NYC Top Comedy Choices 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 in 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

Kevin Geeks Out About Kaiju (Giant Monsters)From 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 Japanese-style creatures who are preposterously large (for a video teaser, please click here): Kevin Geeks Out About Kaiju (Giant Monsters) (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)…

Gilbert Gottfried…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)

NYC Comedy Picks for Friday 7/21/17

Troll 2Astonishingly terrible 1990 movie Troll 2 is about a family pursued by vegetarian goblins who seek to transform them into plants so that they can eat them. Originally titled Goblins, US distributors doubted anyone would buy it as is, and so aimed to trick audiences who enjoyed 1986 movie Troll into thinking this was its sequel…but it’s not, at all. Watch it screened and commented upon by lightning-quick top comics Frank Conniff (TV’s Frank on MST3K), 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), Jake Vevera (co-host of Idiots on Parade podcast), and Freddy G (NPR) hosted by Chris Gersbeck: Troll 2 Screening & Mocking by Frank Conniff, Aparna Nancherla, and More (11:00 pm, $10, Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell at 27-16 23rd Avenue)…

Natalie Wall, Dava Krause,, and Charla LauristonNatalie Wall (above left) hosts the best sexy storytelling show in NYC, this month with comics Charla Lauriston (above right; former writer for Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt; MTV, creator of webseries Clench & Release), Dava Krause (above middle; co-host of The Fantasy Suite podcast), and Athalie Paynting (two-time Moth StorySlam winner) telling tales of erotic encounters gone awry: Awkward Sex…and the City (8:00 pm $20—which includes free beer and wine—at The Pleasure Chest at 1150 Second Avenue, between 60th & 61st Streets)…

David Lawson: "Flyer Guy"…and speaking of storytelling, David Lawson tells fascinating tales about the three years he made his living handing out flyers in Times Square…while competing with a wide variety of unusual characters for the attention of tourists. This one-man show—which David is about to perform at festivals around the country—is funny, real, and recommended: Flyer Guy (7:30 pm, Free!, Offside Tavern at 137 West 14th Street)

NYC Comedy Picks for Saturday 7/22/17

Anybody— An Improvised Historical Hip-HoperaHighly 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: Anybody— An Improvised Historical Hip-Hopera (9:30 pm, $15, The PIT Mainstage at 123 East 24th Street)…

Oh, Scuh a Good Show, Oh…or see Joel Kim Booster (Conan O’Brien, Comedy Central Stand-Up Presents special, Billy on the Street; for Joel’s Conan set, please click here), Emmy Blotnick (rising star; staff writer for Comedy Central’s The President Show; writer for Comedy Central’s @midnight, Roast of Rob Lowe, and Not Safe with Nikki Glaser; MTV’s Nikki and Sara Live, VH1’s Best Week Ever), Ashley Nicole Black (writer & correspondent for Full Frontal With Samantha Bee), Alexandra Song (writer for Jimmy Fallon), Ana Fabrega (Portlandia, The Jim Gaffigan Show, The Chris Gethard Show, host of Sundays with Ana), Sebastian Conelli (ace improvisor; UCB’s Friday night The Law Firm and The Magnet’s The Friday Night Show; member of 2014 Cage Match Champion The Enemy), Alex English, and Kevin Seamon perform in Brooklyn hosted by Ethan Beach (MTV): Oh, Such a Good Show, Oh (10:00 pm, $12, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)

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

Littlefield
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 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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