NYC Top Comedy Choices for Wednesday 9/20/17

September 20, 2017

Jessica McKenna and Zach Reino: "Off Book"Do you know about the new make-up-a-musical-on-the-spot podcast Off Book? Jessica McKenna and Zach Reino are brilliant at wordplay, high concepts, storytelling, comedy, music, picking up cues from their superb pianist Scott Passarella, and every other aspect of musical improv, Just as impressive, even though they have a different comic join in every episode—ranging from Paul F. Tompkins to Paul Scheer to Jamie Denbo—their teamwork is so seamless that every guest comes off as an old-time partner who regularly mind melds with them. I was instantly hooked when seeing them live at the recent Now Here This Podcast Festival (with stellar guests Griffin Newman & Michael Cruz Kayne and NYC improv pianist Dan Reitz). But since they’re based in LA, listening to Jess’ & Zach’s podcast is the next best thing to being in the same room with them. The Off Book podcast is entirely free, exceptionally joyful, and highly recommended.

Meanwhile, if you want to go out tonight…

The Cambridge Footlights: "Dream Sequence"The UK’s renowned Cambridge University is known for great scholarly achievement…but also a comedy troupe named The Footlights that helped launch the careers of John Cleese (Monty Python), Hugh Laurie (House), Emma Thompson (Love Actually), Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat), and more. The 2017 edition of this group performs tonight in NYC as part of a world tour: The Cambridge Footlights: Dream Sequence (8:00 pm, $7, UCB Chelsea at 307 West 26th Street)…

Michael Che and Melissa Villasenor…or join Blair Socci (MTV, Fuse), who “wrote a letter to Owen Wilson in 2007 after his suicide attempt telling him how much she loved him and appreciated him and that she hoped he would feel better soon. (A breakup with Jennifer Aniston could truly shatter anyone…)” Tonight Blair interviews SNL’s Michael Che, Melissa Villaseñor, Sasheer Zamata, and more, each first sharing a 1-2 minute letter to a celebrity who’s had an impact on his or her life: Dear Owen Wilson (8:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Littlefield at 635 Sackett Street;—take R subway to Union Street)

Other notable shows this Wednesday include:

[FREE] 6:00 pm-midnight: Six hours of free improvisation—including dynamite comics Adrian Sexton and Jay Malsky in The Community Players at 7:00 pm, musical improv from group Vern (which includes superb singer & comic Julie A. Feltman) at 7:30 pm, such stellar improvisors as Pat Swearingen and Langston Belton in Hero Complex at 8:30 pm, and star instructors such as Dana Shulman, Adrian Sexton, Chris Booth, and sometimes even PIT owner Ali Reza Farahnakian at The Faculty at 10:30 pm, all at The PIT Mainstage: Super Free Wednesday

[TOP PICK] [$] 7:00 pm ($5 plus 2-item food/drink min.): Broadway, TV, and film star Colin Quinn (Trainwreck, comedy national treasure) hones material for a one-man show at The Fat Black Pussycat Lounge (130 West 3rd Street): Colin Quinn: Law Abiding Criminals

[TOP PICK] 7:00 pm ($7): Hosts Melissa Slaughter, Alex Chester, and Rachel Liu, and guest Becky Yamamoto, discuss Disney film Mulan from an Asian perspective for this live-on-stage recording of podcast We’re Not All Ninjas at The PIT Underground: We’re Not All Ninjas Live: Mulan

[TOP PICK] [$] 7:30 pm, 8:00 pm, 9:30 pm, 10:00 pm, and 11:30 pm ($14, plus 2-item food/drink min.): Some of the finest stand-ups in the country spread among three shows at Comedy Cellar (117 MacDougal Street, between 3rd Street & Minetta Lane) and 8:00 pm & 10:00 pm shows at Village Underground (130 West 3rd Street, off Sixth Avenue): Comedy Cellar Wednesday

8:00 pm ($10): A musical improv and stand-up show that features a live band providing musical accompaniment to jokes, with guests Sasheer Zamata, Janelle James, Jordan Temple, Mike Cannon, Robby Hoffman, Nick Naney, and Carmen Christopher performing stand-up or music at Brooklyn’s Union Hall (702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street) hosted by Yedoye Travis & Farah Brook: Rent Party

[TOP PICK] 9:00 pm ($7): Come enjoy an intimate evening, and no drink minimum, with Gianmarco Soresi (Seeso; sketch group Uncle Function; acclaimed FringeNYC play <50%) as he practices a long stand-up set for his headlining show on 9/27 at Carolines; plus an opening set by Chris Cafero (HBO’s The Night Of, Showtime’s Billions, CBS’ As the World Turns, The Awesome 80’s Prom), all at The PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street): Gianmarco Soresi: Is This Funny?

[TOP PICK] [FREE] 9:00 pm: Big Jay Oakerson (Jimmy Fallon, Comedy Central Presents, Louie, Inside Amy Schumer, HBO, Showtime, MTV, IFC; stellar new comedy album Live at Webster Hall), Dave Smith, Luis J. Gomez, and other NYC comics “discussing the skankier sides of life, love, and stand-up comedy” for this weekly podcast taping at The Creek downstairs lounge in Queens’ LIC (10-93 Jackson Avenue): Legion of Skanks

9:00 pm ($10): Gianmarco Soresi (Seeso; sketch group Uncle Function; acclaimed FringeNYC play <50%), Gary Levitt, Billy Procida, Johnny MacDonald, Dylan Palladino, and Anoush Froundjian tell tales about losing their virginity at Astoria Queens comedy venue QED: A Place to Show & Tell (27-16 23rd Avenue) guest-hosted by Wilson McDermut: My First Time: A Stand-Up and Storytelling Show

[FREE] 10:00 pm: Storytellers share true tales hosted by Jenna Marucci & Aileen Clark at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ LIC (10-93 Jackson Avenue): Jenna & Aileen Think You’re Great

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

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.


NYC Top Comedy Choices for Friday 9/6/13

September 6, 2013

For more, please visit HyReviews.com.

For insights on Dave Chappelle, please click here.

Jim Gaffigan and Kevin Allison

A beloved pale stand-up star as a “secret guest” and star storyteller Kevin Allison at Nat Towsen’s Downtown Variety Hour…

The Cambridge Footlights

…while as part of its world tour, UK sketch troupe The Cambridge Footlights performs its newest show “Canada”

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:

[MEGA-TOP PICK] [FREE] 7:00 pm: A comedy genius who’s performed for The Office, Comedy Central, IFC; is star of The Chris Gethard Show; and is the author of A Bad Idea I’m About to Do and Weird New York, tries out new material every night this week at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ Long Island City: Week at the Creek: Chris Gethard

[TOP PICK] 7:00 pm ($10): The UK’s renowned Cambridge University is known for great scholarly achievement…but also a comedy troupe named The Footlights that helped launch the careers of John Cleese (Monty Python), Hugh Laurie (House), Emma Thompson (Love Actually), Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat), and more. The 2013 edition of this group performs tonight at The Magnet as part of a world tour: The Cambridge Footlights: Canada

[TOP PICK] [$] 7:00 pm, 8:00 pm, 8:45 pm, 10:30 pm, and 12:15 am ($20-$24 per show, plus 2-item food/drink min.): Tonight’s lineups include TV & Broadway star Colin Quinn at the 7:00, 8:00, and 8:45 shows, SNL’s Darrell Hammond at the 7:00 and 8:00 shows, Michael Che (David Letterman) at the 8:00, 8:45, and 10:30 shows, and Dave Attell and Gary Gulman at 12:15 am, with four of the shows at Comedy Cellar (117 MacDougal Street, between 3rd Street & Minetta Lane) and the 8:00 pm show at Village Underground (130 West 3rd Street, off Sixth Avenue): Comedy Cellar Friday

[TOP PICK] 7:30 ($5): A “secret guest” who’s tall, pale, and is known to talk about food such as Hot Pockets; plus star storytellers Kevin Allison (legendary MTV sketch series The State, HBO, Comedy Central, VH1, host of award-winning storytelling show Risk!) and Tom Shillue (Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Fallon, The Daily Show, Comedy Central Presents, 2011 ECNY Award for Best Storyteller, host of Funny Story, albums Better Stronger Faster and Big Room; currently releasing a new storytelling album each month), and Gary He (photojournalist) at UCB East hosted by Nat Townsen (co-host of The Moon Show): Nat Townsen’s Downtown Variety Hour

[TOP PICK] 7:30 pm ($10): Jamie Lee (Conan O’Brien, Last Comic Standing, MTV’s Girl Code, VH1) performs a deliciously long 30-minute stand-up set; and so does Jim Tews (“clawing his way to the middle for nearly a decade”), at the UCB Chelsea theatre: Stand-Up Spotlight: Jamie Lee and Jim Tews

[TOP PICK] 8:00 pm ($10): Fearless, innovative dark comedy gal duo Leah Rudick & Katie Hartman (Edinburgh Fringe Festival, FringeNYC) return to The PIT upstairs theatre to create fresh sketch comedy every month, with tonight’s guest Cara Francis (ensemble member of The New York Neo-Futurists) : Skinny Bitch Jesus Meeting

[TOP PICK] [$] 8:00 pm & 10:30 pm ($32.75 & 2-drink min.; SOLD OUT, but you can try for a standby line): A co-star of 30 Rock who’s one of the most hilarious guys in the biz headlining one last night at the Carolines Comedy Club: Tracy Morgan

[TOP PICK] 8:30 pm ($10): Before this Magnet show, audience members may anonymously submit written confessions, secrets, rants, advice and opinions which will be used onstage by the improvisors—who include such talents as Laura Grey (stellar old-time radio style theatrical podcast Horrorgasm, improv troupe Salmon Diane, sketch/improv duo Klepper & Grey): The Friday Night Sh*w

[TOP PICK] 9:00 pm ($10): Cipha Sounds (Hot 97, Chappelle’s Show) thought it would be cool if a hip-hop star told tales and then improvisors made up scenes based on them. This monthly show is the result, with a “secret” music celebrity “mesmerizing the crowd with amazing stories and linguistic darts to spark the creativity of some of the best improvisers in NYC,” the latter being Chris Gethard, Anthony Atamanuik, Brandon Gardner, Phil Jackson, and Abra Tabak at the UCB East theatre: Take It Personal: The Hip-Hip Improv Show

[TOP PICK] 9:00 pm ($10): Some of the finest improv in NYC from Shannon O’Neill, Silvija Ozols, Zach Woods, Michael Delaney, Will Hines, and Connor Ratliff, performing at UCB Chelsea—the all-star members of The Stepfathers

9:30 pm ($8): Improvisors make up new episodes of a TV classic at The PIT downstairs lounge: Saved by the Bell: The Lost Episodes

9:30 pm ($10): Two PIT improv groups making up a musical on the spot, one with sharpness and the other with a friendly greeting: Dagger and Hello

[TOP PICK] 10:00 pm ($10): Singing improvisors at The Magnet using an interview with an audience member to craft The Made-Up Musical

[TOP PICK] 10:30 pm ($10): Casey Jost (staff writer for Jimmy Fallon, Impractical Jokers), Aaron Weinstein (Carnegie Hall), Jonathan Braylock (Inside Joke Films), Farah Brook, and Meghan O’Neill performing at UCB East hosted by Brandon Scott Jones, D’Arcy Carden, Justin Tyler, Kelly Hudson, and/or Alden Ford: Gentrify

[TOP PICK] 10:30 pm ($10): Superb improvisors Craig Rowin, Matt Fisher, Sue Galloway, Dan Klein, Brian Faas, Matt Moses, and/or Conner O’Malley—who this year defeated The Stepfathers and thoroughly crushed another troupe at Cage Match before losing by a single vote—make up scenes about an audience member’s legal dispute at the UCB Chelsea theatre: The Law Firm: Law & Disorder

[MEGA-TOP PICK] 11:00 pm ($5): I’m not sure he’s in NYC tonight, but one of the finest improvisors alive, Joe Bill (Bassprov, iO, co-founder of the Annoyance Theatre) will either personally spearhead or lead in spirit a breathtakingly brilliant group of improvisors from Chicago and New York who will blow the roof off The PIT downstairs lounge with lightning-quick dark comedy unlike anything else in NYC. The other superb players typically are Doug Stoley (Conan O’Brien, The Scene), Amey Goerlich (Indie Cage Match, Krompf, The Scene), Jodi Lennon (Exit 57, Annoyance Theatre), Jed Resnik (Annoyance Theatre, UCB), Silvija Ozols (The Stepfathers), Betsy Stover (UCB), Ari Voukydis (VH1’s Best Week Ever, UCB), Russ Armstrong (iO Chicago, The Magnet), Micah Sherman (Second City, co-host of The Scene, host of Fun), Rick Andrews (Magnet teacher/performer), and Michael Burton (Act One, The Magnet), all declaring Chica Go-Go

[TOP PICK] 11:30 pm ($5): A rotating cast drawing from over a dozen of the talented gal improvisors and sketch comics at The Magnet—including Artistic Director Megan Gray, Lauren Olson, Elena Fishbein, Kimberly Ferguson, and Beth Newell—aim to “give you a dark and twisted late night explosion:” The Clubhouse

Friday Open Mics

5:00 pm ($5): Two-hour open-mic for 20 stand-ups performing for 5 minutes each, with sign-up online here, at the Stand Up NY Comedy Club (236 West 78th Street): Stand Up NY Open Mic

5:45 pm (no cover, 1 drink min. for both comics and audience members): Open mic stand-up providing 5-7 minutes per comic, running 1 hour. Arrive 30 minutes before the show to get on the signup sheet. This is a fine opportunity to perform at the only comedy club in the East Village: Eastville Comedy Club Open Mic

[FREE] 6:00 pm: An open-mic show on a lottery system (sign-ups happen at 5:45-6:00 pm) at The Creek upstairs theatre in Queens’ Long Island City with hosts Erin Lennox and Eli Sairs: The Orphanage

[FREE] 7:00 pm: Open-mic stand-up, with 3 minutes per comic (unless not many folks show up, in which case there’ll be more time), with names drawn out of a bucket at UCB East in the bar area (“Hot Chicks Room”) hosted by Nate Dern, Sarah Tollemache, and/or Paul Oddo: The Friday Night Hot Chicks Open Mic

[FREE] 11:00 pm: An open-mic show that’s first come, first serve, with each comic getting 5 minutes on stage at The Creek downstairs lounge in Queens’ Long Island City: Mic and Cheese

[FREE] Midnight: This show might not be much fun for audience members, but it’s an amazing opportunity if you want to perform sketch for free and with almost zero hurdles on the prestigious UCB Chelsea stage. Hosted (for the last time!) by Maude troupe Fambly: Liquid Courage

Best Inexpensive Stand-Up, Improv, Sketch, and Storytelling

Upright Citizens Brigade Chelsea
(307 West 26th Street; 150-seater; shows free-$10; one of the most respected comedy theatres in the world)

Upright Citizens Brigade East
(153 East 3rd Street; 99-seat main theatre, bar area for open mics; shows free-$10)

The PIT
(123 East 24th Street; 99-seat upstairs theatre, 40-seat downstairs theatre; shows free-$15)

The Magnet
(254 West 29th Street; 60-seat theatre; shows $5-$10)

The Creek and the Cave
(Queens’ Long Island City; 40-seat theatre upstairs, 25 downstairs; virtually all shows free)

Best NYC Stand-Up Comedy Clubs

Comedy Cellar
(117 MacDougal Street; among the finest daily stand-up lineups in the world; 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.)

From legendary NYC comedy site Brooklyn Vegan: If you want to know what is happening in NYC comedy on a particular day, you gotta get hip to this dude Hy Bender and his site Best New York Comedy. The site is updated daily and features a super exhaustive look at what is happening in the NYC comedy world that particular day. The site is updated religiously…It is your daily comedy itinerary and it scares me how on top of his shit this guy is.