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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:
[TOP PICK] [FREE] 6:00 pm: Sharp NYC character comics—including Lauren Olsen (brilliant writer/sketch/improv performer at FringeNYC and The Magnet), Tim Dunn (UCBT sketch performer), and Oscar Montoya (Midnight Movie at Montoya’s at The PIT)—try out their material for the upcoming Montreal comedy festival at The PIT upstairs theatre: Just for Laughs Showcase
[FREE] 6:00 pm: An open-mic show on a lottery system (sign-ups start at 5:30 pm) at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ Long Island City with hosts Mike Recine (Comedy Central) and Annie Lederman (Comedy Central): The Shinebox
[TOP PICK] 7:00 pm ($7): Ace Magnet improvisors who are married—and who sometimes include improv genius Ed Herbstman, plus Melanie Hoopes, Matt Evans, Christine Walters, Maggie Kemper, Robert Cuthill, Ryan Rodgers, Christian Paluck, Michele Laikowski, and/or Kelly Moylan: The Mamas and the Papas
[FREE] 7:00 pm: NYC stand-ups Phoebe Robinson, Roger Hailes, Justin Murray, Pat O’Shea, Christian Polanco, and “a confirmed national headliner” performing at Beauty Bar (231 East 14th Street) for this biweekly stand-up show hosted by Peter Ostrovski & Ilya Gofshteyn: Beautiful Comedy
[TOP PICK] 7:30 pm ($10): Stone Cold Fox is the only sketch troupe (vs. improv troupe) to ever be honored with an ongoing spot on the prestigious UCB Chelsea weekend schedule. It more than earned the slot with its first Friday effort, This is Not Art, which was one of the very best comedy shows of 2011. This month it debuted its second show, Crisistown—which so far is a mixed bag. The good news is the cast has developed into one of the finest in comedy, with each performer strong enough to be a star on his or her own. However, the writing on opening night was often sloppy and repetitive rather than tight and sharp. Perhaps the problem is the new format: “A scripted interactive comedy show that puts you, the audience, in charge. You get to vote on what happens next.” It’s a fun approach designed to tempt audiences to see the show repeatedly (just as people will return to a favorite improv group week after week). But it means generating a lot more material than will be performed on any given show; and spreading the writing out like that has, so far, resulted in a lot of weak scenes. The up side of the open-ended structure is it’s never too late to improve the writing, and to even entirely replace dull scenes with great ones (and I’ll be attending this show again at some point on the assumption it’s evolving). But either way, between the material that’s already solid and the all-star cast, this top troupe is continuing to deliver a quite enjoyable way to kick off your Friday evening: Stone Cold Fox: Crisistown
[$] [DISCOUNTED] 7:30 pm ($20 [vs. $25] online or at the box office using discount code BOOK): Telly Savalas returns to life to entertain you and provide life guidance in this 50-minute show that was a hit at FringeNYC 2011 and is now enjoying an open-ended Friday night run at the Soho Playhouse’s downstairs Huron Club. The script is at times very smart, especially in its choices of hilarious video clips and music tracks from the real Savalas…who, in his more intense moments, apparently rivaled William Shatner at his silliest. But even when Hunter Nelson’s writing isn’t consistent, actor Tom DiMenna—who is a professional comic with great timing and skill at engaging an audience—will keep you entertained: Who Loves You, Baby?
8:00 pm ($5): “It may be made up on the spot, but there is a method to the madness. In this show players explore the structure of improv by performing unique forms provided by the community and abroad” at The PIT downstairs lounge: True to Form
[$] 8:00 pm ($18 at the door or $20.34 online): Storyteller Martin Dockery (The Moth, The Liar Show; acclaimed as “fantastic” by The New York Times) and Canadian actress Vanessa Quesnelle performing a self-described “high-energy, high-comedy, highly surreal play about a guy trying to get a girl into his flying bed. Tempting her with the forbidden promise of a wild flight through paradise, they must negotiate a bizarre and harrowing journey through a wilderness of seduction, temptation, and betrayal at the Under St. Marks Theatre (94 St. Marks Place, off First Avenue): Oh, That Wily Snake
[FREE] 8:00 pm: An open-mic show that’s first come, first serve (sign-ups start at 7:30 pm), with each comic getting five minutes on stage at The Creek downstairs lounge in Queens’ Long Island City: Mic and Cheese
[TOP PICK] 8:30 pm ($7): Veteran improv duo Megan Gray & Louis Kornfeld are joined at The Magnet by improv star Christina Gausas (Conan O’Brien, The Colbert Report, Let’s Have a Ball): Gausas & MegaLou
[FREE] 8:30ish pm: Mark Normand (hilarious stand-up; Last Comic Standing; co-host of Hot Soupand We’re All Friends Here), Kurt Metzger (Comedy Central’s Ugly Americans), Jeff Wesselschmidt (Rooftop Comedy), and Jacqeline Novak performing at Brooklyn’s Red Star (37 Greenpoint Avenue) hosted by Amber Nelson, Annie Lederman, and Ashley Brooke Roberts: Mustache Party
[$] 8:30 pm & 10:30 pm ($25 & 2-drink min.): A stand-up who starred in his own Comedy Central Presents 1/2-hour special, and performed on David Letterman, Last Comic Standing, and The Howard Stern Show (for Letterman stand-up video, please click here), headlining tonight and Saturday at the Gotham Comedy Club: Joe Matarese
9:00 pm ($10): UCB East hosts “Thin Skin Jonny. They had it all. They were icons, legends, anti-folk superstars. However, tragedy struck and they broke up, citing an alleged statutory charge, gay porn addiction, and Four Loko abuse. Now, two months later, they’re back to do one last show—a benefit! Can they find a way to get along long enough to raise the money needed to re-animate the corpse of Bea Arthur? Maybe, with your help!” Performers include Ari Scott, with direction from Pam Murphy: Thin Skin Jonny: Farewell Reunion Tour
[TOP PICK] [$] [DISCOUNTED] 9:00 pm & 11:00 pm (FREE TICKETS if you reserve in advance by calling (212) 260-2445 and mention HyReviews.com, but there’s still a 2-drink min. per person): Judy Gold, Big Jay Oakerson, Mike Britt, and more performing stand-up at the only comedy club in the East Village: Eastville Comedy Club
9:30 pm ($5): NYC stand-ups Eric Ledgin (Jimmy Fallon), Phoebe Robinson, Mike Recine, John F. O’Donnell, and the Cocoon Central Dance Team performing at The PIT downstairs lounge with host Jeremy Wein: Undefined
[TOP PICK] 11:00 pm ($5): Delightful singing duo The Reformed Whores (Katy Frame and Marie Cecile Anderson) and Selena Coppock (author of upcoming book The New Rules for Blondes) join terrific sketch duo Skinny Bitch Jesus Meeting (Leah Rudick and Katie Hartman) for a comedy variety show at The PIT basement lounge: Daddy’s Basement: A Comedy Variety Freakshow
[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 The Magnet with lightning-quick dark comedy unlike anything else in NYC. Chicago-based Joe tends to visit NYC at the start of every month, so he’ll probably be at tonight’s performance. But either way, the other superb players are Jordan Klepper (Klepper & Grey, iO, ), 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), all declaring Lights Out, Shirley!
[FREE] Midnight: NYC stand-ups do sets “and then have a discussion about what’s going on in the world and the mysteries of life” at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ Long Island City, hosted by Chris Laker: The Show
[FREE] Midnight: This show might not be much fun for audience members, but it’s an amazing opportunity if you want to try out sketches for free and with almost zero hurdles on the prestigiousUCB Chelsea stage. Hosted by Maude troupe Onassis: Liquid Courage
For more, please visit HyReviews.com.