NYC Top Comedy Choices for Sunday 12/20/15

The first episode of the new career interview podcast I co-host, in which Mike Lawrence traces his journey from seven years of working a drive-through window at McDonald’s to being a staff writer at Emmy Award-winning series Inside Amy Schumer, is here.

The Great Christmas MindfuckSix hours of “psychedelic brain invasion and comedy” spearheaded by the brilliantly innovative Jo Firestone, and hosted by Jo and Taylor Moore: The Great Christmas Mindfuck (2:00-8:00 pm, $15, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)

More recommendations for the best in New York City comedy tonight
(in chronological order, with top picks noted and shows over $10 marked with $) include:

[FREE] 5:00 pm: A smorgasbord of stand-up, comedic music, comedic dance, sketch, and more at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ LIC (10-93 Jackson Avenue) hosted by Chris O’Neil: Mishmash Variety Hour

[TOP PICK] 6:00 pm ($7): A sketch show written by three major comedic talents— Laura Grey, Lauren Olson, and Jana Schmieding—at The Magnet theatre: Before Bedtime with Bonnie

6:30 pm ($5): Three NYC improv groups that are independent (i.e., not a house team of any particular improv school/theatre) compete for audience member laughs and votes at UCB East hosted by superb improvisors Amey Goerlich & Ryan Karels (half of revered improv group Krompf): Indie Cage Match

7:00 pm ($5): Three scripted shows for the price of one at Brooklyn’s The Annoyance Theatre (367 Bedford Avenue; take J/M/Z to Marcy Avenue or L to Lorimer Street): Triple Feature

[FREE] 7:00 pm: NYC stand-ups performing at Bunga’s Den (137 West 14th Street, between Sixth & Seventh Avenues) hosted by Jimmy LeChase: Church!

[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 Shannon O’Neill and Anthony Atamanuik, and sometimes network TV & movie stars such as Amy Poehler and Horatio Sanz: ASSSSCAT 3000

[TOP PICK] [$] 7:30 pm, 8:00 pm, 9:30 pm, 10:00 pm, and 11:30 pm ($14 per show, plus 2-item food/drink min.): Some of the finest stand-ups in the country spread among five shows, with three shows at Comedy Cellar (117 MacDougal Street, between 3rd Street & Minetta Lane), and the 8:00 pm & 10:00 pm shows at Village Underground (130 West 3rd Street, off Sixth Avenue): Comedy Cellar Sunday

7:30 pm ($7): A holiday parody of talk shows at The Magnet theatre: Phoebe Jessy Raphael: A Talk Show Christmas Special

[$] 7:30 pm ($38.25 & 2-drink min.) A comedy star you either love or actively avoid headlining one last night at the Carolines Comedy Club: Tom Green

[MEGA-TOP PICK] 8:00 pm ($10): A mindblowing mix of sketch and character improv spinning off this premise: “Moments before he’s to take the stage with his band The Bing Faithful 5, holiday crooner Bing Faithful learns all members of his band have died in a horrific bus accident. Bing is a consummate professional and knows ‘the show must go on.’ What follows is one character’s journey through grief and agony as, alone on stage, he attempts to compensate for the band’s absence by singing all five parts and harmonies to all the classic holiday songs requested by the audience.” Bing is played by brilliant improvisor/character comic Bob Kulhan; plus there’s a twist involving several other talented comics, all at The PIT downstairs lounge: Bing Faithful’s Very Merry Nondenominational Holiday Special

[TOP PICK] 8:00 pm ($5): Superb stand-ups Chris Gethard, Jared Logan, Jason Saenz, Eliot Glazer, Boris Khaykin, and Maria Heinegg performing at UCB East hosted by Kara Klenk (Comedy Central, Spike, Nickelodeon): If You Build It

[TOP PICK] 8:00 pm ($10; includes free snacks): Aparna Nancherla, Frank Conniff, Brandon Scott Wolf, Kerry Coddett, and Evan Williams performing stand-up at Brooklyn’s Union Hall for the holiday edition of this show hosted by Calvin Cole & Sharron Paul: Cheap Date

[TOP PICK] 8:00 pm ($5): David Carl, Katie Hartman, and other brilliant improvisors make up theatrical scenes at The PIT upstairs theatre for this weekly show produced by Sarah Nowak: People Improvising

[TOP PICK] 8:00ish pm ($5): Bridey Elliott, Jacqueline Novak, Conner O’Malley, John Early, Gary Richardson, JD Amato, and more performing stand-up or sketch at Brooklyn’s Shea Stadium (20 Meadow Street) hosted by Brett Davis & Sally Burtnick: The Macaulay Culkin Show

[TOP PICK] 8:00 pm & 10:00 pm ($15; no min.): Typically terrific NYC stand-ups performing at The Stand Comedy Club (239 Third Avenue off 20th Street): The Stand Sunday

8:30 pm ($5): Sharp improvisors make up scenes on a rug at Brooklyn’s The Annoyance Theatre (367 Bedford Avenue; take J/M/Z to Marcy Avenue or L to Lorimer Street): The Rug Show

[TOP PICK] 9:00 pm ($10): Improv from Louis Kornfeld & Rick Andrews—plus tonight’s guest Chris Dwane—at The Magnet theatre: Kornfeld & Andrews

9:00 pm ($7): Typically solid stand-ups perform at Brooklyn’s Knitting Factory (361 Metropolitan Avenue) hosted by Will Miles, Clark Jones, and/or Kenny DeForest: Comedy Night at the Knit

[TOP PICK] 9:30 pm ($10): Award-winning comedy troupe City Hall, which typically combines sketch, musical comedy, puppetry, and/or dance performing a holiday show at The PIT upstairs theatre: The Greatest Christmas Show That Almost Never Was

10:00 pm ($5): NYC stand-ups performing at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ LIC (10-93 Jackson Avenue) hosted by Peggy O’Leary: Creek Cave Live

Sunday Open Mics & Open Stages

[FREE] 3:30 pm: An improv jam celebrating diversity in comedy that lets audience members—whose names are drawn from a bucket—perform with sharp improv/sketch group Astronomy Club (which includes Keisha Zollar and Jonathan Braylock) at the UCB East theatre: Diversity Improv Jam

[FREE] 4:00 pm: An unusually early walk-in open-mic stand-up show (put your name in the bucket, drawings every half hour), providing 4 minutes per comic at The Creek downstairs lounge in Queens’ LIC (10-93 Jackson Avenue): Intestinal Fortitude

[FREE] 5:00 pm: Walk-in stand-up lottery style open mic that provides 4 minutes per comic at Astoria Queens comedy venue QED: A Place to Show & Tell (27-16 23rd Avenue) hosted by Andrea Shapiro & Chris Gersbeck: Bunk Bed Time Open Mic

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

5:15ish pm (no cover, 1 drink min.): Weekly open mic stand-up, with comics selected from names tossed into a bucket starting at 4:55 pm, at Brooklyn’s Legion Bar (790 Metropolitan Avenue) hosted by Aaron Glaser, Irene Hartmann, and/or Carlos Delgado: Sunday Open Mic

[FREE] 7:30 pm: If you feel like stretching beyond stand-up, this lottery-style walk-in open mic (sign-up starts at 7:00 pm) is for singers, songwriters, musicians, poets, actors, and spoken word artists, with a whopping 7 minutes per performer, at Astoria Queens comedy venue QED: A Place to Show & Tell (27-16 23rd Avenue) hosted by Mickey Zetts (The Ickles): Words and Music Open Mic Night

[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’ LIC (10-93 Jackson Avenue) hosted by Ian Kitchen: The Grandstand

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

For many more shows, please click the following links to top NYC comedy venues:

Best Inexpensive Stand-Up, Improv, Sketch, and Storytelling

Upright Citizens Brigade Chelsea
(307 West 26th Street; 150-seater; one of the most respected comedy theatres in the world; especially strong on improv, sketch, solo shows, and one-act comedic plays; shows free-$10)

Upright Citizens Brigade East
(153 East 3rd Street; 99-seater; a top comedy venue that focuses more than sister theatre UCB Chelsea on stand-up and screenings, and on experimental shows taking big risks; shows free-$10)

The PIT Striker (Upstairs) Theatre
(123 East 24th Street; 99-seater; a top venue that’s a powerful rival of UCB, and often surpasses UCB when blending comedy with music and/or theatricality; shows free-$20)

The PIT Underground (Downstairs) Theatre
(123 East 24th Street; 40-seater; often more quirky & experimental than upstairs Striker; shows free-$10)

The PIT Loft
(154 West 29th Street; 50-seater; not at the level of its two sister PIT theatres, but evolving; shows free-$10)

The Magnet
(254 West 29th Street; 60-seat theatre; strong on improv, musical improv, sketch, and energy; shows $5-$10)

The Annoyance Theatre
(367 Bedford Ave. in Brooklyn; J/M/Z to Marcy or L to Lorimer; 50-seat theatre; spinning off from Chicago’s Annoyance Theatre, brings a fiercely fresh, experimental approach to improv and sketch; shows free-$10)

The Creek and the Cave
(Queens’ Long Island City; 40-seat theatre upstairs, 25 downstairs; virtually all shows free)

Union Hall
(702 Union Street in Brooklyn; R to Union Street; 50-seat theatre; shows $5-$20)

Littlefield
(622 Degraw Street in Brooklyn; R to Union Street; 100-seat theatre; shows $5-$20)

Bell House
(149 7th Street in Brooklyn; R to 9th Street or F/G to Fourth Ave.; 200-seat theatre; shows $10-$25)

QED: A Place to Show & Tell
(27-16 23rd Avenue in Astoria Queens; N/Q to Ditmars Boulevard; 40-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.)

Village Underground
(130 West 3rd Street; Comedy Cellar’s larger sister venue, just around the corner with the same top comics; 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.)

The Standing Room
(4738 Vernon Blvd., by #7 train; Queens LIC club; no drink min.—support this policy!)

Other NYC Live Shows, Heavily Marked Down via Goldstar:
Click Any Image That Interests You to See the Discount Offer

The Stand

A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder

Kinky Boots

The Imbible: A Spirited History of Drinking

Trapped in a Room with a Zombie

From legendary NYC comedy site Brooklyn Vegan: Thank God for Hy Bender’s religiously updated show bible BestNewYorkComedy.com…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, submit material to my short story anthology Ghosts on Drugs, hire me for book or screenplay work, or for any other reason by emailing me at hy@hyreviews.com.

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