wrath competing at 11:00 pm: The Magnet’s Night Out

[TOP PICK] [FREE] 9:00ish pm: Terrific NYC stand-ups (the lineup is typically announced by 3:00 pm; for an update, please click here) performing on this weekly show at the Kabin Bar and Lounge hosted by Chesley Calloway and comedy genius Sean Patton: Comedy as a Second Language

[TOP PICK] 9:00 pm ($5): Typically superb comics (not yet announced) performing at UCB Eastwith best bud hosts Noah Garfinkel & Joe Mande (author of Look At This F*cking Hipster): Totally J/K

9:00 pm (no cover, 1-item min.): Erik Bergstrom (cartoonist/author of Grimmer Tales, The New Yorker), Dave Rosinsky, Rae Sanni, Jeff Maurer and more performing stand-up at Luca Lounge(222 Avenue B off 14th Street) for this weekly comedy show hosted by Sean Crespo & Dan Wilbur and produced by Carol Hartsell: Lasers in the Jungle

[TOP PICK] 9:30 pm ($10): Top comics and comedic storytellers—who tonight are Judy Gold (The Judy Gold Show: My Life as a Sitcom), Julie Klausner (author of I Don’t Care About Your Brand), Jeff Simmermon (NPR’s This American Life), and Rob Cantrell (Last Comic Standing, Keep On The Grass)—performing at The PIT upstairs theatre to share tales on tonight’s theme A Time When Things Were New at one of the finest storytelling shows in the country: Risk!

9:30 pm ($5): If you’re a fan of, you can see the folks behind it on the UCB Weststage—along with stand-ups Patrick Cassels, Boris Khaykin, Jamie Lee, and Jermaine Fowler, plus nerd rapper MC Chris—at CollegeHumor Live

9:30 pm ($5): Improvisors (not announced) make up one-act plays on the spot at The PITdownstairs lounge for The Scene

[MEGA-TOP PICK] 11:00 pm ($5): One of the quickest and sharpest minds in comedy plays around with the audience in ways only he can at UCB East while developing new material for an international stand-up tour: Daniel Kitson: Work in Progress

[TOP PICK] 11:00 pm ($5): Two vibrant improv troupes, Fuck That Shit and Creature, compete for audience laughs and votes at UCB Chelsea for the raucous Cage Match

11:15 pm ($5): NYC stand-ups (not announced) bringing their A-game—because their sets are captured at this new monthly show as audition tapes—performing at The PIT downstairs lounge:The Grass Route

For more, please visit

For my favorite stand-up jokes, please click here.