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Tonight’s recommendations for the best in New York City comedy (in chronological order, with top picks noted and shows over $10 marked with $) include:
[FREE] 6:00 pm to midnight: Six free hours of improvisation at The PIT’s Super Free Wednesday
[FREE] 6:00 pm: Open-mic stand-up providing four minutes per comic, with “15 people chosen randomly through e-mail, and five walk-ins; and a guaranteed spot to anyone who performs in character as a famous explorer” at Queens LIC’s The Creek upstairs theatre: Comedic Exploration Club of Long Island City, West
7:00 pm-12:30 am ($7 for the entire evening): Magnet house troupes Grappler, The Surge, The Wrath, Chet Watkins, Horses, Brick, Leviathan, and Featherweight performing improv, followed by a free audience interactive show with Leviathan at 11:30 pm: The Magnet’s Megawatt
7:00 pm (no cover, 1-item min.): The Vigilante (improvised musical performer backed by rock band), and stand-ups Rob O’reilly (Last Comic Standing, Comedy Central), Jason Marcus, and Tim Warner, performing at Luca Lounge (222 Avenue B off 14th Street) with hosts Selena Coppock, Dan Cartwright, and Emily Epstein: Connotation
[TOP PICK] 7:30 pm ($5): For this double-bill at UCB East, Nicole Byer, Sasheer Zamata, and Keisha Zollar are first up as the fiercely energetic & entertaining all-gal improv troupe Doppelganger; and then genius improvisors Gavin Speiller of Death By Roo Roo, Ben Rodgers of The Curfew, and Jonathan Gabrus of The Law Firm) perform as Outlook of the Poet
[TOP PICK] 8:00 pm ($5): A beloved show that brings dead celebrities back to life is itself resurrected tonight at UCB Chelsea, as magical comedic chameleon Livia Scott (Conan O’Brien,Law & Order, Dirty Movie) hosts as Janis Joplin, accompanied by guests Chris Gethard (brilliant improvisor and comedic storyteller; star of Comedy Central sitcom Big Lake and Manhattan Cable Access’ The Chris Gethard Show; The Stepfathers, The Nights of Our Lives, author of new bestseller A Bad Idea I’m About to Do and Weird New York) and sketch troupe Chess Club: Livia’s Castle of Enchantment
[$] [DISCOUNTED] 8:00 pm ($20 [vs. $25] online or at the box office using discount code BOOK): Telly Savalas returns to life to entertain you and provide life guidance in this 50-minute show that was a hit at FringeNYC 2011 and is now enjoying an open-ended Friday night run at the Soho Playhouse’s downstairs Huron Club. The script is at times very smart, especially in its choices of hilarious video clips and music tracks from the real Savalas…who, in his more intense moments, apparently rivaled William Shatner at his silliest. But even when Hunter Nelson’s writing isn’t consistent, actor Tom DiMenna—who is a professional comic with great timing and skill at engaging an audience—will keep you entertained: Who Loves You, Baby?
[FREE] 8:00 pm: NYC stand-ups do sets “and then have a discussion about what’s going on in the world and the mysteries of life” at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ Long Island City, hosted by Chris Laker: The Show
[FREE] 8:30 pm: Typically terrific NYC comics (not announced) performing at this free weekly comedy show at Brooklyn’s Cameo (behind Lovin’ Cup) typically hosted by Jenny Slate, Gabe Liedman, and/or Max Silvestri: Big Terrific
[TOP PICK] 9:30 pm ($5): At UCB Chelsea, a troupe specializing in meta-comedy—that is, comedy about the process of making comedy—performs their most meta show yet, which is billed as a “best of” show but actually is a series of internal spats that delay any of the promised sketches from being performed. It’s smart and clever, and all four members of the group are highly appealing. But it’s such a purely “from the head, not the heart” show that it feels increasingly repetitive and one-note as it goes on. I wish the guys had been less concerned with the purity of their one-joke idea and more with creating an emotional rollercoaster experience for the audience. (The reason their best sketch ever is a spelling bee for fart jokes is because it’s a perfect blend of their conceptual approach with laugh-out-loud funny. Sadly, no such sketch is in this show…) If you like concept comedy, though, these guys are great at it; and you’re likely to enjoy at least the first 10 minutes before the novelty wears off from Pangea 3000: 12 Years of Hard Work…
…and in the second half of this double-bill, a witty and ultimately exhilarating exploration of baring it all by fabulous long-time nudist Julia Wiedeman (who I had the great fortune of seeing about a decade ago as she walked around with zero clothing, like a glorious tigress, in broad daylight on the streets of the East Village): Naked People
[TOP PICK] 10:00 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, along with hosts Betsy Stover and Ari Voukydis: Hot for Teacher: The UCB Faculty Show
[TOP PICK] [FREE] 11:00 pm: As many as a dozen guests packed into 75 minutes performing stand-up, improv, sketch, and occasionally acts that defy categorization. The level of talent can vary wildly, but for some (like me), that’s part of the laid-back fun; and this is often one of the most amazing comedy shows in town. Tonight’s scheduled lineup includes delightful stand-up Katey Healy-Wurzburg (The Fascinator), delightful sketch comic Andrée Vermeulen (visiting from LA), and delightful hosts Sasheer Zamata (Doppelganger, The Prom) and Matt Fisher (The Law Firm, Sidecar); for the complete list, please click here. Come support the experimentation, and periodic magical surprises, that this uniquely organic rollercoaster of a weekly show at UCB Chelsea makes possible—and don’t forget to toss $1 in the bucket on your way out: School Night
[FREE] 11:00 pm: Open-mic stand-up running until 1:00 am, with time divided evenly between performers (up to five minutes), at The Creek downstairs lounge in Queens’ Long Island City with host Rob Stern: Bucket ‘O Buckets
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