NYC Top Comedy Choices for Friday 2/17/17

Joel McHaleA co-star of NBC’s Community and FOX’s The X-Files headlines tonight through Sunday at Carolines (for a short video pitch, please click here): Joel McHale (7:30 pm & 10:00 pm, $57.25 plus 2-drink min., Carolines Comedy Club at 1626 Broadway)

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, 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 ($15 cover for FBPL shows, $24 cover for CC & VU shows, 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): A one-man play by Tom Sanchez involving TV sitcoms, the FBI, and pizza at The PIT Mainstage: Fat Friend

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

[FREE] 8:00 pm: LGBTQ stand-up and storytellers performing at at Brooklyn’s Pete’s Candy Store (709 Lorimer Street) hosted by Bobby Hankinson: Kweendom

[TOP PICK] 7:30 pm ($12): The best bits to date from a gay-themed variety show at the UCB Chelsea theatre hosted by Timothy Dunn: The Best of Queerball

7:30 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

[$] 7:30 pm ($12): 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 trip through world history via Commedia dell’Arte, “the great-grand daddy of modern improv and sketch comedy…filled with physical humor, acrobatics, song, and satire” at The PIT Underground by The Department of Fools: A History of Servitude

[MEGA-TOP PICK] [$] 8:00 pm ($15): 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 Jen Jamula & Allison Goldberg at The PIT Mainstage: Blogologues

[TOP PICK] 8:00 pm ($10): A comedic play written by Charlie Walden and performed by over a dozen comics about how “on July 12, 1979, an ill-fated radio promotion turned Comiskey Park into the largest anti-Disco rally in the history of mankind. Explosive shock jock Steve Dahl filled the stadium beyond capacity with his ‘anti-disco army,’ comprised mostly of the beer-swilling and grass-smoking teens who listened to his radio show and wanted to see some disco records detonated. Anyway, things got violent…” at Brooklyn’s The Annoyance Theatre (367 Bedford Avenue; take J/M/Z to Marcy Avenue or L to Lorimer Street): Disco Demolition

[TOP PICK] 8:00 pm ($5): Four pairs of stand-ups try to entertain you with their unrehearsed banter at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ LIC (10-93 Jackson Avenue) hosted by Scotland Green (who will interrupt whenever he feels there’s a lull with a random new topic for discussion): Banter Show

8:00 pm ($10; includes free snacks): Jeffrey Joseph (Jay Leno, HBO, FOX’s In Living Color, Comedy Central), Pat Brown, Rob Haze, Eric Neumann, and Chanel Ali performing stand-up at Brooklyn’s Union Hall for this monthly show hosted by Calvin Cole & Sharron Paul: Cheap Date

9:00 pm ($10): Improvisors make up scenes of a relationship springboarding off an audience-supplied wedding announcement in The New York Times at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): Forever: Improv Inspired by NYT Wedding Announcements

[FREE] 8:00 pm: NYC stand-ups Matt Ruby, Tom Cowell, Mara Marek, and Koshin Egal performing at the HiFi Bar (169 Avenue A) produced by Gary Levitt & Matt Schwartzer and hosted by Ayanna Dookie: 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 ($12): Some of the finest improv in the country from brilliant comics Connor Ratliff, Shannon O’Neill, Alexandra Dickson, Silvija Ozols, 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 ($12): 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): Members of UCBT house improv groups get scrambled together into new one-night-only teams at the UCB East theatre: The Blender

9:00 pm ($10): NYC sketch comedy groups American Danger and Café con Sketché performing at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): Boogie Manja

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

[TOP PICK] [$] 9:30 pm ($15): Hip-hop improv group North Coast attempts to create a Hamilton on the spot by making up a musical based on an audience suggestion of a famous historical figure at The PIT Mainstage: Anybody: An Improvised Historical Hip-Hopera

9:30 pm ($10): “The high school drama club has been working hard all semester! Come see the stage adaption of HBO’s The Sopranos, featuring Tony, Uncle Junior, Paulie Walnuts, and the whole gang” at Brooklyn’s The Annoyance Theatre (367 Bedford Avenue; take J/M/Z to Marcy Avenue or L to Lorimer Street): High School Drama Club Presents: The Sopranos

9:30 pm ($8): Alex English, Rob Haze, Liz Barrett, and Jack Comstock performing stand-up at Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell (27-16 23rd Avenue) hosted by Ariel Elias and Liz Magee: You Deserve It

[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 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 ($12): 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 ($7): 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 Underground 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

10:30 pm ($10): Comedy dueo Jeff Ronan & Matt Bovee aim to reenact all the movies nominated for this year’s Oscars—in under an hour—at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): The Movie Idiot’s Guide to the Oscars: 2017 Edition

10:30 pm ($12): Joel Kim Booster (Conan O’Brien, Billy on the Street),Lucas Connolly (Comedy Central’s South Beach, host of The Secret Loft Show), and Ian Fidance performing stand-up 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

[TOP PICK] 11:00 pm ($10) Derek Humphrey, Liz Barrett, Dylan Paladino, and Freddy G riff on reportedly super-terrible 2003 film The Room at Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell (27-16 23rd Avenue) hosted by Chris Gersbeck: The Room

11:00 pm ($7): A one-woman show by Ashley England about working as a comic for four months on a cruise ship at The PIT Mainstage: Code Oscar

11:15 pm ($7): Improv group Mannequin Room, plus guest group Mixtape, make up scenes at The Magnet theatre: The Mannequin Room Party Power Hour

[TOP PICK] Midnight ($7): Comics (not announced) perform stories and songs at this cabaret-style show backed by pianist Henry Koperski and friends at UCB East hosted by Brandon Scott Jones: A Lil’ Night Music: Comedians Singing

[TOP PICK] Midnight ($7): A unique show based on the premise “Let’s be honest, love doesn’t exist, couples suck, and Valentine’s Day is bullshit. We test real life couples to see if they are meant to be together (they aren’t). The couple with the least amount of points at the end of the night will have to break up, because we all die alone anyway and what’s the point of anything really? It’ll be fun!” at UCB East hosted by Carly Ann Filbin: Let Me Break You Up: An Anti-Dating Game Show

[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 Davey Melch & Sydney Beveridge: Queens Free 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 ($5 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

6:00 pm ($5): A weekly walk-in stand-up open mic at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): Friday Night Mics

[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

6:30 pm ($3): 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 Improv Jam

[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): 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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