NYC Top Comedy Choices for Friday 5/26/17

A unique game show in which an oddball Internet video is screened, and then over a dozen contestants have three minutes to prepare a dance routine inspired by what everyone just experienced. It’ll all be judged by comedy treasures Aparna Nancherla (one of the very finest stand-ups in the country; co-star of HBO’s Crashing and Netflix’s Master of None; former writer for Seth Meyers; Conan O’Brien, @Midnight, Comedy Central Half Hour, comedy album Just Putting It Out There; opens for Tig Notaro; hosts top weekly NYC stand-up show Whiplash) & Jo Firestone (staff writer for Jimmy Fallon; radio host of WFMU’s Dr. Gameshow, live-on-stage host of The Unexpectashow and The Incredible Game Show Showcase, co-author of #1 bestselling Punderdome: A Card Game for Pun Lovers): Dancify That! (8:00 pm, $15, The PIT Mainstage at 123 East 24th 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:

[TOP PICK] 7:00 pm ($10): A sketch comedy double-bill from Dinosaur Jones, a group that’s “part adventure, part absurdity, and all comedy” and The Executives, a tie-wearing group that leverages physical comedy, all at The Magnet theatre: Dinosaur Jones and The Executives

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

7:00 pm ($7): Anna Grace Carter drinks while describing the plot of an actual musical (could be famous or obscure), and then musical improvisors—who typically include Jay Malsky, Henry Koperski, and members of the groups [title of team] and/or Royals—attempt to recreate it based on her semi-drunken details at The PIT Mainstage: Drunk Musical: The Musical

7:00 pm pm ($7): A one-man show by Amanda Miller attempting to learn how to follow this advice: “We can’t stop ourselves from suffering, but we can learn how to suffer better” at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): How to Suffer Better

[FREE] 7:00 pm: Justin Flanagan (MTV) tries out new stand-up material one last night at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ LIC (10-93 Jackson Avenue): Week at the Creek: Justin Flanagan

7:30 pm ($10): “Five comics connect their stand-up sets into one giant mutant set” at Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell (27-16 23rd Avenue) hosted by Molly Horan: Human Centipede Comedy Show

7:30 pm ($10): Five veteran improvisors make stuff up at The PIT Underground as troupe Lead McEnroe

[$] 7:30 pm ($12): Two seven-person one-night-only improv groups make up scenes to try to delight you at the UCB East theatre: The Blender

[$] 7:30 pm ($12): Two seven-person one-night-only improv groups make up scenes to try to delight you at the UCB Chelsea theatre,: An Improv Show

[TOP PICK] 8:00 pm ($10): Comics Robert Kelly (Louie, HBO, CBS’ upcoming The 2-2, two Comedy Central specials), Christian Finnegan (co-star of A&E’s Black and White; Conan O’Brien; three Comedy Central specials, Netflix special The Fun Part; TBS, VH1, MSNBC, Chappelle’s Show, The Today Show), Joe Zimmerman (Jimmy Fallon, Conan O’Brien, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, Comedy Central Half Hour, Last Comic Standing), and Nariko Ott perform erotic fiction they’ve written based on audience suggestions at Brooklyn’s Union Hall hosted by Bryan Cook: Competitive Erotic Fan Fiction

[FREE] 8:00 pm: Kenny DeForest (co-host of Comedy Night at the Knit), Jessica Rotondi, Dan Perlman, Josh Carter, Beth Maria, and Kevin Berrey perform stand-up at the HiFi Bar (169 Avenue A) produced by Gary Levitt & Matt Schwartzer and hosted by Julie Kottakis: I Don’t Get It Stand-Up

[$] 8:00 pm ($15): Greg Proops (Whose Line Is It Anyway?, @midnight) performs an hour of observations & thoughts for a live taping of his podcast at Brooklyn’s The Bell House (149 7th Street): Greg Proops is the Smartest Man In the World

8:00 pm ($5): A 90-minute variety show featuring stand-up, sketch, improv, and music at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ LIC (10-93 Jackson Avenue) hosted by Tom Brink & Keele Howard-Stone: Wolf Spirit with Tom and Keele

8:00 pm ($7): “King Zebra has a full black cast (including Ray Morency from Off Top, David Bell, and Raquel Palmas), and we want to do an improv show based around the theme ‘black lives laughter'” at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): King Zebra Safari

8:00 pm ($7): Michelle Drozdick performs an improvised one-woman show, with these rules: “Michelle interviews an audience member about an experience in her or her life. Then a gimmick is chosen at random from a hat, such as ‘Perform using a children’s show format’ or ‘Narrate from the perspective of the main character’s hopelessly out-of-date grandmother.’ What follows is a a fully structured plot and narrative,” all made up on the spot at the intimate PIT Attic (up the stairs behind the Mainstage): The Gimmick and You

[TOP PICK] 8:30 pm ($10): Before this Magnet show, audience members may anonymously submit written confessions, secrets, rants, advice and opinions which will be used onstage by the improvisors—who include such talents as Phoebe Tyers and Sebastian Conelli: The Friday Night Sh*w

[TOP PICK] [$] 9:00 pm ($12): Some of the finest improv in the country from brilliant comics Connor Ratliff, Shannon O’Neill, Alexandra Dickson, Silvija Ozols, and/or Michael Delaney forming a seamless and hilarious group mind at UCB Chelsea—the all-star members of The Stepfathers

[TOP PICK] [$] 9:00 pm ($12): Cipha Sounds (Hot 97, Chappelle’s Show) thought it would be cool if a hip-hop star told tales and then improvisors made up scenes based on them. This monthly show is the result, with a “secret” music celebrity “mesmerizing the crowd with amazing stories and linguistic darts to spark the creativity of some of the best improvisers in NYC,” the latter being Anthony Atamanuik, Natasha Rothwell, Brandon Gardner, Lydia Hensler, Christian Capozzoli, and/or Shaun Diston at the UCB East theatre: Take It Personal: The Hip-Hip Improv Show

9:00 pm ($7): A play about a high school student finding a genie who can grant three wishes at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): Pop Punk High

9:00 pm ($10): Improvisors Sean Reidy & Sam Jackel first confess “very real things” to each other and the audience, and then use the details to create an entire town of characters on the spot at The PIT Underground: SEAM Presents “The Confession”

[TOP PICK] [$] 9:30 pm ($15): Highly talented hip-hop improv group North Coast attempts to create a Hamilton on the spot by making up a musical based on an audience suggestion of a famous historical figure at The PIT Mainstage: Anybody: An Improvised Historical Hip-Hopera

9:30 pm ($7): Stand-ups Alex English, Chanel Ali, Rosebud Baker, and Ben Bergman perform at Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell (27-16 23rd Avenue) hosted by Jessica Watkins: Homespun Comedy

[TOP PICK] 10:00 pm ($10): Musical improv group Premiere—which typically features the best improv piano player in the biz, Frank Spitznagel—springboards off an audience suggestion to create a complete story with song and dance at The Magnet theatre: Premiere: The Improvised Musical

10:00 pm ($7): Stand-up Dave Smith performs at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ LIC (10-93 Jackson Avenue): Dave Smith

[TOP PICK] [$] 10:30 pm ($12): Superb improvisors James Dwyer, Craig Rowin, Connor O’Malley, Matt Fisher, Sue Galloway, Brian Faas, Matt Moses, and Shaun Diston make up scenes about an audience member’s legal dispute at the UCB Chelsea theatre: The Law Firm: Law & Disorder

[$] 10:30 pm ($12): Dan Black (TruTV), Fumi Abe (MTV), and Patrick Hastie (College Humor) perform stand-up, sketch, or improv at UCB East hosted by Brandon Scott Jones, Justin Tyler, and/or Alden Ford: Gentrify

10:30 pm ($7): Sketch/improv group Gentlemen Party performs at The PIT Underground: Gentlemen Party

10:30 pm ($7): Improv group Rebel 5 performs and hosts other indie improv groups at The PIT Underground: Rebel 5 Indie Rally

[TOP PICK] 11:00 pm ($7): Singing improvisors who love spy movies create on the spot “a highly confidential musical narrative” based on an audience suggestion at The Magnet theatre: The Agency: Musical Improv For Your Eyes Only

[TOP PICK] 11:00 pm ($10): New episodes of Saved by the Bell and Power Rangers are made up on the spot by improvisors wearing the costumes for these shows at The PIT Mainstage: 90s Night

[FREE] 11:00 pm: NYC stand-ups performing at Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell (27-16 23rd Avenue) produced & hosted by Chris Gersbeck, Lauren Hope Krass, and/or Peter Bandyk: Casual Sets

Midnight ($7): Odd basketball moves from 15 comics at the UCB East theatre: Cool Shit / Weird Shit

[FREE] Midnight: Comics present “sure-fire, can’t miss, get-in-on-the-ground-floor, knock your socks off ideas that will not only make a lot of money but will make lives better across the board” and then request your money (whether you give is entirely up to you) at Queens LIC’s The Creek upstairs theatre hosted by Ben Conrad & Dan King: Snake Oil

Midnight ($7): Indie improv groups make up scenes at UCB Chelsea hosted by indie group The St. Louis Rams: Indie Improv Showcase

Friday Open Mics & Jams

[FREE] 5:00 pm: Walk-in open mic (signup at 4:30 pm), with 5 minutes per comic, storyteller, poet, or singer, at Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell (27-16 23rd Avenue) hosted by Sydney Beveridge & Davey Melch: Queens Open Mic Fridays

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

6:00 pm ($5): A weekly walk-in stand-up open mic at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): Friday Night Mics

[FREE] 6:00 pm: A weekly walk-in stand-up open mic (drop your name in the bucket by 6:00 pm) at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ Long Island City hosted by James Hamilton: Scatterbrain

6:30 pm ($3): PIT improv veterans mix with improv novices on-stage at The PIT Underground for Happy Hour

[FREE] 8:00 pm: An open-mic show that’s first come, first serve (sign-up starts at 7:30 pm), with each comic getting 5 minutes on stage at The Creek downstairs lounge in Queens’ LIC (10-93 Jackson Avenue) hosted by Seena Jon: Mic and Cheese

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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