NYC Top Comedy Choices for Sunday 4/24/16

Matt & BenA two-person play about how Matt Damon & Ben Affleck made their careers with the script for Good Will Hunting—and that, ironically, almost instantly put the play’s writer/stars Mindy Kaling & Brenda Withers on Hollywood’s radar—is briefly revived by Penny Middleton & Alexis Robbins: Matt & Ben (9:30 pm, $5, The PIT Upstairs Theatre at 123 East 24th 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:

[MEGA-TOP PICK] [$] 4:30 pm ($20): This one-man show which recently received a rave review from The New York Times stars charismatic and hilarious rising star David Carl, who 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. If you haven’t seen GBOMH, don’t miss this wonderful opportunity to do so. And if you have, share it with a loved one who’s been deprived of GBONH at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): Gary Busey’s One-Man Hamlet (As Performed by David Carl)

6:00 pm ($7): A one-man show by Sebastian Conelli…that he pretends is actually being performed by his mother at The Magnet theatre: One Mother, One Son

[FREE] 6:00 pm: All-gal improv group Pin-Up Squirrels performs and hosts other improv groups at The Creek downstairs theatre in Queens’ LIC (10-93 Jackson Avenue): Play Date With the Pin-Up Squirrels

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

[TOP PICK] 7:00 pm ($8): Storyteller Lyssa Mandel invites comics to “expose their bleeding-heart adolescent artifacts (journal entries, poetry, original songs, and art), then laugh at and with their own flaws,” with tonight’s guests Mark Normand (one of the very finest stand-ups in the country; Conan O’Brien, Comedy Central Half Hour, Inside Amy Schumer, Last Comic Standing, VH1’s Best Week Ever; comedy album Still Got It; opens for Amy Schumer), Livia Scott (comedic chameleon; Conan O’Brien, Law & Order, VH1, feature film National Lampoon’s Dirty Movie; sketch groups Legs For Days and The Livia Scott Sketch Program), David Ebert, and Brooke Arnold at Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell (27-16 23rd Avenue): The Bitch Seat

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

[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 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

[TOP PICK] 7:30 pm ($5): “Like a real-life Birdman, 360-degree action lands you smack dab in the middle of the entertainment industry and the drama that surrounds it. You’ll get to see the comedians puffing up their chests backstage, the club owners pimping the comedians out, the guy who cleans up your spilled beer, and what it’s like to punch a heckler in the face” at The PIT downstairs lounge: The Night Club

7:30 pm ($10): An award-winning troupe that typically combines sketch, musical comedy, puppetry, and/or dance performing at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): City Hall

7:30 pm ($5): A one-man show by Alan Fessenden about how he “doesn’t drink, smoke, or do drugs. He’s vegan, he runs, and he does yoga. He’s almost perfect…except for that donut, his desperate neediness, and his oversharing” at The Magnet theatre: Almost Perfect

[TOP PICK] 8:00 pm ($5): Gary Gulman (razor-sharp wordsmith who’s one of the best stand-ups in the country; David Letterman, Jay Leno, Last Comic Standing, Tourgasm, Comedy Central hour-log special), Josh Sharp (superb sketch writer/performer; MTV, co-star of GUMP, co-host of Cool Shit/Weird Shit), Nick Turner (Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers, Comedy Central, VH1), Amy Miller, Brad Austin, and Cherith Fuller performing stand-up at UCB East hosted by Kara Klenk (Comedy Central, Spike, Nickelodeon): If You Build It

8:00ish pm ($5): Griffin Newman, John Reynolds, Blair Socci, Chris Thayer, Katie McVay, and Cole Escola performing stand-up or sketch at Brooklyn’s Shea Stadium (20 Meadow Street) hosted by Brett Davis & Sally Burtnick: The Macaulay Culkin Show

[FREE] 8:00 pm: Veteran improvisors reunite, new improvisors perform, and then old and new merge to create a one-night-only team at The Creek downstairs theatre in Queens’ LIC (10-93 Jackson Avenue) hosted by Nick Arret: Old, New, Borrowed, and Blue

[TOP PICK] 8:30 pm ($8): Terrific lineup of storytellers Christian Finnegan (Conan O’Brien, co-star of TBS’ Are We There Yet?; three Comedy Central specials, Netflix special The Fun Part; MSNBC, VH1’s Best Week Ever, History Channel’s I Love the 1880s, Chappelle’s Show, The Today Show), Natalie Wall (host of superb storytelling shows Awkward Sex and the City and Awkward Poop and the City, and co-producer of Bad Assery), Katharine Heller (Tell The Bartender podcast, famed improv group Naked in a Fishbowl), and Jeff Simmermon (NPR’s The American Life, Moth StorySlam Champion, host of And I Am Not Lying) at Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell (27-16 23rd Avenue) hosted by Mara Wilson (former iconic child star of Matilda and Mrs. Doubtfire; author of Where Am I Now?; ; cast member of podcast Welcome to Night Vale): What Are You Afraid Of?

8:30 pm ($5): Improvisors Andrew Warner & Zach Cherry interview an audience member about his or her favorite movie and then make up their own version of the film on the spot—plus long-form improv groups Your Future and The Testosterones 2020—at Brooklyn’s The Annoyance Theatre (367 Bedford Avenue; take J/M/Z to Marcy Avenue or L to Lorimer Street): Andrew and Zach Ruin Your Favorite Movie

8:30 pm ($5): All-gal group Lucy Cottrell, Sarah Morgan Ashley, Shaina Feinberg, and Ashley Cohen perform a variety of comedy bits at The PIT downstairs lounge hosted by Jen Clark & drag queen Brie Y.O.B.: Lulu Birds

[TOP PICK] 9:00 pm ($5): Sketch comedy about how “romantic comedies show that it’s okay to say whatever you want to the nerdy gal who may loves cats maybe a little more than herself. What were those ‘rejects’ thinking? Come see the deleted scenes” at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): Rom Com Rejects

[TOP PICK] 9:00 pm ($10): Duo improv from Louis Kornfeld & Rick Andrews 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

[FREE] 10:00 pm: A guest visual artist shows off his/her work for 15 minutes. Then 5 comics each tell a story while being sketched by the artist, by the host / cartoonist Grant Lindahl—and, if you’re into it, you (bring a sketchbook!). The audience member crafting the best sketch wins a prize. It all happens at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ LIC (10-93 Jackson Avenue): Art School Acid Dropout

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’ 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

9:30 pm ($3): Open-mic comedy, with 3-5 minutes per walk-in performer who signs up (first come, first serve) at The PIT downstairs lounge, hosted by Will Neville: Amateur Night At The Gemini

[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 downstairs 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

The Stand

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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