Delightful stellar improvisors Dana Shulman & Adrian Sexton play Clairee Belcher & Ouiser Boudreaux, the sassy supporting characters from 1989 film Steel Magnolias about charming but tough Southern women. In this show, they’re “fresh graduates from the improv workshop at The Chinquapin Parish Senior Center and are ready to show you everything they’ve learned. You’ll be enchanted by their improvisation skills, their witty banter, and their ability to make grown men cry. Why would you be anywhere else when you could come and sit by Ouiser and Clairee?” Why, indeed: Come and Sit By Me with Ouiser and Clairee (7:00 pm, $7, The PIT Mainstage at 123 East 24th Street)…
…and then consider racing to the West side PIT to see the always inventive Tracy Mull perform a solo sketch show…with cardboard boxes! Tracy was aided by director Geoff Grimwood, and hosts an opening sketch by Brad Stuart & Rich Templeton titled The Scientists. If you’ve been craving something different, this show is it: Boxed (7:00 pm, $7, The PIT Loft at 154 West 29th Street)…
…while back at the East side PIT, superb improvisors Adrian Sexton (Unauthorized: The Musical series; improv groups The Community Players, George/Martha, and Ouiser & Clairee (see above) & BJ Thorne (host of Gas Station Horror and Welcome to Hell with Vincent Welles; once chided a character in an improv scene by observing, a la Tom Hanks, “There’s no crying in Hell!”) host an opening set by Parker Denton (sketch group National Scandal), and then perform duo improv as “Brother and Sister Darkling, who were raised by ghosts in a haunted house. They create fantastical worlds and spooky situations to pass the time. Come and play with them…forever:” The Darklings (10:30 pm, $7, The PIT Underground at 123 East 24th Street)…
…or head over to Brooklyn for a rare NYC opportunity to see Australian-based comic Simon Taylor (former staff writer for Jay Leno) perform stand-up, with bits of song, dance, and magic thrown in: Simon Taylor is a Super Funny Boy (8:00 pm, $15, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Other notable shows this Saturday include:
[TOP PICK] [$] 7:00 pm, 7:15 pm, 8:00 pm, 8:45 pm, 9:15 pm, 10:00 pm, 10:30 pm, 11:15 pm, and 12:15 am ($20-$24 per show, plus 2-item food/drink min.): Some of the finest stand-ups in the country spread among four shows at Comedy Cellar (117 MacDougal Street, between 3rd Street & Minetta Lane), the 7:15, 9:15, and 11:15 shows at Village Underground (130 West 3rd Street, off Sixth Avenue), and the 8:00 pm & 10:00 pm shows at The Fat Black Pussycat Lounge (130 West 3rd Street): Comedy Cellar Saturday
[TOP PICK] [$] 7:30 pm ($12): Improv powerhouses Charlie Todd, Jeff Hiller, Jim Santangeli, Natasha Rothwell, Brandon Gardner, Chelsea Clarke, Kevin Hines, Erik Tanouye, and John Timothy at UCB Chelsea interview an audience member about where he or she grew up and then “turn that town’s tourist attractions, landmarks, hangouts, local celebrities, urban legends, and more into a hilarious show made up on the spot:” The Curfew: Not From Around Here
[TOP PICK] 8:00 pm ($10): Improv groups Gypsy Danger (which includes brilliant comics Katie Hartman and Evan Kaufman, and which will make up a feature film on the spot) and The Baldwins (which includes brilliant comics Micah Sherman and Sarah Nowak) make stuff up at The PIT Mainstage: Gypsy Danger: The Improvised Movie and The Baldwins
[TOP PICK] 9:00 pm ($10): A highly talented freestyle rapping long form improv group takes the stage for an hour at The PIT Underground: North Coast
10:00 pm ($5): A game-based comedy show in which “three comics choose three topics, and then you and the audience write questions on those subjects. If the comics can’t answer a question correctly, the author of it wins a free shot of whiskey. And at the end of the night the audience chooses one of the comics to perform a ‘Punishment Set’ of improvised stand-up” at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ LIC (10-93 Jackson Avenue) hosted by Chris Milner: Specific Ignorance
[TOP PICK] 10:30 pm ($10): Long form improv about the behavior of a theatrical troupe both on-stage and off-stage, revolving around a different show biz theme each week at The Magnet theatre: The Cast
[TOP PICK] 11:30 ($7): A fun freestyle rap contest at UCB East with NYC comics (not announced), plus a volunteer from the audience!, hosted by superstar human beatbox Chris “Shockwave” Sullivan (The Daily Show, The Electric Company, Freestyle Love Supreme) and Victor Varnado (Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Kimmel, Comedy Central): Battlicious
[TOP PICK] Midnight ($7): In this acclaimed monthly show, six NYC stand-ups each perform an 8-minute set while they “risk getting slapped by Satan himself. Actually, he hosts only bringer shows, but join Matt Wayne & Doug Smith as they step into the Big Man’s shoes and put NYC’s finest through comedy purgatory. Hula-hoops, celebrity impressions, unwanted audience participation, all incorporated into each performance! Will they triumph or will the nether world eat their souls? Come see for yourself” at the UCB Chelsea theatre: See You in Hell
[TOP PICK] [FREE] Midnight: Pot stand-up from “highly talented comics who have been highly recommended from people who are thought of highly in the business. Oh, and they’ll be high” at Queens LIC’s The Creek upstairs theatre: High Five
NYC Stand-Up Open Mics & Improv Jams
If you want stage time, you can find one or more stand-up open mics virtually any night at Manhattan’s The PIT, Eastville Comedy Club, and Stand Up NY Comedy Club, and at Queens LIC’s The Creek and Astoria Queens’ QED.
In addition, at the East Village’s UCB East you can typically find a stand-up open mic Thursdays at 6:00 pm, an improv jam Wednesdays at 11:15 pm, and a rare bring-your-own-group improv/sketch open stage Sundays at 11:00 pm. And in Chelsea, The Magnet offers an improv jam on Wednesdays at 6:00 pm, and a rare musical improv jam on Tuesdays at 6:00 pm.
All of the venues above typically provide you the stage time either for free or for $5.
There are also numerous other open mics throughout the city. For a more comprehensive list, please visit FreeMicsNYC.
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-$12
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-$12
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
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
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
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
117 MacDougal Street; among the finest daily stand-up lineups in the world; 2-item min.
130 West 3rd Street; Comedy Cellar’s larger sister venue, just around the corner with the same top comics; 2-item min.
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 email@example.com.