NYC Top Comedy Choices for Wednesday 5/31/17

May 31, 2017

Aunty DonnaAward-winning Australian sketch trio Aunty DonnaMark Samual Bonanno, Broden Kelly, and Zachary Ruane—perform “surreal fast-paced little plays, clever dances, and goofy characters” (click for video samples) tonight & Thursday at Brooklyn as part of its world tour: Aunty Donna: New Show (8:00 pm, $30, The Bell House at 149 7th Street; take R subway to 9th Street or F/G to Fourth Avenue)…

Ophira Eisenberg & Adira Amram: "Ophira & Adira"…and two exceptionally appealing comics, Ophira Eisenberg (Comedy Central, VH1, Showtime, The Today Show, host of NPR’s trivia/puzzle show Ask Me Another, bestselling book Screw Everyone, comedy album Bangs!) and Adira Amram (spectacular comedic singer & dancer; Funny or Die), perform and host Giulia Rozzi (Comedy Central’s This Is Not Happening and The Jim Gaffigan Show, Chelsea Lately, writer for MTV’s Girl Code, VH1, Playgirl Magazine, host of First Set, comedy album True Love), Will Miles (co-host of Comedy Night at the Knit; TruTV, The Chris Gethard Show; Steve Martin’s Comedy MasterClass; comedy album Good Year), Matthew Holtzclaw (magician; Penn & Teller: Fool Us), and Maeve Higgins (David Letterman, Last Comic Standing, co-host of Nat Geo’s Star Talk, host of Maeve in America): Ophira & Adira (8:00 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:

[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): A guest monologist tells a story from his or her days in high school, and then improvisors springboard the tale’s details into scenes at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): Improv High

[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

7:00 pm ($7): Sketch comedy group Nipsy tries out material at the UCB Chelsea theatre: The Workout: Nipsy

7:00 pm-11:00 pm ($7 for the entire evening): Four hours of improv from eight groups at The Magnet theatre: Magnet Megawatt

[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

[TOP PICK] 7:30 pm ($7): A one-man show by Luke Ward telling the story of how he and his wife adopted a baby at The PIT Underground directed by Kaitlin Fontana: Adapting

7:30 pm ($7): Storytellers Natasha Vaynblat (improv group What I Did For Love, sketch group Absolutely, one-woman show United Federation of Teachers), Jiji Lee, and Babe Parker & Leo Martin share tales of lost love, despair, and hopelessness at Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell (27-16 23rd Avenue) hosted by Claire Burns & Jessie Jolles: No Such Thing as Love

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

[TOP PICK] 8:00 pm ($7): At the UCB Chelsea theatre, “Becky Abrams is determined to go on a date with every boy she can, and you’re damn right that she’s going to enjoy it while she does:” A Date with Every Boy

…and in the second half of this double-bill, comics who are moms “grab a glass of wine, strap on their nursing bras, and leave the babysitter $20 for pizza” to go out for an evening together and improvise scenes, featuring Leslie Meisel, Silvija Ozols, Ann Carr, Kate Zelensky, Cody Lindquist, and/or Karin Hammerberg: Mom’s Night Out

[TOP PICK] 8:00 pm pm ($10): A Shakespeare play is made up on the spot by Mona Thompson, Shara Tonn, Ben Johnson, and Jessia Hoffman at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): Mona, Shara, Ben, and Jessia Do Improvised Shakespeare

8:00 pm ($8): Comics Melinda Taub, Alex Song, and Patti Harrison get drunk and then compete to present the best scientific dissertation on this month’s rather dark subject of Tuberculosis to genuine scientist Dr. Ludovic Desvignes at Brooklyn’s Littlefield (622 Degraw Street) hosted by Joanna Rothkopf, Shannon Odell, and Jordan Mendoza: Drunk Science

[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 ($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

[TOP PICK] [FREE] 8:30 pm: David Lawson (fresh, sharp, edgy storyteller; Solocom; host of The Astoria Bookshop Storytelling Show) shares odd tales of his days growing up in Washington DC—which include a murderer dressed in a bunny suit, a failed insensitive Disney theme park, and friendly next door neighbors who used slave labor—with opening stories by Gastor Almonte and Amy Dixon, all performing for this free show at Brooklyn’s Halyards Bar (406 Third Avenue): David Lawson: What the Hell, DC

8:30 pm ($7): Comics screen their favorite movie clips as part of their sets, with tonight’s stand-ups Emily Wilson, Connor Creagan, Patrick Holbert, Julia Branda, and Lance Pauker all performing at The PIT Underground hosted by Justin Angermeyer & Caitlin Mckee: Roll Credits

[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

9:00 pm ($7): A one-woman play by Becca Beberaggi (host of Comedy Night at Paste Studio) about coming of age in NYC while dealing with Craigslist and nuns at Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell (27-16 23rd Avenue): I Laugh to Keep From Crying

9:00 pm ($7): A play by sketch duo 21st Floor (Sean Perham & Andy Mavra) about when “two of the hardest working men in live adult entertainment find out their entire staff has walked off the job” at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): The VanZandt Brothers Gentlemen’s Club

[FREE] 9:00 pm: NYC stand-ups DC Benny, Michael Kayne, Kristin Manna, Nick Callas, and Kenny Warren perform for this free weekly 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

9:30 pm ($7): Dynamite comics Aaron Jackson, Brandon Scott Jones, Jeff Hiller, Josh Sharp, and Brian Faas promise “You are going to turn Gay, and you are going to love it” at the UCB Chelsea theatre: We Will Turn You Gay

10:00 pm ($7): Comics Jon Fisch (David Letterman, Comedy Central, Last Comic Standing, VH1, comedy album He Has Friends), Eman El Husseini, and Jess Salomon each make a case for why he or she would be a better President than our current one. You and your audience then votes on the winner…who is then sworn in on the spot at The PIT Underground by host Andrea Ilene Shapiro: #ThatsMyPresident

10:00 pm ($7): Improv group Big Kitten performs and hosts other indie improv groups at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): Big Kitten’s BIg Show

10:15 pm ($5): Randomly selected UCB students perform with UCB improv veterans at the UCB East theatre: The Lottery

[TOP PICK] 11:00 pm ($5): Jill Kargman (creator and star of Bravo 2015 TV series Odd Mom Out, which is based on her 2007 book Momzillas) has a talk show built around her and her friends for one night only at the UCB Chelsea theatre: Night Late

11:00 pm ($7): Monoscene improv group Crazy Legs performs and hosts other indie improv groups on this last day of May at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): May Day

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

[FREE] 6:00 pm: Monthly open mic for stand-up, characters, storytelling, improv, music, or anything else, providing 4 minutes per person—and a extra minute beyond that if the performer pays a compliment to a fellow performer in the room. Sign up via email by noon today at for one of the 9 reserved spots, or try to nab one of the 5 walk-in spots tonight at Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell (27-16 23rd Avenue) hosted by Jenn Wehrung & Coree Spencer: The Complimentary Mic

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

7:00 pm ($7): Walk-in open mic at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street) hosted by Randy Reiman & Nikki Lowe: Open Mic’s Hard Lemonade

[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 upstairs theatre hosted by Bernard Maynore and/or Patrick Cucuta: Improdome

[FREE] 11:15 pm: Your chance to perform with veteran UCB improvisors on the UCB East stage: The Lottery 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