NYC Top Comedy Choices for Thursday 1/9/14

January 9, 2014

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Huge congratulations to Pete Holmes & staff for TBS
renewing The Pete Holmes Show; look for it next month

The Improvised Shakespeare Company

Tthe smartest & funniest comedy improv troupe in the world returns to NYC for a four-night run starting tonight at 9:30 at Theatre 80 St. Marks: The Improvised Shakespeare Company…

The Improvised Opera

…or if you’d prefer a different kind of classical experience, check out The PIT’s The Improvised Opera

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] 7:00 pm ($8): Meredith Hackman (host of Saddest Sketch Show) performs a one-woman show about highly unlikable people at The PIT upstairs theatre: I Hate You

7:00 pm ($5): All-gal improvisors Alexis Saarela, Brigid Boyle, Elizabeth Findlay, and Ashley Ward, plus guests Jo Firestone, Shalyah Evans, and Megan Doherty, perform at the PIT downstairs lounge as group Taco Supreme

[TOP PICK] 7:30 pm ($5): Joe Pera (hilarious deadpan Andy Kaufman-like stand-up; one time I saw Joe sing beautifully and then smash three dozen plates to pieces; another time he ended his set by slicing milk; and when headlining at Carolines he had a first date on stage with a random member of the audience; for Joe’s latest Kaufman awards submissions, please click here and here), Stone & Stone (Last Comic Standing, Stone & Stone Show), Ben Kronberg (Jimmy Kimmel, Comedy Central Half Hour, MTV, ABC), and Emily Frankfurt performing stand-up at UCB East hosted by Sean Crespo, Dan Wilbur, and/or Katina Corrao: Lasers in the Jungle

[$] 7:45 pm, 9:30 pm, and 11:30 pm ($14 per show, plus 2-item food/drink min.): Tonight’s lineups include Judah Friedlander and Gregg Rogell at the 9:30 show, and Mark Normand, Nikki Glaser, Kurt Metzger, and BIg Jay Oakerson at the 11:30 show, with all shows at Comedy Cellar (117 MacDougal Street, between 3rd Street & Minetta Lane): Comedy Cellar Thursday

[$] 7:30 pm ($35 & 2-drink min.): An Iranian-American stand-up headlining tonight through Sunday at the Carolines Comedy Club: Max Amini

[TOP PICK] [$] 8:00 pm ($20, plus 2-item food/drink min.): Stand-ups perform set lists on the spot provided by Paul Provenza, with tonight’s comics Myq Kaplan (one of the quickest minds in comedy, and rapidly rising star; finalist on most recent Last Comic Standing; David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Jay Leno, Comedy Central Presents, hit comedy CDs Vegan Mind Meld and Meat Robot), Rich Vos (stand-up star on two seasons of Last Comic Standing and on Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn; Comedy Central Presents; Opie & Anthony radio show), Big Jay Oakerson (Comedy Central Presents, Louie, HBO, Showtime, MTV, IFC), Sam Morril (Comedy Central), and more thinking quickly on their feet at Village Underground (130 West 3rd Street, off Sixth Avenue): Set List with Paul Provenza

[TOP PICK] 8:00 pm ($5): At UCB Chelsea, a double-bill from unique comedy talent Brandon Gulya. First Brandon performs witty and surreal one-man show Who Are You People and Why Are You Watching Me?

..and then Matt Dennie & Josh Sharp prove themselves among the finest writer/performers at UCB with a consistently charming and hilarious version of Forest Gump that covers the entire film in 30 minutes, and features a deliciously funny Jenny played by Brandon Gulya, who also directed, resulting in one of the best sketch shows currently playing on an NYC stage: GUMP

[TOP PICK] 8:00 pm ($8): Leslie Goshko (delightful & razor-sharp storyteller/comic; WNYC, Sirius XM, Huffington Post, host of Sideshow Goshko), Caitlin Brodnick (co-host of Shut Up: An All-Female Storytelling Show), Christine Gentry, Ginny Leise, and Andrea Macy tell “hilarious, gross, awkward, and heartfelt stories of how they started out in NYC” at The PIT upstairs theatre hosted by Mallory Schlossberg (“who actually is a Girls fan, but once lived in a basement): Real Girls: Lena Dunham Got It Wrong

8:00 pm ($5): Two musical improv groups make up song-and-dance based stories on the spot at The PIT downstairs lounge: Slick Zombie & Hemlock

8:00 pm-10:00 pm ($7 for the entire evening): The Magnet house improv groups Junior Varsity and Hello Laser performing improv for an hour, followed at 9:00 pm by One-Hit Wonder (veteran musical improvisors make up the story of a band: how they met, how they became successful with their big hit song, their downfall, and where they are today), at 10:00 pm by veteran improvisors making up scenes based on improvised monologues from star storyteller Dave Hill (one of the most original and hilariously sharp alternative comics in the country; HBO, Comedy Central, MTV, VH1, NPR, The Dave Hill Explosion, bands Valley Lodge and Diamondsnake, champion rapper, author of Tasteful Nudes) at The Armando Diaz Experience, and finally at 11:00 by improv competition Inspirado (like UCBT’s Cage Match, but with a game-like challenge component): The Magnet’s Night Out

[$] 8:00 pm ($15; no min.): Writers & performers of VH1’s Best Week Ever, including Jared Logan, Michelle Buteau, Sherrod Small, Emily Tarver, Amanda Seales, and Pete Lee, performing stand-up at The Stand Comedy Club (239 Third Avenue & 20th Street): VH1’s Best Week Ever Stands Up

[FREE] 8:00 pm: Jena Friedman (wry dark comedy stand-up and rising star; producer for The Daily Show, former staff writer for David Letterman), Jordan Carlos (The Colbert Report, MTV’s Guy Code, Girl Code, Guy Court, VH1), and Lukas Kaiser telling stories about movies at Videology (308 Bedford Avenue) hosted by John Murray and Matt Fisher: Low Standards with John & Matt

[FREE] 8:00 pm: NYC stand-ups Phoebe Robinson, Mike Denny, Steven Forrest, and Janelle James performing at Poco Restaurant & Bar (33 Avenue B at 3rd Street) hosted by Sooyah Jun and/or Jawann Carmona: FTH Comedy

[FREE] 8:00 pm: This monthly show features “a swarthy selection of fine stand-up comics and mildly entertaining recurring segments” at Queens LIC’s The Creek upstairs theatre, hosted by Jim Tews & Brendan Eyre: Chest Hair

9:00 pm ($5): Nick Vatterott (Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Fallon, Comedy Central Half Hour, MTV, Second City, 2012 Andy Kaufman Award), Matt Koff (writer for The Daily Show), Alex Koll (Conan O’Brien, Comedy Central), Naomi Ekperigin, Nate Fridson, and Chris Laker performing at UCB East hosted by Adam Conover (College Humor, Olde English): Fresh Out

[MEGA-TOP PICK] [$] [DISCOUNTED] 9:30 pm ($25 with discount code SHAKES FB at the door or online): Genius improvisors from Chicago delivering one of the funniest shows you’ll ever see by making up a play on the spot using the language and themes of the Bard. This is the finest improv troupe in the world, and one of the best comedy shows of any kind, anywhere. Tonight is the first of a four-night NYC run at at Theatre 80 St. Marks (80 St. Marks Place, off First Avenue), with every evening utterly different from the last. This is a rare opportunity to enjoy the breathtakingly skilled Improvised Shakespeare Company

[TOP PICK] 9:30 pm ($10): Improvisors aim for “the comedy, drama, and vocal juiciness of a Mozart masterpiece made up on the spot; come hear beautiful arias appear out of nowhere as someone’s beloved is ravaged by a cheese monster, Gary Busey, or anything else the audience suggests” at The PIT upstairs theatre: The Improvised Opera

9:30 pm ($5): At UCB Chelsea, writer/performers Dru Johnston & Don Fanelli demonstrate perfect comedic timing—coupled with sorta terrible singing, sketch comedy, and a PowerPoint presentation—for a very silly show aiming to prove “Billy Joel is the greatest recording artist of all time.” I hope these guys aim for something meatier and more resonant to tackle next time, because they’ve got chops, which is especially evident at the dynamic start when they interact with the audience; but in the meantime you’re likely to enjoy Sketches From an Italian Restaurant: A Billy Joel Sketch Show

..and in the other half of this double-bill, a three-person mini-play that I’m amazed is still on the UCB schedule. Someone in management must like this, but you probably won’t: Greasy Lake: Key to the City

[TOP PICK] [$] 10:00 pm ($15; no min.): Mark Normand (hilarious red-hot rising star; Conan O’Brien, Last Comic Standing, Comedy Central; opens for Amy Schumer; co-host of Hot Soup and We’re All Friends Here), Joe Pera (hilarious deadpan Andy Kaufman-like stand-up; one time I saw Joe sing beautifully and then smash three dozen plates to pieces; another time he ended his set by slicing milk; and when headlining at Carolines he had a first date on stage with a random member of the audience; for Joe’s latest Kaufman awards submissions, please click here and here), Jared Logan (rising star; Comedy Central Half Hour, Last Comic Standing, CNN, TBS), Ben & Josh, and more performing stand-up at The Stand Comedy Club (239 Third Avenue & 20th Street): Mark Normand, Joe Pera, Jared Logan, and More

[FREE] 10:00 pm: NYC stand-ups (lineup not announced) performing at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ Long Island City hosted by Justin Williams & Akash Bhasin: Death Comedy Jam

[TOP PICK] 11:00 pm ($5): This year’s Cage Match improv playoffs continue, pitting the best against the best. Last week the longest running group at UCB, The Stepfathers, managed a close victory against Grandma’s Ashes with 67 votes to 56. Tonight The Stepfathers do battle again, this time against the formidable Scrambled Legs, in what’s likely to be a fierce and hilarious fight for your laughs and votes at UCB Chelsea for the raucous Cage Match

[TOP PICK] 11:00 pm ($5): Stand-up, storytelling, and carny join forces to bring the blog And I Am Not Lying to life on stage, with storytelling by host Jeff Simmermon (NPR’s This American Life), stand-up by Kara Klenk (Comedy Central, Spike, Nickelodeon; host of If You Bring It) and carny comic Abigoliah Schamaun (“who will chew and swallow an entire light bulb during her set”), and burlesque by Matt Knife and Vada James, all at the UCB East theatre: And I Am Not Lying

Thursday 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

[FREE] 5:30 pm: All-gal open-mic at UCB East in the bar area (“Hot Chicks Room”) hosted by Anna Drezen & Sue Smith: Open Michelle: Ladies Open Mic

[FREE] 6:00 pm: Open-mic stand-up with comics’ names drawn from a bucket and each chosen receiving 2 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

6:00 pm (no cover, 1 drink min. for both comics and audience members): Open mic stand-up providing 5-7 minutes per comic, running 2 1/2 hours. 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

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 Thursday 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 Ian Fidance: Comics Phoning It In

[FREE] 7:00 pm: In this free Magnet show, audience members (signing in at 6:00) can join in with improv group Hello Laser to make up scenes on the spot: Magnet Mixer

9:30 pm (free for audience members, $5 or 1 drink min. for stand-ups wanting to perform): Open mic stand-up providing 7 minutes per comic (and a free recording of your set!), with order determined raffle-style. Sign up by emailing or calling (212) 253-7747, or just walk in and supply your name, to perform at the Old Man Hustle Bar (39 Essex Street) hosted by Solomon Chehebar: Peep Show Comedy Open Mic

[FREE] 11:00 pm: An open-mic show that’s first come, first serve, with each comic getting 3-5 minutes on stage at The Creek downstairs lounge in Queens’ Long Island City hosted by Josh Alba: Mic and Cheese

[ALMOST FREE] 11:00 pm ($1): An open stage for indie improv groups—and if you’re not in a group, that’s also fine, you’ll simply be added to one—at The PIT downstairs lounge hosted by Darcy Burke & Donna Lobello: New Team Lunacy

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.)

Comic Strip Live
(1568 Second Avenue, off 81st; Upper East Side club with typically solid lineups; 2-drink min.)

Stand Up NY
(236 West 78th Street, off Broadway; Upper West Side club with typically solid lineups; 2-drink min.)

Laughing Devil
(4738 Vernon Blvd., by #7 train; Queens LIC club, with MST3K-style movie night on Thursdays; 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.