NYC Top Comedy Choices for Saturday 5/6/17

Chris Gethard: "Career Suicide"Last year I was lucky enough to see comedy genius Chris Gethard perform live his transcendently great one-man show about depression, perseverance, and the healing powers of laughter, love, and medication. In this show Chris seamlessly blends 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 predicted on this site would go on to become an HBO special. Tonight I’m proved right; and I highly recommend tuning in at 10:00 pm or 12:30 am to experience the HBO debut of Chris Gethard: Career Suicide

Hari Kondabolu…and on current NYC stages, a highly popular NYC stand-up who’s performed on David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, and Jimmy Kimmel; starred in his own Comedy Central Presents half-hour special; and was a writer and correspondent for FX’s Totally Biased headlines tonight and Sunday at Carolines: Hari Kondabolu (7:30 pm & 10:00 pm, $35 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:

[$] 2:00 pm ($20): A kid-friendly musical that “promotes positive messages of creativity, niceness, acceptance, and frivolity” by Lard Dog and his 6-piece Band of Shy at The PIT Mainstage: Life’s a Real Dream

[TOP PICK] [$] 2:00 pm ($20): David Carl (hilarious, charismatic rising star; Point Break Live) performs a new one-man show, this time “about a fictional solo performer named Carl David who receives critical acclaim playing President Trump doing King Lear by himself. President Trump hears about Carl’s parody and requests Mr. David’s presence.” Considering a series of bizarre events eventually led David to change the title of his award-winning one-man show Gary Busey’s One Man Hamlet (As Performed by David Carl) to David Carl’s Celebrity One-Man Hamlet, this show just might be inspired by actual events. Come judge for yourself at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): Trump Lear

[TOP PICK] [$] 3:00 pm ($15): Grammy-nominated family comic Billy Kelly performs a squeaky-clean matinee show for all ages—but especially recommended for kids 8 and up—at The PIT Underground: Billy Kelly’s Family Comedy Show

[TOP PICK] [$] 6:00 pm ($10 cover plus $10 drink min.; reservations highly recommended by calling 212.989.9319): Four funny people tell amazing stories. Three of the tales are absolutely true…but one of them is a pack of lies. The audience then asks questions to try and identify the fibber—and everyone who chooses correctly gets a free t-shirt! This evening’s yarn-spinners are Jeff Simmermon (NPR’s This American Life, Moth GrandSlam Champion, host of And I Am Not Lying), Erin Barker (co-host of The Story Collider), Rory Scholl (Chicago City Limits, The Moth, BTK Band), and Sydnee Washington. Come to the West Village’s Cornelia Street Cafe (29 Cornelia Street) and let these storytellers and host Andy Christie (The New York Times, NPR, Moth GrandSlam champion, exceptionally nice guy) attempt to mislead you at The Liar Show

6:00 pm ($7): Graduates of Adam Wade’s storytelling class tell their polished tales at The Magnet theatre: Adam Wade’s Graduate Storytelling Show

6:00 pm ($7): Solo improv by Dion Flynn (frequent sketch comic on Jimmy Fallon) at The PIT Mainstage: Works Well With Others

6:30 pm ($5): International improvisors use their native languages & diverse backgrounds to make up scenes in unique ways at The PIT Underground: Passport

[TOP PICK] [$] 7:00 pm ($12): Improv group Women and Men interview audience members about a weird and/or wild birthday, wedding, bar mitzvah, or other social gathering and then make up scenes based on those anecdotes at the UCB East theatre: Women and Men: Party Jumpin’

[TOP PICK] [$] 7:00 pm, 7:15 pm, 8:00 pm, 8:45 pm, 9:15 pm, 10:00 pm, 10:30 pm, 11:15 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 7:15, 9:15, and 11:15 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 Saturday

[TOP PICK] 7:00 pm ($10): Improv group Big Black Car 2, plus improv group The Quitters, make up scenes at The PIT Mainstage: BBC2 and The Quitters

7:00 pm ($7): Political activists and pundits mix with comics at this political comedy show that makes fun of the news at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): Electoral Dysfunction

[TOP PICK] 7:30 pm ($10): “Created in 1995 at the iO Theater in Chicago, The Armando Diaz Experience is the longest running improv show ever. A guest monologist—who tonight is Peter Aguero (Conan O’Brien, Moth GrandSlam Champion, WNYC’s Moth Radio Hour, The BTK Band)—takes a suggestion from the audience and shares true personal tales. These stories are then brought to life by a rotating cast of improv all-stars—and occasionally Armando himself” at The Magnet theatre: The Armando Diaz Experience

[TOP PICK] [$] 7:30 pm ($12): Improv powerhouses Charlie Todd, Jeff Hiller, Jim Santangeli, Natasha Rothwell, Brandon Gardner, Chelsea Clarke, Kevin Hines, Erik Tanouye, and John Timothy at UCB Chelsea interview an audience member about where he or she grew up and then “turn that town’s tourist attractions, landmarks, hangouts, local celebrities, urban legends, and more into a hilarious show made up on the spot:” The Curfew: Not From Around Here

7:30 pm ($10): In this parody inspired by Westworld, Matt Grote & Ryland Duncan take you on a tour of a future biosphere at The PIT Underground: Pleasuredome 2069

7:30 pm ($8): Kristal Adams, Kevin Sean, Julie Kotakis, Alex Barnett, and Mike Cross perform stand-up at Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell (27-16 23rd Avenue) produced by Charles McBee (MTV, VH1) and guest-hosted by Khalid Rahmaan: Nerd is the New Black

[TOP PICK] [$] 8:00 pm ($20): Members of stellar improv groups Gypsy Danger, The Baldwins, and Off Top pit mainstream musical improv against hip-hop improv in this fundraiser for fallen NYC firefighter Yadira “Yari” Arroyo at The PIT Mainstage: Off Top!: A Fallen Hero’s Benefit

8:00 pm ($5): NYC stand-ups perform at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ LIC (10-93 Jackson Avenue) hosted by Gideon Hambright and/or Patrick Hastie: Jackknife Comedy

8:00 pm ($10): Jack Frederick & Melissa Aquiles give out awards to things they like, plus musical improv from duo James & Stoddy, at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): The We Like It Awards

[TOP PICK] [$] 8:30 pm ($12): Improv group Airwolf—with big talents Molly Lloyd, Tim Martin, Achilles Stamatelaky, Eddie Dunn, Ben Rameaka, and Adam Fruccie—make up scenes about terrible audience experiences related to a home at UCB East: Airwolf: Let’s Go Back to Your Place

[TOP PICK] 9:00 pm ($10): A highly talented freestyle rapping long-form improv group makes up scenes with fierce musical energy at The PIT Underground: North Coast

[TOP PICK] [$] 9:00 pm ($12): An improvised apocalypse from sharp comics John Murray, Sean Casey, Jackie Jennings, Caroline Cotter, Joanna Bradley, David Bluvband, and Zach Cherry at the UCB Chelsea theatre: Goat

[TOP PICK] 9:00 pm ($10): Sharp improvisors Peter McNerney & Rick Andrews make up scenes at The Magnet as comedy duo Trike

9:00 pm ($10): Improv group Seattle Spaceman performs and hosts other indie improv teams All That!, Ghostly, and Destination Wedding at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): The Seattle Spaceman Invasion

[TOP PICK] 9:30 pm ($10): Emmy Blotnick (rising star; staff writer & warm-up comic for Comedy Central’s spectacular The President Show; writer for Comedy Central’s @midnight, Roast of Rob Lowe, and Not Safe with Nikki Glaser; MTV’s Nikki and Sara Live, VH1’s Best Week Ever), Subhah Agarwal (Comedy Central, TruTV, Fusion), Eli Sairs (Comedy Central’s Roast Battle), and Rosebud Baker perform stand-up featuring “the dirtiest, most unsafe for prime-time jokes, bits, and riffs” at Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell (27-16 23rd Avenue) hosted by Ben Conrad & Lucas Connolly: The Dirty Show

[$] 9:30 pm ($15): A musical parody of the Star Wars movies with periodic solid moments, and that includes superb comics Rebecca Vigil & Evan Kaufman (Your Love, Our Musical), and terrific singer Tarik Davis (whose “bromance” duet with Evan as Finn & Poe is the highlight of the show). Unfortunately, most of the time the script doesn’t quite hit the mark; but if you’re a die-hard fan, you might get a kick out of this production playing through May 6th at The PIT Mainstage: Star Wars: The Farce Awakens

[TOP PICK] [$] 10:00 pm ($12): A powerhouse group of improvisors—Zhubin Parang (writer for The Daily Show), Michael Kayne (Baby Wants Candy, Diamond Lion), Natasha Vaynblat (one-woman show United Federation of Teachers), Casey Jost (former writer for NBC’s Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and TruTV’s Impractical Jokers), and Lui Vega—springboard scenes off interviewing an audience member about his or her love life at the UCB East theatre: What I Did For Love

10:00 pm ($5): A game-based comedy show in which “three comics choose three topics, and then you and the audience write questions on those subjects. If the comics can’t answer a question correctly, the author of it wins a free shot of whiskey. And at the end of the night the audience chooses one of the comics to perform a ‘Punishment Set’ of improvised stand-up” at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ LIC (10-93 Jackson Avenue) hosted by Chris Milner: Specific Ignorance

[TOP PICK] 10:30 pm ($10): Long form improv about the behavior of a theatrical troupe both on-stage and off-stage, revolving around a different show biz theme each week—which tonight is Shakespeare—at The Magnet theatre: The Cast: Shakespeare Edition

[TOP PICK] [$] 10:30 pm ($12): At UCB Chelsea, improv group Grandma’s Ashes—which includes stellar talents Ryan Karels, Morgan Grace Jarrett, Brandon Scott Jones, and more—takes your written secrets and turns them into very funny improv scenes: Grandma’s Ashes: We Won’t Tell

[TOP PICK] 10:30 pm ($7): In this double-bill, Harmon Leon and Matt Nagin each do a one-man show he’s going to perform at August’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival at The PIT Underground: Edinburgh Preview: Harmon Leon & Matt Nagin

10:30 pm ($7): “A former college liberal is the only one who can stop the evil Hillary Clinton from committing the world’s most heinous crime” in this play at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): Flouridians

[TOP PICK] 11:30 ($7): An enormously fun freestyle rap contest at UCB East with NYC comics (not announced), plus a volunteer from the audience!, hosted by superstar human beatbox Chris “Shockwave” Sullivan (The Daily Show, The Electric Company, Freestyle Love Supreme) and Victor Varnado (Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Kimmel, Comedy Central): Battlicious

[TOP PICK] Midnight ($7): In this acclaimed monthly show, six NYC stand-ups (not announced) each perform an 8-minute set while they “risk getting slapped by Satan himself. Actually, he hosts only bringer shows, but join Matt Wayne and Doug Smith as they step into the Big Man’s shoes and put NYC’s finest through comedy purgatory. Hula-hoops, celebrity impressions, unwanted audience participation, all incorporated into each performance! Will they triumph or will the nether world eat their souls? Come see for yourself” at the UCB Chelsea theatre: See You in Hell

[TOP PICK] [FREE] Midnight: Pot stand-up from “highly talented comics who have been highly recommended from people who are thought highly of in the business. Oh, and they’ll be high” at Queens LIC’s The Creek upstairs theatre: High Five

Saturday Open Mics & Jams

4:00 pm ($5; your ticket provides $3 off a drink at nearby Pioneers Bar): Walk-in lottery style open mic (sign-up starting at 2:45 pm) at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): Swing Riders Open Mic

[FREE] 5:00 pm-7:00 pm: Walk-in comedy open mic (lottery system, with sign-up starting at 4:30 pm) providing each selected comic 4 minutes on stage at Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell (27-16 23rd Avenue) hosted by Chris Gersbeck & Veronica Garza: Murray Povich Mic

[FREE] 7:00 pm: Walk-in open mic, with names drawn from a bucket (sign-up starts at 6:50 pm), and a designated beer drinker on stage who might chime in at any moment to riff with you during your set, at Queens LIC’s The Creek downstairs lounge hosted by Amy Shanker, Brett Hiker, and Cameron Ford: Power Hour Open Mic

[FREE] 9:00 pm: Walk-in open mic for character bits, stand-up, etc. at Queens LIC’s The Creek downstairs lounge hosted by Elise Edwards: Discount Disco

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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