NYC Top Comedy Choices for Sunday 12/21/14

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Mara Wilson

Former child star Mara Wilson (Matilda, Ms. Doubtfire) hosts a Brooklyn comedy show that asks…

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:

[FREE] 5:30 pm: A smorgasbord of of stand-up, comedic music, comedic dance, sketch, and more at The Creekupstairs theatre in Queens’ Long Island City hosted by Chris O’Neil: Mishmash Variety Hour

7:00 pm ($5): An improvised game show “teaming four short-form performers with two special guest contestants ready to ‘yes and’ anything to win” at The PIT upstairs theatre: ShortGameShow

[TOP PICK] 7:30 pm ($10) and 9:30 pm [FREE]: UCB Chelsea’s signature improv comedy extravaganza, which typically includes superstars in the improv world such as Chris Gethard, and occasionally network TV & movie stars such as Amy Poehler and Horatio Sanz: ASSSSCAT 3000

7:30 pm ($7): A one-woman show by Jana Schmieding telling “stories about being without love through the dark imagination and belted serenades of a broad who may or may not die alone” at The Magnet theatre directed by the wonderful Laura Grey: Classic Singles: Ballads of Loneliness

[$] 7:30 pm ($60 & 2-drink min.) A cast member of Saturday Night Live and In LIving Color (most famously playing Homey D. Clown), and an actor in numerous feature films, headlining one last night—albeit at a steep price—at theCarolines Comedy Club: Damon Wayans

[TOP PICK] 8:00 pm ($10 at the door or $11.59 online): Iconic former child actress Mara Wilson (Matilda, Mrs. Doubtfire; currently a writer; cast member of podcast Welcome to Night Vale) hosts this show about “death, commitment, sock puppets—everyone’s afraid of something. Laugh at your fears as Mara takes you through comedians’ anxieties (and a few of her own),” featuring Aparna Nancherla (one of the finest stand-ups in the country, with a delightfully wry style and lightning-quick mind; Conan O’Brien, Last Comic Standing, @midnight, Totally Biased, recently opened for Tig Notaro at Town Hall), Robin Gelfenbien (host of storytelling show Yum’s the Word; VH1, Sirius Satellite Radio, FringeNYC), and Anna Roisman (host of storytelling show You Probably Think This Song Is About You) performing at Brooklyn’s Union Hall: What Are You Afraid Of?

[TOP PICK] [DISCOUNTED] 8:00 pm  ($7.25 online using discount code XMAS; no min.): Ari Shaffir (Conan O’Brien, HBO’s Down and Dirty, Comedy Central, National Lampoon, hour-long set Passive Aggressive), Gary Gulman (David Letterman, Jay Leno, Last Comic Standing, Tourgasm, Comedy Central hour-long special), Brooks Wheelan (Saturday Night Live), Mike Vecchione (Jay Leno, Comedy Central Half Hour, Last Comic Standing, Howard Stern), Rory Albanese (The Daily Show), and Josh Adam Meyers performing stand-up at The Stand Comedy Club (239 Third Avenue & 20th Street): Ari Shaffir, Gary Gulman, Brooks Wheelan, and More

[TOP PICK] [$] 8:00 pm, 9:45 pm and 11:30 pm ($14 per show, plus 2-item food/drink min.): Tonight’s stand-ups include Judah Friedlander, Joe Machi, and Rachel Feinstein at the 8:00 show; Todd Barry, Ari Shaffir, Nick Griffin, Greer Barnes, and Marina Franklin at the 9:45 show; and Kurt Metzger, Joe List, Damien Lemon, and Wil Sylvince (hosting) at the 11:30 show, with all three shows at Comedy Cellar (117 MacDougal Street, between 3rd Street & Minetta Lane): Comedy Cellar Sunday

[TOP PICK] 8:00 pm ($5): Superb improvisors and guest improv groups join host Skycopter (which typically includes the incredible David Carl) to make up one-act plays on the spot at The PIT downstairs lounge: Act One

8:00 pm ($5): Adam Newman (David Letterman, Comedy Central Half Hour, MTV, host of Big Long Sets), Gary Vider (hilarious deadpan stand-up; for great Conan O’Brien set, please click here; for more jokes, please click here), Hadiyah Robinson (BET’s Comic View), Aaron Glaser (Jimmy Fallon, Wolf of Wall Street; host of Midnight Stand-Up), Anton Shuford, Jon Laster, and Josh Chudnovsky performing stand-up at UCB East hosted by Kara Klenk (Comedy Central, Spike, Nickelodeon): If You Build It

8:00 pm ($5): NYC stand-ups Sue Smith, Oscar Montoya, Matt Rogers, Emily Winter, and Alise Morales, plus comedic counseling from “Viviana Cortez” (Ali Levin), all at Brit Pack Studios (153 Lafayette Street, 3rd Floor) hosted by Ali Levin: Sunday Sessions

[$] [DISCOUNTED] 9:00 pm (FREE TICKETS if you reserve in advance by calling (212) 260-2445 and mentionHyReviews.com, but there’s still a 2-drink min. per person): Judah Friedlander (one of the quickest minds and very finest stand-ups in comedy; 30 Rock, Meet the Parents, Along Came Polly, author of How to Beat Up Anybody), David Foster (You Good, Prankville), and more performing at the only comedy club in the East Village: Eastville Comedy Club

9:00 pm ($7): A one-man show by Dave Warth (Hello Laser, I Will Crush You, The Saddest Story I Know, Performed for an Audience of Cats) that promises to be very strange at The Magnet theatre: Everything.

[TOP PICK] 9:30 pm ($5): Superb improvisors Silvija Ozols, Sarah Nowak, Ashley Ward, and more make up theatrical scenes at The PIT upstairs theatre: People Improvising

[TOP PICK] [DISCOUNTED] 10:00 pm  ($7.25 online using discount code XMAS; no min.): Judah Friedlander (one of the quickest minds and very finest stand-ups in comedy; 30 Rock, Meet the Parents, Along Came Polly, author ofHow to Beat Up Anybody), Ari Shaffir (Conan O’Brien, HBO’s Down and Dirty, Comedy Central, National Lampoon, hour-long set Passive Aggressive), Gary Gulman (David Letterman, Jay Leno, Last Comic Standing, Tourgasm,Comedy Central hour-long special), Brooks Wheelan (Saturday Night Live), Jen Kirkman (HBO, VH1, Chelsea Lately, After Lately, Craig Ferguson, Comedy Central’s Drunk History, staff writer for NBC’s Perfect Couples, author or I Can Barely Take Care of Myself), Mike Vecchione (Jay Leno, Comedy Central Half Hour, Last Comic Standing, Howard Stern), and Aaron Berg (TV series 24 Hour Rental, documentary A Universal Language) performing stand-up at The Stand Comedy Club (239 Third Avenue & 20th Street): Judah Friedlander, Ari Shaffir, Gary Gulman, Jen Kirkman, and More

[FREE] 10:00 pm: “Bringing comedy back to its vaudeville and cabaret roots, a no holds barred strictly R-rated comedy show featuring filthy stand-up and storytelling sandwiched between some of the hottest burlesque acts in the city” at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ Long Island City hosted by Charles Stunning & Freddie Heinemann: Raunchy Risque

Sunday Open Mics & Open Stages

[FREE] 4:00 pm: An unusually early walk-in open-mic stand-up show (put your name in the bucket at 3:45), providing 3 minutes or more per comic at The Creek downstairs lounge in Queens’ Long Island City hosted by James Ferrarella: Face-Plant Comedy Open Mic

[ALMOST FREE] 5:00 pm ($1): Sign up at 4:30 pm to do improv with experienced PIT performers at The PITdownstairs lounge hosted by Sasha Capelli, Eitan Levine, and Shaina Stigler: 10K Jam Jam

6:00 pm ($5): Open-mic stand-up that includes professional feedback on each comic’s 5-minute set at Queens LIC’sLaughing Devil/The Standing Room Comedy Club (4738 Vernon Blvd.): Mic-Shop: Open Mic Workshop

9:30 pm ($3): Open-mic comedy, with 3-5 minutes per walk-in performer who signs up (first come, first serve) at The PIT downstairs lounge, hosted by Will Neville: Amateur Night At The Gemini

[FREE] 10:00 pm: An open-mic stand-up show (sign up is at 9:45 pm) providing 5 minutes for each comic whose name is pulled from the bucket at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ Long Island City hosted by Christi Chiello:Lance Bass Space Mic

[FREE] 10:00 pm: The only open-stage show for entire groups of improvisors and sketch comics, running weekly atUCB East hosted by Austin Rodrigues: Bring Your Own Team: Improv/Sketch Team Jam

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)

The PIT
(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/The Standing Room
(4738 Vernon Blvd., by #7 train; Queens LIC club; free cover Fri-Sat with code LICVIP; 2-drink min.)

 From legendary NYC comedy site Brooklyn Vegan: Thank God for Hy Bender’s religiously updated show bible BestNewYorkComedy.com. He is literally the only person in NYC providing daily summaries of what’s happening comedy-wise. It must be exhausting keeping that monster of a website alive…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 hy@hyreviews.com.

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