NYC Top Comedy Choices for Friday 12/16/16

Louis C.K.It’s your last chance this year to enjoy Louis C.K. live at Madison Square Garden…performing one of the best shows you’ll ever see (for details, check out Jason Zinoman’s New York Times review). To nab tickets, please click here

Star Wars Holiday Special…and in the wise words of media critic Cyndi Freeman: “The Star Wars Holiday Special was broadcast in its entirety only once, in the United States and Canada, on November 17, 1978, preempting Wonder Woman and The Incredible Hulk. It has never been rebroadcast or officially released on home video. David Hofstede called it ‘the worst two hours of television ever.’ George Lucas has reportedly said ‘If I had the time and a sledgehammer, I would track down every copy of that show and smash it.‘” See it screened, dissected, and mercilessly savaged tonight by Frank Conniff (TV’s Frank on Mystery Science Theater 3000; Cinematic Titanic), Sarah Tollemache (Comedy Central), Derek Humphrey (MTV), and host Freddy G (NPR): Movies R Dumb: Star Wars Holiday Special  (11:00 pm, $10, Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell at 27-16 23rd Avenue)

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): The creators of the amazing live-on-stage movie reenactment Hold On To Your Butts (Jurassic Park) and Fly, You Fools! (Lord of the Rings)—performers Kyle Schaefer & Nick Abeel, music & sound wizard Kelsey Didion, and stellar director Kristin McCarthy Parker—explore new techniques by this time using puppetry to recreate the classic Christmas movie Home Alone. Added to the mix are two new performers (Natalie Rich & Sonia Mena), a four-person choir (Sarah Godwin, Evan Maltby, Richard Sears, and Michelle Vo), and producer Lanie Zipoy, all making magic at The PIT upstairs theatre (123 East 24th Street): Kevin!!!!!

[TOP PICK] [$] 7:00 pm, 7:30 pm, 8:00 pm, 8:45 pm, 9:30 pm, 10:00 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), the 7:30, 9:30, and 11:30 shows at Village Underground (130 West 3rd Street, off Sixth Avenue), and the 8:00 pm & 10:00 pm shows at The Fat Black Pussycat Lounge (130 West 3rd Street): Comedy Cellar Friday

7:00 pm ($7): “Join Krampus, George Bailey, a Penguin, Donald J. Trump, and more as they honor Santa with jokes, songs, and embarrassing personal anecdotes. It’s a roast hundreds of years in the making” at the Magnet theatre: The North Pole Presents: The 2016 Roast of Santa Claus

[TOP PICK] 7:30 pm ($10): Top improvisors Connor Ratliff, Shannon O’Neill, Brandon Scott Jones, and Shaun Diston “talk to one person for less than 10 minutes and let them know how they die 45 minutes later” at the UCB Chelsea theatre: We Know How You Die

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

7:30 pm ($10): An improvised game of D&D (“There will be dragons. There will be dungeons. There will be mountain dew.”), with this month’s adventure taking place during the holidays, at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): The Campaign: Holiday Edition

7:30 pm ($10): Harrison Greenbaum (Comedy Central, Mad Magazine), Dan Abraham, Betsy Carroll, Amber Rollo, Ester Steinberg, and Matt Schwartzer performing stand-up at Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell (27-16 23rd Avenue) hosted by Anish Mitra: Kickstarter Comedy Show

8:00 pm ($10): “When President-Elect Donald Trump threatens to cancel Christmas, it’s up to best buds Dylan Evans and Neil Sharma to save their favorite holiday. With the help of special guests and performers, will they pull it off or will Christmas be ruined forever?” at Brooklyn’s The Annoyance Theatre (367 Bedford Avenue; take J/M/Z to Marcy Avenue or L to Lorimer Street): Dylan and Neil Save Christmas

8:00 pm ($5): A parody of David Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ LIC (10-93 Jackson Avenue): The Rise and Fall of Saggy Buckfutts and the Spoilers from Marv’s

[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, Shannon O’Neill, Silvija Ozols, 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] ($10; includes free pizza if you arrive early): 9:00 pm: Mark Normand (one of the very finest stand-ups in the country; Conan O’Brien, Stephen Colbert, Comedy Central Half Hour, Inside Amy Schumer, Last Comic Standing, VH1’s Best Week Ever; comedy album Still Got It; opens for Amy Schumer), Patrick Schroeder (Comedy Central’s Roast Battle), Teddy Smith (Comedy Central, Showtime), Marlena Rodriguez (Comedy Central, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), and Marisa Douenias (Louie) performing stand-up at a location in Brooklyn to be revealed after you buy your ticket, hosted by Lucas Connolly (Comedy Central): The Secret Loft Show

9:00 pm ($10): Stand-ups and improvisors performing at The PIT downstairs lounge hosted by Matt Catanzano & Richie Moriarty: Simply Unemployable Live

9:30 pm ($8): Alex Grubard (MTV), Julie Mitchell (Viceland), Lauren Krass, Casey Balsham, and Mamoudou N’diaye 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

9:30 pm ($10): Sketch comedy—plus actual holiday gifts for the audience—from group Dinner for One at The PIT upstairs theatre: Dinner For One Presents: Presents!

9:30 pm ($10): Jodi Lennon (Marc Maron: The Voice of Something, Exit 57) invites two typically superb improvisors to make up scenes from a year in the life of three people at Brooklyn’s The Annoyance Theatre (367 Bedford Avenue; take J/M/Z to Marcy Avenue or L to Lorimer Street): What a Year!

[TOP PICK] 10:00 pm ($10): Musical improv group Premiere—which typically 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 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

[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): 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 Chicagogo

[TOP PICK] 10:30 pm ($10): Brandon Scott Wolf (contributor to SNL’s Weekend Update; Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris), Ramy Youssef (Nickelodeon), and Max Fox perform stand-up at UCB East hosted by Brandon Scott Jones, Justin Tyler, and/or Alden Ford: Gentrify

10:30 pm ($5): “King Zebra has a full black cast (including Ray Morency from Off Top, David Bell, and Raquel Palmas), and we want to do an improv show based around the theme ‘black lives laughter'” at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): King Zebra Safari

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

[FREE] 11:00 pm: Improvisors from Norway and Canada try out a new improv format at the Magnet theatre: Obsessions

11:30 pm ($7): Improv group The Mask makes up a play on the spot in the form of a fairy tale at The Magnet theatre: The Mask: A Fairy Tale

11:30 pm ($7): In this unique show, improvisors make up a complete family & friends intervention based on an audience suggestion at The PIT downstairs lounge: Impro-vention

Midnight ($5): Comics form bands and compete for a fake recording contract at the UCB Chelsea theatre hosted by Achilles Stamatelaky & Matthew Starr: Seriously, Are You Ready to Rock?!

Midnight ($5): Comics playing characters answer obscure quiz questions in this comedic game show at UCB East hosted by Vincent Moore: Best Answer

[TOP PICK] [FREE] Midnight: If you’re looking for something different: Former porn star Alia Janine hosts this show featuring sex workers ranging from dancers to strip club bouncers performing stand-up, plus more conventional comics, at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ LIC (10-93 Jackson Avenue): Hardcore Comedy Show

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

[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

[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] 6:30 pm ($1): PIT improv veterans mix with improv novices on-stage at the downstairs lounge for Happy Hour

[FREE] 7:00 pm: 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

Notable Ongoing Theatrical Comedy Shows

[MEGA-TOP PICK] [DISCOUNTED] 7:30 pm, or 4:30 pm on Sundays, through 1/8/17 ($28-$48; use code PBP30 through 12/17 for $33 tickets, or code BBOX20 anytime for discounts based on seat location): Comedy genius Chris Gethard performs a transcendently great one-man show about depression, perseverance, and the healing powers of laughter, love, and medication, seamlessly blending stand-up and storytelling in a way that creates a deep, poignant, and hilarious experience as wonderful as virtually anything currently playing on NYC stages—and that I’m guessing will end up as an HBO special, finally propelling Chris into the top tiers of show biz. Don’t miss this amazing show at The Lynn Redgrave Theater (45 Bleecker Street, right next to the #6 subway’s Bleecker Street stop): Chris Gethard: Career Suicide

[$] [DISCOUNTED] 8:00 pm; plus 2:00 pm matinees on Saturdays; or 3:00 pm & 7:00 pm on Sundays, through 1/15/17 ($37-$139; use code OHBOX111 for discounts): I haven’t seen this, so can’t comment on its merits; but you should be aware that two of the sharpest and funniest comics in the biz, John Mulaney and Nick Kroll, are performing as their old men characters in this Broadway show at the Lyceum Theatre (149 West 45th Street): Oh, Hello

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): 88-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!

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.

For a desktop version of this site that includes more material—such as NYC theatre discounts and FringeNYC coverage—please click here.

Please feel encouraged to reach out to tell me about comedy shows, submit material to my short story anthology Ghosts on Drugs, or for any other reason by emailing me at hy@hyreviews.com.

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