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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] 6:00 pm to midnight (prices vary by show; buy $45 festival pass to see everythingthrough Saturday): The PIT is aiming to begin a proud tradition with its first annual improv festival. Will it be competitive with UCB’s legendary summer Del Close Marathon? Read about the new festival here, check out its entire schedule here, and then come out to explore The PIT’s First Annual NYC Improv Festival
[FREE] 6:00 pm: An open-mic show on a lottery system (sign-ups start at 5:30 pm) at The Creekupstairs theatre in Queens’ Long Island City with hosts Mike Recine (Comedy Central) and Annie Lederman (Comedy Central): The Shinebox
[TOP PICK] 7:30 pm ($10): Stone Cold Fox is the only sketch troupe (vs. improv troupe) to ever be honored with an ongoing spot on the prestigious UCB Chelsea weekend schedule. It’s earned this slot because its cast is one of the finest in comedy, with each performer strong enough for potential stardom; and, at their best, the troupe’s writers sizzle too. Both strengths are evident inCrisistown, an interactive sketch show in which the audience is periodically asked to choose which of two paths it wants to go down next. This highly playful approach puts you in charge; and it also tempts you to see the show repeatedly (just as you might return to a favorite improv group week after week), because each performance is a never-to-be-repeated event. A vibrant, brilliant cast and mostly terrific comedy writing—plus what was probably a near-superhuman directorial effort by comedy giant Shannon O’Neil—equals a wonderful way to kick off your Friday evening: Stone Cold Fox: Crisistown
[TOP PICK] [$] [DISCOUNTED] 8:00 pm & 10:30 pm ($18.86 online with code TODDB, plus 2-drink minimum): One of the finest stand-ups alive—with appearances on HBO, David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Comedy Central Presents, The Sarah Silverman Program, Adult Swim, and feature films The Wrestler and Pete Smalls is Dead—headlining for tonight only at the Carolines Comedy Club: Todd Barry
[FREE] 8:00 pm: The third annual comedy tournament featuring 40 improv groups…only one of which will survive. Tonight four improv troupes battle for superiority, pride, and glory at The Creekupstairs theatre in Queens’ Long Island City hosted by James Ferrarella: The Arena 2012, Round Two
[$] [DISCOUNTED] 8:00 pm ($15 [vs. $25] online or at the box office using discount code BBOX): 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] 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
8:30 pm ($10): Theatrical sketch comedy at The Magnet that features “three cowboys settling their score the old-fashioned way; an old Broadway star attempting her long-anticipated comeback; in a blatantly self-referential sketch, a young comedian trying to convince his friend to come see his show,” and more at Citizen Models
[TOP PICK] 9:00 pm ($5): A beloved show that brings dead celebrities back to life has itself been resurrected at UCB East, with magical comedic chameleon Livia Scott (Conan O’Brien, Law & Order, Dirty Movie) hosting tonight as Emily Dickinson. Joining the party will be Murderfist (NYC’s fearless heavy metal version of a sketch troupe; winner of the 2010 ECNY Award), Boo Boo Darlin’ (New York Burlesque Festival 2010 Winner), and Greg Johnson (Sirius Radio host): Livia’s Castle of Enchantment
[$] [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): Gary Gulman (Last Comic Standing, Tourgasm, Comedy Central hour-long special), Nate Bargatze (David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Comedy Central Presents), and more performing stand-up at the only comedy club in the East Village: Eastville Comedy Club
[TOP PICK] 10:30 pm ($10): Fran Gillespie, Jon Gabrus, Sue Galloway, Nate Lang, Craig Rowin, Matt Fisher, and other superb improvisors at UCB Chelsea making up scenes about an audience member’s legal dispute: The Law Firm: Law & Disorder
[TOP PICK] 11:30 pm ($5): Before this Magnet show, audience members may anonymously submit written confessions, secrets, rants, advice and opinions which will be used onstage by the improvisors—who include such talents as Laura Grey (stellar old-time radio style theatrical podcast Horrorgasm, sketch/improv duo Klepper & Grey): The Friday Night Sh*w
[TOP PICK] [FREE] Midnight: NYC stand-ups—sometimes stellar ones—pushing boundaries for a show designed for looseness and experimentation at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ Long Island City with hosts Jacqueline Novak and Chris Laker: Permission to Fail
[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 prestigious UCB Chelsea stage. Hosted by Maude troupe Onassis: Liquid Courage
For more, please visit HyReviews.com.