NYC Top Comedy Choices for Monday 4/20/15

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TV Alert: Amy Schumer is on David Letterman
(Season 3 of the stellar Inside Amy Schumer debuts
tomorrow at 10:30 pm on Comedy Central);
Dick Van Dyke and Jenny Slate are on Conan O’Brien
(repeated from 12/16/14);
Ron Funches, T.J. Miller, and Steve Agee are on @midnight

The Hungry Hungry Games

A not-to-be-missed musical parody of The Hunger Games plays at 7:00 & 9:30 pm at The PIT: The Hungry Hungry Games

Rob Cantrell and Murderfist Save the Earth - A 4-20 Spectacular

…and 4/20, the Christmas for stoners, is celebrated at The Magnet’s Sebastian’s Amazing 4:20 Hour, The Stand’s Frantic Mondays, and The Knitting Factory’s Rob Cantrell and Murderfist Save the Earth: A 4/20 Spectacular

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] 6:00 pm to midnight: Six free hours of improvisation—which include group Jean Pool at 7:25 pm featuring the spectacular David Carl, Becky Krause, and Tracy Mull—at The PIT downstairs lounge: Super Free Monday

[MEGA-TOP PICK] [$] 7:00 pm & 9:30 pm ($20 at the door or $22.09 online; the latter is recommended because both the early and late shows are likely to sell out): This musical parody of The Hunger Games is a small miracle, having been written by Christopher W. Barnes (book & lyrics) and Ryan Mercy (music) in just a few weeks, and then cast, directed (again, by Barnes) rehearsed, and mounted on stage in a mere month. It’s not perfect—especially Act One, which runs 90 minutes but would work much better with 20-30 minutes chopped out—but it provides so many pleasures that it’s well worth your patience. Highlights include Pat Swearingen, who almost single-handedly steals the show as hilariously over-the-top TV host Caesar; Natalie Sullivan demonstrating delightful range as muscle-bound and stiff-necked, and yet sweet-voiced, star Katniss; sharply observed jokes about movie racial stereotypes; sly pop culture references, such as when Katniss gets her hands on a bow and proclaims a la Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd “At last! My arm is complete again!;” and much more. The UNAUTHORIZED series produced by Ronny Pascale et al has been a consistent jewel in the crown of The PIT upstairs theatre, but this newest production tops them all and should not be missed: The Hungry Hungry Games: An UNAUTHORIZED! Musical Parody

7:00 pm ($7): Anarchic improv and/or sketch comedy from nearly a dozen comics at The Magnet theatre: The Stank

[FREE] 7:00 pm: Stand-up & character actress Karen Batista tries out material tonight through Saturday at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ Lon g Island City: Week at the Creek: Karen Batista

[TOP PICK] [$] 7:30 pm, 9:30 pm, and 11:15 pm ($12 plus 2-item food/drink min.): Tonight’s stand-ups include Greer Barnes, Nick Griffin, Jermaine Fowler, Carmen Lynch, and Marina Franklin (hosting) at the 7:30 show; Joe Machi, Rachel Feinstein, Jeff Leach, Sherrod Small, and Ryan Reiss (hosting) at the 9:30 show; and Todd Barry, Ryan Hamilton, Nikki Glaser, Big Jay Oakerson, and Sam Morril at the 11:15 show, with all three shows at Comedy Cellar (117 MacDougal Street, between 3rd Street & Minetta Lane): Comedy Cellar Monday

[TOP PICK] 8:00 pm ($5): Two of the sharpest improvisors in NYC, Shannon O’Neill (The Chris Gethard Show, Broad City, The Stepfathers, UCB-NY Artistic Director) and Tami Sagher (superb staff writer for Broad City; former writer for 30 Rock; writer and producer for Mad TV 2001-2006) invite their brilliant improvisor pals Ellie Kemper and Connor Ratliff to make up scenes with them at the UCB Chelsea theatre: Tami and Shannon Have Friends

[TOP PICK] 8:00 pm ($10): Renowned 4/20 fan Rob Cantrell (Last Comic Standing, Comedy Central, HBO, VHI, FX’s Totally Biased, documentary Metaphysical Graffiti, High Times) and drug-like sketch group Murderfist (NYC’s fearless heavy metal version of a sketch team; winner of the 2010 ECNY Award) host this raucous celebration of 4/20 with Michelle Wolf (star stand-up who’s also staff writer for and performer on Seth Meyers; MTV’s Girl Code, IFC), The Lucas Brothers (Jimmy Fallon, 22 Jump Street, FOX’s Lucas Bros Moving Company, Arrested Development), and Nick Vatterott (Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Fallon, Comedy Central’s The Half Hour, MTV, Second City), plus musical guest Unicorn Smack, all at Brooklyn’s Knitting Factory (361 Metropolitan Avenue): Rob Cantrell and Murderfist Save the Earth: A 4/20 Spectacular

[TOP PICK] 8:00 pm ($5): Character comics who typically include rising stars Leslie Meisel (Stone Cold Fox), Christine Bullen (one-woman show My Melonbasket, sketch group Goodbye Handsome), and many more performing bits at UCB East hosted by Justin Tyler & Michael Hartney: Characters Welcome

8:00 pm ($8 at the door or $9.79 online): Charla Lauriston (staff writer for Tina Fey-produced Netflix sitcom Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt; MTV, creator of webseries Clench & Release), Matteo Lane (Comedy Central), Mary Mack, Joel Kim Booster, and Andrew Michaan performing stand-up at Brooklyn’s Littlefield (622 Degraw Street) hosted by Wyatt Cenac (former star correspondent for The Daily Show; Adult Swim; albums Comedy Person and Brooklyn): Night Train

[FREE] 8:00 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

8:30 pm ($7): “What happens when two men-children refuse to grow up and attempt to host a demented kid’s show from their apartment,” starring Alan Fessenden (improv groups The Weave and Hello Laser) and Louie Pearlman (The Story Pirates), and featuring five additional comics at The Magnet theatre: Apt. 33

[TOP PICK] 9:30 pm ($5): Two UCB Chelsea house sketch groups try out new material: (212) (which includes wonderful rising stars Langan Kingsley and Russ Armstrong, plus Cody Lindquist, Eddie Dunn, and Rob Cuthill, and stellar sketch writers such as Georgie Aldaco) and One Idiot (which includes Maggie Ross, Carrie McCrossen, Kristy Lopez-Bernala, Allie Kokesh, and Nathan Min): Maude Night: (212) and One Idiot

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] [FREE] 10:00 pm: Performing 4/20-themed stand-up are Mike Lawrence (nerd persona but razor-sharp mind has made this stand-up a rapidly rising star; Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Fallon, Comedy Central Half Hour, John Oliver’s NY Stand-Up, comedy album Sadamantium), Ari Shaffir (Conan O’Brien, host of Comedy Central’s This Is Not Happening , HBO’s Down and Dirty, National Lampoon, Comedy Central special Passive Aggressive), Nate Bargatze (David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Comedy Central Presents), Gibran Saleem (sharp young stand-up; MTV), Derek Gaines, Subhah Agarwal, Alex Pavone, Luis J. Gomez, and Vladimir Caamano for this free weekly show at The Stand Comedy Club (239 Third Avenue & 20th Street) hosted by Aaron Berg (TV series 24 Hour Rental, documentary A Universal Language): Frantic Mondays: Mike Lawrence, Ari Shaffir, Nate Bargatze, and More

[TOP PICK] 10:15 pm ($7): “Sebastian will be hanging out on stage on 4/20. Straight chillin’. During the hour, he will have his friends come up and give presentations about things that they think will BLOW HIS MIND. This show will give you tons of useless amazing facts to fill your brain (if you can remember them). A few lucky audience members will be asked to come on stage and try to blow Sebastian’s and the audience’s minds. So come prepared with cool shit to share!” at The Magnet theatre: Sebastian’s Amazing 4:20 Hour

[MEGA-TOP PICK] [FREE] 11:00 pm (reserved seats are all taken, but you can still probably get in if you’re okay with standing): Some of the finest comics in the world—who aren’t announced in advance, but it’s usually a great lineup and often an extraordinary one—at UCB Chelsea hosted by Aparna Nancherla or someone else wonderful: 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

[FREE] 6:00 pm: Open mic stand-up show that provides each performer whose name is pulled from a bucket 5 minutes on stage—and also allows everyone play Bingo!—at The Creek downstairs lounge in Queens’ Long Island City hosted by Julia Lundy & Veronica Elizabeth: Bingo Open Mic

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

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 The Parkside Lounge (317 East Houston Street, off Avenue B) hosted by Nathan P., followed by a raucous afterparty with dancing & drink specials from 10:00 to midnight: Inspired Word’s Open Mic Joint

[FREE] 10:30 pm: 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

11:00 pm ($3): Open mic stand-up, with each comic getting 5 minutes and room for 15 comics who sign up per show, at The PIT upstairs theatre hosted by Kat Toledo and/or Alan Shain: The Power Exchange

[FREE] 11:00 pm: Open mic stand-up show that provides each performer whose name i pulled from a bucket 4 minutes on stage at The Creek upstairs lounge in Queens’ Long Island City hosted by Joseph Robert: PBR & Scrap Paper Open Mic Stand-Up

[FREE] 11:00 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

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)

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/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 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

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