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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 $12 marked with $) include:
[TOP PICK] 6:00 pm to midnight (prices vary by show; buy $45 festival pass to see everythingthrough Saturday): The PIT is aiming to begin a proud tradition with its first annual improv festival. Will it be competitive with UCB’s legendary summer Del Close Marathon? Read about the new festival here, check out its entire schedule here, and then come out to explore The PIT’s First Annual NYC Improv Festival
[FREE] 6:00 pm: Ashley Ward (ace improvisor who performs with Baby Wants Candy, Diamond Lion, Big Black Car, and Taco Supreme) is tonight’s guest at this weekly open-mic storytelling show, with each performer given a whopping eight minutes to captivate & impress, at UCB Easthosted by John Flynn: Oh, Hey Guys!
[TOP PICK] 6:30 pm ($5): Stand-up and stage magic are combined at UCB Chelsea by Harrison Greenbaum, a comic who’s devoted a lot of time and passion to both fields, resulting in both laughs and tricks you won’t have a clue how he pulled off: Harrison Greenbaum: What Just Happened?…
…plus in the other half of this double-bill, the audition of a show I know nothing about but has the fun title Urban Dictionary Jeopardy
[TOP PICK] 7:00 pm ($12): Renowned comedy group The Harvard Lampoon celebrates the publication of its book parody of The Hunger Games at 92Y Tribeca (200 Hudson Street): The Harvard Lampoon: The Hunger Pains
[TOP PICK] 8:00 pm ($5): The screening of “hilarious 30-60 second created-on-spec commercials from UCB and NYC’s advertising community. Vote for your favorite; the winner gets a $1,000 prize” at UCB East—but what does the audience get for watching all those commercials? Hosted by Sound Lounge: The Great Sell Out
[TOP PICK] 8:00 pm ($5): At UCB Chelsea, a troupe specializing in meta-comedy—that is, comedy about the process of making comedy—performs their most meta show yet, which is billed as a “best of” show but actually is a series of internal spats that delay any of the promised sketches from being performed. It’s smart and clever, and all four members of the group are highly appealing. But it’s such a purely “from the head, not the heart” show that it feels increasingly repetitive and one-note as it goes on. I wish the guys had been less concerned with the purity of their one-joke idea and more with creating an emotional rollercoaster experience for the audience. (The reason their best sketch ever is a spelling bee for fart jokes is because it’s a perfect blend of their conceptual approach with laugh-out-loud funny. Sadly, no such sketch is in this show…) If you like concept comedy, though, these guys are great at it; and you’re likely to enjoy at least the first 10 minutes before the novelty wears off from Pangea 3000: 12 Years of Hard Work…
…and in the second half of this double-bill, a parody of The Bachelor written by UCBT faves Caitlin Bitzegaio (MTV, PBS, ESPN, writer or director of numerous UCBT sketch shows) and Leila Cohan-Miccio (Stone Cold Fox, Pig: A Restaurant), and worth catching if only to experience the delicious comedic performances of standouts Morgan Grace Jarrett (Big Fish, Love Liza, Buffy fan) and Nicole Byer (Doppelganger)—who are especially fun when they turn into an unlikely a comedy duo…: The Bachelor: Romance, Roses, and Romance
[FREE] 8:00 pm: “A stand-up comedy showcase and baking competition—come to eat or come to compete” at The Creek’s upstairs theatre in Queens’ Long Island City hosted by Cody Hess & Jessica Gross: Cookies!
[$] [DISCOUNTED] 8:00 pm ($15 [vs. $25] online or at the box office using discount code BBOX): 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?
8:00 pm-MIdnight ($7 for the entire evening): The Magnet house troupes The Boss, Junior Varsity, Hello Laser, and Phooka performing improv, followed at 10:00 pm by Alan Fessenden directing The Monoscene (an improvised play that takes place entirely in one location with no edits of any kind), and then at 11:00 improv competition Inspirado (like UCBT’s Cage Match, but with a game-like challenge component) with last week’s winner competing against Rubin: The Magnet’s Night Out
[TOP PICK] 9:00 pm ($5): Todd Barry (David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Comedy Central Presents, FX’s Louie, HBO’s Flight of the Conchords and Bored to Death, Adult Swim, feature films The Wrestler and Pete Smalls is Dead), Jon Friedman (Jimmy Fallon, The Rejection Show), and Emily Heller (Comedy Central; staff writer for Rooftop Comedy; for ruminations on pregnancy, please click here) performing at UCB East with best bud hosts Noah Garfinkel & Joe Mande (author ofLook At This F*cking Hipster): Totally J/K
[TOP PICK] [FREE] 9:00ish pm: Terrific NYC stand-ups (the lineup is typically announced by 3:00 pm; for an update, please click here) performing on this weekly show at the Kabin Bar and Lounge hosted by Chesley Calloway and comedy genius Sean Patton: Comedy as a Second Language
9:00 pm (no cover, 1-item min.): Nikki Glaser (Jay Leno, Last Comic Standing, co-host of podcastYou Had to Be There), Pat O’Shea (host of Ed Sullivan on Acid), Jay Nog, and Adam Conover performing stand-up at Luca Lounge (222 Avenue B off 14th Street) for this weekly comedy show that tonight is guest-hosted by Emmy Blotnick and produced by Carol Hartsell: Lasers in the Jungle
[TOP PICK] 9:30 pm ($5): Jon Benjamin (star/creator of Comedy Central’s Jon Benjamin Has a Van; FOX, Adult Swim, MTV’s Human Giant), musical guest Suzzy Roche (of The Roches), and surprises from host Dave Hill (one of the most original and hilariously sharp alternative comics in the country; HBO, Comedy Central, MTV, VH1, NPR, star of The King of Miami, band Diamondsnake, champion rapper; upcoming book Tasteful Nudes) at The Dave Hill Explosion
[TOP PICK] 11:00 pm ($5): Freestyle rapping long-form improv troupe North Coast squeaked by to victory last week against Very Good Kiss, winning 70-66. Did Kiss kill? Or is the NC juggernaut, with four victories in a row, starting to lose steam? The latter theory will be tested tonight by Airwolf as it competes for audience laughs and votes at UCB Chelsea for the raucous Cage Match
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