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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-12:30 am ($7 for the entire evening): Magnet house troupes The Surge, Grappler, The Wrath, Chet Watkins, Horses, Brick, Leviathan, and Featherweight performing improv, followed by a free audience interactive show with Grappler at 11:30 pm: The Magnet’s Megawatt
[TOP PICK] 7:30 pm ($5): For this double-bill at UCB East, Nicole Byer, Sasheer Zamata, and Keisha Zollar are first up as the fiercely energetic & entertaining all-gal improv troupe Doppelganger; and then genius improvisors Gavin Speiller of Death By Roo Roo, Ben Rodgers of The Curfew, and Jonathan Gabrus of The Law Firm) perform as Outlook of the Poet
[$] [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?
[FREE—plus FREE PIZZA for first 30 people, from Artichoke Pizza!] 8:00 pm: Brilliantly funny writer/singer Jessica Delfino (enjoys singing songs about her vagina, as demonstrated by her CD Dirty Folk Rock; created the hilarious and wildly popular YouTube animated short film I Wanna Be Famous; has a cool blog; to get a feel for Jessica’s amazing range and talent, please click here), Jon Fisch (David Letterman), Shawn Hollenbach (MTV, Logo), Adam Conover (VH1), and Matt Wayne performing at the East Village’s Beauty Bar with hosts Negin Farsad, Amy Albert, and Beth McGregor for their free weekly show Comedy School Dropout
[FREE] 8:00 pm: 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] 8:30 pm: Typically terrific NYC comics (not announced) performing at this free weekly comedy show at Brooklyn’s Cameo (behind Lovin’ Cup) typically hosted by Jenny Slate, Gabe Liedman, and/or Max Silvestri: Big Terrific
[FREE] 9:00ish pm: Abbi Crutchfield (delightful stand-up; co-host of Positively Awesome and The Living Room), Lauren Maul (puppeteer!), Jon Bander, Kendra Cunningham, and rappers Squirm & Germ performing at this free weekly show at the Luca Lounge (222 Avenue B off 14th Street) hosted by Sharon Spell: Shrink
[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 yet another meta-comedy, this time invovling a real estate agent who tries to convince a couple that the actual theatre you’re in would be a great home for them. He does this by putting on a series of sketches that are presented as a random sampling of what UCBT has to offer but that, directly or indirectly, each promote the stage as a wonderful residence. It’s a way fun idea—for a 5-minute sketch. However, this entire show is handled like a single multi-jointed sketch, and 30 minutes is an awfully long time to essentially tell one joke. If the script was further developed to use the internal sketches as stepping stones to achieve a larger and emotionally compelling story, this could become something quite special. Even as is, though, it’s great fun at the start; and if you find it wearing out its welcome after that, you’ll still enjoy sporadic laughs from individual bits and performers—especially standouts Brandon Gulya and Brandon Scott Jones—in the a-bit-too-clever-for-its-own-good This is Not a Sketch Show—A Sketch Show
[TOP PICK] [FREE] 10:00 pm: Clips of some of the most inept movie scenes of New York City romance, plus comments & memories from stand-ups Christian Finnegan (Conan O’Brien, co-star of TBS’ Are We There Yet?; three Comedy Central specials; MSNBC, VH1’s Best Week Ever, Chappelle’s Show, The Today Show), Mark Normand (hilarious; Last Comic Standing; co-host of Hot Soup and We’re All Friends Here), and Sabrina Jalees (Canadian TV star) at Queens LIC’s The Creek upstairs theatre hosted by Robbie Collier: Hey We Live There!: Hey We Love There!
[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 Sasheer Zamata (smart, innovative rising star; Doppelganger, The Prom), Matt Fisher (razor-sharp improvisor & sketch comic; The Law Firm, Sidecar), Katey Healy-Wurzburg (hilarous run-on stand-up; host of The Fascinator), and the delightful Andree Vermuelen (visiting from LA); 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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