NYC Top Comedy Choices for Wednesday 4/19/17

April 19, 2017

Jordan KlepperJordan Klepper (star correspondent for The Daily Show, and star of upcoming 11:30 pm Comedy Central series) performs a stage show where he’s presumably trying stuff out before a friendly UCB audience: Jordan Klepper TBD (11:00 pm, $5, UCB Chelsea at 307 West 26th Street)

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] 6:00 pm-midnight: Six hours of free improvisation—including musical improv from group Vern (which includes superb singer & comic Julie A. Feltman) at 7:15 pm, such stellar improvisors as Pat Swearingen and Langston Belton in Hero Complex at 8:30 pm, and star instructors such as Dana Shulman, Adrian Sexton, Chris Booth, and sometimes even PIT owner Ali Reza Farahnakian at The Faculty at 10:00 pm, all at The PIT Mainstage: Super Free Wednesday

[TOP PICK] [$] 7:00 pm ($5 plus 2-item food/drink min.): Jim Norton (David Letterman, Jay Leno, Last Comic Standing; hosted HBO stand-up showcase Down and Dirty; former cast member of HBO sitcom Lucky Louie; HBO half-hour One Night Stand; feature film Spider-Man; regular on The Opie & Anthony Show; author of book Happy Endings) hones material for a one-man show at The Fat Black Pussycat Lounge (130 West 3rd Street): Jim Norton: Work In Progress

7:00 pm-11:00 pm ($7 for the entire evening): Four hours of improv from eight groups—plus a free improv jam at 6:00 pm—at The Magnet theatre: Magnet Megawatt

[FREE] 7:00 pm: Stand-up Ryan Schutt tries out new material every night through Saturday at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ LIC (10-93 Jackson Avenue): Week at the Creek: Ryan Schutt

7:00 pm ($7): Sketches about recent political events at the UCB Chelsea theatre: The Swamp: This Week in Politics

[MEGA-TOP PICK] 7:30 pm ($7): Mindy Raf (VH1, College Humor; author of YA novel The Symptoms of My Insanity; singer/songwriter alter ego Leibya Rogers) has been a respected and beloved member of the comedy community for over a decade. In this one-woman show at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street), however, Raf achieves a whole new level of comedy greatness.

Raf’s script weaves a complex tapestry from her past relationships, anxieties, arcane bits of knowledge (e.g., she explains how the dark Web can record you while you’re masturbating), and sexual preferences (which include being bi and polyamorous) that’s thoroughly compelling. At the same time, Raf delivers a performance so intimate and in-the-moment that it almost feels as if she’s revealing herself spontaneously.

Along similar lines, when anything unexpected happens (such as an audience member snapping fingers to a background song, or another audience member getting up and crossing the stage at a delicate moment to go to the bathroom), Raf is lightning-quick in providing a response so spot-on that it couldn’t have been better if she’d planned it.

With this show, Raf has developed into a star talent who demands attention.

I highly recommend this wonderful production, which after its April 2017 PIT run will play July 19th, 22nd, and 23rd at the prestigious 59E54 Theater; and then in August play for 28 performances at the legendary Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

By the way, don’t get put off by the oddball title. This show has nothing to do with illness; and the only body organs it focuses on are the vagina and the human heart: Mindy Raf: Keeping My Kidneys

[TOP PICK] [$] 7:30 pm, 8:00 pm, 9:30 pm, 10:00 pm, and 11:30 pm ($14, 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 Wednesday

[TOP PICK] 7:30 pm [$] ($10 to watch): Star John Hodgman runs a heavy-duty trivia contest designed to raise funds for creative writing programs at NYC public schools. The contestants have already been selected, but you can come to watch and vicariously participate at Brooklyn’s The Bell House (149 7th Street): Trivia Night for Cheaters

7:30 pm ($10): 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

7:30 pm ($5): Extending the improv showcased at UCB Chelsea’s Tuesday Harold Night is this weekly show at UCB East which features house groups Zaddy, seventeen, and Hotel Hotel also making up scenes via the long improv form called The Harold: Lloyd Night

[FREE; plus Free Homemade Beef Jerky!] 8:00 pm: Lucas Connolly (Comedy Central’s South Beach, host of The Secret Loft Show), Jake Hart (host of storytelling shows The Dump and A.S.S.), Ginny Leise (co-host of The Shame Game), and Chris Ryan “tell their funniest true stories” at Brooklyn’s Excelsior Bar (563 Fifth Avenue, between 15th & 16th Streets) hosted by Sean O’Brien: Dummies & Company

8:00 pm ($7): At the UCB Chelsea theatre, a mostly fun sketch comedy gathering of “the world’s foremost cryptozoologists, monster hunters, and friends of freaky fauna, will convene at our top-secret headquarters under a grocery store to unveil the year’s most fascinating and grotesque new beastly discoveries:” Monsters Exist

…and in the second other of this double bill, a mild parody of girl bands via “the world’s first Asian-American pop group from the USA. Join Baby Rice, Quirky Rice, Edgy Rice, Competitive Rice, and Brown Rice as they kick off their tour by dancing, singing, and rapping about boys, friendship, and systemic racism/oppression:” AzN PoP!: Live in Concert

[FREE] 8:00 pm: Young and/or struggling NYC stand-ups performing at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ LIC (10-93 Jackson Avenue) produced by Meghan O’Malley, Adrian Davidson, and Erick Hellwig: Barely Making It

[TOP PICK] [$] 8:30 pm ($8 plus 2-item food/drink min.): Stand-ups tell deliciously long tales, with tonight’s yarn-spinners Rachel Feinstein (finalist on Last Comic Standing; Inside Amy Schumer, HBO, The Apprentice, Comedy Central special Only Whores Wear Purple, opens for Sarah Silverman on tour), Ben Bailey (Emmy Award-winning host of Cash Cab and NBC’s Who’s Still Standing?; Comedy Central Presents, Jay Leno), and DC Benny (Last Comic Standing, Comedy Central, ABC’s The Unusuals), all performing at The Fat Black Pussycat Lounge (130 West 3rd Street): Comedy Storytelling

8:30 pm ($7): Musical improv duo Jordan Hirsch & Kathleen Armenti interview an audience member—possibly you—”about your routine, your habits, their whys and wherefores, all of that gives us a window into your soul. And then we’ll make up funny songs about it. If Alexander Hamilton gets a show all about him, why not you? You’re just as interesting and twice as alive as that guy” at The PIT Underground: You: The Musical

[TOP PICK] [FREE] 9:00 pm: Big Jay Oakerson (Jimmy Fallon, Comedy Central Presents, Louie, Inside Amy Schumer, HBO, Showtime, MTV, IFC; stellar new comedy album Live at Webster Hall), Dave Smith, Luis J. Gomez, and other NYC comics “discussing the skankier sides of life, love, and stand-up comedy” for this weekly podcast taping at The Creek downstairs lounge in Queens’ LIC (10-93 Jackson Avenue): Legion of Skanks

9:00 pm ($5): Stand-ups Chris Gersbeck, Freddy G, Suzanne Lee Sheppard, Amy Liska, Will Poznan, Jesse Eigner, Andrew Casertano, and Paul Dagliolo (the producer of this show) perform at Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell (27-16 23rd Avenue) hosted by Alex Gardes: Alternative Fax

[FREE] 9:00 pm: Ryan Reiss (Seth Meyers, MTV, FOX, Spike, WE, NICK), Phil Hunt, Allie Klein, Mary Beth Barone, and Joe Alfano performing for this free weekly stand-up show at Lucky Jack’s Pub (129 Orchard Street) produced by Lance Weiss & Brendon Fitzgibbons: Gandhi, Is That You?

[TOP PICK] 9:15 pm ($5): The instructors of UCB’s classes include some of the finest improvisors in the country. In this new weekly show a bunch of them get on stage at UCB East hosted by Doug Mo and/or Ben Rameaka: Hot for Teacher: The UCB Faculty Show

[TOP PICK] 9:30 pm ($7): Comedy duo Nick Kocher & Brian McElhaney are now staff writers for Saturday Night Live, but they began as a sketch duo. Tonight they perform an hour of their newest sketches at the UCB Chelsea theatre: BriTANicK

[TOP PICK] 9:30 pm ($7): Lucy Shelby, an attractive performer who excels at physical comedy, plays three very different women in an increasingly hilarious parody of beauty pageants—culminating in an uproarious plea for help to the audience—at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): Pretty Hurts

[FREE] 10:00 pm: Storytellers share true tales hosted by Jenna Marucci & Aileen Think at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ LIC (10-93 Jackson Avenue): Jenna & Aileen Think You’re Great

10:00 pm ($7): Stand-up, sketch, and panels discussions based around a single topic (unfortunately, not announced) at The PIT Underground: Based On

[TOP PICK] 10:15 pm ($5): Improvisors pair up as scene-inventing duos for one night only at the UCB East theatre hosted by stellar comics Leslie Meisel & Brian Faas: Couples Skate

10:30 pm ($5): Improv from groups My First Tattoo, Benjamin ButtonCapps, and the hosts at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): The Funny Show

Wednesday 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

[FREE] 6:00 pm: Weekly open mic that provides 5 minutes per comic to do stand-up, characters, storytelling, or anything else funny, with sign-up at 5:30 pm, at Astoria Queens comedy venue QED: A Place to Show & Tell (27-16 23rd Avenue) hosted by Mike Guild: Flynn’s Mic

[FREE] 6:00 pm: Open mic stand-up show that provides each performer whose name is pulled from a bucket 5 minutes on stage at The Creek downstairs lounge in Queens’ LIC (10-93 Jackson Avenue) hosted by Kaity Neagle & Irene Hartmann: Ragtag Team Open Mic Stand-Up

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: Sign up at 5:45 pm for the opportunity to make up scenes at The Magnet with veteran improvisors: Magnet Mixer Wednesday

[FREE] 6:00 pm: Your chance to improvise on stage at The PIT Mainstage hosted by Anthony Velez: Recess

[FREE] 7:00 pm: Open mic stand-up providing 4 minutes per comic. Email PhoningItInMic@gmail.com to sign up, or take a chance at lottery sign-up live between 6:45 and 7:45, at Brooklyn’s Halyards Bar (406 Third Avenue) hosted by Lukas Kaiser: Comics Phoning It In

[FREE] 11:00 pm: Weekly walk-in open mic stand-up providing 3 minutes for each comic whose name is pulled from a bucket (but no actual punch or pie, that’s just a lure to entice you to come) at Queens LIC’s The Creek downstairs lounge hosted by Matthew Tenenbaum: Punch & Pie

11:00 pm ($5): Weekly open mic that provides 5 minutes per comic, with sign-up at 10:00 pm (maximum of 12 comics, so arrive early), at The PIT Underground hosted by Max Halpert: Awkward High Five Open Mic

[FREE] 11:00 pm: Your chance to perform on stage with experienced improvisors at The PIT Mainstage hosted by Bernard Maynore and/or Patrick Cucuta: Improdome

[FREE] 11:15 pm: Your opportunity to perform on the stage of UCB East with improv veterans: The Improv 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 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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