NYC Top Comedy Choices for Thursday 6/26/14

June 26, 2014

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TV Alert: Bob Newhart is on Jimmy Kimmel; Jonah Hill and Nick Turner are on Seth Meyers; Melissa McCarthy is on The Daily Show; Paul Rudd is on The Colbert Report; Joel McHale is on Conan O’Brien

I’m caring less and less about NBC’s Last Comic Standing at 10:00 pm, but will keep watching because hey, how many prime time shows about stand-up are there? Amy Schumer was very much missed last week; really hoping something fun happens. But the real action is NYC tonight is on stage:

Matt Besser

Improv comedy legend Matt Besser hosts UCBT Character Showcase and is a guest on Cool Shit / Weird Shit

Mike Daisy

…and one of the greatest storytellers alive, Mike Daisey, performs with Elna Baker and Catie Lazarus at Leslie Goshko’s Sideshow Goshko

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:

[MEGA-TOP PICK] [FREE] 7:00 pm: Some of the greatest storytellers alive perform tonight: Mike Daisey (“I’ve always been willing to throw myself right off a cliff. It’s a beautiful feeling to know that below awaits the water or the rocks. When you’re suspended in that high arc above the brilliant blue, for a moment you are released, you are free…because you could live or die. I crave that…”), Elna Baker (genius storyteller, and bestselling author of comedic book The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance; NPR’s This American Life; writer for Glamour, Elle; for sample tales, please click here), Catie Lazarus (The New York Times, host of Employee of the Month), and irresistibly charming host Leslie Goshko (delightful & razor-sharp storyteller/comic; WNYC, Sirius XM, Huffington Post) performing at this wonderful monthly oddball storytelling show at the KGB Bar (85 East 4th Street, off Second Avenue) featuring such magic as a trivia contest with alcoholic prizes: Sideshow Goshko

[TOP PICK] 7:00 pm ($5): Great NYC improv groups of the past—Bastian, The Opera, and Badman—perform for one night only at UCB East for this special event: Harold Night Time Machine

[FREE] 7:00 pm: Abigoliah Schamaun (carny stand-up; co-host of Abigoliah’s Bizarre Bazaar and Dick’s Open Mic) hones a 30-minute stand-up set this week every night through Thursday at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ Long Island City: Week At the Creek: Abigoliah Schamaun

[TOP PICK] [$] 7:45 pm, 8:00 pm, 9:30 pm, and 11:30 pm ($14 per show, plus 2-item food/drink min.): Tonight’s comics include Neal Brennan and Dov Davidoff at the 8:00 show; a very strong lineup of Ted Alexandro, Judah Friedlander, Nick Griffin, Gregg Rogell, Greer Barnes, Carmen Lynch, and Lynne Koplitz at the 9:30 show; and Dave Attell, Todd Barry, and Nikki Glaser at the 11:30 show, with three of the shows at Comedy Cellar (117 MacDougal Street, between 3rd Street & Minetta Lane) and the 8:00 pm show at Village Underground (130 West 3rd Street, off Sixth Avenue): Comedy Cellar Thursday

[MEGA-TOP PICK] 8:00 pm ($5; sold out of seats, but you might be able get in if you arrive early and don’t mind standing): This top musical improv troupe has wowed audiences around the world with its skill at making up an hour-long musical moment by moment. The plot and characters, the musical accompaniment, even the song lyrics and the “choreography” are invented on the spot, with no pre-planned structure, by such ace talents as Jeff Hiller and Ashley Ward. BWC is running every night through Thursday at Urban Stages (259 West 30th Street). Come see why this show won a FringeNYC Award for Outstanding Unique Theatrical Event: Baby Wants Candy

[TOP PICK] 8:00 pm ($5): Improv living legend Matt Besser (founding member of the Upright Citizens Brigade) hosts a dozen talented comics performing comedic characters at the UCB Chelsea theatre: UCBT Character Showcase

[TOP PICK] 8:00 pm ($5): Jon Benjamin (unique off-the-wall comedy genius; FOX’s Bob’s Burgers, FX’s Archer, Comedy Central’s Jon Benjamin Has a Van, Adult Swim, MTV’s Human Giant), Matt Koff (writer for The Daily Show), and Jacqueline Novak performing at this show for stand-up plus sketch at Brooklyn’s Splitty (415 Myrtle Avenue) hosted by Larry Murphy (brilliant voiceover actor for FOX’s Bob’s Burgers, Comedy Central’s Ugly Americans, Adult Swim’s Assy McGee and Home Movies, and numerous other shows) and/or Greg Johnson (Sirius XM): Myrtle Comedy

[TOP PICK] 8:00 pm ($10 at the door, but this will probably sell out so opt for $11.59 online): Eight sharp comics—including Jared Logan, Ashley Brooke Roberts, and Ben Kronberg—performing erotic fiction they’ve written based on audience suggestions at Brooklyn’s Union Hall hosted by Bryan Cook: Competitive Erotic Fan Fiction

[TOP PICK] [FREE] 8:00 pm: Nikki Glaser (former co-star of MTV’s The Nikki and Sara Show; Conan O’Brien, Jay Leno, Last Comic Sanding, Comedy Central Half Hour; podcast You Had to Be There), Aparna Nancherla (delightfully wry, razor-sharp stand-up; Conan O’Brien, Last Comic Standing, former writer/performer for FX’s Totally Biased), Emmy Blotnick (blogger for Jimmy Fallon, MTV’s Nikki and Sara Live, VH1’s Best Week Ever), and Siobhan Thompson telling stories about movies at Videology (308 Bedford Avenue) hosted by John Murray & Matt Fisher: Low Standards with John & Matt

[TOP PICK]8:00 pm ($15; no 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), Chris Gethard (comedy genius; Broad City, Conan O’Brien, The Office, IFC; star of The Chris Gethard Show; author of A Bad Idea I’m About to Do and Weird New York, plus My Comedy Album), Dan St. Germain (enormously likeable and rapidly rising star who has several TV shows in the works; Jimmy Fallon, Comedy Central Half-Hour Special, The Electric Company, MTV, VH1), Michelle Buteau (FOX’s Enlisted, Comedy Central, Last Comic Standing, Craig Ferguson, VH1’s Best Week Ever, @midnight), Chris Distefano (David Letterman, Comedy Central, MTV2’s Guy Code), and Sean Donnelly (David Letterman, Last Comic Standing, MTV) performing at The Stand Comedy Club (239 Third Avenue & 20th Street): Judah Friedlander, Chris Gethard, Dan St. Germain, and More

[TOP PICK] 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 An Exhibition of Introverts (improv focused on the idiosyncratic perspectives and opinions of a cast of characters who’ll be observed in meaningful & funny everyday moments), at 10:00 pm by veteran improvisors making up scenes based on improvised monologues from Mark Gagliardi 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 ($10): Bridey Elliott (razor-sharp rising star; David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Witstream, Fambly), Phil Hanley (Jay Leno, Comedy Central), and Harrison Greenbaum (Comedy Central, Mad Magazine) performing stand-up at The PIT upstairs theatre with twins Adam & Todd Stone: Stone and Stone Show

[FREE; plus FREE CC] 8:00 pm: A monthly stand-up show that features free cotton candy (“You will laugh and then have a sugar crash”) at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ Long Island City hosted by Abigoliah Schamaun & Matteo Lane: Free Cotton Candy

[TOP PICK] 8:45 pm ($5): Great NYC improv groups of the past—Ragnarock, Monkeydick, and Mailer Daemon—perform for one night only at UCB East for this special event: Harold Night Time Machine

9:00 pm ($10): Improvisors make up new episodes of a TV classic at The PIT downstairs lounge: Saved by the Bell: The Lost Episodes

[TOP PICK] 9:30 pm ($5): At UCB Chelsea, Langan Dice Kingsley establishes herself as a major UCB talent and rising star in this one-woman show demonstrating playful wit, a dancer’s grace, and vocal gymnastics that may make you concerned Langan hurts her voice (but you’ll want her to keep doing it anyway): The Dicewoman Cometh

…and in the other half of this double-bill, scenes from nautical sketch group BOAT

[TOP PICK] 9:30 pm ($5): Improv living legend Matt Besser (founding member of the Upright Citizens Brigade), ace improvisor Fran Gillespie, and more at Urban Stages (259 West 30th Street). hosted by superb sketch duo Matt Dennie & Josh Sharp (GUMP): Cool Shit / Weird Shit

[TOP PICK] 9:30 pm ($10): Betty Dodson (author who’s sold over 1 million books about sex, including Liberating Masturbation; appeared on Bullshit! with Penn and Teller); W. Kamau Bell (former star of Totally Biased), Roger Hailes (Jimmy Fallon, Chappelle’s Show, MTV; writer for VH1’s Best Week Ever and FUSE’s A Different Spins; Web series Mansome), and Christine Gentry (NPR’s This American Life) telling daring personal tales at The PIT upstairs theatre on tonight’s theme Humiliation for one of the finest storytelling shows in the country: Risk!

[TOP PICK] [$] 9:30 pm ($20 at the door or $24.50 in advance online, plus 2-item food/drink min.): This show that interviews luminaries about what it’s like to have a dreamy job tonight features stars Martha Plimpton, Josh Charles, Bridget Everett, James Monroe Iglehart (Tony Award winner; Alladin, Freestyle Love Supreme), and Matt Zoller Seitz (TV critic for New York Magazine) at Joe’s Pub (425 Lafayette Street, between East 4th Street & Astor Place) hosted by Catie Lazarus, plus music from Chris “Shockwave” Sullivan: Employee of the Month

[TOP PICK]10:00 pm ($15; no 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), Dan St. Germain (enormously likeable and rapidly rising star who has several TV shows in the works; Jimmy Fallon, Comedy Central Half-Hour Special, The Electric Company, MTV, VH1), Pete Davidson (MTV’s Guy Code), Streeter Seidell (Editor-in-Chief of College Humor; Jimmy Kimmel, MTV’s Pranked), Amanda Seales, and Jena Kingsley performing at The Stand Comedy Club (239 Third Avenue & 20th Street): Judah Friedlander, Dan St. Germain, Pete Davidson, Streeter Seidell, and More

[FREE] 10:00 pm: Members of ace improv group Krompf—Neil Casey, Amey Goerlich, Joe Wengert, and/or Ryan Karels—perform, and host two performances by their improv students from the past year, at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ Long Island City: The Pre-DCM Krompf Extravaganza

10:00 pm ($10): “Remember the happy, bouncy, Broadway-loving Rosie O’Donnell of the ’90s? Jody Shelton, Douglas Widick, and Sudi Green sure do! Come see them recreate the primarily color-heavy, Tom Cruise adoration-filled show that you loved watching with your mom,” with tonight’s mob of guests including Pop Roulett and Kevin Avery performing at The PIT downstairs lounge: The Rosie O’Donnell Show!

[TOP PICK] 11:00 pm ($5): Last week ace weekend improv group Grandma’s Ashes brought reality home to surreal team The Serling with a crushing 87-27 victory. Tonight the reining champion faces one of the greatest improv groups of all time, Death by Roo Roo. The heavens will quake at these giants compete for your laughs and votes at UCB Chelsea in the raucous Cage Match

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 the spectacular 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 ($5): Hour-long open mic stand-up providing 5 minutes per comic. Check-in is at 5:45 at the new Comedians Club of New York (158 West 72nd Street), which was formerly The Triad Theatre: Comedians Club Open Mic

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

[TOP PICK] [FREE] 7:00 pm: Storyteller Andy Ross (host of Real Characters) is the booked guest at this weekly open mic that provides 5 minutes for each audience member whose name is pulled out of a bucket to perform a true story, sketch, or characters at Brooklyn’s Over the Eight (594 Union Ave) hosted by JiJi Lee: Split Personality Open Mic Storytelling & Sketch

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 Junior Varsity 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

[FREE] 11:00 pm: 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 upstairs theatre 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-$20)

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)

This Theater
(154 West 29th Street; new venue that, at its best, features shows comparable to UCB & PIT; free-$12)

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.

Please feel encouraged to reach out to tell me about comedy shows, hire me for book or screenplay work, or for any other reason by emailing me at