NYC Top Comedy Choices for Saturday 5/20/17

Spare Rib by Winter MillerAn acclaimed comedic work-in-progress about abortion rights by playwright & activist Winter Miller gets a staged reading with a cast that’s likely to be stellar—see a write-up from The New Yorker about a previous reading here—directed by Mikhael Tara Garver, and with music from Grammy-winning cabaret star Lady Rizo, with proceeds going to the National Network of Abortion Funders’ Dr. Willie Parker Fund which supports safe, affordable, compassionate abortions for women in Alabama and Georgia: Spare Rib (8:00 pm, $20 suggested donation (or whatever you can afford), Judson Memorial Church at 239 Thompson 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:

[$] 11:00 pm ($20): A kid-friendly and autism-themed 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: Autism-Friendly Edition

[FREE; reserve tickets here] 1:00 pm: A rare lunchtime stand-up show for families, with all kids under 15 allowed on stage to tell a joke, at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ LIC (10-93 Jackson Avenue) hosted by Paul Bennett: Guess What?

[$] 2:00 pm ($20): A kid-friendly musical—without the autism theme of the 11:00 am show—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: Standard Edition

[TOP PICK] 3:00 pm-4:30 pm ($8): An early stand-up show for parents with babies (no cover charge or drink minimum for the babies) featuring Ophira Eisenberg (NBC’s The Today Show, CBS’ The Late Late Show, Comedy Central, VH1, Showtime, host of NPR’s trivia/puzzle show Ask Me Another, bestselling book Screw Everyone, comedy album Bangs!), Carolyn Castiglia (Last Comic Standing, Comedy Central, VH1; host of Right Now; for sample of Carolyn as white rapper, please click here), Jordan Temple (writer for MTV’s Decoded), Casey Balsham, and Ryan Donahue performing at Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell (27-16 23rd Avenue) hosted by Sally Brooks: Baby & Me Comedy

6:00 pm ($7): A one-woman show by Malú Huacuja del Toro described as “a politically incorrect monologue on how to be a Mexican feminist in 15 minutes” at The PIT Underground: Quixota in the Time of Trump

5:00 pm ($7): Senior citizens perform improv at The PIT Mainstage: Geezers

6:00 pm ($7): Comedy groups are invited to perform any improv form (except montage) hosted by improv group My Brother’s Girlfriend at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): Do Something Weird with My Brother’s Girlfriend

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

6:00 pm ($5): Four indie improv troupes perform at The Magnet theatre: The Rundown

[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 ($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’

7:00 pm ($10): 75 minutes of sketch comedy from group Teen Radio, plus an opening set from stand-up David Morton, at The PIT Underground: Teen Radio

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

7:00 pm ($10): Improv group BBC2 (which includes Patrick McCartney, Raquel Powell, Jennifer Bareilles, and Kevin Scott) make up scenes at The PIT Mainstage: BBC2

[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

[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 Shacottha Fields—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 ($10): Comedic musician Rachel Blithe, and stand-ups Selena Coppock (Amazon’s Red Oaks, VH1, author of book The New Rules for Blondes) and Shauna Lane (Comedy Central) perform at Astoria Queens comedy venue QED: A Place to Show & Tell (27-16 23rd Avenue) hosted by Rob Paravonian (Comedy Central, VH1; to watch his hit video Pachelbel Rant, which has been viewed by over 13 million people on YouTube, please click here): Don’t Feed the Musicians

[$] 7:30 pm & 10:00 pm ($38.25 & 2-drink min.) A former MTV icon you either love or actively avoid headlines one last night at the Carolines Comedy Club: Tom Green

[TOP PICK] [$] 8:00 pm ($12): In this reverse roast battle, comics compete to compliment each other while getting the most laughs, with tonight’s terrific contestants Josh Gondelman, Matt Koff, Emmy Blotnick, Giulia Rozzi, Maeve Higgins, and Robert Dean, plus music from DJ Will Winner, all at Brooklyn’s Union Hall (702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street) hosted by Kyle Ayers (written for CBS, Comedy Central, TBS, BBC, The New York Times): Boast Battle

[TOP PICK] 8:00 pm ($10): Improv groups Gypsy Danger (which includes brilliant comics Katie Hartman and Evan Kaufman, and which will make up a feature film on the spot) and The Baldwins (which includes brilliant comics Micah Sherman and Sarah Nowak) make stuff up at The PIT Mainstage: Gypsy Danger: The Improvised Movie and The Baldwins

8:00 pm ($5): NYC stand-ups performing at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ Long Island City hosted by Ray DeVito, Ben Kronberg, Nick Cobb, and/or Tim Dimond: Shoot the Shite

8:00 pm ($7): Sketch comedy from group Adam’s Summer Class (“come for the laughs, stay for the lessons”) directed by Chris Aurilio and choreographed by Joe Galan at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): Adam’s Summer Class

8:00 pm ($10): Comics compete in “a gauntlet of trivia and challenges that, ultimately, don’t quite make sense” at The PIT Underground hosted by Ganesh Nair & Ryan Stanisz: Lightning Round: A Comedy Game Show

[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

[MEGA-TOP PICK] 9:00 pm ($10): A rare opportunity to see master improvisor Armando Diaz make up scenes with his former students Hannah Chase and Michael Lutton—who are now respected improv instructors as well—at The Magnet theatre: Teacher Teacher

[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): A talk & variety show, with this month’s comics Alyssa Lott, Tamsi M New, Taylor Ortega, Matty Frazier, and Christine Piñeiro, plus musical guest Adrien Pellerin, spearheaded by head writer & director Jacob Williams and producers Alyssa Lott & Jay Malsky at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street) hosted by Jay Malsky (highly talented, super-charged improvisor & character comic; FringeNYC): This Live Show

9:30 pm ($10): A 5-man improv group consisting of Matt Higgins, Rory Scholl, Patrick McCartney, Jay Rhoderick, and Nick Balanan organically makes up weird scenes at The PIT Mainstage: Rutger Hauer Players

9:30 pm ($8): NYC stand-ups Alex English, Sharron Paul, Carlos Delgado, and Bob Hansen perform at Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell (27-16 23rd Avenue) hosted by Cathy Humes: Tina Fey Will (Not) Be Here

[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 ($5): Comics compete in freestyle rap games and battles, with the prize being stage time, at The Creek downstairs lounge in Queens’ LIC (10-93 Jackson Avenue) hosted by Noah Savage with DJ Will Winner: So You Think You Can Rap

[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 time—which this week is Shakespeare—at The Magnet: 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

10:30 pm ($10): Comedic singing duo James Bruffee & Brian Hansbury perform and host musical guests at The PIT Mainstage: X-Ray-X Presents

10:30 pm ($5): Comics pretend to be infants at The PIT Underground: Babies Night

11:00 pm ($7): A parody of a late night talk show hosted by Roxy Cotten at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): The Nighty Nite Show

[FREE] 11:00 pm: Stand-ups performing at Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell (27-16 23rd Avenue) produced by Fredric Goldstein and hosted by Judith George: Last Stop Laughs

[TOP PICK] 11:30 pm ($7): Sketch comedy that aims to have you “laughing until blood pours out of your throat and eyes and you die and you go to hell and you’re like ‘god damn that was worth it!’ to Satan and he’ll be like ‘Yeah, I know, I was there, it was dope'” at the UCB East theatre: O.S.F.U.G. A Fast Fuckin’ Sketch Show

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 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.

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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