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FringeNYC kicks off today. My first pick, sight unseen, is below.
Tonight’s recommendations for the best in New York City comedy (in chronological order, with top picks noted and shows over $10 marked with $) include:
[TOP PICK] [$] [DISCOUNTED] 7:00 pm & 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): Ted Alexandro (one of the very finest stand-ups in the country; David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Kimmel, two Comedy Central Presents half-hour specials; frequently opens for Louis C.K.), Judah Friedlander (one of the quickest minds in comedy; 30 Rock, Meet the Parents, Along Came Polly, author of How to Beat Up Anybody), Mike Britt (Comedy Central), and more performing at the only comedy club in the East Village: Eastville Comedy Club
[TOP PICK] [$] 7:00 pm, 8:45 pm, 10:30 pm, and 12:15 am ($20-$24 per show, plus 2-item food/drink min.): Tonight’s fine lineups include SNL’s Darrell Hammond at 7:00 (and at 8:00 at sister venue Village Underground), Ted Alexandro at 8:45, and Todd Barry at 10:30, all performing at Comedy Cellar (117 MacDougal Street, between 3rd Street & Minetta Lane): Comedy Cellar Friday
7:00 pm ($5): Dan Hodapp & Natasha Rothwell “bring more than five years of improv collaboration to stage for an evening of bold, committed characters and probably a fart joke for good measure,” and are joined tonight by Jason Saenz (sketch troupe Onassis, co-host of Late Night Trash), Lisa Kleinman (sketch group Beige, co-host of Shut Up! Storytelling), and more performing at The PIT downstairs lounge: Hodapp & Rothwell
[TOP PICK] 7:30 pm ($10): Comedy genius Shannon O’Neill (breathtakingly innovative, lighting-quick, and fearless improvisor/sketch comic and rising star; The Stepfathers, Diamond Lion) does a show based on nothing but interviews with the audience and sheer guts at the UCB Chelsea theatre: Strangers Wanted with Shannon O’Neill
[FREE] 7:30ish pm: Michelle Wolf (super-likeable dark comic rising star; IFC), Dave Rosinsky (IFC), Sue Funke, Mike Tsirklin, and Erika Wasser performing at this monthly stand-up show at the One and One Bar (12 1st Street, corner of First Avenue) hosted by Jeff Cerulli and the delightful Chelsea White (MTV, VH1, TLC, co-host of Call Us Crazy): What Else? Comedy
7:30 pm ($5): Matt Koff (writer for The Daily Show), Ben Kronberg (Jimmy Kimmel, Comedy Central Half Hour, MTV, ABC), Meghan O’Keefe, and Mikala Bierma performing stand-up at UCB East hosted by Halle Kiefer and/or Dan Chamberlain: Splitsider and Tumblr’s Dog and Pony Show
[TOP PICK] 8:30 pm ($10): 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, improv troupe Salmon Diane, sketch/improv duo Klepper & Grey): The Friday Night Sh*w
[TOP PICK] 9:00 pm ($15 in advance, $18 at the door): It’s the first day of FringeNYC, so I haven’t yet seen any of its 185 productions…but I can nonetheless recommend this one-woman show because it’s from the wonderful Mary Dimino (2008 Gracie Allen Award, 2010 MAC Award for Outstanding Female Comedian), who delivered powerhouse writing & performing in her 2010 FringeNYC show Scared Skinny. A brief excerpt:
Tears are streaming down my face. A car pulls up right next to me; I didn’t even notice it.
But then I hear two Italian guidos talking.
“Ay, she’s crying! What do you think her problem is?”
“O-o-h, she’s fat! That’s what her fucking problem is!”
I’m trying not to react. But every cell in my being is tingling with shame.
It’s like I’m exposed; like they’re reading my mind and there’s nothing I can do about it.
“Imagine being that. O-o-h, she’s one fat freakin’ bitch!”
I didn’t move a muscle.
And it was right there, between the stillness and the pain, that I had my epiphany: I am fat.
Yes, you’re correct. I’m crying because I’m fat.
I may have felt that a million times. But have I ever really accepted it?
Putting myself in those guys’ shoes, I finally got to see myself objectively.
A newfound compassion, a complete understanding, for both them and me: I am fat.
And I am so obviously fat, it’s all people are going to see.
How can I expect anyone to get past that?
In this scene, Dimino is employing comedy to reveal the deepest, most personal aspects of herself. It’s raw, honest, and jaw-droppingly brave. And as a result of this approach—coupled with Dimino’s immense skill—Scared Skinny was one of the biggest hits of the 2010 festival.
Dimino’s new show is titled Big Dummy: Me & My Old Man. The first two (of five) performances have already sold out. The first two (of six) performances have already sold out. I recommend nabbing tickets ASAP: Big Dummy: Me & My Old Man
[TOP PICK] 9:00 pm ($10): Cipha Sounds (Hot 97, Chappelle’s Show) thought it would be cool if a hip-hop star told tales and then improvisors made up scenes based on them. This monthly show is the result, with a “secret” music celebrity “mesmerizing the crowd with amazing stories and linguistic darts to spark the creativity of some of the best improvisers in NYC,” the latter being Chris Gethard, Anthony Atamanuik, Brandon Gardner, Phil Jackson, and Abra Tabak at the UCB East theatre: Take It Personal: The Hip-Hip Improv Show
[TOP PICK] 9:00 pm ($10): Some of the finest improv in NYC from Shannon O’Neill, Silvija Ozols, Zach Woods, Michael Delaney, Will Hines, and Connor Ratliff, performing at UCB Chelsea—the all-star members of The Stepfathers
[FREE] 10:00 pm: NYC comics performing stand-up at Queens LIC’s The Creek upstairs theatre hosted by Justin Grace, Mike Pullan and James Ferrarella, who also promise “skits, arm wrestling, jeopardy, contests, drinking, and everything else you would do on an” Almost Saturday Show
[TOP PICK] 10:30 pm ($10): Superb improvisors Craig Rowin, Matt Fisher, Sue Galloway, Dan Klein, Brian Faas, Matt Moses, and/or Conner O’Malley—who this year defeated The Stepfathers and thoroughly crushed another troupe at Cage Match before losing by a single vote—make up scenes about an audience member’s legal dispute at the UCB Chelsea theatre: The Law Firm: Law & Disorder
10:30 pm ($10): Two Fun Men (Jimmy Fallon), Jamison Guest, and Charla Lauriston (co-host of School Night) performing at UCB East hosted by Brandon Scott Jones, D’Arcy Carden, Justin Tyler, Kelly Hudson, and/or Alden Ford: Gentrify
[TOP PICK] 11:30 pm ($5): A rotating cast drawing from over a dozen of the talented gal improvisors and sketch comics at The Magnet—including Artistic Director Megan Gray, Lauren Olson, Elena Fishbein, Kimberly Ferguson, and Beth Newell—aim to “give you a dark and twisted late night explosion:” The Clubhouse
Midnight ($5): Matthew Brian Cohen takes his Lifescrapers podcast life, in this debut show interviewing on stage Brian Glidewell, Alex French, Johnna Scrabis, and Hunter Nelsons at the UCB East theatre: Lifescrapers: Tall Stories of American Lives
Friday Open Mics
5:45 pm (no cover, 1 drink min. for both comics and audience members): Open mic stand-up providing 5-7 minutes per comic, running 1 hour. Arrive 30 minutes before the show to get on the signup sheet. This is a fine opportunity to perform at the only comedy club in the East Village: Eastville Comedy Club Open Mic
[FREE] 7:00 pm: Open-mic stand-up, with 3 minutes per comic (unless not many folks show up, in which case there’ll be more time), with names drawn out of a bucket at UCB East in the bar area (“Hot Chicks Room”) hosted by Nate Dern, Sarah Tollemache, and Paul Oddo: The Friday Night Hot Chicks Open Mic
[FREE] Midnight: This show might not be much fun for audience members, but it’s an amazing opportunity if you want to perform sketch for free and with almost zero hurdles on the prestigious UCB Chelsea stage. Hosted by Maude troupe Fambly: Liquid Courage
Best Inexpensive Stand-Up, Improv, Sketch, and Storytelling
Upright Citizens Brigade Chelsea
(307 West 26th Street; 150-seater; shows free-$10; one of the most respected comedy theatres in the world)
Upright Citizens Brigade East
(153 East 3rd Street; 99-seat main theatre, bar area for open mics; shows free-$10)
(123 East 24th Street; 99-seat upstairs theatre, 40-seat downstairs theatre; shows free-$15)
(254 West 29th Street; 60-seat theatre; shows $5-$10)
Best NYC Stand-Up Comedy Clubs
(117 MacDougal Street; among the finest daily stand-up lineups in the world; 2-item min.)
(239 Third Avenue; recent competitor to Comedy Cellar; no drink min.—support this policy!)
Carolines Comedy Club
(1626 Broadway; focuses on the world’s top headliners, who perform hour-long sets; 2-drink min.)
Gotham Comedy Club
(208 West 23rd Street; headliners on weekends, specialty & lineup shows weekdays; 2-drink min.)
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.