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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: Abra Tabak (improv troupes Grandma’s Ashes and What I Did For Love) is tonight’s guest at this weekly open-mic storytelling show at UCB East, with each performer given a whopping eight minutes to captivate & impress, hosted by the wonderful John Flynn: Oh, Hey Guys!
[FREE] 6:00 pm: Open-mic stand-up with comics’ names drawn from a bucket and each chosen receiving two minutes—and if that goes well, maybe a hug (but not actual puppies)—at The Creek’s upstairs theatre in Queens’ Long Island City hosted by Ross Parsons & Trey Galyon: Free Puppies
[TOP PICK] 6:30 pm ($5): The wonderful Sasheer Zamata (highly charming, innovative rising star; host of UCBT’s School Night, member of red-hot improv troupe Doppelganger, sketch troupe The Prom, and Harold Night troupe Bucky) debuts a one-woman show which I’m hoping will be stellar (and yes, I’ll be there). The official description: “Like most people, Sasheer Zamata would like to be a little happier. She doesn’t exactly know how to achieve this, but she made a list of things to do to get closer to her goal, and she’s going through it one step at a time”—aided by direction from the also wonderful Leslie Meisel: A Step Closer to Happy. Plus in the other half of this debut evening double-bill, “You are cordially invited to join the Hasseltones, the world’s only a cappella group that performs exclusively David Hasselhoff songs,” featuring such UCBT talents as Lauren Adams, Beth Appel, Joanna Bradley, Morgan Phillips, and Natasha Rothwell: The Hasseltones Live
[TOP PICK] 7:30 pm ($5): Comedy genius Chris Gethard combines storytelling and stand-up to create an unforgettable 30-minute set featuring tales of his birth, the Bio TV series I Survived, and more at UCB Chelsea for one night only: Chris Gethard for the Half Hour
[TOP PICK] [$] 8:00 pm ($19.62 in advance online, $18 at the door): A sketch troupe uses actual material on the Web, performed verbatim, as the foundation for comedy sketches, with this latest series focused on New Year’s health & fitness resolutions. For a video sample, please click here; and if you’re intrigued, come see the show live at Under St. Marks (94 St. Marks Place), which is running Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturday through January 26th. Tonight is extra special because it’ll feature a talkback aftershow with some of the blog writers used as source material (and with luck I’ll be attending, racing crosstown from the 6:30 shows at UCB Chelsea): Blogologues Health & Fitness: Kale In Me Softly
[TOP PICK] 8:00 pm show ($5): This monthly show in which people tell stories revolving around songs tonight features Micaela Blei (Moth GrandSlam champion), Mellini Kantayya (actor/writer), James Comtois (playwright & IT Award nominee), and Jon Reiss—plus a vinyl vs. digital throwdown between comic Brad Loekle and DJ Justin Woo—at the Le Poisson Rouge’s The Gallery (158 Bleecker Street) hosted by Dana Ross: The Soundtrack Series
[TOP PICK] [$] 8:00 pm ($20): A former roommate & drinking buddy of such comedy giants as David Cross and Marc Maron performs a one-man show that was such a hit at August’s FringeNYC it’s been extended indefinitely. Please read my review by clicking here, and Jason Zinoman’s New York Times review by clicking here; and then come share an intimate hour with Matt Graham at the Soho Playhouse’s downstairs Huron Club so he can explain life and meaning and why This Too Shall Suck
[$] 8:00 pm ($14 plus 2-item food/drink min.): Tom Papa (host of Jerry Seinfeld-produced NBC comedy The Marriage Ref; numerous appearances on David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Jay Leno; three Comedy Central specials), Adam Ferrara (cast member on FX’s Rescue Me and ABC’s The Job; co-host of History Channel’s Top Gear; Comedy Central Presents), Gary Gulman (David Letterman, Jay Leno, Last Comic Standing, Tourgasm, Comedy Central hour-long special), Gregg Rogell (Conan O’Brien, Jay Leno, Louie, Comedy Central), Keith Robinson (HBO, Comedy Central, Wanda Sykes Show), and DC Benny (Last Comic Standing, Comedy Central, ABC’s The Unusuals) performing at Comedy Cellar (117 MacDougal Street, between 3rd Street & Minetta Lane) hosted by Ardie Fuqua: Tom Papa, Adam Ferrara, Gary Gulman, and More
8:00 pm-MIdnight ($7 for the entire evening): The Magnet house troupes Featherweight, Junior Varsity, The Boss, and Hello Laser performing improv for two hours, followed at 10:00 pm by The Blackout (scenes are edited by blackouts created by the director in the booth, and the stage is set by the improvisers from the previous scene), and then at 11:00 improv competition Inspirado (like UCBT’s Cage Match, but with a game-like challenge component), tonight featuring Weekend of Regret vs. Orange Augustus: The Magnet’s Night Out
[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
[TOP PICK] 9:00 pm ($5): Sean Patton (one of the finest stand-ups in the country; killer sets on Jimmy Fallon and Conan O’Brien, Comedy Central, VH1, feature film Wifed Out; co-host of Comedy as a Second Language, frequent guest-host of Whiplash), Barry Rothbart (Conan O’Brien, Jay Leno, Comedy Central, MTV’s Punk’d, IFC’s Do Whatever), Kara Klenk (Comedy Central, Spike, Nickelodeon; host of If You Bring It), Guy Branum (FX’s Totally Biased), Matt Maragno, and John F. O’Donnell performing stand-up at UCB East hosted by Adam Conover and/or Emily Heller: Fresh Out
[TOP PICK] 9:30 pm ($10): Comics and comedic storytellers—who tonight are Halle Kiefer, H. Alan Scott, Dale Soules, Guy Branum, and Nhu An Do—performing at The PIT upstairs theatre to share tales on tonight’s theme Beginnings at one of the finest storytelling shows in the country: Risk!
[TOP PICK] 9:30 pm ($5): Brilliantly talented improvisor Ellena Chmielewski co-wrote and directed this comedy mini-play about modern romance at UCB Chelsea which I haven’t yet seen, but am guessing it’s something special: Standards & Practices…
…and in the other half of this double-bill, frankly, UCB Chelsea’s worst scripted show of 2012—terrible writing, acting, direction, a perfect storm of bad—but the folks involved are very nice (sometimes things just don’t work out…). Don’t miss Ellena’s show above just because it has the bad luck of being paired with The State vs. Josh: The Trial of the Millennials
[$] 10:00 pm ($14 plus 2-item food/drink min.): Judah Friedlander (one of the quickest minds in comedy; 30 Rock, Meet the Parents, Along Came Polly, author of How to Beat Up Anybody), Adam Ferrara (cast member on FX’s Rescue Me and ABC’s The Job; co-host of History Channel’s Top Gear; Comedy Central Presents), Lenny Marcus (David Letterman, MTV), Sherrod Small (writer/performer on TBS’ Are We There Yet?, Comedy Central, VH1), Modi (HBO’s The Sopranos, Comedy Central), and Mike Vecchione (Last Comic Standing, Howard Stern) performing at Comedy Cellar (117 MacDougal Street, between 3rd Street & Minetta Lane) hosted by Ardie Fuqua: Judah Friedlander, Adam Ferrara, and More
[TOP PICK] [$] 10:30 pm ($5 & 2-item food/drink min.) Comics heckle a genre feature film—with tonight’s victim the 1976 SF/horror schlock flick God Told Me Too (for a trailer, please click here), notable only for being the movie debut of Andy Kaufman, who plays a possessed policeman on a shooting rampage at the Saint Patrick’s Day parade—at Queens LIC’s Laughing Devil Comedy Club (4738 Vernon Blvd.): Devil Science Theater 3000
[TOP PICK] 11:00 pm ($5): After numerous clashes by improv giants—and lots of both disappointing and delightful surprises—it all comes down to this, the final match between the two improv teams that survived the battles of 2012, both of whom happen to be UCBT weekend groups: What I Did for Love and Airwolf. Get down to UCB Chelsea and experience these champions compete for your laughs and votes at the raucous Cage Match
[TOP PICK] 11:00 pm ($5): Great lineup of Chris “Shockwave” Sullivan (amazing human boombox; The Daily Show, The Electric Company, Freestyle Love Supreme, co-host of The BEATdown), Joe Pera (very funny deadpan comic; I recently saw him sing beautifully and then smash three dozen plates to pieces; for reasons to hire Joe, please click here), Jermaine Fowler (FOX’s new In Living Color, MTV, Adult Swim’s The Eric Andre Show), and more performing who knows what at UCB East hosted by Jason Saenz: Undefined—A Variety Show
[TOP PICK] [$] Midnight ($14 plus 2-item food/drink min.): Uncensored stand-up from Jena Friedman (wry dark comedy stand-up and rising star; producer for The Daily Show, former staff writer for David Letterman, host of Entertaining the Bartender), Paul Mecurio (Conan O’Brien, The Daily Show, Comedy Central Presents), Kurt Metzger (Jimmy Fallon, Comedy Central Presents, Ugly Americans), Andrew Schultz (MTV2’s Guy Code), and Mike Yard (Comedy Central, Def Comedy Jam) performing at Comedy Cellar (117 MacDougal Street, between 3rd Street & Minetta Lane) hosted by Ardie Fuqua: The Nasty Show: Jena Friedman, Paul Mecurio, Kurt Metzger, and More
From legendary NYC comedy site Brooklyn Vegan: If you want to know what is happening in NYC comedy on a particular day, you gotta get hip to this dude Hy Bender and his site Best New York Comedy. The site is updated daily and features a super exhaustive look at what is happening in the NYC comedy world that particular day. The site is updated religiously…It is your daily comedy itinerary and it scares me how on top of his shit this guy is.