NYC Top Comedy Choices for Wednesday 5/17/17

Acker & Blacker’s Tales from the Black LagoonStellar comics John Hodgman, Scott Adsit, David Rees, Ted Leo, Jean Grae, Mark Gagliardi, and more perform “a trio of tales from the Golden Age of Hollywood, where truth is stranger than fiction:” Acker & Blacker’s Tales from the Black Lagoon (7:30 pm, $25, The Bell House at 149 7th Street; take R subway to 9th Street or F/G to Fourth 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] 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

6:00 pm ($7): Improvisors interview an audience member about his or her high school experiences and then use the anecdotes as springboards for scenes at The PIT Underground: Back to School

[TOP PICK] [$] 7:00 pm ($5 plus 2-item food/drink min.): Broadway, TV, and film star Colin Quinn (Trainwreck, comedy national treasure) hones material for a one-man show at The Fat Black Pussycat Lounge (130 West 3rd Street): Colin Quinn: Law Abiding Criminals

[TOP PICK] 7:00 pm ($5): Noah Forman & Kristen Acimovic host this new version of game show Jeopardy!, “which already totally rocks. New rules, tweaks, and surprises make it rock even harder, leading three money-grubbing contestants through a gut-busting gauntlet of tough trivia, confounding clues, and emotional soul-searching,” with guests Connor Ratliff (brilliant improvisor & sketch comic; The Stepfathers, The George Lucas Talk Show), The Chris Gethard Show comics Murf Meyers & David Bluvband, and Cathryn Mudon (Improvised Seinfeld, Higgins) all competing at the UCB Chelsea theatre: Better Jeopardy

[$] 7:00 pm ($20): A play based on the premise “What if being gay was the social norm and coming out as straight was the taboo?” at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): A Straight Play

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: A half-dozen students of a storytelling class taught by the lovely Cyndi Freeman (The Colbert Report, Moth StorySlam champion, two-time FringeNYC award winner, star burlesque performer) do their best to entertain you at Chinatown’s The Unicorn (105 Henry Street; take the F to East Broadway): Cyndi Freeman’s Storytelling Class Showcase

7:00 pm ($7): Annemarie Cullen & Keilana Decker perform improv with guests at The PIT Underground: Delightful & Company

[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

7:30 pm ($7): NYC stand-ups Dina Hashem, Casey James Salengo, Julie Kottakis, and Brandon Collins perform at Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell (27-16 23rd Avenue) hosted by Babe Parker & Davey Stevey Dave: Neato Bedito

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 seventeen, Hotel Hotel, and Zaddy also making up scenes via the long improv form called The Harold: Lloyd Night

[FREE] 8:00 pm: Ari Shaffir (Conan O’Brien, host of Comedy Central’s This Is Not Happening, HBO’s Down and Dirty, National Lampoon, Comedy Central special Passive Aggressive), Sydnee Washington, and Nick Padilla “tell their funniest true stories” at Brooklyn’s Excelsior Bar (563 Fifth Avenue, between 15th & 16th Streets) hosted by Sean O’Brien & Chris Ryan: Dummies & Company

[TOP PICK] 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, Mark Vigeant springboards off audience suggestions to create and launch a website on the spot: Let’s Make a Website

8:00 pm ($10): A musical improv and stand-up show that features a live band providing musical accompaniment to jokes, with guests Dan St. Germain (enormously likeable and rapidly rising star who has several TV shows in the works; Jimmy Fallon, Conan O’Brien, Comedy Central Half-Hour Special, The Electric Company, MTV, VH1; staff writer for CBS’ Superior Donuts), Sean Donnelly (David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Comedy Central Half Hour, Last Comic Standing, MTV), Samantha Ruddy, Ryan Schutt, Robert Dean, Tom Thakkar, and Jennie Sutton performing stand-up or music at Brooklyn’s Union Hall (702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street) hosted by Yedoye Travis: Rent Party

[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 Ben Bailey (Emmy Award-winning host of Cash Cab and NBC’s Who’s Still Standing?; Comedy Central Presents, Jay Leno), David Juskow (Comedy Central’s The Sarah Silverman Program and Dr. Katz Professional Therapist, TV Funhouse, film The Wrestler), and host 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): A play about Mel & Luis Chuds, a married couple that, a la Sonny & Cher, recently divorced each other yet are still hosting a popular TV variety show together: “Trying to keep it together while their past demons haunt them during their live telecast, things eventually spiral out of control in this dark yet hilarious take on life, love, and loss during the biggest of all stakes” at at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): The CHUDS Variety Hour

8:30 pm ($7): Storytellers share tales of bad dates, and then improvisors create scenes that make those bad dates even worse at The PIT Underground hosted by Ryan Darden: Bad Date Theater

[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

[TOP PICK] 9:00 pm ($10): Comedic storytellers tell tales about losing their virginity at Astoria Queens comedy venue QED: A Place to Show & Tell (27-16 23rd Avenue) hosted by Angela Cobb: My First Time: A Stand-Up and Storytelling Show

[FREE] 9:00 pm: Louis Katz (Jimmy Fallon, HBO, Comedy Central Half Hour), Kyle Ploof (MTV), Mike Feeney (truTV’s Late Night Snack), Justin Williams (Comedy Central; host of Death Comedy Jam), Chelsea Hood, and Pete Mutino 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 ($7): A show in which over a dozen talented female improvisors parody all-gal opinion shows such as The View—and, according to the UCB site, tonight features special guest Rosie O’Donnell!—at the UCB Chelsea theatre: The Female Gaze

[TOP PICK] 9:30 pm ($7): A one-man show by Rich Kameda about the dark period in US history when Japanese citizens during WWII were unjustly imprisoned in interment camps—seen from the perspective of a magician trying to entertain his fellow prisoners—at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): An Internment Camp Magic Show

[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

[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

[TOP PICK] 11:00 pm ($5): “Logan is 7 years old and hosts a late night talk show in his bedroom when he’s supposed to be asleep. The monster in his closet is his warm-up comic, furious because he knows he’s imaginary! His sidekick, Bunny, is a stuffed animal terrified at the thought of meeting another rabbit, and his house band is a motley crew of action figures and misfit toys. There will be music, real guests, and genuine conversation until Logan eventually gets too tired and falls asleep…probably” featuring stellar comics Connor Ratliff, Sebastian Conelli, and more at the UCB Chelsea theatre: Way Past Your Bedtime

11:00 pm ($7): Improv group Breakfast Boys perform and host other improv groups consisting of 2-4 people at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): Breakfast Boys Present Small Teams 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: 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 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

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 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)

(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.

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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