NYC Top Comedy Choices for Friday 1/8/16

Mike Lawrence describes his winding career path, from seven years of working a drive-through window at McDonald’s to currently being a staff writer at Emmy Award-winning series Inside Amy Schumer, for my new podcast here.

Christine BullenSpectacular rising star Christine Bullen delivers one of the finest solo sketch shows since Kate McKinnon was honing her chops on UCB stages. Christine plays plays 17 characters in 25 minutes—including a genius impersonation of a wacky waving tubeman—in Christine Bullen: A China Shop

Anthony Atamanuik…and in the second half of this amazing double-bill, Anthony Atamanuik is thoroughly hilarious as Donald Trump in this loosely scripted show in which President Trump is giving a speech from the East Room of the White House about the Hunt for Rosie O’Donnell, his plans for bronzing illegal immigrant’s babies and using them for ship anchors, and more: Trump Dump: President Luxury (7:30 pm, $10, UCB Chelsea at 307 West 26th 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:

[TOP PICK] 7:00 pm ($7): Lauren Olson (powerhouse one-woman show Our Condolences at FringeNYC; brilliant writer, actress, and improvisor) and Jana Schmieding (20/400: Sketchy as F*ck at FringeNYC) curate over a dozen comics writing and/or performing sketches at The Magnet theatre. This is the last show of this fine long-running series, and features such talents as Katie Harman, Sebastian Coneli, Rob Cuthill, Jon Bander, and Brigid Boyle: Jana & Lauren Presents

[TOP PICK] [$] 7:00 pm, 7:30 pm, 8:45 pm, 9:30 pm, 10:30 pm, 11:30 pm, and 12:15 am ($20-$24 per show, plus 2-item food/drink min.): Some of the finest stand-ups in the country spread among four shows at Comedy Cellar (117 MacDougal Street, between 3rd Street & Minetta Lane) and the 7:30, 9:30, and 11:30 shows at Village Underground (130 West 3rd Street, off Sixth Avenue): Comedy Cellar Friday

[FREE] 7:00 pm: Stand-ups Shakir “Shak” Standley (Last Comic Standing) and Casey James Salengo each try out material tonight through Wednesday at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ LIC (10-93 Jackson Avenue): Shak Standley & Casey James Salengo

7:30 pm ($5): A house sketch group that includes the wonderful Sarah Nowak and is directed by Holden McNeely (Murderfist) performs at The PIT downstairs lounge: National Scandal

7:00 pm ($10): Two improv groups each make up a musical on the spot at The PIT upstairs theatre: [title of team] and Royals

7:00 pm ($5): Three improv teams compete in this cutthroat battle for laughs. What’s different about this cage match is it’s determined by a human judge, the audience…and a dog. If there’s a tie between the votes of the judge and audience, the guest canine will 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

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 (whenever that happens, consider this a TOP PICK)—at the UCB East theatre: Bucky: Thank F#@% It’s Friday!

7:30 pm ($5): NYC stand-ups tell stories for this podcast being recorded live on stage at Astoria Queens comedy venue QED: A Place to Show & Tell (27-16 23rd Avenue) hosted by Sam Haft & Tommy Kang: Comedy Llama

[TOP PICK] [$] 8:00 pm & 10:00 pm & Midnight ($15-$20; no min.): Superb stand-ups Ted Alexandro, Dan Soder, Jessica Kirson, and more performing at The Stand Comedy Club (239 Third Avenue, off 20th Street): The Stand Friday

[$] 7:30 pm & 10:00 pm ($42 & 2-drink min.) A comic who’s performed on HBO’s Def Comedy Jam and Bad Boys of Comedy, Showtime at Harlem, BET’s ComicView, and the feature film Next Friday headlining tonight through Sunday at the Carolines Comedy Club: Michael Blackson

8:00 pm ($10): A Harry Potter parody by the writer of the seriously flawed Kapow-i GoGo (but maybe this will be better) at The PIT upstairs theatre: Puffs, or Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic & Magic

8:00 pm ($10): Sketch comedy from group Dyna Pidgin and a comedic play about teen detectives at Brooklyn’s The Annoyance Theatre (367 Bedford Avenue; take J/M/Z to Marcy Avenue or L to Lorimer Street): Dyno Pidgin and Tween Twin Detectives

[FREE] 8:00 pm: NYC stand-ups performing at the HiFi Bar (169 Avenue A) hosted by Gary Levitt & Matt Schwartzer: I Don’t Get It Stand-Up

[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 Sebastian Conelli (2014 Cage Match Champion The Enemy): The Friday Night Sh*w

[TOP PICK] [$] 9:00 pm ($15): Some of the finest improv in the country from brilliant comics Connor Ratliff, Jordan Klepper, Silvija Ozols, Shannon O’Neill, Alexandra Dickson, and/or Michael Delaney forming a seamless and hilarious group mind at UCB Chelsea—the all-star members of The Stepfathers

[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 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

[TOP PICK] [$] [DISCOUNTED] 9:00 pm ($24.75 via Goldstar [vs. $29 at the door]): The only FringeNYC show to ever include a barbershop quartet singing about alcohol and three rounds for each audience member (for my full review, which includes a rave for the spectacular Nicole DiMattei, please click here) is now playing as a perfect show for a date every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night at the West Village’s Soho Playhouse (15 Vandam Street, in the downstairs Huron Club): The Imbible: A Spirited History of Drinking

9:00 pm ($10): Two PIT downstairs lounge 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] 9:30 pm ($10): Storytellers share tales of relationships in front of a panel of comics and therapy experts who then give advice at Astoria Queens comedy venue QED: A Place to Show & Tell (27-16 23rd Avenue) hosted by Lynn Bixenspan & Morgan Pielli: Relationshit

9:30 pm ($5): “A sketch comedy show for hospice patients demonstrating that death isn’t only fun, but also funny” at The PIT upstairs theatre: The Last Show You’ll Ever See

9:30 pm ($5): Comics “perform kooky bits based off online videos. The goal of the show is primarily to be louder than the jazz music coming from upstairs” at Brooklyn’s The Annoyance Theatre (367 Bedford Avenue; take J/M/Z to Marcy Avenue or L to Lorimer Street) hosted by Matt Barats: Louder Than Jazz

[TOP PICK] 10:00 pm ($10): Musical improv group Premiere—which features the best improv piano player in the biz, Frank Spitznagel—springboards off an audience suggestion to create a complete story with song and dance at The Magnet theatre: Premiere: The Improvised Musical

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

[TOP PICK] 10:30 pm ($10): Superb improvisors James Dwyer, Craig Rowin, Connor O’Malley, Matt Fisher, Sue Galloway, Brian Faas, Matt Moses, and Shaun Diston make up scenes about an audience member’s legal dispute at the UCB Chelsea theatre: The Law Firm: Law & Disorder

[$] 10:30 pm ($15): Comics performing stand-up, sketch, storytelling, or improv at UCB East hosted by Brandon Scott Jones, Justin Tyler, and/or Alden Ford: Gentrify

10:30 pm ($5): Stand-ups performing at The PIT downstairs lounge hosted by Will Neville: The Almost Saturday Show

10:30 pm ($5): This variety show features stand-up, characters, dance, improv, and/or more at Brooklyn’s The Annoyance Theatre (367 Bedford Avenue; take J/M/Z to Marcy Avenue or L to Lorimer Street) hosted by Carmen Christopher: The Juice

11:00 pm ($5): Nine-person improv group The Internet Disagrees makes stuff up at The PIT upstairs theatre: The Internet Disagrees Presents Hashtag This

11:30 pm ($7): “A unique fusion of variety show and pulp superhero story, with all of the strengths of both and none of their weaknesses. And remember, all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good people do not see this show”at the Magnet theatre: Crisis!: The Improvised Comic Book

[TOP PICK] 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” at the UCB East theatre hosted by the brilliant Connor Ratliff & Shaun Diston: The George Lucas Talk Show

[TOP PICK] Midnight ($5): A raucous laboratory for wacky ideas, in which comics Jo Firestone, Michael Wolf, Dan Glaser, and Cory Palmer create absurd game shows that they try out using audience members. “After we’ve attempted to create all the game shows, the audience votes on which idea gets to go straight to TV (not really)” at UCB Chelsea hosted by the fabulous Jo Firestone, whose delighted facial expressions in response to the ridiculousness are typically the highlights of the evening: The Incredible Game Show Showcase

[TOP PICK] [FREE] Midnight: Pot stand-up from “highly talented comics who have been highly recommended from people who are thought highly of in the business. Oh, and they’ll be high” at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ LIC (10-93 Jackson Avenue): High Five

Friday Open Mics & Jams

[FREE] 5:00 pm: Walk-in open mic (signup at 4:30 pm), with 5 minutes per comic, storyteller, poet, or singer, at Astoria Queens comedy venue QED: A Place to Show & Tell (27-16 23rd Avenue) hosted by Sydney Beveridge & Davey Melch: Queens Open Mic Fridays

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

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

[ALMOST FREE] 6:00 pm ($1): Walk-in open mic that allows everyone to get on stage at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): $1 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 hosted by Shalewa Sharpe & Courtney Fearrington: Thug Passion

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

[FREE] 8:00 pm: An open-mic show that’s first come, first serve (sign-up starts at 7:30 pm), with each comic getting 5 minutes on stage at The Creek downstairs lounge in Queens’ LIC (10-93 Jackson Avenue) hosted by Seena Jon: Mic and Cheese

[TOP PICK] [FREE] Midnight: Improv is dominated by guys…and for no good reason. A way to help remedy this situation are shows like this one, which is an open improv jam for any gal wanting to participate, at any experience level, at the UCB Chelsea theatre: The Lady Jam

For tomorrow’s top comedy picks, please click here.

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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