NYC Top Comedy Choices for Sunday 5/21/17

Picture This!On this unique show, as stand-ups do their sets their material is brought to visual life by animators. Tonight’s terrific comedy lineup consists of Drew Michael (SNL), Jim Tews, Emmy Blotnick, LIz Miele, Jono Zaley,and Danny Tamberelli, produced by Sam Varela & Brandie Posey and hosted by Ian Fidance: Picture This! (7:30 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union 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:

[$] 2:00 pm ($20): This musical with puppets is a family-friendly and interactive reinvention of the fairy tale The Three Billy Goats that urges the audience to work at improving the environment at The PIT Mainstage: Gruff!

[TOP PICK] 5:00 pm ($7): All-gal musical Improv group Redshirts (Catherine Wing, Jennette Cronk, Julia Lunetta, Sloane Miller, and Susan O’Doherty) creates new episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation on the spot, and also hosts group Who-Prov which makes up Dr. Who episodes, all at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): Redshirts: Star Trek: TNG Musical Improv and Who-Prov

[TOP PICK] 6:00 pm ($7): There’s nothing more unpredictable on a stage than an animal. In this show, pet owners perform improv along with their real-life pets at at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): Pet Prov

6:00 pm ($7): Ross Berman, Priscilla Cintron, Michelle Drozdick, and Rob Verdino blend game show elements, audience interaction, and improv to have fun with online dating experiences at The PIT Mainstage: OK Stupid

6:00 pm ($5): Three NYC improv groups that are independent (i.e., not a house team of any particular improv school/theatre) compete for audience member laughs and votes at UCB East hosted by Lou Gonzalez, Chrissie Gruebel, and Brian Urreta of improv group The Mannequin Room: Indie Cage Match

[TOP PICK] [$] 7:00 pm ($20 plus 2-item food/drink min.): Mike Birbiglia (one of the finest stand-up comedians in the country; feature films Don’t Think Twice and Sleepwalk with Me; three Comedy Central specials, multiple appearances on David Letterman and Conan O’Brien, comedy CDs Two Drink Mike and My Secret Public Journal—Live) tries out new material at The Fat Black Pussycat Lounge (130 West 3rd Street): Mike Birbiglia: Working It Out

7:00 pm ($5): Two improv groups compete for your laughs at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): Bucket of Fun

7:00 pm ($5): Group Clyde performs a mix of sketch and improv at The PIT Mainstage: Hey Clyde

[TOP PICK] 7:30 pm ($7): Emily Heller (Conan O’Brien, Seth Meyers, Comedy Central Half Hour, writer for TBS’ People of Earth), Leah Bonnema (VH1, IFC’s Comedy Drop, WeTV’s Cinematherapy, Logo, Opie & Anthony’s Virus Channel), Harrison Greenbaum (Comedy Central, Mad Magazine), Billy Bonnell, Cliff Cash, and Zack Bornstein performing stand-up at UCB East produced by Kara Klenk (Comedy Central, MTV, TruTV) and hosted by Joe Zimmerman (Jimmy Fallon, Conan O’Brien, Last Week Tonight, Comedy Central Half Hour): If You Build It

[TOP PICK] [$] 7:30 pm ($12) and 9:30 pm [FREE]: UCB Chelsea’s signature improv comedy extravaganza, which typically includes superstars in the improv world such as Shannon O’Neill and Anthony Atamanuik, and sometimes network TV & movie stars such as Amy Poehler and Horatio Sanz: ASSSSCAT 3000

[TOP PICK] [$] 1:30 pm, 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 five shows, with four shows at Comedy Cellar (117 MacDougal Street, between 3rd Street & Minetta Lane), and the 8:00 pm & 10:00 pm shows at Village Underground (130 West 3rd Street, off Sixth Avenue): Comedy Cellar Sunday

7:30 pm ($7): “Improvisers create scenes inspired by essays written about personal experiences and show that sometimes laughter really is the best medicine” at The Magnet theatre: You Are Not Alone: An Uplifting Show About Depression

7:30 pm ($5): Dana Shulman and friends are improv group Student Driver, which hosts two indie improv troupes making up scenes and then performs itself, all at The PIT Underground: Student Driver: Indie Road

8:00 pm ($7): Improv, sketch, and possibly other comedy forms in this variety show hosted by improv group Empress at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): Empress’ New Groove

[MEGA-TOP PICK] [$] [DISCOUNTED] 8:30 pm ($14.80 online using discount code BOX12, otherwise $18): My favorite FringeNYC 2016 show (out of over 60 seen) was a production taking place entirely inside a box, written & performed by breathtakingly talented sketch comic/actress/writer/singer Dominique Salerno (for my review, please click here). This amazing production is now enjoying a revival running Sundays at 8:30 pm at The PIT Mainstage through June 11th. Take advantage of this wonderful chance to experience The Box Show

[TOP PICK] [$] 8:30 pm ($10 plus 2-item food/drink min.): Comics who write for and/or have performed on Late Night with Seth Meyers—including Ryan Reiss and Phil Hanley—do stand-up at The Fat Black Pussycat Lounge (130 West 3rd Street) hosted by Seaton C. Smith: Comedians of Seth Meyers

8:30 pm ($7): A one-woman show by Jean LeBec in which she “breaks out of the traditional storytelling format and guides the audience through three stories of her life” at The PIT Underground: Swept Up

[TOP PICK] [FREE] 9:00 pm: Mark Normand (one of the very finest stand-ups in the country; Conan O’Brien, Stephen Colbert, stellar Comedy Central special Don’t Be Yourself; Comedy Central Half Hour, Inside Amy Schumer, @midnight, Last Comic Standing, VH1’s Best Week Ever; comedy album Still Got It; opens for Amy Schumer), Emily Heller (Conan O’Brien, Seth Meyers, Comedy Central Half Hour, writer for TBS’ People of Earth), Andy Sandford (Conan O’Brien, Comedy Central, Adult Swim, The Beards of Comedy), Emma Willmann (Stephen Colbert, Bravo, Oxygen, Sirius XM), and Maria Wojcieshowski performing at Brooklyn’s Knitting Factory (361 Metropolitan Avenue) hosted by Will Miles, Clark Jones, and/or Kenny DeForest: Comedy Night at the Knit

[TOP PICK] 9:00 pm ($10): Duo improv from Louis Kornfeld & Rick Andrews at The Magnet theatre: Kornfeld & Andrews

9:00 pm ($6): Two three-person groups of transplanted comics compete to determine “which will be accepted by the city and which will have to move back home” at Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell (27-16 23rd Avenue) hosted by Brendan Busee: Graft vs. Host

[FREE] 9:00 pm: NYC stand-ups performing at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ LIC (10-93 Jackson Avenue) typically hosted by Peggy O’Leary: Creek Cave Live

9:30 pm ($5): Improv group Higgins looks at the Instagram photos of audience members and then uses them as springboards for comedy scenes at the UCB East theatre: Higgins: The Instagram Show

[ALMOST FREE] 10:00 pm ($1): This improv show is based on a Mullaney Chain (pioneered by Kevin Mullaney) in which the host invites a guest to improvise with him or her, then the guest independently invites a third person, who then invites a fourth person, and so on, creating a one-time-only lineup that will be a surprise to everyone involved at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street) hosted by Kurt Guenther: The Telephone Show

10:30 pm ($7): Short stories are used as springboards for improvised scenes in this improv form created by Louis Kornfeld at The PIT Underground: Fact or Fiction

[TOP PICK] 11:00 pm ($7): The debut of a show in which three five-member groups of comics compete in a Survivor-like game that tests them “in acting, writing, improvisation, character work, storytelling, and stand-up. The audience decides who goes to tribal council, but the tribe will actually vote and decide who is out of the competition” at The PIT Mainstage: Outwit, Outplay, Outlaugh: A Survivor Style Comedy Competition

Sunday Open Mics, Open Stages, and Jams

[FREE] 3:30 pm: An improv jam celebrating diversity in comedy that lets audience members—whose names are drawn from a bucket—perform with sharp improv/sketch group Astronomy Club (which includes Keisha Zollar and Jonathan Braylock) at the UCB East theatre: Diversity Improv Jam

[FREE] 4:00 pm: An unusually early walk-in open-mic stand-up show (put your name in the bucket) at The Creek downstairs lounge in Queens’ LIC (10-93 Jackson Avenue) hosted by Sam Rose: Bucket! We’ll Do it Live!

5:30 pm ($3): Email Michelle Thomas at improv10000hrs@gmail.com to improvise with experienced PIT performers at The PIT Underground: 10K Jam Jam

9:30 pm ($5): Open-mic comedy, with 3-5 minutes per walk-in performer who signs up (first come, first serve) at The PIT Underground, hosted by Will Neville: Amateur Night at the Gemini

[FREE] 10:00 pm: An open-mic stand-up show (sign up is at 9:45 pm) providing 5 minutes for each comic whose name is pulled from the bucket at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ LIC (10-93 Jackson Avenue) hosted by Ian Kitchen: The Grandstand

[FREE] 11:00 pm: The only open-stage show for entire groups of improvisors and sketch comics, running weekly at UCB East hosted by Austin Rodrigues: Bring Your Own Team: Improv/Sketch Team 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)

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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