NYC Comedy Picks for Week of February 2, 2009

NYC Comedy Picks for Monday 2/2/09

  

Jason Trachtenburg (Entertaining the Bartender) and Aubrey Plaza (Whiplash)

Tonight's recommendations for the best in New York City comedy

(in chronological order, with top picks marked by colored brackets) include:

the perfect show for short attention spans—open mic stand-up with 4½ minutes per set

and 25 comics crammed into 2½ hours, tonight including Jared Logan, Mark Normand, Jackie Monahan, Vicky Kuperman, Emily Epstein, Becky Ciletti, Mara Herron, Chelsea White, Lisa Kaplan, Luke Cunningham, Sean Donnelly, Blaine Perry, Aalap Patel, and Matteson Perry—at John Morrison's Ochi's Motel (6:30 pm & 9:00 pm),

[TOP PICK] brilliant stand-ups Todd Barry (David Letterman, Conan O'Brien, HBO, Comedy Central, The Wrestler), Victor Varnado (Conan O'Brien, Jimmy Kimmel, Comedy Central), Laura Krafft (former writer for The Colbert Report), Myq Kaplan (Comedy Central), and Jacqueline Novak (co-host of President Jackson) at Liam McEneaney's free Tell Your Friends (8:00ish pm),

delightful comics Heather Fink (co-host of Street Meat), Jason Trachtenburg (Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players), Mike Drucker (SNL, The Onion), Rob Lathan (Conan O'Brien, The Colbert Report, MTV, VH1), David Cope, and singer/songwriter Aprille Goodman performing at a free weekly variety show in Brooklyn hosted by the razor-sharp Jena Friedman: Entertaining the Bartender (8:30 pm),

two ace Chicago-trained improvisors, Peter Grosz (writer for The Colbert Report) and John Lutz (writer/actor for Saturday Night Live since 2004; 30 Rock), making up scenes as 2 Square (9:30 pm),

[TOP PICK] and a free weekly show featuring some of the finest comics in the country—with tonight's all-star guests including Eugene Mirman (HBO, Comedy Central, Adult Swim), Dave Hill (HBO, VH1, Spike TV, The New York Times), Aubrey Plaza (cast member of NBC's upcoming spin-off of The Office), and Kumail Nanjiani (SNL, The Colbert Report)—hosted by the wonderful Leo Allen (Saturday Night Live, Comedy Central) at Whiplash (11:00 pm).

 

Ochi's Motel

Lottery-style open mic for stand-up comics trying out material,

with 4½ minutes per performer...in return for a $5 contribution to the weekly prize kitty.

(In addition, Ochi's 1-item food or drink minimum applies to everyone.)

A breathtaking 25 comics perform in this 2½ hour show; producer

John Morrison (above) has described it as "comedy on crack."

If you're seeking consistent laughs, this might not be the best way to spend

your evening. But if you're patient and adventurous, it's a potentially wild ride.

And if you're a performer looking for some stage time, it's a nice opportunity.

Plus if you stick around till the show's end to support your fellow comics,

 you have a chance at winning the cash from the kitty, along with smaller prizes.

There are two shows, at 6:30 and 9:00 pm (with entirely different sets of comics).

Tonight's 6:30 lineup includes fine stand-ups Jared Logan, Mark Normand, Jackie Monahan, Vicky Kuperman, Emily Epstein, Becky Ciletti, Mara Herron, Chelsea White, Francoise Gordon, Sue Funke, Upa Droopa, Sean Donnelly, and Blaine Perry.

And the 9:00 pm show includes talents Lisa Kaplan, Luke Cunningham, Chris Conway, Ray Higgs, Aalap Patel, and Matteson Perry.

Ochi's Motel is hosted at 6:30 by Sean Donnelly and Blaine Perry:

  

...and at 9:00 pm by Aalap Patel and Matteson Perry:

  

To be entered into the weekly random drawing for performers,

please send email to ochismotel@gmail.com.

6:30 pm & 9:00 pm, Ochi's Lounge at Comix, 353 West 14th Street (between 8th & 9th Avenues)

no cover, 1 drink or food item minimum (e.g., draft beer for $4-$5)

 

 

  

Todd Barry, Victor Varnado, and Liam McEneaney...

    

...and Jacqueline Novak, Laura Krafft, and Myq Kaplan

Tell Your Friends

This free weekly comedy show is produced by Liam McEneaney

(VH1's Best Week Ever, Comedy Central's Premium Blend,

former writer for Standup Nation with Greg Giraldo).

Tonight's host is Myq Kaplan (Comedy Central's Live at Gotham; for superb stand-up video about religion, gay  marriage, and dumplings, please click here).

And the wonderful stand-up comedy guests are

Todd Barry (wryly brilliant stand-up who's one of the very best in the biz;

Late Show with David Letterman, Late Night with Conan O'Brien,

Comedy Central Presents; HBO's Flight of the Conchords, Lucky Louie, and Sex in the City;

Comedy Central's Freak Show, Dr. Katz, and Shorties Watching Shorties;

Adult Swim's Space Ghost, Aqua Teen Hunger Force,  and Tom Goes To The Mayor;

acted in the acclaimed Darren Aronofsky hit film The Wrestler;

check out Todd's newest comedy CD From Heaven) and

Victor Varnado (Late Night with Conan O'Brien, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Comedy Central's Premium Blend, NBC's My Name is Earl, Adult Swim's Fat Guy Stuck in Internet, Chicago City Limits; wrote and directed the movie Twist the Cap, starring Charlie Murphy; acted in such films as Pluto Nash, End of Days, and A Guy Thing; recently taped concert film

The Awkward Kings of Comedy; for a stand-up sample, please click here),

Laura Krafft (former staff writer for Comedy Central's The Colbert Report and Crossballs;

acted on such series as HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm), and

Jacqueline Novak (Comedy Central Live Tour, XM Radio, CollegeHumor.com; for "response to heckler" video, please click here);

plus musical guest Brer Brian.

8:00ish pm at Lolita Bar, 226 Broome Street (between Allen and Orchard Streets); free

Nearest subway stops are Delancey Street via the F or Delancey-Essex via the J/M/Z

 

 

    

Heather Fink, Mike Drucker, and Jena Friedman

Entertaining the Bartender with Jena Friedman

Razor-sharp and delightfully dark stand-up comic Jena Friedman (playwright of 2008 FringeNYC show Refugee Girls; for a stand-up video about sexual predators, eggs, and Tai food, please click here) hosts this entirely free weekly comedy show in Brooklyn. This is actually a version of an acclaimed show Jena used to do in a Chicago bar run by a gal named Tammy. When the bar started out it was often near-empty, so Jena began the show to entertain her friend and develop steady traffic. On both counts, it was a wild success...

Tonight's fun guests are

Heather Fink (unforgettably quirky stand-up nominated for a 2008 ECNY Award; co-host of monthly NYC live comedy show Street Meat; for videos demonstrating Heather's acting skills, please click here and here),

Jason Trachtenburg (member of wonderful Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players),

Mike Drucker (freelance writer for Saturday Night Live, The Onion, McSweeney's, 23/6, Black20; winner of Disney's 2007 So You Think You're Funny competition and performer on Comedy Central's The Watchlist; for Drucker's explanation of how life is like video games and comic books, please click here; and to learn why Drucker's girlfriend wouldn't give him a gold star, please click here) and

Rob Lathan (Late Night with Conan O'Brien, The Colbert Report, MTV, VH1; plays comedic characters such as Lanny Lathan and "Quick Lips" Lathan; performs in the UCBT shows Get Psyched! and High School Talent Show; for Rob's reel, please click here),

David Cope (comedic storyteller, and member of Sweet Haven sketch troupe; for videos of David relating an encounter with a prophet and reading his romance novel, please click here and here),

and singer/songwriter Aprille Goodman.

8:30 pm at Sound Fix Records, 110 Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg Brooklyn; free

Take the L subway to Bedford Avenue and walk four blocks to N 11th Street

 

 

 

John Lutz and Peter Grosz

2 Square

Superb comics Peter Grosz (writer for The Colbert Report, star of over 100 Sonic fast-food commercials, co-writer & co-star of UCBT sketch show The Steve Miller Band and Other Annoying Monsters) and John Lutz (writer & occasional actor on SNL since 2004; recurring character on 30 Rock) perform a two-man improv show (a version of their previous long-running and acclaimed Chicago show 4 Square, which also included Dan Bakkedahl and Rob Janas).

9:30 pm at UCBT, 307 West 26th Street (off 8th Avenue); tickets are $5

 

 

  

Leo Allen and Aubrey Plaza...

  

...and Eugene Mirman and Dave Hill

Whiplash with Leo Allen: The Finest in Stand-Up Comedy, Free

Leo Allen is one of the most sharp, honest, and likeable stand-ups working in NYC. Leo was a writer for Saturday Night Live from 2002 through 2005. He's also performed two Comedy Central Presents 1/2-hour specials (one by himself and one with his writing partner Eric Slovin); done stand-up on Late Night with Conan O'Brien.; and acted on Ed and Sex and the City. Leo has now taken over the Monday-at-11:00 pm UCBT spot made super-special by Aziz Ansari's Crash Test and Jeremy Levenbach's Cavalcade! (in fact, Whiplash is produced by Jeremy).

Tonight's thoroughly wonderful guests are

Eugene Mirman (Late Night with Conan O'Brien, Comedy Central Presents half-hour special,

Comedy Central's Premium Blend and Jump Cuts, HBO's Flight of the Conchords, VH1, and Adult Swim;

two comedy albums, The Absurd Nightclub Comedy of Eugene Mirman and

En Garde, Society!; award-winning co-host of hit weekly Brooklyn comedy show Tearing the Veil of Maya; new book The Will to Whatevs: A Guide to Modern Life),

Dave Hill (one of the most original and hilariously sharp alternative comics in the country; written for The New York Times, Salon, HBO, and the eerie Web site Black Metal Dialogues; written & starred in MOJO TV's King of Miami; written and performed for VH1, Spike TV, The Learning Channel, and the much-missed Smoking Gun TV series; hosts monthly UCBT live comedy extravaganza The Dave Hill Explosion—for sample videos, please click here),

Aubrey Plaza (young performer about to become a star as cast member of NBC's upcoming spin-off of The Office, and via roles in the upcoming movies Funny People and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World; to get a feel for Aubrey, check out her playing Liz Cackowski's daughter

on the hilarious YouTube series The Jeannie Tate Show (in an episode co-starring

SNL's Bill Hader) by clicking here, and see her as a sex-crazed teen in

a parody of MTV's insipid dating show Next! by clicking here), and

Kumail Nanjiani (rising stand-up star; Saturday Night Live; Comedy Central's The Colbert Report, The Hot List , and Open Mic Fight; terrific one-man show Unpronounceable about experiences with Islam—for my review, please click here; co-host of monthly NYC live comedy show Game Bros. Live!; to get a feel for Kumail's style, please check out his very funny stand-up about the dark side of video games, odd memories, and the many ways cell phones are eliminated in horror films by clicking here).

If you love comedy, make a habit of attending this stellar free weekly extravaganza.

11:00 pm at UCBT, 307 West 26th Street (off 8th Avenue); free

 

 

NYC Comedy Picks for Tuesday 2/3/09

  

Pete Holmes (Sweet), Bryan Lee O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim (Comic Book Club), and Leo Allen (Sweet)

Tonight's recommendations for the best in New York City comedy

(in chronological order, with top picks marked by colored brackets) include:

the perfect show for short attention spans—open mic stand-up with 4½ minutes per set

and 25 comics crammed into 2½ hours, who tonight include Doug Adler, Michael Buckley, Dan Cartwright, Dave Celestian, Nick Cobb, Chanelle Futrell, Jessie Geller, Cory Jarvis, and John Morrison—at John Morrison's Broadway Motel (6:00 pm),

comedians getting rid of their stuff by telling tales about the items

and then selling to the highest bidder at the fun Auction! (7:30 pm),

[TOP PICK] Bryan Lee O'Malley, creator of the popular Scott Pilgrim series, joining in on a lively & hilarious discussion about four-color pop culture at Comic Book Club (8:00 pm),

[TOP PICK] witty writers offering delightfully silly explanations, ranging from how to become a superfan to how to raise an ape in your own home, in the Brooklyn comedic lecture show Adult Education (8:00 pm),

three full hours of improv for only five bucks—tonight featuring UCBT house troupes

Whorenado, The F*cking Kennedys, The Law Firm, The Scam, and DeCoster—at Harold Night (8:00 pm),

[TOP PICK] and brilliant stand-ups Pete Holmes (VH1's Best Week Ever, Comedy Central, The New Yorker), Leo Allen (writer for Saturday Night Live 2002-2005, Conan O'Brien, Comedy Central), Matt McCarthy (Comedy Central, Verizon Fios commercials), and Roger Hailes (Chappelle's Show, Comedy Central, MTV, VH1) at the wonderful Seth Herzog's Sweet (9:00 pm).

 

Broadway Motel

Lottery-style open mic for stand-up comics trying out material,

with 4½ minutes per performer...in return for a $5 contribution to the weekly prize kitty.

(In addition, Broadway's one-item food or drink minimum applies to everyone.)

A breathtaking 25 comics perform in this 2½ hour show; producer

John Morrison (above) has described it as "comedy on crack."

If you're seeking consistent laughs, this might not be the best way to spend

your evening. But if you're patient and adventurous, it's a potentially wild ride.

And if you're a performer looking for some stage time, it's a nice opportunity.

Plus if you stick around till the show's end to support your fellow comics,

 you have a chance at winning the cash from the kitty, along with smaller prizes.

Tonight's lineup includes talents Doug Adler, Michael Buckley, Dan Cartwright, Dave Celestian, Nick Cobb, Chanelle Futrell, Jessie Geller, Cory Jarvis, and John Morrison.

Broadway Motel is hosted by Cory Jarvis and Doug Adler.

 

To be entered into the weekly random drawing for performers,

please send email to motelme@gmail.com.

6:00 pm at Broadway Comedy Club, 318 West 53rd Street (between 8th & 9th Avenues);

$5 cover plus one-item food or drink minimum

 

 

  

Auction!

This fun show hosted by Chris Sifflet "acts as an alternative to the impersonality of eBay and the seriousness of The Antiques Road Show. At Auction!, comedians bring hilarious stories along with their objects, and you bring riot gear and a few bucks for the bid wars that follow." Expect to be given 25 cents for your kick-off bid. Most items sell for under $5; and they can range from hockey posters to drug paraphernalia.

7:30 pm at Ochi's Lounge at Comix, 353 West 14th Street (between 8th & 9th Avenues);

no cover, 1 drink or food item minimum (e.g., draft beer for $4-$5)

 

 

  

Bryan Lee O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim

Comic Book Club

Hosted by Alex Zalben, Justin Tyler and Pete LePage,

who enjoy discussing comic books while getting laughs.

Tonight's guest is Bryan Lee O'Malley, creator of the popular Scott Pilgrim series.

To get a feel for the smart, playful vibe of Comic Book Club, please check out its podcasts—

that is, audio recordings of previous shows in their entirety—by clicking here.

(And for my two current faves, a delightful visit from Kevin "Batman" Conroy and a hilarious evening with Daily Show writer Eliot Kalan, please click here and here.)

Also be sure to watch a Penguin vs. Batman debate that uncannily predicted John McCain's campaign strategy by clicking here.

8:00 pm at The Peoples Improv Theater, 154 West 29th Street (off 7th Avenue); tickets are $5

 

 

Adult Education: Explaining Stuff

This monthly comedy show hosted by Charles Star tackles a subject with humorous "lectures." Tonight's topic is Explaining Stuff.

The official description:

"For tonight's program, Adult Ed features a variety of talks that speak to the human drive to learn, to do for self, to create, to have something explained in glorious photographic detail. Featuring:

"Paul Lukas exploring the age-old question of how to catch a mouse by examining the vagaries of mousetrap packaging,

"Carrie McLaren discussing strategies for rearing chimps and gorillas as part of human families, drawing on her collection of memoirs by people who have raised apes in their homes,

"Eliot Glazer discussing Long Island's 'bizarre, penultimate cross-section' as captured in his high school yearbook, tracing stereotypes from the Faux-Mafioso D'bag to Extreme Jew to Long Island Railroad Skank, and

"Mikki Halpin describing super-fans, and how to take your fandom to the next level, whether that's fighting about whether the warp core can really go into hyperspace from planetary orbit without draining the dilithium crystals or writing Caroline and the City fanfiction."

This promises to be smart, witty, and lots of fun.

Doors at 7:30, show at 8:00 pm at Union Hall, 702 Union Street at 5th Avenue

in Park Slope, Brooklyn; tickets are $5

Take the R train to Union Street and walk 1 block east; or take

the F train to 4th Avenue, walk north on 4th Avenue and turn right on Union Street, and go 1 block up;

or take the  2/3/4/5/Q train to Atlantic Avenue, walk south on 5th Avenue, and make a left on Union Street.

 

 

Harold Night

The Harold is longform improv, pioneered by Del Close.

Tonight, five improv troupes—

Whorenado, The F*cking Kennedys, The Law Firm, The Scam, and DeCoster—

each give it a go for 30 minutes, with

short breaks in between, for a total of 3 hours.

Some of the groups are great; some are less so. And this show

is designed more for students of improv than the general public.

But if you're interested, and patient, a mere $5 will buy you

a full evening's education...and periodic solid laughs.

8:00-11:00 pm at UCBT, 307 West 26th Street (off 8th Avenue); tickets are $5

 

 

  

Leo Allen and Pete Holmes...

  

...and Seth Herzog, Roger Hailes, and Matt McCarthy

Sweet

Hosted by the razor-sharp, dynamic, and hilarious Seth Herzog (VH1's Best Week Ever).

Seth is one of the finest hosts around—and this is one of the best comedy shows in NYC.

Tonight's thoroughly wonderful guests include

Pete Holmes (brilliant, lightning-fast stand-up;  VH1's Best Week Ever,

Comedy Central's Premium Blend and Motherload; writer for CollegeHumor.com;

cartoonist for mags ranging from The New Yorker to Cosmo Girl;

host of UCBT's monthly open mic stand-up show Gutbucket),

Leo Allen (one of the most sharp, honest, and likeable stand-ups working in NYC; writer for Saturday Night Live from 2002 through 2005; performed two Comedy Central Presents 1/2-hour specials (one by himself and one with his writing partner Eric Slovin); done stand-up on Late Night with Conan O'Brien.; acted on Ed and Sex and the City; host of NYC weekly live comedy show Whiplash),

Matt McCarthy (razor-sharp comic; Comedy Central's Live at Gotham; co-host of biweekly LIC live comedy extravaganza The Matt and Katina Show; national TV ads for Verizon Fios, Guinness, etc.; for stand-up videos about unsolicited advice and measuring love, please click here and here), and

Roger Hailes (exceptionally sharp, personable stand-up; Chappelle's Show,

VH1's All Access; writer for VH1's Best Week Ever, Comedy Central, MTV, Bravo, E!;

for sample videos, please click here and here).

9:00 pm at The Slipper Room, 167 Orchard Street  (corner of Stanton Street); tickets are $5

 

 

NYC Comedy Picks for Wednesday 2/4/09

    

Brilliant comics Todd Barry, Aubrey Plaza, and John Mulaney are just the tip of the iceberg of tonight's

extraordinary 5th anniversary blow-up extravaganza, likely to run over three hours, on a magical School Night

Tonight's recommendations for the best in New York City comedy

(in chronological order, with top picks marked by colored brackets) include:

five free hours of improvisation in The PIT's Super Free Wednesday (7:00 pm-midnight),

[TOP PICK] brilliantly funny and sexy rising star Adira Amram's unique show combining hilarious original songs, dancing, and spoofing of female sexuality mixed with incredible physical energy—and tonight featuring backup dancers and rockin' band The Experience—at Adira Amram is an American Idol (8:00 pm),

[TOP PICK] one of the most razor-sharp and uproariously funny storytellers in the country performing a one-man show that should not be missed: Chris Gethard's Magic Box of Stories (8:00 pm),

talented stand-ups Joe Pontillo, H. Alan Scott, Adam Lehman, Dan Upham, and Susan Alexander at the free Shrink (8:00 pm),

[TOP PICK] terrific comics Wyatt Cenac, Chelsea Peretti, Todd Levin, and Will Hines performing in Brooklyn at a free show hosted by the hilarious Joe Mande & Noah Garfinkel: Totally J/K (9:30 pm),

[MEGA-TOP PICK] and what's likely to be one of the most magical and memorable events of the year, a 5th Anniversary celebration of Justin Purnell's wonderful weekly comedic variety show, tonight featuring Todd Barry, John Mulaney, Aubrey Plaza, The Buffoons, Krompf, and a breathtaking collection of other comics from Saturday Night Live, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, Conan O'Brien, David Letterman, HBO, in a blow-out spectacular that may run past midnight and proves anything can happen on a School Night (9:30 pm).

 

 

Kurt Braunohler and Pat Shay

The PIT's Super Free Wednesday

For four hours every Wednesday, The PIT provides free shows featuring its improv house troupes. Vacation Island and Tomahawk perform at 7:00 pm; Big Black Car and Mrs. Esterhouse go on at 8:00 pm; and The Baldwins and Punch show their stuff at 9:30. Rounding out the evening are The Faculty, consisting of The PIT's superb improv instructors, including such talents as Ali Farahnakian, Kurt Braunohler, Ptolemy Slocum, Jen Nails, Pat Shay, Kevin Scott, and Rebekka Johnson.

If you then feel sufficiently inspired, you can participate in the free show Improdome at 11:00 pm, which allows audience members to get on stage and improvise with each other in trios for 5-7 minute sets.

7:00 pm-midnight at The Peoples Improv Theater, 154 West 29th Street (off 7th Avenue); free

 

 

Adira Amram is an American Idol

Sexy, sly, subversive, and adorable, Adira Amram celebrates her sensuality and pokes fun at it simultaneously in a show crammed with her witty, thoughtful, and hilarious comedic songs...and a performance brimming with a wry yet joyful zest for life. Adira is a Jane Magazine Editor's Choice; co-star of UCBT's Get Psyched!; and opens for such stars as comedy genius Maria Bamford. To read a Backstage article about an earlier version of the show, please click here. To read a couple of interviews with Amram, please click here and here. And to play some of her songs and videos, please click here.

8:00 pm at the Ars Nova Theatre, 511 West 54th Street (off 10th Avenue); tickets are $15;

get a free drink at the bar by saying SlimJim

 

 

  

Brilliant comedic storyteller Chris Gethard will shower us tonight with his magically hilarious tales

Chris Gethard's Magic Box of Stories

Chris Gethard is one of the most talented and brilliant storytellers and improvisors in New York. Chris can be seen every Friday night as a member of ace improv group The Stepfathers, and every month as a member of the razor-sharp storytelling show the The Nights of Our Lives. Chris is also the author of the book Weird New York.

And tonight Chris lets his storytelling prowess fully shine as he asks audience members to pick story titles out of a box filled with his wondrous, unforgettable, and jaw-droppingly funny tales. Since Chris has many more tales in the box than can be told during this 90-minute slot, every performance is fresh and unique.

Come catch this rising star demonstrate why he should be famous in a show that gets my highest recommendation.

8:00 pm at UCBT, 307 West 26th Street (off 8th Avenue); tickets are $5

 

 

Shrink

This free weekly show tonight includes stand-up comics Joe Pontillo, H. Alan Scott, Adam Lehman, Dan Upham, and Susan Alexander.

8:00 pm at Otto's Shrunken Head, 538 East 14th Street (between Avenues A and B); free

 

 

Totally J/K

Hosted by quick-witted best buds Noah Garfinkel and

Joe Mande, the 2008 ECNY Award winner for Best Emerging Comic.

(For dueling birthday videos, please click here and here; for their

recent appearance on The McLaughlin Group, please click here;

and for other videos, please click here and here.)

Tonight's superb guests include Wyatt Cenac, Chelsea Peretti, Todd Levin, and Will Hines.

9:30 pm at Sound Fix Records, 110 Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg Brooklyn; free

 

 

    

Todd Barry, Aubrey Plaza, John Mulaney...

   

...Eugene Cordero, Charlie Sanders, and Bobby Moynihan of sketch/improv troupe The Buffoons...

  

...host Justin Purnell, and improv troupe Krompf

School Night

UCBT is world-renowned as a place where razor-sharp comics can hone their material and their craft. For the past five years, the weekly show that's exemplified this spirit of organic experimentation, and that's been an open tent to all kinds of comedy—stand-up, improv, sketch, and acts that defy categorization—has been School Night, hosted by the wise and super-supportive Justin Purnell. Tonight marks the 5th anniversary of this magical show, and some of the finest comics in the country are coming to perform and celebrate in an extra-special edition that starts at 9:00 pm and may well run past midnight.

The small army of wonderful guests include

Todd Barry (wryly brilliant stand-up who's one of the very best in the biz;

Late Show with David Letterman, Late Night with Conan O'Brien,

Comedy Central Presents; HBO's Flight of the Conchords, Lucky Louie, and Sex in the City;

Comedy Central's Freak Show, Dr. Katz, and Shorties Watching Shorties;

Adult Swim's Space Ghost, Aqua Teen Hunger Force,  and Tom Goes To The Mayor;

acted in the acclaimed Darren Aronofsky hit film The Wrestler;

check out Todd's newest comedy CD From Heaven),

John Mulaney (one of the finest stand-up comics in the country; since August 2008 has been staff writer for Saturday Night Live; frequently appears on VH1's Best Week Ever; performed stand-up twice on Late Night with Conan O'Brien; won the 2008 ECNY Award for Best Male Stand-Up Comedian; selected by Variety as among the 10 Comics to Watch for 2008; to check out videos of John's two Conan sets, please click here and here),

Aubrey Plaza (young performer about to become a star as cast member of NBC's upcoming spin-off of The Office, and via roles in the upcoming movies Funny People and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World; to get a feel for Aubrey, check out her playing Liz Cackowski's daughter

on the hilarious YouTube series The Jeannie Tate Show (in an episode co-starring

SNL's Bill Hader) by clicking here, and see her as a sex-crazed teen in

a parody of MTV's insipid dating show Next! by clicking here),

The Buffoons (sketch/improv group consisting of three of the most brilliantly funny comics alive, Eugene Cordero, Bobby Moynihan, and Charlie Sanders),

Krompf (world-class comedy troupe consisting of Neil Casey (member of UCBT's weekly hit show Death by Roo Roo), Ryan Karels, Amey Goerlich, and Joe Wengert (member of UCBT's weekly hit show Reuben Williams). At a memorable 2007 appearance on Cage Match, these improvisors took the kickoff suggestion Christendom to heights of delicious absurdity, in which young children about to be initiated into Catholicism are made to wear suits of armor and engage in swordplay while a voracious winged monster (played memorably by Ryan Karels) perches ready to gobble up the head of any who show hints of wavering. And in another subplot, Neil Casey was hilarious as a perpetually grieving cab driver who tells every passenger about his bride dying on their wedding day. At the end, we learn that as he backed up the cab preparing to drive them both to the Church, he accidentally ran her over...), and

Chuck D & Jawnee, Jawnee & Bobby, Krafft & Drysdale, Monkeydick, Muvver, NY Dillz, Rogue Elephant, SHIT-STORM, Penny...and many, many more.

If you love comedy, and are open to anything, don't miss this extraordinary blow-out show.

9:30 pm at UCBT, 307 West 26th Street (off 8th Avenue); tickets are $5

 

 

NYC Comedy Picks for Thursday 2/5/09

  

Carolyn Castiglia tonight debuts her long-awaited one-woman show Brown Ambition

Tonight's recommendations for the best in New York City comedy

(in chronological order, with top picks marked by colored brackets) include:

[TOP PICK] the biggest bang for the buck this evening—three hours packed with UCBT solo performers and sketch comedy groups for a mere $5, including brilliantly funny character chameleons Lennon Parham, Kate McKinnon, and Thomas Middleditch—at the annual UCBT's Winter Showcase (6:30 pm),

[TOP PICK] brilliant stand-up and white rapper Carolyn Castiglia performing a one-woman show that's likely to be spectacular—please read my interview with Carolyn by clicking here, and then come see the debut of Brown Ambition (8:00 pm),

[TOP PICK] genius movie & TV star Kristen Schaal (HBO's Flight of the Conchords, correspondent for The Daily Show), genius stand-up comic Pete Holmes (Comedy Central, VH1, The New Yorker), stellar writer/performer Patrick Borelli (Conan O'Brien, Comedy Central, ESPN, Adult Swim), and more, plus an after-show birthday celebration for Max, at a free weekly Brooklyn extravaganza hosted by Gabe Liedman, Jenny Slate, and Max Silvestri: Big Terrific (8:00ish pm),

kinetic new sketch troupe The New Deal in A False Sense of Social Security (8:00 pm),

[TOP PICK] comedy genius Zach Galifianakis, plus Joe Mande, Jacqueline Novak, Amy Miles, and Amy Sohn joining the fresh, sexy, and razor-sharp gals of Variety Shac (9:30 pm),

[TOP PICK] and two vibrant improv troupes, Hot Sauce and Bastian, competing for audience laughs & votes at the raucous Cage Match (11:00 pm).

 

  

Lennon Parham and Kate McKinnon...

   

...a couple of the many faces of Thomas Middleditch, and sketch duo Lou Perez & Greg Burke

UCBT's Winter Showcase

Some of the best comedic solo performers and sketch groups at UCBT

come together this evening to show off their stuff and make you laugh in a three-hour

marathon...and all for a mere five bucks. These talented writer/performers include

Laid-back, sexy, wry, and hilarious Lennon Parham (chameleon who plays zillions of characters with seeming ease, ranging from Nomi Malone (see my review of her Showgirls parody), author JK Rowling (as the clear highlight of a Harry Potter parody, in which Rowling reveals all the novels are based on actual events in her life), Sandy Michaelson as a Solid Gold Dance understudy, to Freddy Krueger; superb one-woman show She Tried to Be Normal; delivers world-class improvisation every Saturday night as part of stellar troupe Reuben Williams; Jane Borden has written in Time Out New York that Lennon's antics "will leave you wondering why she isn't famous yet"and "Attention Lorne Michaels, please give Lennon Parham a job."),

Kate McKinnon (sharp, witty actress who "gets" both verbal and physical comedy down to her bones; cast member of Logo TV's The Big Gay Sketch Show; one-woman UCBT show Disenchanted: "Watch the beloved fairy princesses of your childhood pop a few Klonopins and eat themselves into a coma"),

Thomas Middleditch (quick-witted organic talent and rising star who honed his improv skills at Second City and iO Chicago, and is a member of acclaimed improv troupes Baby Wants Candy, Improvised Shakespeare, and Broad Shoulders; one-man show Littlebitch; co-host of NYC comedy show about video games Game Bros. Live!; wildly popular character performer at Morrison Motel; for cartoon that prompted the comment "wow i think i actually feel  my intelligence melting away as i watch this," please click here),

Greg & Lou (sharp, committed sketch comedy duo Greg Burke (Late Night with Conan O'Brien, Law & Order, Guiding Light) and Lou Perez (co-star with Greg in sketch comedy group The Wicked Wicked Hammerkatz; also a talented short story writer & contributor to Fiction Magazine as Luis Amate Perez); for a video sample, please click here),

and Nate Lang, Sue Galloway, BriTANick, Rory & Craig, and Dan & Doug.

6:30 pm at UCBT, 307 West 26th Street (off 8th Avenue); tickets are $5

 

 

  

Carolyn Castiglia: Brown Ambition

Carolyn Castiglia is one of the sharpest, quickest, and funniest comics in NYC—and, so far, one of the most underappreciated. Perhaps the latter will be remedied with her long-awaited one-woman show, which debuts tonight.

Carolyn is best known nationally as Miss CKC on VH1's The (White) Rapper Show and ego trip's Miss Rap Supreme. She's also performed on NBC's Last Comic Standing, The Maury Show, VH1's BestWeekEver.tv, MTV2, MTVU, Nick at Nite's Funniest Mom in America 3, and Sirius/XM Radio; spent three years hosting the weekly NYC live comedy show Chicks & Giggles, a showcase for NYC female comics; and currently co-hosts the monthly NYC comedy show Meat & Potatoes at The PIT, and co-stars in the monthly sketch comedy extravaganza High School Talent Show at UCBT.

Carolyn is also a talented writer whose funny material has appeared in the book The Idiot's Guide to Jokes, magazines ranging from Time Out New York to Life & Style, and news periodicals ranging from the New York Post to The Huffington Post. In addition, Carolyn is a fine actress...as she'll demonstrate this evening.

To get a feel for Carolyn, please read my interview with her by clicking here; and then come see what's likely to be an amazing and memorable show.

To order tickets online ($15 plus $2.25 service charge), please click here.

8:00 pm at the Ars Nova Theatre, 511 West 54th Street (off 10th Avenue); tickets are $15

 

 

  

Pete Holmes and Kristen Schaal...

  

...and Patrick Borelli, and hosts Gabe Liedman & Jenny Slate

Big Terrific, hosted by Gabe Liedman & Max Silvestri

Gabe Liedman & Jenny Slate (adorable and foul-mouthed comedy duo Gabe & Jenny; for hilarious Jenny video, please click here) and Max Silvestri (VH1's Best Week Ever, weekly podcast Best Night Ever, videos for 236.com) host this free weekly Brooklyn show.

Tonight's thoroughly wonderful guests are

Kristen Schaal (lovely, brilliant, breathtakingly talented writer/actress/comic;

thoroughly delightful correspondent and shining star on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart;

co-star of HBO's Flight of the Conchords; writer for MTV's Human Giant;

AMC's Mad Men; upcoming feature film Cirque du Freak (with Salma Hayek);

co-star of Web video series Penelope: Princess of Pets; winner of numerous comedy awards, including the prestigious 2nd Annual Andy Kaufman Award and the 2008 ECNY Award for Best Female Stand-Up; to read about Kristen's killer set headlining at Comix, please click here),

Pete Holmes (brilliant, lightning-fast stand-up;  VH1's Best Week Ever,

Comedy Central's Premium Blend and Motherload; writer for CollegeHumor.com;

cartoonist for mags ranging from The New Yorker to Cosmo Girl;

host of UCBT's monthly open mic stand-up show Gutbucket),

Patrick Borelli (Late Night with Conan O'Brien, Comedy Central's Premium Blend, ESPN's Cheap Seats, writer for Adult Swim's Assy McGee, SuperDeluxe's Thunderpoint, Video Power Hour, co-author of new book Holy Headshot!), and

Jesse Popp (Comedy Central's Premium Blend; co-host of weekly long-running NYC live stand-up show Beauty Bar Comedy).

8:00ish pm at Sound Fix Records, 110 Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg Brooklyn; free

Take the L subway to Bedford Avenue and walk four blocks to N 11th Street

 

 

  

Dru Johnston, Alex Demers, and Noah Forman

The New Deal: A False Sense of Social Security

For a new troupe, The New Deal is impressive, delivering sketches that are silly and energy-charged. All three members are fine, but especially keep an eye on Alex Demers, who has a wild Sean Penn quality that makes you think he might explode into violence or insanity at any moment, adding enormously to the edgy quality of the group's scenes.

At the performance I attended, the show opened with a sweet but so-so improv troupe. Go with the flow, and be patient; it's worth the wait for the sketches that follow.

8:00 pm at The Peoples Improv Theater, 154 West 29th Street (off 7th Avenue); tickets are $8

 

 

SHAC gals Heather Lawless, Chelsea Peretti, Andrea Rosen, & Shonali Bhowmik

Variety Shac

The hard-to-resist members of this hilarious group are musical host Shonali Bhowmik,

and superbly quirky comics Heather Lawless, Chelsea Peretti, and Andrea Rosen.

The show typically features songs, brilliant stand-up comedy, and funny short films

made by the foursome; for samples of the latter, please click here and here.

Tonight's stellar guests include comedy genius Zach Galifianakis, plus Joe Mande, Jacqueline Novak, Amy Miles, and Amy Sohn.

9:30 pm at UCBT, 307 West 26th Street (off 8th Avenue); tickets are $5

 

 

vs.

Cage Match: Hot Sauce vs. Bastian

This delightful show pits two improv teams against each other while creating the

atmosphere of a professional wrestling arena—and providing such side-shows

as a bout to the death between guys costumed as an alcoholic wolf and TV's Alf.

(For a spirited weekly report on the wrestling aspect of Cage Match, please click here.)

Last week concluded the exhilarating 2008 season of Cage Match, with The Stepfathers delivering a world-class performance, and Death by Roo Roo then topping it to win the 2009 Championship with breathtaking skill and edgy grace (though the troupe was handed a gift with the audience springboard suggestion of "I used to f*ck guys like you in prison..."). You can catch The Stepfathers every Friday night at 9:30 at UCBT, and DBRR every Saturday night at 9:00 at UCBT; both troupes are brilliant and highly recommended.

Tonight kicks off the 2009 season; and it does so with a bang via star group Hot Sauce, the winner of the 2006 Cage Match Championship, and one of the quickest and sharpest troupes in the country. (The guys almost melted the stage with their lightning-fast wit last night at Justin Purnell's thoroughly magical 5th Anniversary School Night blow-out.) The troupe consists of

Gil Ozeri (SNL; animator and creator of Team Gibba),

Adam Pally (written for ABC; performs for MTV, Comedy Central,

UCBT's The Nights of Our Lives), and

Ben Schwartz (freelance writer for SNL's Weekend Update and

Late Show's David Letterman monologues;

staff writer for Adult Swim's wonderful Robot Chicken;

short filmmaker for SuperDeluxe.com; co-author of upcoming humor

postcard book Grandma's Dead: Breaking Bad News with Baby Animals).

Battling the trio this evening will be UCBT Harold Night improv troupe Bastian—Brian Barrett, Maggie Carey, Adam Frucci, Brandon Gardner, Lydia Hensler, Molly Lloyd, Oscar Magallanes, and John Murray. This vibrant team brings a great deal of skill and energy to every scene, and has proven to be formidable.

There's no telling what'll happen...which is one of the great pleasures of this extravaganza.

11:00 pm at UCBT, 307 West 26th Street (off 8th Avenue); tickets are $5

 

 

NYC Comedy Picks for Friday 2/6/09

  

Star stand-up Ted Alexandro (Headlining at Comix), and stellar sketch/improv troupe Derrick (Street Legal)

Tonight's recommendations for the best in New York City comedy

(in chronological order, with top picks marked by colored brackets) include:

[TOP PICK] a star stand-up comic who's done two Comedy Central Presents specials, performed on David Letterman, Conan O'Brien, Jimmy Kimmel, and The View, and is headlining tonight and Saturday at the Comix Comedy Club: Ted Alexandro (8:00 pm & 10:30 pm),

hilarious singer/songwriter Ben Lerman, plus stand-ups Gloria Bigelow, Tom Ragu, and Lisa Kaplan, at a gay-themed comedy show hosted by Jenny Rubin: The Back Room (9:00 pm),

[TOP PICK] some of the finest improv in NYC from the comedy genius members of The Stepfathers (9:30 pm),

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

a sketch show (with some improv thrown in) from the superb stars of Derrick (11:00 pm),

and a free opportunity for you to perform sketch on the UCBT stage at Liquid Courage (12:20ish am).

 

Ted Alexandro

Ted Alexandro is a national comedy star who's performed on Late Show with David Letterman, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and The View.

Ted's also performed two Comedy Central Presents half-hour specials.

Ted's been described by Uproar as having "an appeal similar to Ray Romano and Jerry Seinfeld;" and Time Out New York has called him "one of the top comedians working today."

This show is recommended.

Please Note: You can save $5 off the $25 cover tonight or $20 cover before day of show on Saturday (i.e., pay $20 or $15 per ticket) by ordering online with discount code HyReviews.

Please also note there's a two-item minimum;

with tax & tip, figure on spending an additional $13 or up.

Tonight & Saturday at 8:00 pm & 10:30 pm at Comix, 353 West 14th Street (between

8th & 9th Avenues); $20 per ticket tonight or $15 for Saturday

if you order online today using discount code HyReviews

 

 

Jenny Rubin, Dave Rubin, Paul Case, and Shawn Hollenbach

The Back Room

Gay-themed comedy (with both gay & straight comics),

hosted by the charming Jenny Rubin (WE TV’s Cinematherapy and The Gutter).

Tonight's comics include

hilarious singer/songwriter Ben Lerman,

stand-ups Gloria Bigelow, Tom Ragu, and Lisa Kaplan,

plus

Back Room co-producer Paul Case (MTV, D-Listed Radio, here! TV's Bent),

Back Room co-producer Shawn Hollenbach (here! TV's Busted), and

Back Room co-producer Dave Rubin (here! TV's Dave Rubin Project and Hot Gay Comics).

9:00 pm at Ochi's Lounge at Comix, 353 West 14th Street (between 8th & 9th Avenues);

no cover, 1 drink or food item minimum (e.g., draft beer for $4-$5)

 

 

Back: Zach Woods, Bobby Moynihan, Andy Secunda, Michael Delaney, and Shannon O'Neil

Front: Chris Gethard, Silvija Ozols, and Will Hines

The Stepfathers

Some of the smartest & finest improv comics in NYC—Michael Delaney,

Chris Gethard, Will Hines, Bobby Moynihan, Shannon O'Neill, Silvija Ozols,

Andy Secunda, and Zach Woods—make up a series of scenes from a one-word audience suggestion.

Just to give you a feel for the talent involved, Delaney and Secunda are members of legendary improv troupe The Swarm; Gethard is a storytelling genius; and Moynihan (who still comes by on Fridays when he can steal the time) since 2008 is a stellar cast member of Saturday Night Live.

With art and grace, these quick-witted comedy stars will make you laugh—a lot.

9:30 pm at UCBT, 307 West 26th Street (off 8th Avenue); tickets are $10

 

 

The Made-Up Musical

Veteran improvisor John O'Donnell is accompanied

by a rotating cast that might include such superb talents as

Tara Copeland, Scott Glover, Alex Marino, Louis Kornfeld,

 Jessica Allen, Robin Rothman, and Megan Gray

—and with Frank Spitznagel on piano—

turn an interview with an audience member

into a musical they make up on the spot.

10:00 pm at The Magnet Theatre, 254 West 29th Street (off 8th Avenue); tickets are $7

 

 

Derrick Comedy: Street Legal

Derrick is three sharp and enormously appealing performers,

Dominic Dierkes, Donald Glover, and DC Pierson, who have

proven themselves to be both stars and improvisation champions,

winning a breathtaking 11 improv matches in a row in 2007 at Cage Match...

and breaking several all-time records while at it.

The guys also make wildly popular YouTube videos—

for some samples, please click here and here and here.

And they also completed a feature comedy film, which they wrote,

composed, and star in—and which recently premiered at Sundance.

(To view the trailer of Mystery Team, please click here.)

In tonight's show, they perform sketch comedy live,

and throw in an improv session to boot.

These wonderfully inventive writer/actors are continually creating,

so even if you've seen this show before, don't hesitate to come tonight;

the trio will be performing all-new material.

11:00 pm at UCBT, 307 West 26th Street (off 8th Avenue); tickets are $5

 

 

 

Liquid Courage

The ultimate in audience participation: any group can submit a sketch and perform it!

If all you want is to be entertained, this show probably isn't a good choice.

But if you'd like to act on the UCBT stage, and/or have your sketch writing judged by an exceptionally savvy audience, this is a golden opportunity.

Sign-up begins at 10:30 pm and runs till 11:45 pm; sketches will be selected on a first-come, first-served basis, so it's wise to arrive early. For a complete list of the rules, please click here.

12:20ish am at UCBT, 307 West 26th Street (off 8th Avenue); free

 

 

NYC Comedy Picks for Saturday 2/7/09

  

Star stand-up Ted Alexandro (Headlining at Comix), and stellar comedic actress Amanda Duarte (Lucky Pink Wonderland)

Tonight's recommendations for the best in New York City comedy

(in chronological order, with top picks marked by colored brackets) include:

[TOP PICK] four sharp storytellers—tonight consisting of Dan Allen (terrific stand-up comic who's performed on Comedy Central, and will be opening for Ted Alexandro later tonight), Martin Dockery (storyteller acclaimed as "fantastic" by The New York Times), Jeff Rudell (Moth GrandSLAM Champion), and Sherri Eldin (stunning actress and singer/songwriter)—trying to mislead the audience at Andy Christie's The Liar Show (6:00 pm),

[TOP PICK] superb comedic actress Amanda Duarte performing a one-woman show about working in  the entertainment biz: Lucky Pink Wonderland (7:00 pm),

[TOP PICK] superb stand-ups Pat Dixon (Comedy Central, Craig Ferguson, E!, FOX), Helen Hong (TLC, E!), Jena Friedman (Entertaining the Bartender), and more at Sean Sean Donnelly's Lil Seany Boy (7:00 pm),

an exciting new NYC show developed at Chicago's legendary iO theatre in which veteran

improvisors create a play on the spot based on audience suggestions: New Play (7:30 pm),

[TOP PICK] star improvisation from writers & performers at 30 Rock, The Colbert Report,

and The Daily Show who joyously declare Let's Have a Ball (7:30 pm),

[TOP PICK] a star stand-up comic who's done two Comedy Central Presents specials, performed on David Letterman, Conan O'Brien, Jimmy Kimmel, and The View, and is headlining tonight at the Comix Comedy Club: Ted Alexandro (8:00 pm & 10:30 pm),

comics experiencing the rush of performing with no clothes on in The Naked Comedy Showcase (8:00 pm),

sharp NYC comics at a free stand-up comedy show hosted by star sketch/improv troupe Derrick in Queens' Long Island City: This Is New York (8:00 pm),

[TOP PICK] one of my all-time favorite improv troupes—which in 2008 broke the UCBT improv competition record for winning streaks with 17 triumphs in a row, and recently delivered a magnificent performance to capture the 2009 Cage Match Championship—the brilliant and daring members of Death by Roo Roo (9:00 pm),

organic & energetic improv by the four guys of 4 Track! (9:00 pm),

[TOP PICK] improvised furious action from world-class troupe Reuben Williams (10:30 pm),

[TOP PICK] Ted Greenberg (Emmy-winning David Letterman writer) performing a fun, quick-paced theatrical comedy show—tonight with free wine and beer, and audience rides home!—at The Complete Performer (10:30 pm),

and a comedy game show about life and trivia: Are You Paying Attention? (midnight).

 

The Liar Show

Four funny people tell amazing stories. Three of the tales are absolutely true...but one of them is a pack of lies. The audience then asks questions to try and identify the fibber. Hosted by Andy Christie (The New York Times, 2007 Moth GrandSlam Champion, author of book I Wasn't Kidding).

Tonight's stellar yarn-spinners are

Dan Allen (Comedy Central's Premium Blend; fun comedy site FlockOfMullets.com and blog TaoOfDan.com; host of monthly NYC live comedy show ˇSacapuntas!; for stand-up video on Dan's vegan ex-girlfriend, please click here), and

Martin Dockery (acclaimed as "fantastic" by The New York Times; four-time The Moth Grandslam finalist; Talking Stick, Mouthpiece, one-man show Wanderlust).

Jeff Rudell (2003 The Moth GrandSLAM Championship; contestant on two 2005 episodes of NBC's The Apprentice: Martha Stewart), and

Sherri Eldin (stunning actress and singer/songwriter; for sample videos, please click here and here).

The Liar Show was a smash hit at this August's Edinburgh Festival, and is recommended.

To reserve tickets, please call (212) 989-9319.

6:00 pm at Cornelia Street Cafe, 29 Cornelia Street (between West 4th Street and Bleecker);

tickets are $12, which includes one house drink

 

 

    

A few of the faces of stellar actress/writer Amanda Duarte

Lucky Pink Wonderland

I first met Amanda Duarte when she was kind enough to visit my screenwriters workshop for an evening of cold readings. She was an exceptionally skilled and quick-thinking actress while performing the movie pages; but what was even more notable were her off-hand comments during our critiquing afterwards. At one point Amanda said a scene was "funny as balls." I remarked that I'd never realized balls were comedic. Amanda instantly replied, "Take my word, Hy. I've seen a lot more of them than you have." It was then I realized that in addition to being a stellar actress, Amanda is a razor-sharp wit.

Both qualities are in ample evidence in Amanda's one-woman show, which explores the crazy behavior of celebrities, and the highly unglamorous life of performers seeking to attain their own fame. Some sample moments:

Hollywood star teaching her 4-year-old adopted trophy-daughter the right values by ordering a Diet Coke: "Emma, what does Mommy say? It's not a diet, it's a live-it. Now drink it up and be pretty."

A fading star in a restaurant: "I'm just trying to have lunch with my friend here today, so no autographs, okay? Oh. Sorry. I'll have the garden salad."

Failed actress turned waitress trying to force alcohol at noon on a fellow waitress in AA who just landed a TV role: "Let's celebrate with a drink! Really, one little glass isn't gonna hurt, is it? Look, you're being rude. Well, glad I don't have to live like that. Thank God I don't have a drinking problem, 'cause I don't know what I'd do if I couldn't have a drink."

A recent Variety review describes it all as "Very, very funny...It's hard to leave the theater without feeling like a little bite has been taken out of your soul." What more can one ask for?

Like Amanda, the show is smart, funny, raunchy, memorable...and recommended.

7:00 pm at The Peoples Improv Theater, 154 West 29th Street (off 7th Avenue); tickets are $10

 

 

  

Pat Dixon, Helen Hong, and Jena Friedman

Little Seany Boy

Sean Donnelly (co-host of weekly NYC open mic live comedy show Ochi's Motel; member of sketch comedy & funny short film troupe Don't Touch Me There; for a stand-up video, please click here) emcees this showcase for stellar stand-ups.

Tonight's superb guests are

Pat Dixon (Comedy Central Presents ½-hour special, Comedy Central's Premium Blend,

The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, E!, FOX, syndicated movie reviews on radio),

Helen Hong (TLC's What Not to Wear; E!'s Exposed: 25 Most Notorious Fashion Week Moments; Helen says " I love it when people ask me 'Where are you from?' and I say 'New York' and they say 'No, where are you really from???' I know they want me to name some Asian country like Japan or Korea. Instead I just stab them in the eye with a chopstick and scream 'I'm from the Land of Deadly Chopsticks, you evil Round Eye!' And then I shuffle away like a dainty geisha...;"

for Helen's hilarious stand-up video about false assumptions

and verbal misunderstandings, please click here), and

Jena Friedman (razor-sharp and delightfully dark stand-up comic; host of Brooklyn weekly live comedy show Entertaining the Bartender; playwright of 2008 FringeNYC show Refugee Girls; for a stand-up video about sexual predators, eggs, and Tai food, please click here),

Sean Crespo (host of NYC live comedy show Drink at Work; also prolific comedy filmmaker—for samples, please click here & here & here),

Chris Conway (host of NYC live comedy show Roots), and

Charlie Kasov (New Orleans Comedy Festival).

7:00 pm at Ochi's Lounge at Comix, 353 West 14th Street (between 8th & 9th Avenues)

no cover, 1 drink or food item minimum (e.g., draft beer for $4-$5)

 

 

New Play: Improvised Theatre in One or Two Acts

Chicago's legendary iO Theatre developed an improv form called Play in which comics took an audience suggestion and then created "a play of two acts or less" on the spot. Bringing this exciting comedic game to NYC are Chicago-trained improv veterans Peter Grosz (writer for The Colbert Report, member of acclaimed Chicago improv troupe 4 Square, star of over 100 Sonic fast-food commercials), Deb Downing, Ed Herbstman, Katie Caussin, Melanie Hoopes, Jonathan Karpinos, and Kelly Haran, with direction by Sandy Marshall.

According to the official description, "the ensemble writes a play while they are performing it, streamlining the cumbersome and often wasteful 'process' traditionally used to develop scripts. Eliminating rewrites, readings, rehearsals, and other distractions, the cast of New Play harnesses the power of live theatre with no preparation, opening (and closing) a brand new play each week.

"New Play doesn't rehash the stereotypes of well-known theatrical styles or authors for easy laughs. Instead, the cast explores original stories and characters every show, as if in the voice of some yet undiscovered playwright. The results range from poignant to hilarious, and occasionally both at the same time.

"The show may contain strobe lights, loud explosions, nudity, objectionable themes, and gunfire. Or it may not."

If you love both improv and theatre, how can you resist?

7:30 pm at The Magnet Theatre, 254 West 29th Street (off 8th Avenue); tickets are $5

 

 

 

Becky Drysdale, Anthony King, Christina Gausas, and Tami Sagher

Let's Have a Ball

Some of the sharpest writers and performers in NYC get together for long-form improv fun.

Among the players often performing are Scott Adsit (cast member of 30 Rock, and co-director & cast member of Adult Swim's brilliant & Emmy-winning Moral Orel), Kay Cannon (writer for 30 Rock), Becky Drysdale (acclaimed one-woman show One Woman in Several Pieces, Web video series Time Traveling Lesbian), Christina Gausas (Late Night with Conan O'Brien, The Stepfathers, Dorff & Gausas), Anthony King (UCBT-NY Artistic Director, Reuben Williams, Gutenberg! The Musical), Laura Krafft (writer for The Colbert Report), Tami Sagher (writer for 30 Rock; writer and producer for Mad TV 2001-2006), and Dan Goor (Late Night with Conan O'Brien, The Daily Show).

7:30 pm at UCBT, 307 West 26th Street (off 8th Avenue); tickets are $10

 

 

Ted Alexandro

Ted Alexandro is a national comedy star who's performed on Late Show with David Letterman, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and The View.

Ted's also performed two Comedy Central Presents half-hour specials.

Ted's been described by Uproar as having "an appeal similar to Ray Romano and Jerry Seinfeld;" and Time Out New York has called him "one of the top comedians working today."

This show is recommended.

Please Note: You can save $5 off the $25 cover (i.e., pay $20 per ticket)

by ordering online with discount code HyReviews.

Please also note there's a two-item minimum;

with tax & tip, figure on spending an additional $13 or up.

8:00 pm & 10:30 pm at Comix, 353 West 14th Street (between 8th & 9th Avenues);

$20 per ticket if you order online today using discount code HyReviews

 

 

Andy Ofiesh, creator of The Naked Comedy Showcase

The Naked Comedy Showcase

Oddly enough, this is just what it sounds like;

stand-up, sketch, and improv comics performing in the buff.

A reviewer from The Boston Globe observed, "The dynamic of nude comedian

and clothed audience added an extra dimension to self-deprecating material."

For a New York Magazine review, please click here.

8:00 pm at The Peoples Improv Theater, 154 West 29th Street (off 7th Avenue); tickets are $10

 

 

Donald Glover, DC Pierson, and Dominic Dierkes of Derrick

This Is New York

Derrick is three sharp and enormously appealing performers,

Dominic Dierkes, Donald Glover, and DC Pierson, who are sketch comedy

stars via their wildly popular YouTube videos—

for some samples, please click here and here and here.

The guys also completed a comedy feature film, which they

wrote, composed, and star in—and which recently premiered at Sundance!

(To view the trailer of Mystery Team, please click here.)

In this weekly free show in Queens' Long Island City, these impressively

multi-talented comics host a comedy showcase featuring NYC stand-ups

...and also themselves performing both stand-up and sketch.

Tonight's guests haven't been announced, but they're typically fine NYC comics.

8:00 pm at The Creek and The Cave, 10-93 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City, Queens; free

From Manhattan, take the #7 subway to the Vernon Boulevard-Jackson Avenue stop (one stop after Grand Central); exit on Jackson Avenue and walk one block north to 49th Avenue

 

 

Death by Roo Roo: Your F*cked Up Family

Arguably the gutsiest improv troupe in NYC, and unquestionably among the finest groups in improv history, the brilliant comics of Death by Roo RooAnthony Atamanuik, Liz Cackowski, Neil Casey, John Gemberling, Curtis Gwinn, Adam Pally, and Gavin Speiller—interview an audience member about family and then act out his or her life story

via improvised scenes. Always razor-sharp, sometimes scary, and usually hilarious.

9:00 pm at UCBT, 307 West 26th Street (off 8th Avenue); tickets are $10

 

 

4 Track!

Springboarding from a word suggested by the audience,

George Basil, Frank Campanella, Christian Capozzoli, and Matt Evans

perform organic & energetic long-form improv for about 40 minutes.

Basil is a stand-out, but they're all sharp, committed improvisors.

There's also a warm chemistry between the men, which is especially evident

if you arrive early to watch them getting ready on stage: They toss a ball

back and forth, and then toss each other back and forth...sending

a body message of "If you throw an improv concept at me, you can trust me

to not let it drop..." One of the Magnet's most popular shows.

9:00 pm at The Magnet Theatre, 254 West 29th Street (off 8th Avenue); tickets are $5

 

 

Reuben Williams Attacks!

Anthony King demonstrates that in addition to running UCBT-NY brilliantly, he's a superb improvisor and actor. Joining him are stellar talents Eugene Cordero, Porter Mason, Lennon Parham, Ben Rodgers, Charlie Sanders, Eric Scott, Kate Spencer, Charlie Todd, and Joe Wengert. These improv stars tonight let "the gloves come off in a show that will give you a bloody nose from laughing so hard, and a bruise on your knee from slapping it the way people do when they laugh...Come get your head blown off as some of NYC's funniest improvisers attack the stage."

10:30 pm at UCBT, 307 West 26th Street (off 8th Avenue); tickets are $10

 

 

Ted Greenberg: The Complete Performer

It would be hard to go wrong with a show from Ted Greenberg, the Emmy Award winning writer for seven seasons of Late Night with David Letterman. So it's not surprising this 30-minute act was a hit at this year's FringeNYC, often selling out performances.

The Complete Performer is a parody of typical NYC acts in small venues—improv, mind reading, card tricks, playing with the audience. It's essentially a comedy club act, but with gags in place of standard jokes. (If you're okay with having surprises spoiled, you can get a feel for Ted's approach by clicking here.)

Come enjoy quirky laughs from this seasoned pro; and hang out afterwards to chat with Ted, who's one of the friendliest Emmy winners you're ever likely to meet...and even promises to drive some audience members home!

Please note tonight's extra audience incentive: free wine and beer!

10:30 pm at Soho Playhouse, 15 Vandam Street (between 6th Avenue & Varick); tickets are $15

 

 

Are You Paying Attention?

This monthly event is "a live game show featuring three contestants chosen randomly from the audience to answer questions about politics, pop culture, and other things you should already know!" Written by John Frusciante, Aaron Glaser, Jon Gutierrez; hosted by John Frusciante; and featuring sketch comedy performers Phaea Crede, Mike Still, and Ari Scott.

Midnight at UCBT, 307 West 26th Street (off 8th Avenue); tickets are $5

 

 

NYC Comedy Picks for Sunday 2/8/09

  

Jackie Monahan (Electro Shock Therapy), Jim Norton (Carolines), and Kate McKinnon (Electro Shock Therapy)

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] UCBT's playground for celebrities and ace improvisors,

ASSSSCAT 3000 (paid show at 7:30 pm, free show at 9:30 pm),

[TOP PICK] [$] a veteran comedy star (Opie & Anthony, David Letterman, Jay Leno, Last Comic Standing, HBO) headlining at Carolines Comedy Club: Jim Norton (8:00 pm),

[TOP PICK] razor-sharp stand-ups Joe DeRosa (Comedy Central, Carson Daly), Jon Fisch (Last Comic Standing, Comedy Central), Hannibal Buress (Comedy Central, Craig Ferguson), and more at RG Daniels' free Sunday Night Stand-Up (8:00 pm),

[TOP PICK] also razor-sharp stand-ups DC Benny (Last Comic Standing finalist, Comedy Central Presents, The Chris Rock Show), Chelsea Peretti (Comedy Central, Variety SHAC), Kumail Nanjiani (Saturday Night Live, The Colbert Report), and more from hosts Greg Johnson and Jacqueline Novak at President Johnson (8:00 pm),

typically stellar stand-up comics joining comedy giants Eugene Mirman & Michael Showalter—winners of the 2008 ECNY Award for Best Hosts—for their weekly shindig at Brooklyn's Union Hall: Tearing the Veil of Maya (8:00 pm),

terrific stand-ups Roger Hailes (writer for VH1's Best Week Ever, Chappelle's Show, MTV, Bravo, E!), Pat Stango (Don't Touch Me There), John Knefel ((D)evangelical Comedy, The Huffington Post), and more at Vince Averill's & Jesse Popp's free show Beauty Bar Comedy (9:00 pm),

[TOP PICK] and an all-lesbian lineup with superb comics Kate McKinnon (Logo TV's The Big Gay Sketch Show, one-woman show Disenchanted), Jackie Monahan (here! TV, Dykes on Mics), Jessica Kirson (Last Comic Standing, Comedy Central), and Lisa Kaplan (Carolines) at a free gay-themed show hosted by Brad Loekle: Electro Shock Therapy Comedy Hour (10:00 pm).

 

 

ASSSSCAT 3000

The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre's signature show, which features a monologist telling stories based on audience suggestions and a group of top improvisers (sometimes including stars such as SNL's Amy Poehler and Horatio Sanz) creating scenes based on the stories. There are two shows every Sunday which share the same format, but are otherwise entirely different because everything is improvised. The 7:30 pm show is $10; advance tickets might be sold out by the time you read this, but a limited number of seats are available at the door for

those who arrive early enough to nab 'em...and even more tickets are available for those willing to watch the show standing. The 9:30 show is free, with tickets distributed outside the theatre  at 8:15 pm; but again, you may need to come early and wait on line to ensure getting into this first come,  first served performance.

7:30 pm ($10) & 9:30 pm (free) at UCBT, 307 West 26th Street (off 8th Avenue)

 

 

Jim Norton

Jim Norton is a stand-up veteran with numerous TV, radio, and movie credits. Jim's a regular on XM Satellite Radio's The Opie & Anthony Show; has performed on Late Show with David Letterman, Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and NBC's Last Comic Standing; hosts the new HBO stand-up showcase Down and Dirty with Jim Norton, was a cast member of the wonderful though short-lived HBO sitcom Lucky Louie, and did his own HBO half-hour One Night Stand special; has appeared in such hit films as Spider-Man; and is the author of the book Happy Endings. If you're okay spending some cash, you can catch Jim headlining tonight at Carolines Comedy Club.

Tickets are $32.75, plus a two-drink minimum (with tax & tip, figure an additional $13 or up). To buy in advance online, please click here.

8:00 pm at Carolines, 1626  Broadway (between 49th and 50th Streets);

$32.75 plus two-drink minimum

 

 

    

Jon Fisch, Hannibal Buress, and Joe DeRosa

Sunday Night Stand-Up with RG Daniels

This free weekly stand-up comedy show features both established talents and up-and-comers. It's hosted by RG Daniels (quirky experimental comic; influences include Woody Allen and french fries).

Tonight's superb guests are

Joe DeRosa (razor-sharp stand-up; Comedy Central Presents half-hour special, Comedy Central's Premium Blend, NBC's Last Call with Carson Daly, Insomniac Tour with Dave Attell, Montreal's Just for Laughs Festival; for stand-up video about why Joe hates weddings, please click here),

Jon Fisch (Last Comic Standing 4, nabbing Audience Favorite award; Comedy Central),

Hannibal Buress (Comedy Central's Live at Gotham, Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson; upcoming concert film The Awkward Kings of Comedy),

Jermaine Fowler, and Ben Kissell.

8:00 pm at Three of Cups downstairs lounge, 83 1st Avenue (off 5th Street); free

 

 

    

DC Benny, Chelsea Peretti, and Kumail Nanjiani

President Johnson

This is one of the best comedy shows in New York—and is entirely free.

It's hosted by sharp, quick-witted Greg Johnson (check out his hilarious blog by clicking here) and Jacqueline Novak (Comedy Central Live Tour, XM Radio, CollegeHumor.com; for "response to heckler" video, please click here).

Tonight's wonderful guests are

DC Benny (Last Comic Standing finalist, Comedy Central Presents half-hour special

and Comedy Central's Premium Blend, The Chris Rock Show, Showtime at the Apollo, Friday Night Videos; TV and movie actor for Law & Order, The Cosby Show, Spider-Man 3, and the upcoming film Five Nights in Brooklyn),

Chelsea Peretti (exceptionally fresh, smart stand-up comic; Comedy Central's Live at Gotham; member of superb comedy troupe Variety Shac; writer for Village Voice, Details, Playgirl, Jest,

blackpeopleloveus.com, and Rejection Line: 212/479-7990), and

Kumail Nanjiani (rising stand-up star; Saturday Night Live; Comedy Central's The Colbert Report, The Hot List , and Open Mic Fight; terrific one-man show Unpronounceable about experiences with Islam—for my review, please click here; co-host of monthly NYC live comedy show Game Bros. Live!; to get a feel for Kumail's style, please check out his very funny stand-up about the dark side of video games, odd memories, and the many ways cell phones are eliminated in horror films by clicking here).

8:00 pm at Pianos, 158 Ludlow Street at Stanton; free

 

 

 

Michael Showalter & Eugene Mirman

Tearing the Veil of Maya

If you live in Brooklyn, or simply don't mind going a few subway stops beyond Manhattan,

some of the best funny minds in New York can be found at this weekly show

run by these two comedy giants (winners of the 2008 ECNY Award for Best Hosts):

Eugene Mirman (Late Night with Conan O'Brien, Comedy Central Presents half-hour special,

Comedy Central's Premium Blend and Jump Cuts, HBO's Flight of the Conchords, VH1,

The Absurd Nightclub Comedy of Eugene Mirman and En Garde, Society! comedy albums; new book The Will to Whatevs: A Guide to Modern Life) and

Michael Showalter (MTV's seminal sketch show The State, legendary comedy troupe Stella,

writer/director/star of feature film The Baxter, co-writer/co-star of feature film Wet Hot American Summer).

Tonight's guests haven't been announced, but they're usually world-class stand-up comics.

8:00 pm at Union Hall, 702 Union Street at 5th Avenue in Park Slope, Brooklyn; tickets are $7

Take the R train to Union Street and walk 1 block east; or take

the F train to 4th Avenue, walk north on 4th Avenue and turn right on Union Street, and go 1 block up;

or take the  2/3/4/5/Q train to Atlantic Avenue, walk south on 5th Avenue, and make a left on Union Street.

 

 

  

John Knefel, Roger Hailes, and Pat Stango...

  

...and hosts Vince Averill and Jesse Popp

Beauty Bar Comedy

This long-running free weekly comedy show is hosted by Vince Averill (Comedy Central's Live at Gotham, DC Comedy Festival) and Jesse Popp (Comedy Central's Premium Blend).

Tonight's terrific guests are

Roger Hailes (exceptionally sharp, personable stand-up; Chappelle's Show,

VH1's All Access; writer for VH1's Best Week Ever, Comedy Central, MTV, Bravo, E!;

for sample videos, please click here and here),

Pat Stango (co-host of NYC live comedy show Don't Touch Me There; "It creeps me out when I visit my parents' house and listen to them say what a great sex life they still have. It especially freaks me out because they died in a car accident 10 years ago"),

John Knefel (co-host of NYC live comedy show (D)evangelical Comedy, member of sketch group Bare Hand Wolf Chokers Association, writer for the The Huffington Post; for stand-up video about tracking falafel sales to catch terrorists, please click here),

Lucas Held (co-host of biweekly NYC live comedy show Her Majesty's Stand-Up; writes popular blog The Most Famous Dolphin), and

Jon Lang (for stand-up about learning his brother is gay, please click here).

9:00 pm at Beauty Bar, 231 East 14th Street (between 2nd & 3rd Avenues); free

 

 

  

Jackie Monahan and Kate McKinnon

The Electro Shock Therapy Comedy Hour

Brad Loekle (cast member of TruTV’s weekly The Smoking Gun Presents, co-host of Sirius Radio’s weekly OUT Q, columnist for monthly magazine Key West Gay Rag) hosts this gay-themed weekly stand-up comedy show. It's entirely free if you're okay with standing; otherwise plan on ordering food or a drink if you prefer sitting at a table.

Tonight all-lesbian lineup consists of these superb comics:

Kate McKinnon (sharp, witty actress who "gets" both verbal and physical comedy down to her bones; cast member of Logo TV's The Big Gay Sketch Show; one-woman UCBT show Disenchanted: "Watch the beloved fairy princesses of your childhood pop a few Klonopins and eat themselves into a coma"),

Jackie Monahan (here! TV's Hot Gay Comics; co-host of NYC live comedy show Dykes on Mics; for sharp stand-up video, please click here),

Jessica Kirson (Last Comic Standing, Comedy Central's Premium Blend), VH1, Bravo), and

Lisa Kaplan (Carolines, Lesbians of Laughter Tour).

10:00 pm at Therapy, 348 West 52nd Street (between 8th & 9th Avenues); free

 

 

Alternatively, consider seeing a funny and/or musical

Broadway, off-Broadway, or off-off-Broadway show.

To learn how theatre tickets can be purchased for around 50% off—

or, in some cases, for as little as $3.50 each—

please read Hy on Theatre Discounts.

And to learn about three fine low-cost productions

that are revivals of FringeNYC 2008 shows, please see directly below.

 

Notable Low-Cost Theatre: FringeNYC Revivals & 20at20

This August's FringeNYC 2008 was one of the best in the festival's 12-year history, hosting numerous superb productions. And three of them—all one-man shows—recently began commercial runs in the West Village:

The potentially life-altering Krapp, 39 (please click here for my original review and here for tickets),

The alternately haunting and hilarious Blanche Survives Katrina in a FEMA Trailer Named Desire, a clever dark comedy written and performed by Baton Rouge native Mark Sam Rosenthal that imagines what would happen if Blanche DuBois lived in New Orleans during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina (please click here for photos and here for tickets),

and the thoroughly silly combination sketch/stand-up comedy show The Complete Performer (please click here for my original review—the show has since been expanded, addressing my main complaint—and here for tickets).

All three productions are at the Soho Playhouse—and kudos to SP for its exceptionally good taste, and support of smart, meaningful, and highly entertaining theatre.

 

In addition, if you want to see top off-Broadway hits for a mere $20-per-ticket, take advantage of this offer ending today:

For details, please visit 20at20.com.

 

 

 

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Email: hy@hyreviews.com