NYC Top Comedy Choices for Thursday 3/30/17

Big Jay OakersonA veteran stand-up who’s performed on Jimmy Fallon, Louie, Comedy Central Presents, Inside Amy Schumer, HBO, Showtime, MTV, and IFC, co-hosts the podcasts Legion of Skanks and The SDR, and stars in the stellar Comedy Central special and album Live at Webster Hall headlines tonight through Sunday at Carolines: Big Jay Oakerson (8:00 pm tonight, 7:30 pm & 10:00 pm Friday & Saturday, 7:30 pm Sunday; $27.25 tonight & Sunday, $31.25 Friday & Saturday, 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:

[FREE] 7:00 pm: Travis Irvine (Viceland, The Guardian, PBS, Troma) tries out new stand-up material one last night at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ LIC (10-93 Jackson Avenue): Week at the Creek: Travis Irvine

7:00 pm pm ($7): A one-man show by Eli James that provides “a decade-by-decade journey through the sordid history of rock ‘n’ roll” at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): Imagine All the People: A Survey of Music Business Creeps

7:00 pm ($5): Professional clowns perform a silly show in hopes of changing your life at The PIT Underground: An Unapologetic Mess: A Clown Show

[FREE] 7:00 pm: A staged reading written & directed by Elizabeth Appleby of a 20-minute mock informercial for a product that helps deal with political correctness at The Magnet Theater Training Center (22 West 32nd Street, 10th Floor) followed by a talkback with the writer/director and cast: Offend Me Not

[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 three shows at Comedy Cellar (117 MacDougal Street, between 3rd Street & Minetta Lane), and 8:00 pm & 10:00 pm shows at Village Underground (130 West 3rd Street, off Sixth Avenue): Comedy Cellar Thursday

7:30 pm ($7): Adam Newman (David Letterman, Comedy Central Half Hour, MTV), Julia Johns (writer for MTV’s Girl Code), and more performing at UCB East hosted by Sean Crespo, Dan Wilbur, and Katina Corrao: Lasers in the Jungle

[TOP PICK] 8:00 pm ($7): 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), Kate Willett (Comedy Central’s This Is Not Happening, VICE’s Flophouse), Marcia Belsky, and Suni Reyes performing stand-up at this show sponsored by satirical women’s magazine Reductress at the UCB Chelsea theatre hosted by Taryn Englehart & Jasmine Pierce: Haha, Wow! by Reductress

[TOP PICK]  [$] 8:00 pm ($15): An all-gal lineup raising funds for the Reproductive Health Access Project, featuring sketch group Buzz Off Lucille, and stand-ups Leah Bonnema (VH1, IFC’s Comedy Drop, WeTV’s Cinematherapy, Logo, Opie & Anthony’s Virus Channel), Keisha Zollar (HBO’s Divorce, Orange Is the New Black, MTV, Comedy Central, ace improv trio Doppelganger, sketch group Astronomy Club), Maya Deshmukh, Alise Morales, Sriya Sarkar, and Meg Griffiths Anderson—plus “special guest Ruth Bader Ginsburg”—performing at Brooklyn’s Dean Street (755 Dean Street): Herstory in the Making

[TOP PICK] 8:00 pm ($5): Storytellers share their true “coming out” tales, and then improvisors make up either a play or a musical based on each story at The PIT Mainstage: Thank You For Coming Out: An LGBTQ Event

[TOP PICK] 8:00 pm-Midnight ($10 for the entire evening): Four veteran house improv groups, at 10:00 indie improv troupe The Mannequin Room, at 10:15 themed improv show Silence, Please (exploring the nuances of wordless conversation and connection, with music suggested by the audience playing in the background), and at 11:00 improv competition Inspirado, all for just $10 at The Magnet theatre: The Magnet’s Thursday Night Out

[FREE] 8:00 pm: “Comics compete with on-the-spot tweets…and you decide the winner in real time using your smart phone” at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ Long Island City hosted by Shelby Taylor: Like Me

8:00 pm ($10): Sketch comedy from group Teen Radio at The PIT Underground: Teen Radio: Plz Say Hi to Daddy

8:00 pm pm ($5): Sharon Jamilkoswki performs a one-woman show as Diana Ross, the daughter of PBS painting guru Bob Ross, at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): The Joy of Arting with Diana Ross

[TOP PICK] [$] 8:30 pm ($8 plus 2-item food/drink min.): Jon Fisch (David Letterman, Comedy Central, Last Comic Standing, VH1, comedy album He Has Friends) hosts Joe List, Sam Morril, Brian Scott McFadden, and more trying out fresh stand-up material at The Fat Black Pussycat Lounge (130 West 3rd Street): New Joke Night

[TOP PICK] 9:00 pm ($7): Matt Goldich (staff writer for Seth Meyers; Comedy Central, VH1), Adam Newman (David Letterman, Comedy Central Half Hour, MTV), Emmy Blotnick (writer for Comedy Central’s @midnight, Roast of Rob Lowe, Not Safe with Nikki Glaser; MTV’s Nikki and Sara Live, VH1’s Best Week Ever), Kyle Ayers (written for CBS, Comedy Central, TBS, BBC, The New York Times), and Dina Hashem performing at UCB East hosted by rising stars Jim Tews (Louie, Last Comic Standing, New York Times bestselling author of Felines of New York) & Ashley Brooke Roberts (energetic, enormously likeable stand-up; writer for Nat Geo and MTV’s Guy Code): Fresh Out

9:30 pm ($7): At the UCB Chelsea theatre, a play about the minutiae of small town politics directed by the wonderful Leslie Meisel and featuring a seven-person cast: All in Favor

…and in the second other of this double bill, a one-man play by Geoff Garlock about memories of a classic music festival: Rock and Roll Will Never Die

9:30 pm ($7): Storytellers share tales “so horrible they are hilarious, all for your entertainment” at The PIT Mainstage hosted by Francisco Breton & Corey Easley (We’re a Genius): Good, Bad Stories

9:30 pm ($7): Lani Harms hosts interviews, sketch, characters, improv, and/or more at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): Late Night with Lani

[TOP PICK] 10:00 pm ($10): Frank Conniff (TV’s Frank on Mystery Science Theater 3000; Cinematic Titanic), Trace Beaulieu (puppet Crow on Mystery Science Theater 3000; Cinematic Titanic; author of Silly Rhymes For Belligerent Children), and Carolina Hidalgo (Sirius XM Radio) tape their Movie Sign podcast at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ LIC (10-93 Jackson Avenue): Movie Sign with the Mads Live

[TOP PICK] 11:00 pm ($5): Powerhouse musical improv group Rumpleteaser slaughtered, roasted, and consumed UCB Saturday night group Goat last week, winning 139-28. Tonight the champion (8 victories in a row) competes with improv group Mermaids for your laughs and votes at UCB Chelsea’s raucous Cage Match

[TOP PICK] 11:00 pm ($5): Comics perform their auditions for gigs they never booked at the UCB East theatre hosted by Lauren Brickman & Caitlin Bitzegaio: The Roles That Got Away

11:00 pm ($5): Improv with feedback at The PIT Mainstage hosted by Matthew Woods & Dan Miller: Improv MD

Thursday Open Mics & Jams

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-8:00 pm ($5 plus 1 drink min., with drinks as low as $2): Walk-in stand-up open mic with two rounds, the first providing 4-5 minutes per set and the second 2-3 minutes per set, at The Grisly Pear (107 MacDougal Street) hosted by Tuval Mor: Kickin It Open Mic Thursday

[FREE] 6:00 pm: All-gal stand-up open mic at UCB East hosted by Anna Drezen & Sue Smith: Open Michelle: Ladies Open Mic

[FREE] 6:00 pm: Open-mic stand-up with comics’ names drawn from a bucket and each chosen receiving 2 minutes—and if that goes well, maybe a hug (but not actual puppies)—at The Creek’s downstairs lounge in Queens’ Long Island City hosted by Ross Parsons & Trey Galyon: Free Puppies

6:00 pm ($5 for both comics and audience members): Open mic stand-up providing 5-7 minutes per comic, running 2 1/2 hours. 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: Open mic stand-up with 4 minutes per comic (sign-up starts at 5:30 pm) at Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell (27-16 23rd Avenue) hosted by Jake Vevera & Amy Liszka: The QED Thursday Mic

6:00 pm ($3): A weekly improv jam open to the audience in which the number of participants on stage is determined by a roll of the dice at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street) hosted by Jon Monje, Glorillis Tavarez, Trumane Alston, and Julien Darmon: Chance Encounters Jam

6:30 pm ($5): If you’re a gal who’d like to try stand-up but are wary of being vulnerable in a tough male-dominated room, this show may be the perfect opportunity for you—an all-female open mic, with the first 15 comics to sign up (starting at 5:50 pm) getting 3 minutes each on stage at The PIT Underground: Ladies Night Open Mic

7:00 pm ($2, which includes a free beer or water): Open mic stand-up providing a whopping 10 minutes per comic. Email PhoningItInMic@gmail.com with subject line Phoning Thursday to sign up; or take a chance at lottery sign-up live between 6:45 and 7:45 at Brit Pack Studios (34 Pell Street, 2nd Floor) hosted by Ian Fidance: Comics Phoning It In

[FREE] 7:00 pm: In this free Magnet show, audience members (signing in at 6:00) can join in with a veteran improv group to make up scenes on the spot: Magnet Mixer Thursday

[FREE] 8:00 pm: A recorded-for-podcast walk-in open mic providing 5 minutes on stage for whatever you want to perform—stand-up, sketch, song—with names drawn from a bucket at The Creek’s downstairs lounge in Queens’ Long Island City hosted by Mike Mercadal & Will Watkins: Unsung Heroes

[FREE] 10:30 pm: Walk-in stand-up open mic (signup at 10:00 pm) at Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell (27-16 23rd Avenue) hosted by Chelsea Condren, Kate Moran, and Kristin Seltman: Late Night Snack Open Mic

10:30 pm ($3): A chance for you to get on stage and improvise with PIT faculty at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): Thursday After Class Jam

[FREE] 11:00 pm: An open-mic stand-up show that’s first come, first serve, with each comic getting 3 minutes on stage at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ LIC (10-93 Jackson Avenue) hosted by Matt Anderson: Barf Up the Jokes

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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