NYC Top Comedy Choices for Friday 6/17/16

Big Jay OakersonBig Jay Oakerson’s hour-long stand-up special, which has been getting great buzz, debuts at midnight and 2:07 am on Comedy Central. Watch it from home, or watch it screened with an audience at The Creek: Big Jay Oakerson: Live at Webster Hall (Midnight, Free!, at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ LIC at 10-93 Jackson Avenue)…

"Guys We Fucked" at Natalie Wall's "Awkward Sex...and the City"…and the lovely Natalie Wall hosts the best sexy storytelling show in NYC, with tonight’s comics Corinne Fisher & Krystyna Hutchinson (above; hosts of the highly popular Guys We Fucked podcast), Lane Moore (host of Tinder Live, Sex & Relationship Editor of Cosmo), and Dani Faith Leonard (Big Vision Empty Wallet) telling tales of erotic encounters gone awry: Awkward Sex…and the City (8:00 pm $20—which includes free beer, wine, and condoms!—at The Pleasure Chest at 1150 Second Avenue, between 60th & 61st Streets)

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 ($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] 7:00 pm ($7): Comedic storytelling from Hadiyah Robinson, Alex Thornton, Jordan Randolph, Freddy Sheffield, and Shariffa Wilson at The Magnet theatre hosted by Alexis Lambright: The Griot Show

[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

[TOP PICK] 7:30 pm ($10): At the UCB Chelsea theatre, a one-man show about letting go of integrity: Sellout

…and in the second other of this double bill, a typically brilliant parody of Seinfeld made up on the spot: Improvised Seinfeld

[TOP PICK] [$] 7:30 pm & 10:00 pm ($42 plus 2-drink minimum):The longest-running cast member in Saturday Night Live’s history whose impressions have been widely applauded for their uncanny accuracy and range, and a talented stand-up who’s been a frequent guest on David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, and Jay Leno, headlining tonight and Saturday at the Carolines Comedy Club: Darrell Hammond

7:30 pm ($7): Storytellers Katie Compa and Sharon Spell share nostalgic tales from the 80s and 90s with hosts Robin Gelfenbien & Danny Artese at Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell (27-16 23rd Avenue): A Very Special Episode

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 ($7): A variety show that incorporates tarot cards—show up an hour early for a free reading—at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): Tamara & Evelyn’s Tarot Variety Show

[TOP PICK] [$] 8:00 pm ($20): A cabaret of darkly funny songs and topical sketch comedy about culture and politics, following sold out shows at Joe’s Pub and now returning to The PIT Upstairs Theatre (123 East 24th Street): Political Subversities

[TOP PICK] [$] 8:00 pm & 10:00 pm  ($20; no min.): Ted Alexandro, Judah Friedlander, Ari Shaffir, Bonnie McFarlane, Monroe Martin, and more performing stand-up at The Stand Comedy Club (239 Third Avenue, off 20th Street): The Stand Friday

[TOP PICK] 8:00 pm ($10):A comedic play about the US government in 1991 forming a secret agency charged with monitoring and eliminating online internet threats, the Headquarters for Authorizing Computerized Knowledge, at Brooklyn’s The Annoyance Theatre (367 Bedford Avenue; take J/M/Z to Marcy Avenue or L to Lorimer Street): USA_HACK

8:00 pm ($5): 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

[FREE] 8:00 pm: NYC stand-ups performing at the HiFi Bar (169 Avenue A) produced 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

9:00 pm ($10): Two improv groups each make up a musical on the spot at The PIT downstairs lounge: [title of team] and Royals

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

9:30 pm ($10): A two-person play by Marina & Nicco about a man and woman in a hospital waiting room at The PIT upstairs theatre: Standing By

9:30 pm ($8): Giulia Rozzi (Comedy Central’s This Is Not Happening and The Jim Gaffigan Show, Chelsea Lately, writer for MTV’s Girl Code, VH1, Playgirl Magazine, co-host of Stripped Stories, comedy album True Love), Alison Zeidman, Kelsey Caine, and Martin Urbano performing stand-up 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 ($5): A historical period or major event is explored comedically via stand-up, sketch, trivia contests, and more at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ LIC (10-93 Jackson Avenue) hosted by Justin Auslaender & Lindsay Boling: Annal Revue

[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 ($5): I’m not sure he’s in NYC tonight, but one of the finest improvisors alive, Joe Bill (Bassprov, iO, co-founder of the Annoyance Theatre) will either personally spearhead or lead in spirit a breathtakingly brilliant group of improvisors from Chicago and New York who will blow the roof off The PIT downstairs lounge with lightning-quick dark comedy unlike anything else in NYC. The other superb players typically include Doug Stoley (Conan O’Brien, The Scene), Amey Goerlich (Indie Cage Match, Krompf, The Scene), Jed Resnik (Annoyance Theatre, UCB), Silvija Ozols (The Stepfathers), Micah Sherman (Second City, co-host of The Scene, host of Fun), and/or many more, all declaring Chica Go-Go

[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): Brandon Scott Wolf (contributor to SNL’s Weekend Update), Alison Leiby (VICE; host of It’s a Long Story), Harry Terjania, and Casey Salengo perform stand-up or storytelling at UCB East hosted by Brandon Scott Jones, Justin Tyler, and/or Alden Ford: Gentrify

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

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 Show

[MEGA-TOP PICK] 11:00 pm ($5): Astonishingly terrible 1990 movie Troll 2 is about a family pursued by vegetarian goblins who seek to transform them into plants so that they can eat them. Originally titled Goblins, US distributors doubted anyone would buy it as is, and so aimed to trick audiences who enjoyed 1986 movie Troll into thinking this was its sequel…but it’s not, at all. Watch it screened and commented upon by lightning-quick top comics Frank Conniff (TV’s Frank on MST3K), Aparna Nancherla (writer for Seth Meyers), and more at Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell (27-16 23rd Avenue) hosted by Chris Gersbeck & Freddy G: Troll 2 Screening & Mocking by Frank Conniff and Aparna Nancherla

[TOP PICK] 11:00 pm ($10): The best title of any show tonight, about a reanimated hand that goes on a sexual rampage set to music—for a video preview, please click here— at at The PIT upstairs theatre (123 East 24th Street): The Disembodied Hand That Fisted Everyone to Death: The Musical

[TOP PICK] Midnight ($5): Comics Bill Stiteler, Sarah Tollemache, Anthony DeVito, and Yassir Lester share true-life longish funny tales at this UCB East mashup of stand-up and storytelling hosted by Alison Leiby: It’s a Long Story

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): 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

7:00 pm ($5): Show up at 6:45 pm to place your name in a dog bowl for the chance to get called up on stage and jam with veteran improvisors at Brooklyn’s The Annoyance Theatre (367 Bedford Avenue; take J/M/Z to Marcy Avenue or L to Lorimer Street): Dog Fight

[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] Midnight: This show might not be much fun for audience members, but it’s an amazing opportunity if you want to perform sketch for free and with almost zero hurdles on the prestigious UCB Chelsea stage hosted by members of various Maude Night groups: Liquid Courage

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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