NYC Top Comedy Choices for Friday 1/15/16

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.

Gary Busey's One-Man HamletCharismatic and hilarious rising star David Carl transforms into Gary Busey—and portrays child-like Busey doing a one-man version of the psychologically complex masterpiece Hamlet. The result is consistently inventive, joyful, and laugh-out-loud funny. This was my second favorite show—out of 196—at the 2014 FringeNYC, went on to further acclaim at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and is one of the funniest shows in New York, period. David is reviving his show for just two more evenings, tonight and tomorrow. If you haven’t seen GBOMH, don’t miss this wonderful and now-rare opportunity to do so. And if you have, share it with a loved one who’s been deprived of GBONH: Gary Busey’s One-Man Hamlet (As Performed by David Carl) (10:30 pm, $20, The PIT Loft at 154 West 29th 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, 7:30 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

[TOP PICK] 7:00 pm ($10): Ginny Leise & Soojeong Son teach you the three secrets for career success at The PIT upstairs theatre: Great Gig: A Corporate Training For Business

[FREE] 7:00 pm: Stand-up Will Miles (co-host of Comedy Night at the Knit) tries out a long stand-up set tonight and Saturday at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ LIC (10-93 Jackson Avenue): Week at the Creek: Will Miles

7:00 pm ($7): “Who knew that the nerd you were casual acquaintances with in high school was secretly a famous elf warrior? Or that the quiet girl in math class was a 1,000-year-old witch? In fact, all those weirdoes you never talked to were secretly battling the forces of darkness in their mother’s basement. This show flips back and forth between fantasy and reality, magic spells and homework anxiety, the bravest campaign against evil ever fought and the hopes and dreams of the kids who imagine it all” at The Magnet theatre: Dragons & Dungeons

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

[TOP PICK] 7:30 pm ($10): At UCB Chelsea, ace improvisors Connor Ratliff, Molly Lloyd, Terry Withers, and more somehow create an improvised murder mystery on the spot—with the audience helping to commit the crime: The Terry Withers Mysteries

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): Stand-ups and improvisors performing at The PIT downstairs lounge hosted by Matt Catanzano & Richie Moriarty: Simply Unemployable Live

[$] 7:30 pm & 10:00 pm ($50.75 & 2-drink min.): A comic who’s been a cast member of MAD TV and The Howard Stern Show, acted in a bunch of feature films, and co-hosts FOX News Radio’s The Nick and Artie Show headlining one night only at the Carolines Comedy Club: Artie Lange

[$] 8:00 pm & 10:00 pm & Midnight ($15-$20; no min.): Stand-ups Ben Bailey, Pete Lee, Bonnie McFarlane, Monroe Martin, and more performing at The Stand Comedy Club (239 Third Avenue, off 20th Street): The Stand Friday

8:00 pm ($10): Sketch comedy from group Dyno 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

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): 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

[FREE] 8:00 pm: Stand-up, sketches, and music for this variety show at Queens LIC’s The Creek upstairs theatre: Take It Or Leave It

[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 ($10): 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 “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

[TOP PICK] 9:30 pm ($10): A unique musical improv show in which scenes explode into popular songs with with tunes you know but entirely made up lyrics. Instead of an improv pianist, this show uses a DJ spinning karaoke tracks at The PIT upstairs theatre directed by Philip Markle (Executive Director of The Annoyance Theatre): Happy Karaoke Fun Time!

9:30 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 ($5): Stand-ups performing at Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell (27-16 23rd Avenue) hosted by Ariel Elias & Liz Magee: You Deserve It

[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

[FREE] 10:00 pm: NYC comics “attempt to unravel the worlds craziest conspiracy theories” at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ LIC (10-93 Jackson Avenue) hosted by Ray Kump: False Flag

[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

[TOP PICK] 10:30 pm ($10): Julio Torres (Comedy Central), Anna Roisman (MTV; co-host of You Probably Think This Song Is About You), Brian Parise, and Matt Barats 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): “Social Media guru Tony Zaret wants to help you negotiate the seemingly bewildering #content options out there. What’s the difference between a “meme” and a “macro”? Should I sign up for Snap Chat or Meerkat or should I just tweet on Tumblr? And what about older forms of content, like sounds and foods? Zaret’s informative PowerPoints and inspirational Ted Talking sorts it out—and it all leads up to an attempt to craft the ultimate Yik Yak post live on stage” at Brooklyn’s The Annoyance Theatre (367 Bedford Avenue; take J/M/Z to Marcy Avenue or L to Lorimer Street): #Content Live!

10:30 pm ($5): Students of Gary Austin, the founder of The Groundlings, performing improv at The PIT downstairs lounge: Gary Austin’s The Classroom

[TOP PICK] 11:00 pm ($5): Stylized musical duo improv by Ariel Dumas & Jennifer Millsat inspired by the works of Stephen Sondheim at the Magnet theatre: Leotard Foundation

[TOP PICK] Midnight ($5): This monthly stand-up, storytelling, and carny show brings the blog And I Am Not Lying to life on stage, with storytelling from Selena Coppock (author of book The New Rules for Blondes) and host Jeff Simmermon (NPR’s This American Life), stand-up from Gary Vider (America’s Got Talent 2015 finalist; for great Conan O’Brien set, please click here; for more jokes, please click here), and burlesque—tonight with a Star Wars theme— at the UCB East theatre: And I Am Not Lying

[FREE] Midnight: “Every month comedian Dan King writes a pilot script for a new sitcom and hosts a live table read of the script. It’s important that you come see these live because these ideas will never, ever make it to television” at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ LIC (10-93 Jackson Avenue): Test Pilots

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 Kimberly Sparkle Stewart & Sydney Beveridge: 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

[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): Walk-in open mic that allows everyone to get on stage at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): $1 Mic

[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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