NYC Top Comedy Choices for Wed. 12/7/11

December 7, 2011

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Jawnee Conroy and Joe Bill

Fearlessly anarchic Jawnee Conroy and improv legend Joe Bill team up at UCB Chelsea's School Night

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, Leviathan, Horses, Brick, Featherweight, The Wrath, and Chet Watkins performing improv, followed by a free audience interactive show with The Wrath at 11:30 pm: The Magnet’s Megawatt

[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] [$] [DISCOUNTED] 7:30 pm ($14.45 online using discount code LAUGHTRACK): One of my favorite theatre duos, Rachel Buethe & James Presson, have come out with a new play that updates Hedda Gabler to the world of network TV. It’s a fresh, ambitious work that pushes at the borders between art and reality, entertainment and meaning. And while it’s not a comedy—in some ways, it’s actually an anti-comedy—at its core is a sitcom. For my full review, please click here. If you’re open to something different, don’t miss the too-brief run (ending December 18th) of this vibrant show at Walkerspace (46 Walker Street, near the Canal Street stops of the A/E/C/N/R/1/2/3/6 subways): Friends Don’t Let Friends

[TOP PICK] 8:00 pm ($5): A stand-up who’s a frequent performer on David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, and Jay Leno, and starred in a Comedy Central one-hour special, performs tonight at UCB Chelsea with perhaps a guest or two: Tom Papa and Maybe a Friend

[FREE—plus FREE PIZZA for first 30 people, from Artichoke Pizza!] 8:00 pm: Becky Yamamoto (rave reviews from The New York Times and The New Yorker; former beard-wearing member of band Stickerbook), Sean Donnelly (XM Radio; host of Lil’ Seany Boy and co-host of Ochi’s Motel), Raquel D’Apice (The Check Spot, blog The Ugly Volvo; for touching video about lesbians who met in Eastern Europe, please click here), Peter Moses (, and Fariaz Rabban performing at the East Village’s Beauty Bar for Negin Farsad’s & Amy Albert’s free weekly show Comedy School Dropout

8:00 pm ($5—which includes a free beer!): NYC stand-ups (not announced) performing at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ Long Island City for this weekly show hosted by Nick Turner & Jason Sáenz: Too Cool for School

[TOP PICK] 9:00 pm ($5): Neil Casey & Anthony Atamanuik, both genius members of Death by Roo Roo, perform the jaw-dropping feat of making up an entire feature film at UCB East as The Two-Man Movie

[FREE] 9:00ish pm: Boris Khaykin (Comedy Central’s Atom TV), #Klepper (improv troupe), Jenn Dodd (Identity Theft), Meghan O’Keefe, Subhah Agarwal, Katie Compa, and Sam Grittner performing at this free weekly show at the Luca Lounge (222 Avenue B off 14th Street) hosted by Sharon Spell: Shrink

[TOP PICK] 9:30 pm ($5): At UCB Chelsea, first up is a sketch play about the opening of a trendy restaurant that serves nothing but raw pig, written with wit and bite by Leila Cohan-Miccio (Stone Cold Fox), directed with style by Caitlin Tegart (MTV, PBS, ESPN), and performed superbly by hot comedic actress Lauren Conlin Adams: Pig: A Restaurant 

…and in the second half of this double-bill, a meta-comedy in which a real estate agent tries to convince a couple that the actual theatre you’re in would be a great home for them. He does this by putting on a series of sketches that are presented as a random sampling of what UCBT has to offer but that, directly or indirectly, each promote the stage as a wonderful residence. It’s a way fun idea—for a 5-minute sketch. However, this entire show is handled like a single multi-jointed sketch, and 30 minutes is an awfully long time to essentially tell one joke. If the script was further developed to use the internal sketches as stepping stones to achieve a larger and emotionally compelling story, this could become something quite special. Even as is, though, it’s great fun at the start; and if you find it wearing out its welcome after that, you’ll still enjoy sporadic laughs from individual bits and performers—especially standout Brandon Gulya—in the a-bit-too-clever-for-its-own-good This is Not a Sketch Show—A Sketch Show

10:00 pm ($5): UCBT Harold Night improv troupe Airwolf makes stuff up at UCB EastAirwolf: Let’s Go Back to Your Place

[TOP PICK] [FREE] 11:00 pm: Improv living legend Joe Bill paired with Johnny Conroy, and the wonderful Leslie Meisel (30 Rock, ace sketch troupe Thunder Gulch) are among the 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. (For tonight’s lineup, 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

[FREE] 11:30 pm: Your opportunity to perform on the stage of UCB East with improv veterans, hosted by UCBT Harold Night house troupe Grandma’s Ashes: The Improv Jam

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NYC Top Comedy Choices for Friday 3/4/11

March 4, 2011

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Jawnee Conroy

Hysterical force of nature Jawnee Conroy will be stirring things up tonight at "The BEATdown"

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:

[TOP PICK] 7:00 pm ($7): Some of The Magnet’s finest comics—including the brilliant and delightful Lauren Olson (powerhouse one-woman show Our Condolences at last year’s FringeNYC)—team up with Magnet co-owner Armando Diaz to deliver sketch comedy in Good Morning, Ladies!

[TOP PICK] 8:00 pm ($5): Pamela Murphy’s autobiographical show is the best-scripted one-act to grace UCBT in the past year, performed with wit, grace, and pitch-perfect comedic timing (for video samples of Pam’s work, please click here). Don’t miss Jane Borden of Time Out New York‘s pick forBest Solo Show of 2010Pamela Murphy: The C Word

…and for the other half of this double-bill, sketch troupe Bleak! performs a show about internal strife: Stomachtown

[$] 8:00 pm & 10:30 pm ($26.75 & 2-drink min.)  An award-winning stand-up who’s performed onConan O’Brien, Jimmy Kimmel, Craig Ferguson, and his own Comedy Central Presents half-hour special headlining tonight through Sunday at the Carolines Comedy Club: Al Madrigal

8:00 pm ($5; includes copious homemade treats): Joe Mande (Comedy Central, VH1; co-host ofTotally J/K; author of new book Look at This F*cking Hipster), Adrienne Iapalucci (Last Comic Standing), Erik Bergstrom (cartoonist of terrific book Grimmer Tales), and Michael Terry (Onion News Network, Party Central USA) performing stand-up at Karma Lounge (51 First Avenue, off 3rd Street) with hosts Aalap Patel and the delightful Chelsea White (MTV, College Humor): It’s Not That Serious

[$] 8:00 pm ($20): A benefit for cancer research with Matt McCarthy (Comedy Central), Pat Dixon (Comedy Central Presents), Rob Cantrell (CBS, Marijuana-logues), Andy Haynes (Jimmy Fallon), and Seaton Smith (Opie and Anthony) performing at Brooklyn’s Coco 66 for hosts Nick Turner’s & Jason Saenz’s Too Cool for School

8:00 pm ($10): Improvised scenes based on the “Missed Connections” section of Craigslist at Missed Connections Two-Prov

8:00 pm ($7): “In March of 2009 a gaggle of performers were born. Some died, some wandered off into the woods, others went to work in the private sector. Those that remained grew strong by feeding on the nectar of specific choices and the gruel of strong character work. The not quite 2-year-old terror that exists today is akin to watching a Tsunami of hair and teeth attack a baby Blue Whale and destroy it with the will of a thousand hungry Burnese Mountain Dogs. What does it all mean? We don’t know.” Tonight is the Second Anniversary of these sharp improvisors making stuff up as troupe Chet Watkins

[FREE—plus trivia game chances to win free drinks] 8:00 pm: Pat O’Shea (VH1, host of Ed Sullivan on Acid), Justy Dodge, Todd Montesi, Carolina Hidalgo, Robyn Candyce-Schlau, and “a surprise guest” performing at Brooklyn’s The Royal Oak (594 Union Avenue) with host Calvin S. Cato: The Pregame Comedy Show

[FREE] 8:00 pm: Sharp NYC stand-ups (not announced) performing at O’Hanlon’s (14th Street off 1st Avenue): Hot Soup

[TOP PICK] [$] 8:30 pm & 10:30 pm ($25 & 2-drink min.) A stand-up who’s written for ABC, TruTV, feature films, and performed his own hour-long Comedy Central special You’ve Changedheadlining tonight and Saturday at the Gotham Comedy Club: Michael Loftus

[TOP PICK] 9:00 pm ($10): Some of the finest improv in NYC from the comedy genius members of The Stepfathers

9:00 pm ($7): Comedy friends who, by a wild coincidence, have the same name, debuting a sketch show about pioneers: We’re Matt Weir: Trailblazers

[TOP PICK] 9:30 pm ($10): Always fresh and imaginative world-class sketch troupe that uses song, movement, and clever scenarios to turn familiar rituals on their head (for a video about awkward goodbyes at the end of a party, please click here) delivering a brand new collection of sketches titled Ms. Larsen’s ClassThe Harvard Sailing Team

10:00 pm ($7): Singing improvisors who use an interview with an audience member to craft The Made-Up Musical

10:30 pm ($10): Jonathan Gabrus, Sue Galloway, and other fine improvisors make up scenes about an audience member’s legal dispute at The Law Firm: Law & Disorder

[TOP PICK] 11:00 pm ($10): TV & movie star Kristen Schaal (one of the funniest women alive; shining star correspondent on The Daily Show; co-star of HBO’s Flight of the ConchordsComedy Central Presents half-hour special; star of UK TV series Penelope: Princess of Pets; co-host of Hot Tub Variety; co-author of bestselling book The Sexy Book of Sexy Sex), and TV & movie star Todd Barry (HBO, David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Comedy Central PresentsThe Sarah Silverman Program, Adult Swim, feature films The Wrestler and Pete Smalls is Dead), plus wonderful musical guest Ted Leo, performing at this monthly comedy talk show hosted by the Kurt Braunohler (Comedy Central, Hot Tub Variety): Night of the Living with Kurt Braunohler

[TOP PICK] Midnight ($5): A comedic freestyle rap contest featuring some of the funniest & sharpest comics in NYC—who tonight include Jawnee Conroy (a force of nature who was a hilarious agent of chaos on his last appearance), Josh Ruben (College Humor), Alan Fessenden (member of improv troupe 4Track), and stand-ups Joyelle Johnson and Remy Benice —plus a volunteer from the audience!, hosted by genius human beatbox Chris “Shockwave” Sullivan (The Daily Show, The Electric Company, Freestyle Love Supreme) and Victor Varnado (Conan O’Brien,Jimmy Kimmel, Comedy Central) at one of my favorite monthly shows: The BEATdown

For full details, please visit

If you have a thyroid, or know someone with a thyroid, please consider buying my latest book The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Thyroid Disease.