NYC Top Comedy Choices for Sunday 6/18/17

Aparna Nancherla (one of the very finest stand-ups in the country; co-star of HBO’s Crashing; 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 (one of the most relentlessly inventive and adventurous comics alive; staff writer for Jimmy Fallon; star of Comedy Central Stand-Up Presents special; 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), Kyle Ayers (Fuse’s Uproarious; written for CBS, Comedy Central, TBS, BBC, The New York Times), Joe List (David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Last Comic Standing, Comedy Central Half Hour, comedy albums So Far No Good and Are You Mad at Me?), and Langston Kerman (cast member of HBO’s Insecure; Adam DeVine’s House Party; written for Chris Rock’s hosting of the Oscars and Comedy Central’s Problematic) perform stand-up for this summer-themed show hosted by Tommy McNamara (The Onion): Tommy McNamara’s Summer Beach Bash (8:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)…

…and there’s nothing more unpredictable on a stage than an animal. In this endearing monthly show, improvisors perform along with their real-life pets—tonight featuring Geoffrey Stevens & his dog Dusty and Angela Perrone & her dog Francis, plus other improvisors Dana Shulman (rising star; host of Student Driver, improv group Poor Melissa), Chris Griggs (improv group Big Black Car), TJ Del Reno, Giancarlo Osaben, Patrick Reidy, and wonderfully humane host Kerstin Porter (sketch show BoogieManja, sketch/improv group The Pin-Up Squirrels), all making up scenes for Pet Prov (6:00 pm, $7, The PIT Loft at 154 West 29th 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] [$] 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

[FREE] 3:00 pm: Stories about dads from Rich Cardillo, Julie Threlkeld, Christopher Torres, and Julie Smith at Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell (27-16 23rd Avenue) hosted by Julie Polk: Story Social Father’s Day Show

5:00 pm ($7): A show written by Carol Lee Sirugo, and starring her and Jonathan Kaplan, about the terrors of being a park ranger at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): Fear Forest

6:00 pm ($7): A sketch comedy show created and performed by comics along with their fathers at The Magnet theatre: The Father’s Day Sketch Show for Dads

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

7:00 pm ($7): Sketch comedy group Oh My Science performs “a secular Sunday sermon to save your whatever you think a soul is” at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): Oh My Science Presents Oh My Religion

7:00 pm ($10): “A group of 8-12 queer improvisers will compete individually in a series of short form improv games. These performers will be narrowed down to 4 improvisers who will move onto the final round: a 2-prov team competition filled with tricks, distractions, and interruptions from the host and the audience! The winning team will lip sync with the evening’s drag king host” at The PIT Mainstage: Improv For Your Life: QueerCom Edition

[FREE] 7:00 pm: Nine-person improv group The Internet Disagrees makes stuff up at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ LIC (10-93 Jackson Avenue): The Internet Disagrees

[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] 7:30 pm ($10): Sharp improvisors Louis Kornfeld & Rick Andrews, plus guest Veslemøy Mørkrid, form an improv trio for one night only at The Magnet theatre: Kornfeld & Andrews & Veslemøy

7:30 pm ($7): Janine Brito (VH1’s Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party; former staff writer/performer for FX’s Totally Biased), Janelle James (@midnight, SeeSo’s Night Train with Wyatt Cenac), Tim Dillon (Last Comic Standing), Dan Wilbur (author of How Not to Read; website Better Book Titles; writer for The Onion, College Humor, McSweeney’s), Nina Tarr, Derek Humphrey, and Michael Joyce perform stand-up at UCB East produced by Kara Klenk (Comedy Central, MTV, TruTV) and hosted by Robert Dean: If You Build It

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 ($10): This triple-bill features a solo show about cats by Anna Grace, and improv from groups Rebel 5 and the all-gal Punch! at The PIT Mainstage: What It Means to be a CAT: A TGNC Story, Punch!, and Rebel 5: QueerCom Edition

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

8:30 pm ($10): One-woman shows by Sara Katherine playing characters who make life difficult and Becca Foresman exploring what’s truly smart at The PIT Underground: Laughing at the World and Dumb Smart: QueerCom Edition

[TOP PICK] [FREE] 9:00 pm: Jamie Lee (writer for HBO’s Crashing; TruTV, Conan O’Brien, MTV’s Girl Code, The Pete Holmes Show), Beth Stelling (Jimmy Kimmel, Comedy Central), Eli Sairs, Nick Youssef, Kevin Iso, and Julio Johns performing at Brooklyn’s Knitting Factory (361 Metropolitan Avenue) hosted by Will Miles, Clark Jones, and Kenny DeForest: Comedy Night at the Knit

9:00 pm ($6): Two three-person groups of transplanted comics—tonight it’s Pennsylvania vs. Kentucky!—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

9:00 pm ($7): Eight improvisors strike poses like action figures and interact at The Magnet theatre directed by Nolan Constantino: Figures

[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

9:00 pm ($7): The first half of this show is traditional improv, and is then followed by stand-ups performing sets based on suggestions from the audience, all at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street) hosted by Caroline Mazzei & Gregory Hall: Comedy Mayhem

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

9:30 pm ($10): Stand-up by Zach Teague, a one-woman stand-up/storytelling show by Michelle Woods titled Southern Evangelical Turned Vegan Pansexual, and improv from all-gal group Unicorn Women at The PIT Underground: Final Show of QueerCom 2017

[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

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!

[FREE] 5:00 pm: Walk-in stand-up lottery style open mic that provides 4 minutes per comic at Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell (27-16 23rd Avenue) hosted by Andrea Shapiro & Chris Gersbeck: Bunk Bed Time Open Mic

[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)

(635 Sackett 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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