NYC Top Comedy Choices for Friday 4/29/16

April 29, 2016

Captain America: Civil WarImprovisors who are comic book fans take on the roles of Marvel characters in The Avengers: Improv War (7:00 pm, $7, The Magnet at 254 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:

6:00 pm ($10): A staged reading of a comedy written by Rob Asaro about “two wayward souls, a comedian who can’t get out of his own way and a college student about to wed her fiance, who forge a bond as co-workers at an NYC Polish bakery” with a cast of 13 directed by Paul Mancini at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): Donuts After Midnight

[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): 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 & 10:00 pm ($32.75 & 2-drink min.): The writer/stand-up who shares the comedy news anchor desk with Michael Che at Saturday Night LIve’s Weekend Update headlining tonight through Saturday at the Carolines Comedy Club: Colin Jost

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 ($10): A one-man show by Matt Higgins playing a character named Gary Flatley at The PIT downstairs lounge: Matt Higgins is Gary Flatley

7:30 pm ($5): NYC stand-ups May Wilkerson, Rashad Bashir, Brendan Naranjo, and Jonathan McBride perform—mixed with videos, news reports, and a game for the audience with prizes—at Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell (27-16 23rd Avenue) hosted by Judith George: Don’t Grow Up Comedy

[TOP PICK] [$] 8:00 pm ($20): From the team that created the amazing Hold On To Your Butts: Kyle Schaefer, Nick Abeel, Matt Zambrano, and foley artist Blair Busbee create live on stage “a ‘shot for shot’ parody of the first chapter in the most epic fantasy trilogy of all time” directed by the highly talented Kristin McCarthy Parker at The PIT upstairs theatre (123 East 24th Street): Fly, You Fools!

[TOP PICK] 8:00 pm ($5): Adam Rubin will attempt to mystify and amaze you with not quite half a dozen illusions at Brooklyn’s The Annoyance Theatre (367 Bedford Avenue; take J/M/Z to Marcy Avenue or L to Lorimer Street): Five Magic Tricks in a Basement

[TOP PICK] [$] 8:00 pm & 10:00 pm & Midnight ($15-$20; no min.): Stand-ups Judah Friedlander, Sean Patton, Pete Lee, Christian Finnegan, Monroe Martin, and more performing at The Stand Comedy Club (239 Third Avenue, off 20th Street): The Stand Friday

[TOP PICK] 8:00 pm ($5): Comics Henry Zebrowski (Wolf of Wall Street, Heroes Reborn, co-founder of Murderfist), Sam Tallent, and Nathan Lund chat about utterly bizarre news stories at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ LIC (10-93 Jackson Avenue) hosted by Brent Gill: Infauxmation

[FREE] 8:00 pm: NYC stand-ups Myka Fox, Jim Tews, and more 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

[$] 8:30 pm ($12): “Eliot Glazer, a classically trained vocalist-turned-comedian, takes some of pop music’s most infamous songs and turns them into highbrow, sweeping ballads. Like a twisted version of MTV Unplugged, Austin City Limits, or VH1 Storytellers, it’s an intimate night of bad music made good,” plus stand-up from Janeana Garofalo (TV & movie star) and Andrew Schulz (MTV’s Guy Code, Girl Code, Failosophy), at Brooklyn’s The Bell House (149 7th Street): Haunting Renditions

[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] 9:00 pm ($10): “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

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

[TOP PICK] [$] 9:30 pm ($15): Frank Conniff (TV’s Frank on Mystery Science Theater 3000; Cinematic Titanic), John Fugelsang (co-host of Tell Me Everything on Sirius XM; former host of ABC’s American’s Funniest Home Videos) and David Feldman (Emmy winner, co-creator of the The Jack and Triumph Show) perform stand-up with a political edge at Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell (27-16 23rd Avenue): Swipe Left

9:30 pm ($5): Comedy videos are screened at Brooklyn’s The Annoyance Theatre (367 Bedford Avenue; take J/M/Z to Marcy Avenue or L to Lorimer Street): The No Excuses Short Video Party Show

9:30 pm ($10): A young all-guy comedy group performing improv and/or sketch at The PIT downstairs lounge: Gentlemen Party

[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): A comedy show based on the card game “Uncalled Four” at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ LIC (10-93 Jackson Avenue): Uncalled Four

[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 ($5): According to comedy duo Jenn Welch & Jay Malsky (highly talented, super-charged improvisor & character comic; FringeNYC), “We think the world would be a better place if we ran it. So here’s your opportunity, live and in-person, to ask us anything on your mind. And since it’s 10:30 pm on a Friday, anything on your mind is probably related to sex. So toss out a sexy topic or a sexish conundrum; we’ll have an opinion” with guests David Carl (hilarious, charismatic rising star; Point Break Live, Gary Busey’s One Man Hamlet) and Mark Stetson at The PIT downstairs lounge: Here’s What I Would Say with Jenn & Jay

10:30 pm ($10): Josh Sharp, Alex Ptak, Alex Edelman, Peet Guercio, and more 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): A one-woman show by sketch comic & storyteller Meghan O’Malley (Awkward Sex…and the City) at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street) directed by Chris Aurilio: The Meghan O’Malley

10:30 pm ($5): A rotating pool of improvisors perform in groups of five at Brooklyn’s The Annoyance Theatre (367 Bedford Avenue; take J/M/Z to Marcy Avenue or L to Lorimer Street): Singles Motel

11:00 pm ($5): Sketches, characters, and improv from the Anthology Players, tonight inspired by “the man who referenced a dungeon dragon before Nicki Minaj and told us to put our hands where his eyes could see” at The PIT downstairs lounge: The B-Side: Busta Rhymes

[TOP PICK] Midnight ($5): “Due to a scheduling conflict with the Radisson JFK, The Bit Convention has been moved to the UCB East Village. All Emerald, Platinum, Diamond, and Triple Diamond members are welcome to attend. Double Diamond members WILL NOT be allowed on the premises. Please join Jim Coker and Mark Stratton as they host an exciting evening celebrating innovation in the field of both Goofs and Spoofs. It will be a night explaining what is funny and how comedy works. There will be a full cash bar of domestic beers post convention. Attendees and SPG Gold members cannot use Starpoints for entry. You must buy a ticket. Don’t be cheap, Carl” at the UCB East theatre: The Bit Convention: Inside The Business of Goofs & Spoofs

[TOP PICK] Midnight ($5): Improvisors take on characters from the best show on TV—albeit a week late—at UCB Chelsea hosted by Alan Starzinski (as Jon Snow) and Kate Zelensky (as Cersi): Game of Thrones Season Premier Extravaganza

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’ 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

[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

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)

(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…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