NYC Top Comedy Choices for Friday 1/23/15

For more, please visit HyReviews.com.

Louis CK Alert: Any event at Madison Square Garden is the opposite of an intimate experience, and Louis CK’s MSG show reflects that—his finely crafted material about babies, animals, death, and The Wizard of Oz lean heavily on the silly and surreal, and is geared more for mass appeal than vulnerable self-revelation. But lack of nuanced variation aside, the jokes are funny; and watching one of the greatest stand-ups in history having fun soaking in the energy of 18,000+ fans—most of whom have surprisingly fine senses of humor and timing, a testament to the sort of folks Louis attracts with his ferocious intelligence—is an experience worth having. There are still a very few tickets left for Louis’ third Madison Square Garden show on Saturday at 8:00 pm here, and a healthy number of tickets left for his MSG show on Tuesday January 27th at 8:00 pm here. For the best experience, I recommend the $65 tickets. Otherwise Louis may be a moving dot on stage, but you can still see him up close via giant TV monitors in front of your $45 or $25 seats.

TV Alert: Garry Shandling and Jeff Goldblum are
hosted by Judd Apatow on The Late Late Show;
Sara Schaefer is on Carson Daly (repeated from 9/29/14);
Michael Keaton is on David Letterman (repeated from 10/27/14)

David Carl

Ace sketch comics David Carl…

Katie Hartman

…and Katie Hartman host a new show devoted to colorful solo characters in Riled Up With David and Katie

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): 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), Mike Yard (Comedy Central, Def Comedy Jam), DC Benny (Last Comic Standing, Comedy Central, ABC’s The Unusuals), and more performing at the only comedy club in the East Village: Eastville Comedy Club

[$] 7:00 pm, 8:00 pm, 8:45 pm, 10:30 pm, and 12:15 am ($20-$24 per show, plus 2-item food/drink min.): Tonight’s stand-ups include Ryan Hamilton, Gregg Rogell, Greer Barnes, and Lynne Koplitz at the 8:45 show, and Ryan Hamilton, Greer Barnes, Lori Palminteri, Lenny Marcus, and Sam Morril at the 12:15 am show. Lineups for the other time slots are too relatively anemic to mention, but it’s quite possible celebrity drop-ins will fill out those shows. All shows are at Comedy Cellar (117 MacDougal Street, between 3rd Street & Minetta Lane) except for the 8:00 pm show at Village Underground (130 West 3rd Street, off Sixth Avenue): Comedy Cellar Friday

7:00 pm ($10): Kaitlin Fontana and Luke Ward, the hosts of We Love TV, tonight deviate from their parody format to host readings of two TV pilot scripts they’ve written at The PIT downstairs lounge: We Love TV: Two Pilot Readings

7:00 pm ($5): Three improv teams compete in this cutthroat battle for laughs. What’s different about this cage match is it’s judged by a dog. Every week features a new human guest judge—whose opinion doesn’t really matter—and a guest canine judge who will actually decide the fates of everyone based on which bowl this dog goes to first. It all happens at Brooklyn’s The Annoyance Theatre (367 Bedford Avenue; take J/M/Z to Marcy Avenue or L to Lorimer Street): Dog Fight

[TOP PICK] 7:00 pm ($7): Favorite sketches from Magnet house groups and indie groups (not announced) hosted by Matt Antonucci & Joe Lepore: Bonus Round

[TOP PICK] 7:30 pm ($5): At UCB Chelsea, the talented Natasha Vaynblat (improv group What I Did For Love, sketch group Absolutely) performs a smart, funny one-woman show mixing sketches about the types of teachers she’s encountered with video tales of her own experiences during four years as an NYC public school teacher, directed by the wonderful Leslie Meisel: United Federation of Teachers

…and in the second half of this double-bill, Kristen Bartlett & Jason Gore perform a sketch show about dealing with losing their dads within months of each other “but it’s funny, we swear” in The Dead Dads Club

[TOP PICK] 7:30 pm ($10): Improv group Bucky makes up one long scene in the same location (a winning form that’s helped such teams as Death by Roo Roo win a whole lot of Cage Match victories)—and, when SNL is on break, sometimes includes star Sasheer Zamata—at the UCB East theatre: Bucky: Here and Now

[$] 7:30 pm & 10:00 pm ($42 & 2-drink min.): A stand-up who starred in Comedy Central special Can a Brother Get Some Love?, and was a series regular on Breaking Bad and Adult Swim’s Sperm Whale, headlines tonight through Sunday at the Carolines Comedy Club: Lavell Crawford

[TOP PICK] [DISCOUNTED] 8:00 pm ($10 online using discount code WINTER; 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), Gary Gulman (razor-sharp wordsmith; David Letterman, Jay Leno, Last Comic Standing, Tourgasm, Comedy Central hour-log special), Kurt Metzger (staff writer for Inside Amy Schumer; Jimmy Fallon,Comedy Central special White Precious, Comedy Central Presents, Ugly Americans), Sherrod Small (writer/performer on TBS’ Are We There Yet?, Comedy Central, VH1), Keith Robinson (HBO, Comedy Central, Wanda Sykes Show), Tammy Pescatelli (finalist on Season 2 of Last Comic Standing), and Yannis Pappas (Comedy Central Half Hour, VH1) performing stand-up at The Stand Comedy Club (239 Third Avenue & 20th Street) hosted by Mike Finoia: Judah Friedlander, Gary Gulman, Kurt Metzger, Sherrod Small, and More

[TOP PICK] 8:00 pm ($10): Two of NYC’s finest sketch/character comics, David Carl (Point Break Live, Gary Busey’s One Man Hamlet) and Katie Hartman (wonderfully brave and dark sketch comic; Hartman & Carl, Skinny Bitch Jesus Meeting, Gypsy Danger), host this brand new show devoted to solo characters, with tonight’s terrific guests Christine Bullen (The Groundlings, ace UCB one-woman show My Melonbasket), Beth Hoyt (Inside Amy Schumer), Jon Bander (musical Improv group Dagger), and Jenn Dodd (extreme character performer; host of Buttski & Glasscock’s New Talent Blowout), all performing at The PIT downstairs lounge: Riled Up With David and Katie

8:00 pm ($10): Two PIT upstairs theatre improv groups making up a musical on the spot: Vern and Royals

8:00 pm ($8): Sketch comedy group Richard will try to make you laugh for an hour at Brooklyn’s The Annoyance Theatre (367 Bedford Avenue; take J/M/Z to Marcy Avenue or L to Lorimer Street): Richard

[FREE] 8:00 pm: NYC stand-ups performing at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ Long Island City hosted by Lucas Connolly: Creek Cave Live

[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 ($10): Some of the finest improv in the country from brilliant comics Shannon O’Neill, Silvija Ozols, Jordan Klepper, Connor Ratliff, Don Fanelli, Will Hines, and/or Michael Delaney forming a seamless and hilarious group mind at UCB Chelsea—the all-star members of The Stepfathers

[TOP PICK] [FREE] 9:00 pm: Jon Fisch (David Letterman, Comedy Central, Last Comic Standing, VH1), Janelle James, Julio Torres, Billy Prinsell, and Chip Dwyer performing stand-up at this free weekly show at Brooklyn’s The Cobra Club (6 Wyckoff Avenue) hosted by Erik Bergstrom, Ben Kronberg, and/or John F. O’Donnell: Live From Outer Space

[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 Anthony Atamanuik, Natasha Rothwell, Brandon Gardner, Lydia Hensler, Christian Capozzoli, and/or Shaun Diston at the UCB East theatre: Take It Personal: The Hip-Hip Improv Show

9:00 pm ($5): A variety show hosted by Danielle Wheeler & Adam Cole featuring stand-ups, storytellers, musicians, dancers, artists, and/or more performing at Brooklyn’s The Annoyance Theatre (367 Bedford Avenue; take J/M/Z to Marcy Avenue or L to Lorimer Street): Two Catz

9:30 pm ($10): Two PIT upstairs theatre improv groups making up a musical on the spot. Dagger includes Abby Holland (VH1’s Best Night Ever, musical improv groups Aquarius and Veal), and Hello includes Lorraine Cink (especially lovely singing voice; host & writer of Marvel Comics’ The Watcher): Dagger and Hello

[TOP PICK] [DISCOUNTED] 10:00 pm ($10 online using discount code WINTER; 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), Gary Gulman (razor-sharp wordsmith; David Letterman, Jay Leno, Last Comic Standing, Tourgasm, Comedy Central hour-log special), Kurt Metzger (staff writer for Inside Amy Schumer; Jimmy Fallon,Comedy Central special White Precious, Comedy Central Presents, Ugly Americans), Keith Robinson (HBO, Comedy Central, Wanda Sykes Show), Tammy Pescatelli (finalist on Season 2 of Last Comic Standing), and Yannis Pappas (Comedy Central Half Hour, VH1) performing stand-up at The Stand Comedy Club (239 Third Avenue & 20th Street) hosted by Mike Finoia: Judah Friedlander, Gary Gulman, Kurt Metzger, and More

[TOP PICK] 10:00 pm ($10): Singing improvisors at The Magnet using an interview with an audience member to craftThe Made-Up Musical

[FREE] 10:00 pm: Veteran improvisors reunite, new improvisors perform, and then old and new merge to create a one-nigh-only team at Queens LIC’s The Creek upstairs theatre hosted by Nick Arret: Old, New, Borrowed, and Blue

[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 ($5): Musical improv group Tourist Trap uses audience suggestions for a genre and a title to make up a complete story with song and dance on the spot at Brooklyn’s The Annoyance Theatre (367 Bedford Avenue; take J/M/Z to Marcy Avenue or L to Lorimer Street): Tourist Trap

10:30 pm ($10): Megan Gailey (MTV), Josh Sharp (superb sketch writer/performer, co-star of GUMP, co-host of Cool Shit/Weird Shit), Jim Tews (Last Comic Standing, co-host of Fresh Out), and Nat Towsen (Vice) performing stand-up or sketch at UCB East hosted by improvisors Brandon Scott Jones, Justin Tyler, and/or Alden Ford: Gentrify

11:00 pm ($5): Screenings of new sketch comedy videos at The PIT upstairs theatre: The Video Show

11:30 pm ($5): Show biz refuse that doesn’t fit anywhere else now has a home at The Magnet hosted by Kyle Levenick & Branson Reese: Garbage Day

[DISCOUNTED] [FREE] Midnight (FREE online using discount code WINTER; no min.): Adrienne Iapalucci (David Letterman, Last Comic Standing, VH1), Cipha Sounds (Chappelle’s Show, MTV, Hot 97), Crystian Ramirez, Esther Povitsky, Chris Cotton, and Nick Mullen performing stand-up at The Stand Comedy Club (239 Third Avenue & 20th Street) hosted by Mike Finoia: Adrienne Iapalucci, Cipha Sounds, and More

Midnight ($5): “Join filmmaker George Lucas (Radioland Murders) as he embarks upon an exciting new career as a comedian and talk show host! He’ll be joined by his hilarious talk show sidekick, Jar-Jar Binks, as they revolutionize the talk show format the same way Lucas once revolutionized cinema,” with guests Alison Rich (writer for Saturday Night Live) and Brooks Whelan (former cast member of SNL) being interviewed at the UCB Chelsea theatre hosted by Connor Ratliff & Shaun Diston: The George Lucas Talk Show

Midnight ($5): Staged readings of two TV comedy pilots written & performed by UCB comics at the UCB Chelseatheatre hosted by Katherine Maughan & Winston Noel: Active Development

[FREE] Midnight: “A live staged reading of an episode of the hit sitcom Fraser. And all the actors are drunk. And they will just get drunker and drunker as the episode goes on. With live commercials” at Queens LIC’s The Creekupstairs theatre spearheaded by Aaron Glaser: Wasted Fraser

Friday 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 theStand Up NY Comedy Club (236 West 78th Street): Stand Up NY Open Mic

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] 6:00 pm: An open-mic show on a lottery system (sign-ups happen at 5:45-6:00 pm) at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ Long Island City with host Eli Sairs: The Orphanage

[ALMOST FREE] 6:00 pm ($1): PIT musical improv veterans mix with musical improv novices on-stage at the upstairs theatre for Pitch

[ALMOST FREE] 6:00 pm ($1): PIT improv veterans mix with improv novices on-stage at the downstairs lounge forHappy Hour

[FREE] 8:00 pm: An open-mic show that’s first come, first serve, with each comic getting 5 minutes on stage at The Creek downstairs lounge in Queens’ Long Island City: Mic and Cheese

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)

The Annoyance Theatre
(367 Bedford Ave. in Brooklyn; J/M/Z to Marcy or L to Lorimer; 50-seat theatre; shows free-$10)

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.

If you have a comedy show you want considered for listing, simply create a Facebook page for the event—including price & lineup—make sure we’re FB friends, and invite me through that page.

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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