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Both New York International Fringe Festival coverage & comedy below.

Count Down My Life

Just two days left to catch the magnificently strange and fascinating all-Japanese rock opera “Count Down My Life”

FringeNYC Report: Am in a rush today, but here’s the short version (more on Tuesday):

Lula del Ray: ***½ Brilliant use of projection shadow puppetry to tell the tale of a girl with dreams. Remember the wonderful PigPen Theatre productions of previous years at the fest? This is another razor-sharp group of young artists on the rise. Don’t miss this unique and haunting show.

Lollapacoacharoozastock Music Festival: ***½ Smart, keenly observed, and hilarious parody of the affectations of various types of music stars, ranging from buggle gum pop to country to rock. If you enjoy music and laughter, see this.

Count Down My Life: *** Insanely insular, slow-paced, and yet fascinating all-Japanese rock opera about a playwright sitting in his room trying to create an award-winning work so he doesn’t have to move back in with his mother. If you want to see something wildly different that’s available nowhere else, buy tickets right away for this highly professionally executed production (aside from the occasionally mangled-English subtitles); the superb singer/actors and band are here only until Tuesday.

Shyama—The Legend of Krishna: *** Straight-up classic Indian dance by performers trained from around age six to do this well.

3rd Gender: ** In the future, our standard sexes are banned, and only a 3rd gender consisting of males in female bodies and females in male bodies are allowed for the sake of balance. It’s a really interesting idea; but, unfortunately, it goes nowhere.

Horsehead: *½ “In The Godfather, the head of a horse is cut off and placed in the bed of a Hollywood film mogul for the refusal of a favor. Ever thought about the two guys that had to put it there?” It’s a great premise…making the execution a huge disappointment. It was simply dumb to cast two Italians who can’t speak English well for these roles. They seem like extremely nice guys with real heart, and I wish them every success; but what’s the point of doing a dialogue-driven play where it’s hard to understand the words? Plus the comedic direction is cartoonish, with way too much posing and mugging, which isn’t the way to go for sophisticated NYC audiences. And the script is simply juvenile. See something else. (Also, not a review; but as buzz will mention that I’ve heard quite bad things from a trusted source about Horse Play: The Musical. So beware of horse shows at this year’s fest…)

Kate McKinnon

Comedy genius & SNL star Kate McKinnon performs at Wyatt Cenac’s “Night Train”

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] [$] 1:30 pm today, 8:30 pm on Tuesday ($18): If you’re not only open to but grateful for the opportunity to experience something wildly different, then thank FringeNYC for bringing us this oddball all-Japanese rock opera (with occasionally mangled English subtitles provided via a large monitor). Breaking basic rules of storytelling, there’s almost no conflict, no clear stakes (the terrible danger is that our hero might have to move back in with his mother), and the plot moves like molasses: it’s about a guy who wants to be a playwright, and who almost never leaves his apartment because he’s so busy writing… And yet the singer/actors (especially Kouta Someya and Megumi Iino) and live band—not to mention the sheer guts of the author for writing one of the most insular stories I’ve ever seen—are so riveting that I not only enjoyed this, I’m tempted to go see it again before its too-brief run ends. Storytelling aside, this is one of the most professional productions you’ll find at this year’s Fringe, and—again, if you’re open to something insanely different—is a steal at its $18 ticket price. Don’t miss the chance of catching the two remaining performances, today at 1:30 pm and Tuesday at 8:30 pm, at Theatre 80 St. Marks (St. Marks Place, between First and Second Avenues): Count Down My Life

[TOP PICK] [FREE] 7:00 pm: One of the finest stand-ups in the world, Ted Alexandro (David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Kimmel, two Comedy Central Presents half-hour specials; frequently opens for Louis C.K.), tries out new material every night this week at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ Long Island City: Week At the Creek: Ted Alexandro

[TOP PICK] 7:00 pm ($5): A monthly storytelling show from the wonderful Adam Wade (two-time Moth GrandSlam Storytelling Champion (2006 & 2009) and record-breaking 18-time StorySlam Champion; The New York Times Magazine; host of hilarious monthly storytelling extravaganzas Tales of the Cosmos and Whatever Happened to the Nerds?; for a sampling of Adam’s award-winning tales, please click here), along with sharp guest storyteller David Crabb (co-host of Ask Me Stories), at Under St. Marks (94 St. Marks Place, between First Avenue and Avenue A): The Adam Wade from New Hampshire Show: Tales of Life, Love, and Little League

7:00 pm ($5): Veteran improvisors—typically including Keisha Zollar and/or Rob Stern—will be touring as representatives of The PIT, and practicing tonight at The PIT downstairs lounge: The PIT TourCo

7:00 pm ($5): Improv from duo We’re Matt Weir and duo Listen, Kid! at The Magnet theatre: Listen, Weirs

[FREE] 7:30 pm: Four improvisers form teams with comics they’ve never performed with before at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ Long Island City: The Kaleidoscope

[TOP PICK] 8:00 pm ($8 at the door or $9.47 online): Kate McKinnon (genius sketch comic and stellar cast member of Saturday Night Live; voice actress for Adult Swim’s Venture Brothers and Comedy Central’s Ugly Americans), Elliott Kalan (Emmy-winning writer for The Daily Show; co-host of podcast The Flophouse celebrating classic films), Dan Soder (Comedy Central Half Hour, VH1; for set about being a hypochondriatic drug user, please click here), Charla Lauriston (co-host of School Night), and Michael Hogan (graphics designer for The Daily Show) performing stand-up or sketch at Brooklyn’s Littlefield (622 Degraw Street) hosted by Wyatt Cenac (former star correspondent for The Daily Show, Comedy Central hour-long special, Adult Swim): Night Train

[TOP PICK] 8:00 pm ($5): Sketch comedy from groups Stone Cold Fox, Beige, and Boat showing off some of their best material at the UCB East theatre: Comedy Central Corporate Retreat

[TOP PICK] 8:00 pm ($5): Two UCB Chelsea house sketch troupes try out new material: Supereasy (which includes comedy chameleon Livia Scott) and Onassis (which includes such talents as Lauren Adams, Jason Saenz, and Frank Hejl): Maude Night: Supereasy and Onassis

[TOP PICK] [FREE] 8:00 pm: Jared Logan (rising star; Comedy Central Half Hour, Last Comic Standing, CNN, TBS), Carmen Lynch (David Letterman, Last Comic Standing finalist, Comedy Central), Phoebe Robinson (TV Guide’s 100 TV Shows To See Before You Die and 25 Biggest Reality Star Blunders, Huffington Post), Ben Kronberg (Jimmy Kimmel, Comedy Central Half Hour, MTV, ABC), Ben Kissel, and Bill Stiteler performing at the Niagra Bar (112 Avenue A & 7th Street) for this weekly show hosted by Erik Bergstrom (cartoonist/author of Grimmer Tales, The New Yorker, blogger for Comedy Central’s Indecision 2012) & DJ CnC: Crickets

[TOP PICK] [$] 8:00 pm ($12 plus 2-item food/drink min.): John Mulaney (one of the finest stand-ups in the country; writer/performer for Saturday Night Live; Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Fallon, Comedy Central Presents, one hour special & CD/DVD New in Town, VH1’s Best Week Ever; for John’s great bit on Weekend Update, please click here), Nick DiPaolo (star stand-up, with numerous appearances on David Letterman, Jay Leno, Louie; Emmy-nominated comedy writer, talk show host), Gregg Rogell (Conan O’Brien, Jay Leno, Louie, Comedy Central), Greer Barnes (David Letterman, Chappelle’s Show, For the Love of the Game), Big Jay Oakerson (Comedy Central Presents, Louie, HBO, Showtime, MTV, IFC), and Kyle Dunnigan performing stand-up at Comedy Cellar (117 MacDougal Street, between 3rd Street & Minetta Lane) hosted by William Stephenson (FX’s Louie, The Chris Rock Show): John Mulaney, Nick DiPaolo, Gregg Rogell, Greer Barnes, and More

8:00 pm ($8): Matthew Robert Gehring (FX’s Louie, Political Subversities) performs 30 characters in 45 minutes, aided by performer Spencer Novich (Cirque du Soleil) at The PIT upstairs theatre: Gauntlet

[TOP PICK] [FREE] 9:00 pm: Jon Friedman (MTV producer, Jimmy Fallon, The Rejection Show), Mindy Raf (brilliant comedic singer/songwriter; VH1, College Humor; author of YA novel The Symptoms of My Insanity; often performs as alter ego Leibya Rogers), Adam Newman (Comedy Central, MTV, College Humor, host of Big Long Sets), Frank Liotti, and George Gordon performing stand-up, plus music from The Oakwood Boys, at Brooklyn’s Freddy’s Bar (627 Fifth Avenue; take R subway to Prospect Avenue) for this free biweekly show hosted by Brooke Van Poppelen (brilliant writer, stand-up, and storyteller; writer and/or producer for MTV’s Guy Code, Girl Code, Failosophy, and Nikki & Sara Show; trutV, TLC, co-host of Dive Comedy) and Giulia Rozzi (Jimmy Kimmel, MTV, VH1, Playgirl Magazine, co-host of Dive comedy and Stripped Stories): Dive Comedy

[TOP PICK] 9:30 pm ($5): Two UCB Chelsea house sketch troupes try out new material: The Prom (which includes such stellar talents as Amber Nelson, Stephen Soroka, and Siobhan Thompson), and Dinner (which includes Tim Martin, Eddie Dunn, Natasha Rothwell, and Bree Sharp): Maude Night: The Prom and Dinner

[FREE] 9:30 pm: Following a club format, hosts Nore Davis & Andrew Short perform stand-up throughout for a total of 25 minutes, two comics each perform a 15-minute set, and then the headliner closes out the show with a 20-minute set, all at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ Long Island City: On the Road

9:30 pm ($5): Improv veterans Brandon Gardner, Chelsea Clarke, Phillip Jackson, and/or Steve Theiss hosting & performing in a show at UCB East with guest improvisors: Improv Nerds

[TOP PICK] [$] 10:00 pm ($12 plus 2-item food/drink min.): Dave Attell (one of the most respected stand-ups in the biz; star of Showtime’s Dave’s Old Porn and Comedy Central’s Insomniac; HBO, David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Jay Leno, The Daily Show, Comedy Central Presents), Nick Griffin (David Letterman, Jay Leno, Comedy Central Presents), Wil Sylvince (Comedy Central, BET’s Comic View), Marina Franklin (Jay Leno, Last Comic Standing, Chappelle’s Show, VH1), Joe List (HBO, Last Comic Standing, Comedy Central), Andrew Schulz (MTV’s Guy Code, Girl Code, Failosophy), and Dan Naturman (David Letterman, Jay Leno) performing stand-up at Comedy Cellar (117 MacDougal Street, between 3rd Street & Minetta Lane) hosted by William Stephenson (FX’s Louie, The Chris Rock Show): Dave Attell, Nick Griffin, Wil Sylvince, and More

[TOP PICK] 10:00 pm ($5): Twelve improv comics who are “friends of Dorothy” perform at The Magnet hosted by Andrew Fafoutakis: There’s No Place Like Home: A GLBTQ Event

[TOP PICK] [FREE] 11:00 pm: Some of the finest comics in the world—who are no longer being announced in advance, but it’s virtually always a great lineup—at UCB Chelsea hosted by the wonderful Leo Allen (HBO, Saturday Night Live, Conan O’Brien, Comedy Central): Whiplash

Monday Open Mics & Jams

5:00 pm ($5): Two-hour open-mic for 20 stand-ups performing for 5 minutes each, with sign-up online here, at the Stand Up NY Comedy Club (236 West 78th Street): Stand Up NY Open Mic

6:00 pm ($5 cover for comics, no cover for audience with code HyReviews, plus 1-drink min.): The perfect show for short attention spans—open-mic stand-up with 4 1/2 minutes per set and 20 comics crammed into 2 hours—at the Greenwich Village Comedy Club (99 MacDougal Street) for John Morrison’s Village Motel

6:00 pm & 8:00 pm (no cover, 1 drink min. for both comics and audience members): Open mic stand-up providing 5-7 minutes per comic, with each show running 1 hour and 45 minutes. Arrive 30 minutes before the show you want to be in 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] 6:00 pm: An open-mic stand-up show, with 10 comics each performing for 5 minutes, at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ Long Island City hosted by Abigoliah Schamaun & Peggy O’Leary: Dicks Open Mic

[TOP PICK] [FREE] 6:30 pm: Open-mic storytelling, with names drawn out of a bucket at UCB East in the bar area (“Hot Chicks Room”), hosted by Julia Wiedeman: Happy Hour Open-Mic Storytelling with Julia Wiedeman

7:00 pm ($2, which includes a free beer or water): Open mic stand-up providing a whopping 10 minutes per comic. Email with subject line Phoning Monday to sign up; or take a chance at lottery sign-up live between 6:45 and 7:45 at Brit Pack Studios (153 Lafayette Street, 3rd Floor) hosted by Tim Duffy: Comics Phoning It In

7:30 pm ($10; sign-up starts at 7:00 pm): Open mic for stand-ups, storytellers, singers, poets, actors, and more, with 5 minutes per performer and 25 slots available, at One and One Bar’s Downstairs Nexus Lounge (76 1st Street, corner of First Avenue) hosted by Nathan P., followed by a raucous afterparty with dancing & drink specials from 10:00 to midnight: Inspired Word’s Open Mic Joint

[TOP PICK] [FREE] 8:00 pm: Unique open mic for any comedy except stand-up—e.g., characters, sketch, stories, poetry, music—providing 6 minutes for each performer signed up in advance (email with the subject line No Jokes Allowed Sign-Up) and 4 minutes per walk-in performer at the East Village’s Beauty Bar hosted by Steven DeSiena & Stephen Whalen: No Jokes Allowed Open Mic

10:30 pm ($5): Improv veterans Brandon Gardner, Chelsea Clarke, and Phillip Jackson hosting & performing in a show at UCB East with improvisors taken from the audience…and who may include you: Improv Nerds Jam

[FREE] 10:30 pm: Improv students are welcomed onto the stage at The PIT downstairs lounge for this weekly open access show hosted by Gary DeNoia & Langston Belton: Base Jam

[ALMOST FREE] 11:00 pm ($1): If you’re an audience member who loves stand-up, Monday at 11 should be Whiplash! night. If you’re a comic who couldn’t get booked on UCBT’s all-star show, though, you can opt to instead practice your skills at this exceptionally supportive stand-up open-mic at The PIT upstairs theatre hosted by Jarrid Reed: Fresh

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)

The Magnet
(254 West 29th Street; 60-seat theatre; shows $5-$10)

The Creek and the Cave
(Queens’ Long Island City; 40-seat theatre upstairs, 25 downstairs; virtually all shows free)

Best NYC Stand-Up Comedy Clubs

Comedy Cellar
(117 MacDougal Street; among the finest daily stand-up lineups in the world; 2-item min.)

The Stand
(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.)

Eastville Comedy Club
(85 East 4th Street; strong weekend lineups; no cover using code HyReviews; 2-drink min.)

Greenwich Village Comedy Club
(99 MacDougal Street; convenient if Comedy Cellar’s sold out; no cover using code HyReviews; 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.

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