NYC Top Comedy Choices for Friday 2/26/16

Top stand-up Myq Kaplan is hilarious as he reveals secrets about his past involving violins, Robin Hood, linguistics, broken goblets, master’s degrees, improv, Carnegie Hall, finding pennies, and much more in this second episode of my career interviews podcast.

BlogologuesIt’s a great night to be at Union Hall. First, a top-notch theatrical troupe that’s equally fine at compelling acting and split-second comedy uses actual material on the Web, performed verbatim, to craft laugh-out-loud scenes spearheaded by superb creators/performers Allison Goldberg & Jen Jamula: Blogologues (7:30 pm $12, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)…

Picture This!…and then on this unique show as stand-ups do their sets, their material is brought to visual life by animators. Tonight’s superb comics are Mike Lawrence, Mike Drucker, Joe Pera, Josh Gondelman, Giulia Rozzi, and Wendi Starling, produced by Sam Varela & Brandie Posey and hosted by Peggy O’Leary: Picture This! (9:30 pm $10, 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:

[TOP PICK] 7:00 pm ($10): Visiting UK sketch comics Hannah Croft & Fiona Pearce perform for one night only at The Magnet theatre: Croft & Pearce

[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

7:00 pm ($5): A one-woman show by Rachel Rosenthal about becoming a woman in the 1990s at The PIT upstairs theatre: Rites: A One “Woman” Show

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

7:00 pm ($7): Puppets and other objects are integrated into improv scenes at The Magnet theatre: Object Work

[TOP PICK] 7:30 pm ($10): At the UCB Chelsea theatre, sketch group Astronomy Club—which includes Keisha Zollar and Jonathan Braylock—invite you to “join Reverend Professor Ray Cordova in the year 2025 as he delivers a lesson in what really happened in black history. In our past, discover what the Underground Railroad has in common with the MTA, watch in awe as Batman meet the Black Panthers, and in our not-too-distant future, Obama is all washed up, Rick Ross sings protest anthems, and the first female president will shock you! This show is the realization of MLK’s dream…or maybe his nightmare:” Astronomy Club: A Journey Through Black History

…and in the other half of this sketch double-bill, California, USA

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): All-gal improvisors Ashley Ward, Brigid Boyle, Alexis Saarela, and Elizabeth Findlay, plus a guest improv group; plus an 8-gal group of improvisors, all making up scenes at The PIT downstairs lounge: Taco Supreme and Flying V

[FREE] 7:30 pm: Brandon Scott Wolf and more performing in Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell (27-16 23rd Avenue) hosted by brilliant sketch writer Meggie Spellman and Anne Victoria Clark: Black Magic Lab Variety

[TOP PICK] 8:00 pm ($10): Powerhouse musical improvisor Rebecca Vigil is among the performers of this rock opera made up on the spot: “From the pits of hell and antiquity’s bowels, a one-of-a-kind Improvised Rock Musical. From leaping nymphs to garish kings, it will rip out your eyeballs and exorcise your soul unlike any theatrical experience in your life” at The PIT upstairs theatre: Stonehenge: The Improvised Rock Opera

[TOP PICK] [FREE] 8:00 pm: Mike Lawrence (nerd persona but razor-sharp mind has made this stand-up a rapidly rising star; staff writer for Emmy-winning Inside Amy Schumer; frequently invited lightning wit on @midnight; Conan O’Brien, Seth Meyers, Comedy Central Half Hour, John Oliver’s NY Stand-Up, comedy album Sadamantium) headlines with a 30-minute set at this variety show featuring stand-up, sketch, improv, and music at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ LIC (10-93 Jackson Avenue) hosted by Tom Brink & Keele Howard-Stone: Wolf Spirit with Tom and Keele

[TOP PICK] [$] 8:00 pm & 10:00 pm & Midnight ($15-$20; no min.): Terrific stand-ups Neal Brennan, Mike Lawrence, Adrienne Iapalucci, and more performing at The Stand Comedy Club (239 Third Avenue, off 20th Street): The Stand Friday

[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] [$] [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

9:00 pm ($7): Sketch comedy at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): Boogie Manja

9:30 pm ($10): Marina & Nicco perform a play in the dark (flashlights will be provided) in which “A happy couple has just moved into their new home. But the novelty of home ownership quickly fades as they face a sea of boxes, a major blackout, and, shortly thereafter, the ghosts of all their past relationships” at The PIT upstairs theatre: Unpacking: A Ghost Story Told in the Dark

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

[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 ($10): Michael Cruz Kayne (Billy on the Street), Halle Kiefer (TruTV), Morgan Fry Pasic, and Filip Jeremic performing stand-up, sketch, or improv at UCB East hosted by Brandon Scott Jones, Justin Tyler, and/or Alden Ford: Gentrify

10:30 pm ($10): Eight stand-ups compete for laughs by telling jokes on topics handed to them just this morning at The PIT downstairs lounge refereed by Jenn Welch & Will Neville: The Stand-Up Showdown

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

[TOP PICK] 11:00 pm ($7): Sketches, characters, and improv from the Anthology Players, tonight inspired by band The Fugees at The PIT downstairs lounge: The B-Side: The Fugees

[TOP PICK] 11:30 pm ($7): Improvisors make up a new Disney fairy tale on the spot at The Magnet theatre: Happily Ever After

[TOP PICK] Midnight ($5): Comics perform pieces inspired by the painting “Las Meninas” by the Spanish Baroque period painter Diego Velazquez at UCB East hosted by Matt Dennie & Josh Sharp: Cool Shit / Weird Shit

[TOP PICK] Midnight ($5): Comics including Jo Firestone, Anna Drezen, and Dan Chamberlain perform tracks from Jerry Seinfeld’s classic I’m Telling You For The Last Time at the UCB Chelsea theatre: Laugh Tracks: Live Comedy Cover Album

[FREE—plus FREE BEER] Midnight: “Sage Augustine is gifted with a heightened sense of spiritual curiosity resulting in many amazing intuitive experiences. Jack Marble is Sage’s apostle, confidant, business partner, and best friend. Together they are embarking on a journey to harness the power of laughter and open the world’s eyes to spirits, angels, demons, prophecies, wishes, magic, and the afterlife” by hosting NYC stand-ups performing at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ LIC (10-93 Jackson Avenue): Remember Your Spirit

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 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] 6:30 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

[FREE] 11:00 pm: Walk-in open mic (signup at 10:45 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: Working Late Open Mic

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

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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