NYC Top Comedy Choices for Monday 7/17/17

Mike BirbigliaMike Birbiglia (writer/director/star of feature films Don’t Think Twice and Sleepwalk with Me; actor in numerous films and TV shows, including Trainwreck, Inside Amy Schumer, and Orange is the New Black; multiple appearances on David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, etc.; three Comedy Central specials; comedy CDs Two Drink Mike and My Secret Public Journal—Live) is one of the most sensitive and observant comics in the biz. This week he’s allowing audiences into his process as he tries out new material. I don’t usually get the opportunity to list this show because it rapidly sells out way in advance; but tonight a limited number of tickets have been set aside for at-the-door sales. Arrive early to enjoy Mike Birbiglia: Working It Out (7:00 pm, $20, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)…

Phoebe Tyers and Filip Jeremic…and character comics—including brilliant writer/performers Phoebe Tyers (above left), Filip Jeremic (above right), and many more—perform solo bits demonstrating their impressive talent at UCB East hosted by Frank Garcia-Hejl & Justin Tyler. This is one of my favorite monthly events, and I especially recommend it if you’re a producer, casting director, or other industry pro in search of sharp comedy actors: Characters Welcome (9:00 pm, $5, UCB East at 153 East 3rd Street)

NYC Comedy Picks for Tuesday 7/18/17

A monthly wild pun competition that’s been enormously popular in Brooklyn expands its audience tonight to Chelsea by playing at the fancy Highline Ballroom. As always, it’ll be hosted by father-daughter duo Fred Firestone and Jo Firestone (one of the most relentlessly inventive comics in the biz; 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 with Fred of #1 bestselling Punderdome: A Card Game for Pun Lovers). Enjoy the spectacle as 18 audience members—maybe including you—compete in Punderdome 3000 (8:00 pm, $20, Chelsea’s Highline Ballroom at 431 West 16th Street)…

Dave Hill and Melissa Villasenor…or see a live taping of a terrific weekly Sirius XM Radio comedy show, with Dave Hill (above left), SNL’s Melissa Villaseñor (above right), Judy Gold, Gregg Rogell, Paul Morrisey, and Phil Hanley performing stand-up and/or sketch, plus music from Helio Alves and the Come to Papa Trio, hosted by Tom Papa (host of Jerry Seinfeld-produced NBC comedy The Marriage Ref; numerous appearances on David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Jay Leno; three Comedy Central specials): Come to Papa (8:00 pm, $10 plus two-item min., Village Underground at 130 West 3rd Street)…

Third Annual Muslim Funny Fest…and this annual comedy mini-fest (four shows over three days) is a rare NYC gathering of Muslim stand-ups, including Aasif Mandvi (HBO’s The Brink; former correspondent for The Daily Show), Maysoon Zayid (self-described “Palestinian Muslim with cerebral palsy, from New Jersey;” cast member for two seasons of As the World Turns; former pundit for Keith Olbermann; Queen Latifah show), Ramy Youssef (Stephen Colbert), Wali Collins (David Letterman), Dina Hashem (Comedy Central’s Roast Battle, Seeso’s Night Train), Gibran Saleem (MTV), Azhar (one-man show Ultra American…which he’ll perform Thursday at 9:30 pm to close the festival), Preacher Moss, Aman Ali, Suzie Afridi, Moses the Comic, and more hosted by Dean Obeidallah (CNN, Comedy Central’s Axis of Evil, SiriusXM’s The Dean Obeidallah Show, one-man show I Come in Peace). For complete details, please click Third Annual Muslim Funny Fest (8:00 pm tonight, 8:00 pm Wednesday, and 7:30 pm & 9:45 pm on Thursday; $25 per show, plus 2-drink min.; Comic Strip Live Comedy Club at 1568 Second Avenue off 81st Street)

NYC Comedy Picks for Wednesday 7/19/17

Mindy RafMindy Raf (VH1, College Humor; author of YA novel The Symptoms of My Insanity; singer/songwriter alter ego Leibya Rogers) has been a respected and beloved member of the comedy community for over a decade. In this one-woman show, however, Raf achieves a whole new level of comedy greatness. Her script weaves a complex tapestry from her past relationships, anxieties, arcane bits of knowledge (e.g., she explains how the Dark Web can record you while you’re masturbating), and sexual preferences (which include being bi and polyamorous) that’s thoroughly compelling. At the same time, Raf delivers a performance so intimate and in-the-moment that it almost feels as if she’s revealing herself spontaneously

Along similar lines, when anything unexpected happens (such as an audience member snapping fingers to a background song, or another audience member getting up and crossing the stage at a delicate moment to go to the bathroom), Raf is lightning-quick in providing a response so spot-on that it couldn’t have been better if she’d planned it.

With this show, Raf has developed into a star talent who demands attention.I highly recommend this wonderful production, which is having a brief Off-Broadway run tonight and this weekend, and then moves on in August to play for 28 performances at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

By the way, don’t get put off by the oddball title. This show has nothing to do with illness; and the only body organs it focuses on are the vagina and the human heart: Mindy Raf: Keeping My Kidneys (8:30 pm tonight, 2:30 pm this Saturday & Sunday; $15; 59E59 Theater at 59 East 59th Street between Madison & Park Avenues)…

Julio Torres: "My Favorite Shapes"Julio Torres (staff writer for Saturday Night Live; Billy on the Street, HBO’s High Maintenance, Louis C.K.’s Horace and Pete) is honing a fresh, clever one-man show that (like Mindy directly above) he’ll be performing at next month’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival. You can enjoy Julio’s production tonight, Thursday, or Friday at UCB Chelsea, or on Saturday or Sunday at Brooklyn’s Union Hall: Julio Torres: My Favorite Shapes (6:30 pm tonight & Thursday, 7:30 pm Friday, $7-$12, UCB Chelsea at 307 West 26th Street; or 8:00 pm Saturday & Sunday, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)…

Gad Elmaleh…and a comic who’s a superstar in France playing to 12,000-seat stadiums, but is just starting to get known in the US (Seth Meyers, The Daily Show, Comedians in Cars; feature films Coco, Priceless, La Doublure, Midnight in Paris; for a May 2016 stand-up set & interview on Conan, please click here and here), performs in an intimate 50-seat West Village lounge: Gad Elmaleh (9:00 pm, $20 plus 2-item food/drink min., The Fat Black Pussycat Lounge at 130 West 3rd Street)

NYC Comedy Picks for Thursday 7/20/17

Mike BirbigliaFrom my favorite monthly show, a spectacular collection of hilarious film & TV clips and guest pop culture experts hosted by super-fan Kevin Maher and guest co-host Brian Solomon (author of new book Godzilla FAQ: All That’s Left To Know About The King Of The Monsters) focusing on Japanse-style giant creatures (for a video teaser, please click here): Kevin Geeks Out About Kaiju (7:30 pm, $15 [buying in advance is recommended, as this show crammed with rich imagery and ideas often sells out]; Brooklyn’s Alamo Drafthouse Cinema at 445 Albee Square West—take the 2/3 subway to Hoyt Street)…

…and a one-of-a-kind treasure of a comedy star, whose scores of credits include numerous appearances on David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Jay Leno, Seth Meyers, @midnight, and Comedy Central Roasts—and who’s acted in the Robert DeNiro film The Comedian, such animated features as Aladdin and Lego Batman 3, Showtime’s Episodes, Comedy Central’s The Jim Gaffigan Show, classic documentary The Aristocrats, and brand new documentary Gilbert—headlines for one night only at Carolines: Gilbert Gottfried (7:30 pm, $27.25 plus 2-drink min., Carolines Comedy Club at 1626 Broadway)

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; the third of The PIT theatres, located separately on the West side, hosts a wide range of comedy, but is especially effective as a home for intimate solo and/or theatrical shows; free-$20

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 weeknight shows free; weekend shows free-$10

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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