NYC Top Comedy Choices for Sunday 3/12/17

The Umbilical Brothers: SpeedmouseThis coming week is your last chance to catch Australian comedy duo Shane Dundas & David Collins, who blend sketch, clowning, and vocal sound effects to create theatrical slapstick (for a video sample, please click here). Their current show places them in a digital world that moves them abruptly among wildly different environments, offering unlimited comedic opportunities for The Umbilical Brothers: Speedmouse (2:00 pm today, 7:00 pm Wednesday-Thursday, 8:00 pm Friday, 1:30 pm & 8:00 pm Saturday; $35.50 retail, $17.50 or $25 via Goldstar; Theatre 80 St. Marks at 80 St. Marks Place, off First 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:

[FREE] Noon-2:00 pm: The NYC performing arts community gathers to discuss surviving the next four years. This week’s guest is Neal Rosenstein, who works with the Puffin Foundation to support artists around the world, and who’ll also talk about how to maximize voting clout in NYC and NYS. It all happens—sometimes with free coffee and/or donuts—at Under St. Marks (94 St. Marks Place, off First Avenue) hosted by Brad Lawrence & Cyndi Freeman: The Underground Service

[TOP PICK] 4:00 pm-6:00 pm (no cover charge, but 1-drink min.): For two back-to-back live podcast recordings, comics Krystyna Hutchinson (co-host of popular Guys We Fucked podcast, Carson Daly) and Daniel J Perafan share tales of their “first time” (e.g., first job, first time on stage, first time getting drunk, first kiss) at Brooklyn’s Salzy (506 Fifth Avenue) hosted by Evan Morgenstern & Darin Patterson: The Virgin Chronicles

[TOP PICK] 6:00 pm ($5): Ace improvisors Matt Fisher (The Law Firm) & Rachel Rosenthal (North Coast) host improvisors from all over NYC, and cookies, to celebrate the 5th Annual Katie Fisher Day in memory of their friend “who was a treasure to everyone who knew her. Among other wonderful things, Katie baked & mailed cookies to her brother Matt every single week for the four years he was away at college…Join us for a true comedy celebration of love, joy, and, of course, delicious cookies” at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): The Katie Fisher Day Show

6:00 pm ($7): Senior citizens perform improv at The PIT Mainstage: Geezers

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 Lou Gonzalez, Chrissie Gruebel, and Brian Urreta of improv group The Mannequin Room: Indie Cage Match

7:00 pm ($7): Two guests bring and talk about their personal treasures, and then improv group Trophy Wives springboards off those memories to make up scenes at The PIT Mainstage: Show & Tell Show

7:00 pm ($5): A parody of a late night talk show at Brooklyn’s The Annoyance Theatre (367 Bedford Avenue; take J/M/Z to Marcy Avenue or L to Lorimer Street) hosted by Brian Pisano & Josh Bates: Nighttime Surprises

7:00 pm ($5): A mini-concert by singing comic Caroline Castro, who makes up new lyrics to Ariana Grande songs and invites other comics to riff on Ariana’s work as well at Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell (27-16 23rd Avenue): Pop Fiction

7:00 pm ($7): Mike Sause & Stephen Thornton make up short plays as improv duo Geisha Gravy at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): Geisha Gravy

[FREE] 7:00 pm: Long-form improv group Distance performs and hosts other groups making up extended scenes via the improv form called “Harold” at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ LIC (10-93 Jackson Avenue): Harold Night at The Creek

[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 five shows, with 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 ($12) 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

7:30 pm ($7): Eight improvisors play one character with superpowers at The Magnet theatre: Hero

7:30 pm ($5): Dana Shulman and friends are improv group Student Driver, which hosts two indie improv troupes making up scenes and then performs itself, all at The PIT Underground: Student Driver: Indie Road

8:00 pm ($7): Sharp NYC stand-ups—the lineup is unclear, since what’s listed on the UCB East site doesn’t remotely match what’s listed on the show’s site—performing at the UCB East theatre produced by Kara Klenk: If You Build It

8:00 pm ($7): Sketch duo Two Fake Blondes (Eliza Kingsbury & Jewel Elizabeth) host an hour of character comedy at The PIT Underground: B*tches & Snitches: A Character Show

8:00 pm ($7): A one-man show by Jason Blanche with characters, storytelling, music, and videos at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): Just Blanche

8:00 pm ($5): Improvisors are paired up to perform together for the first time at The PIT Mainstage hosted by the wonderful Ronny Pascale: Cheap Date Presents Blind Date

[TOP PICK] 8:30 pm ($10): SNL’s Sasheer Zamata hosts stand-ups Anna Drezen (writer for Saturday Night Live; superb stand-up who blends jokes with characters, movement, and sketch; author of How May We Hate You) and Langston Kerman (cast member of HBO’s Insecure; Adam DeVine’s House Party; written for Chris Rock’s hosting of the Oscars and Comedy Central’s Problematic), plus feminist musical comedy duo Free the Mind (Isabel Martin & Marcia Belsky), all at Brooklyn’s Union Hall: Sasheer Zamata Party Time

8:30 pm ($5): The first half of this show is traditional improv, and is then followed by stand-ups performing sets based on suggestions from the audience, all at Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell (27-16 23rd Avenue) hosted by Caroline Mazzei & Gregory Hall: Comedy Mayhem

8:30 pm ($5): Improvisors talk about the George W. Bush era at Brooklyn’s The Annoyance Theatre (367 Bedford Avenue; take J/M/Z to Marcy Avenue or L to Lorimer Street) directed by Anthony Oberbeck: Bad Habits

[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

9:00 pm ($7): TV-themed sketch comedy at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): Channel 1

[FREE] 9:00 pm: Group Medusa turns a calamity selected by the an audience member into an improvised documentary live on stage at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ LIC (10-93 Jackson Avenue): Medusa Presents Improv Against Humanity

[ALMOST FREE] 10:00 pm ($1): This improv show is based on a Mullaney Chain (pioneered by Kevin Mullaney) in which the host invites a guest to improvise with him or her, then the guest independently invites a third person, who then invites a fourth person, and so on, creating a one-time-only lineup that will be a surprise to everyone involved at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street) hosted by Kurt Guenther: The Telephone Show

Sunday Open Mics, Open Stages, and Jams

[FREE] 3:00 pm: Walk-in storytelling lottery style open mic that provides 6-8 minutes per yarn-spinner at Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell (27-16 23rd Avenue) hosted monthly by Julie Polk: Story Social: Open Mic Storytelling

[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) at The Creek downstairs lounge in Queens’ LIC (10-93 Jackson Avenue) hosted by Sam Rose: Bucket! We’ll Do it Live!

[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

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

5:30 pm ($3): Sign up at 4:30 pm to do improv with experienced PIT performers at The PIT Underground hosted by Sasha Capelli, Eitan Levine, and Shaina Stigler: 10K Jam Jam

9:30 pm ($5): Open-mic comedy, with 3-5 minutes per walk-in performer who signs up (first come, first serve) at The PIT Underground, 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 upstairs 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): 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…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


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