NYC Comedy Picks for Week of February 4, 2008

NYC Comedy Picks for Monday 2/4/08

Please Note: I'm away from Web access this week.

Daily comedy listings will resume on Saturday, February 9th.


Tonight's recommendations for the best in NYC live comedy include

the delightful Kate Hess & Shelly Stover singing & crying for laughs, and sketches from Matt & Dave DiLoreto

and Joshua Sidis that include a Star Wars tribute, in We Kate Shelly and The Uncles (8:00 pm),

genius stand-up comics Todd Barry (HBO, Dave, Conan, Adult Swim), Heather Lawless (Comedy Central),

Leo Allen (NBC's SNL, Comedy Central), and more at Joe Mande's & Noah Garfinkel's Totally J/K (8:15ish pm),

sketches & other fun regarding the Presidential primary season, plus an interview

with radio host Rachel Maddow, at Lizz Winstead's Shoot the Messenger (8:30 pm),

an entirely improvised musical from genius duo McMurray & Skinner as I Eat Pandas (9:30 pm),

two of the most talented and magical funny women in NYC, Adira Amram and Livia Scott, in a free show

hosted by hilarious sketch comedy troupe (tonight playing The Beatles) A Week of Kindness (10:00 pm),

and Arj Barker (HBO, Comedy Central, Dave, Conan) joining comedy genius MTV stars previewing

a live show they plan to perform on tour: Aziz Ansari, Rob Huebel, and Paul Scheer of Human Giant (11:00 pm).



Kate Hess & Shelly Stover of We Kate Shelly; and Matt DiLoreto, Dave DiLoreto, and Joshua Sidis of The Uncles

We Kate Shelly and The Uncles

Two fine sketch comedy shows for five bucks.

This evening kicks off with We Kate Shelly,

a sketch show that has great fun with uncomfortable encounters (e.g., a woman declares joy

over her recent abortion, causing the women she's with to burst into tears because

she's just had a miscarriage...). Featuring singing, dancing, and even more crying,

written and starring the irresistible Kate Hess & Shelly Stover,

and directed by comedic genius Andy Secunda (The Swarm).

The double-bill then continues with sketch troupe The Uncles, consisting of Matt DiLoreto,

Dave DiLoreto, and Joshua Sidis. These guys are sharp comedic performers, so it's a bit disappointing their material often doesn't live up to their talent. However, a running gag that culminates in a memorable showdown will probably make you forgive the weaker material.

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



Amy Beckerman, Gloria Bigelow, Jackie Monahan, and Leah Dubie

Dykes on Mics

Free gay-themed stand-up comedy show featuring the gals above

as regulars/hosts, plus tonight's guests:

Shawn Hollenbach, Cara Kilduff, and Poppi Kramer.

8:00 pm at RubyFruit Bar & Grill, 531 Hudson Street (between West 10th & Charles); free



Totally J/K

Hosted by quick-witted best buds Noah Garfinkel and

Joe Mande, this year's ECNY Award winner for Best Emerging Comic.

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

 for other videos, please click here and here.)

Tonight's thoroughly 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 and Lucky Louie;

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),

Heather Lawless (winner of the 2005 ECNY Award for Best Female Stand-Up; Comedy Central's Premium Blend, MTV2's Wonder Showzen, 2007 feature film Be Kind Rewind; member of wonderful female comedy group Variety Shac),

Leo Allen (writer for Saturday Night Live 2002-2005; Late Night with Conan O'Brien,

Comedy Central Presents, Ed, Sex and the City), and

Kevin Allison (Artistic Director of The Peoples Improv Theater; VH1's Best Week Ever;

Comedy Central's Reno 911!: Miami; sketch group Big Flux; cast member

of legendary former MTV sketch show The State).

8:15ish pm at Rififi, 332 East 11th Street (between 1st & 2nd Avenues); tickets are $5




Radio host Rachel Maddow, and STM host Lizz Winstead

Shoot the Messenger

Lizz Winstead is co-creator and former head writer of the original The Daily Show; former Executive VP of Air America Radio; and a performer on such shows as Comedy Central Presents and HBO's Women of the Night. (She's also a character; e.g., for a memorable anti-apology after canceling her appearance on the live NYC show Drink at Work, please click here.)

Tonight's guest is Rachel Maddow, host of The Rachel Maddow Show on Air America Radio.

To get a feel for STM, view a fun interview with cartoonist David Rees by clicking here.

Please note this is STM's first show at its new venue (just a few blocks from its previous one).

8:30 pm at The Green Room, 45 Bleecker Street (off Lafayette); tickets are $12.50

Nearest subway stop is Bleecker Street on the #6 (which brings you virtually to the door of the theatre)

 and Broadway-Lafayette on the F/V/D/B.



Glennis & Eliza: I Eat Pandas

Glennis McMurray and Eliza Skinner are simply geniuses

at taking a suggestion from the audience and creating

an entire musical based around it, using only their imaginations,

immense talent, and the aid of their wonderful improv pianist

Frank Spitznagel. Each of these gals is a powerhouse performer;

what they manage to create together tends to be sheer magic.

You don't have to take my word for it, either;

the duo just won this year's ECNY Award for Best Improv Group.

Don't miss any chance to enjoy these comedic wizards at play.

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



Dan Hopper, Mike Still, and Nate Kushner

A Week of Kindness

Hilarious sketch troupe A Week of Kindness—consisting of Dan Hopper, Nate Kushner, and Mike Still—host this new monthly comedy extravaganza. To understand why these guys richly deserve their own show, please check out their videos on tiny folk The Thumblettes, a gripping science fiction saga, and Purple People Eater implants by clicking here, here, and here. Also consider Mike Still's motto: "When Oprah gives me opportunities, I call them Oprah-tunities.

And life is the greatest Oprah-tunity of all."

Tonight's awesome guests include

Adira Amram (brilliantly funny and sexy writer/singer; Jane Magazine Editors Choice;

co-star of UCBT's Get Psyched!; for sample songs & videos, please click here),

Livia Scott (brilliant comedic chameleon; Late Night with Conan O'Brien,

world-class sketch group Meat, acclaimed one-woman show Goodnight, O.J.,

Livia's Castle of Enchantment),

Patrick Borelli (Late Night with Conan O'Brien, Comedy Central's Premium Blend,

ESPN's Cheap Seats, Video Power Hour),

Jake Goldman (quirky sketch writer/performer), and

musical hosts The Beatles (who uncannily resemble the AWK gang...).

Why miss this Oprah-tunity to catch this superb free show?

10:00 pm at Pianos, 158 Ludlow Street at Stanton; free



Rob Huebel, Paul Scheer, and Aziz Ansari are Human Giant

Human Giant: Live Tour Preview!

The brilliant stars of MTV comedy hit Human Giant

Rob Huebel, Paul Scheer, and recently-shaved Aziz Ansari—

will be showing off clips-in-progress for their

upcoming second season (slated to air in March).

There's no one better at working an audience than these guys;

and their first season was, in my opinion, one of the funniest shows in TV history.

(For details, please click here.)

Tonight the guys will be previewing a show they plan to perform on tour.

Joining them will be guest Arj Barker (HBO's Flight of the Conchords, Comedy Central Presents 30-minute special, Comedy Central's Premium Blend, Late Show with David Letterman, and Late Night with Conan O'Brien).

This is likely to be one of the funniest shows in NYC.

And it's free.

Advance reservations for seats were quickly snapped up; but

if you're okay with standing, go for it...and have a wonderful time.

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



NYC Comedy Picks for Tuesday-Friday

There were no recommendations for these four days;

I was out of town on a business trip.



NYC Comedy Picks for Saturday 2/9/08

TV Tip: Set your VCR or TiVo for tonight's debut of

superb stand-up comic Mike Birbiglia's hour-long special

What I Should Have Said is Nothing, midnight on Comedy Central.

Mike's other TV credits include Late Show with David Letterman, Late Night with Conan O'Brien,

two Comedy Central Presents 30-minute specials, and his comedy CDs

Two Drink Mike and My Secret Public Journal—Live;

for sample stand-up videos, please click here and here.


Tonight's recommendations for the best in NYC live comedy include

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

and around 30 performers crammed into 2¼ hours—at John Morrison's Ochi's Motel (6:00 pm),

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),

Second City veterans, Magnet instructors, UCBT stars, and occasional celebs

at the Magnet's signature improv show, The Tiny Spectacular (7:30 pm),

a wonderful sketch show revolving around physical comedy from ace troupe Drop Six (8:00 pm),

improv comedy mixed with audience-supplied music at the rockin' Mother: The Soundtrack (9:00 pm),

inventive & hilarious sketch comedy from The Harvard Sailing Team (9:30 pm),

improvised TV shows about audience members via world-class troupe Reuben Williams (10:30 pm),

and a sketch show (with some improv thrown in) from the superb stars of Derrick (Midnight).


Ochi's Motel

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

with 4½ minutes per 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 30+ comics perform in this 2¼ hour show; host

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

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

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.

To be entered into the weekly random drawing for the show's performers,

please email host John Morrison (above) at ochismotel[at]

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

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




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

Let's Have a Ball

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

The players typically include 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), Peter Gwinn (writer for The Colbert Report), 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 Rob Riggle (correspondent for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart; Saturday Night Live, The Office).

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



The Tiny Spectacular

Magnet instructors & Second City veterans such as Rachel Hamilton, Ed Herbstman, Abby Sher, and Miriam Tolan, plus stars of Mother: The Soundtrack (see below) Jason Mantzoukas, Tara Copeland, James Eason, Christine Walters, plus occasional special guests (such as superstar Mike Meyers), turn a tiny suggestion into larger-than-life improvised scenes.

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



Drop Six

Drop Six is a superb NYC-based sketch troupe that makes great use of physical comedy.

The group—consisting of Marcus Bonnée, Tim Girrbach, Alicia Levy, Rodney Umble, and director Larry Rosen—was awarded Best of the Fest by Second City at the 2006 Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival. And their Drop Six: Mr. Lucky show killed at last year's FringeNYC, placing in my top 15 of the festival (out of 188 wildly diverse & competitive productions).

If you like sketch comedy, or simply enjoy laughing, I recommend Drop Six.

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



SKP's Stu Luth, Mel DeLancey, and Dan Maccarone

Slightly Known People Is Seeing Other People

Slightly Known People—Erik Bowie, Mel DeLancey, Stu Luth,

Dan Maccarone, and Josh Mertz—performs funny songs and sketch comedy.

In this weekly show SKP has invited other talented comics

 to come play along with it for an evening.

Tonight's is SKP's final show at Rififi. For this blowout, the guests are

sketch troupe Lolabrigada (for a bit about being handicapped vs. Andy Capp, please click here)

and sketch duo  Barrett & Goldman.

For a hilarious SKP video deconstructing Billy Joel, please click here.

For a review of the show, please click here.

8:30 pm at Rififi, 332 East 11th Street (between 1st & 2nd Avenues); tickets are $5



Carol Hartsell and Sean Crespo

Drink at Work

Comedic variety show produced by Carol Hartsell and hosted by Sean Crespo

(stand-up comic and prolific filmmaker; for samples, please click here & here & here).

Tonight's scheduled guests include

Keith Farnan, Carmen Lynch, Billy Reno, and Jeff Kreisler.

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

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



Mother: The Soundtrack

Jason Mantzoukas leads a vibrant team of improv comics—Scot Armstrong, Tara Copeland, Jon Daly, James Eason, Jesse Falcon, Doug Moe, and Christine Walters—who make up scenes based on CD tracks contributed by the audience. One of UCBT's most beloved shows.

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



The Harvard Sailing Team: A Hundred Years of Song and Dance

The Harvard Sailing Team, which just won the ECNY Award for Best Sketch Comedy Group,

performs their special brand of fresh, imaginative comedy

that turns familiar rituals on their head. (For a video about awkward goodbyes

at the end of a party, please click here.) The very talented troupe consists of

Rebecca Brey, Jen Curran, Clayton Early, Faryn Einhorn, Katie Larson,

Adam Lustick, Chris Smith, Billy Scafuri, and Sara Taylor.

This new collection of sketches, titled

A Hundred Years of Song and Dance, covers such topics

as Melissa Etheridge, Duck Tales, and American Gladiators.

9:30 pm at The Peoples Improv Theater, 154 West 29th Street (off 7th Avenue); tickets are $8



Reuben Williams: As Seen on TV

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, Lennon Parham, Charlie Sanders, Eric Scott, Kate Spencer, Charlie Todd, and Joe Wengert. Together, they interview an audience member, and then use the answers as the basis for a new TV show...which this fiercely talented comedy troupe creates & performs for you on the spot.

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



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.

10:30 pm at The Magnet Theatre, 254 West 29th Street (off 8th Avenue); tickets are $5



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 last year 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.

In this show, they perform sketch comedy live,

and throw in an improv session to boot.

These wonderfully inventive writer/actors are continually

 creating new material, so even if you've seen this show before,

don't hesitate to come tonight; they're sure to surprise you.

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



NYC Comedy Picks for Sunday 2/10/08

Alternative, Alshmernative: Kristen Schaal is a Star

Beloved writer/improvisor/actress/comedienne Kristen Schaal killed Saturday night

during her star stand-up showcase before a sold-out crowd at NYC's Comix Comedy Club.

The recent winner of the 2008 ECNY Award for Best Female Stand-Up—as well as the recipient of

the prestigious Andy Kaufman Award and HBO/US Comedy Arts Festival's Best Alternative Comic Award—

last night Kristen demonstrated she's poised to go beyond critical acclaim and become a major star.

Kristen has long been known for her exceptional brilliance—she's one of

the smartest performers in show biz. But I've never seen Kristen as

 focused, disciplined, and second-by-second hilarious as she was this weekend.

Kristen was in superb control of every comedic nuance of her phrasing,

plastic facial expressions, and elegant body language.

However, she always came across as natural and in the moment;

and was attentive to even subtle reactions from the audience,

making adjustments in micro-seconds and ad-libbing spot-on new lines.

It's also worth noting that in addition to her artful professionalism as a comic,

Kristen has a magical quality: She periodically manages to make the women

in her audience smile. Not from laughter...but from a warm pride.

Because Kristen exudes a dignity that says without words,

"I'm not trying to be as funny as a man.

I know I'm way funnier.

And I'm also graceful, and sexy, and not afraid to talk about feelings."

This is a performer who's highly skilled at making anyone laugh;

but just as importantly, who all women can adore.

In my opinion, it's time for HBO or Comedy Central to give Kristen her own special;

and for Hollywood directors to cast her in more prominent movie and TV roles.

Her recurring character this summer in HBO's Flight of the Conchords was a wonderful start.

Kristen Schaal is now ready to move up to the A List.


Tonight's recommendations for the best in NYC live comedy include

the aforementioned & hard-working Kristen Schaal, this time spinning yarns—

along with such other luminaries as Gilbert Gottfried—at Heeb Storytelling (7:00 pm),

UCBT's playground for celebrities and ace improvisors, ASSSSCAT 3000 (7:30 & 9:30 pm),

genius comics Aziz Ansari, Rob Huebel & Paul Scheer (stars of MTV comedy hit Human Giant),

 Reggie Watts, Michael Showalter, and Matt Goldich in Brooklyn at Tearing the Veil of Maya (8:00 pm),

and the delightful Sara Schaefer testing your musical ear in her free Brooklyn show

featuring prizes and fun, Name That Tune (9:15ish pm).



 Kristen Schaal and Gilbert Gottfried

Heeb Storytelling

Jews gather to tell funny tales—

with each yarn-spinner allotted seven minutes.

Hosted by the amazing Kristen Schaal (see today's mini-review).

The highly impressive group of storytellers consists of

Gilbert Gottfried (star stand-up comic & actor; Dirty Jokes),

Iris Bahr (solo performer, DAI),

Matthew Loren Cohen (improv/musician),

Avi Gesser (attorney),

Rachel Shukert (playwright and author of Have You No Shame?),

Max Silvestri (VH1's Best Week Ever, host of NYC live comedy show I Like Attention),

and Odd Todd (

7:00 pm at Joe's Pub/The Public Theater, 425 Lafayette Street (bet. East 4th & Astor Place); $15





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



Rob Huebel, Paul Scheer, and Aziz Ansari (a.k.a. Human Giant)...

...and Matt Goldich, Michael Showalter, and Reggie Watts

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 comedy minds in New York can be found

at this weekly show, tonight hosted by Michael Showalter (MTV's The State,

Stella comedy troupe, co-writer & co-star of comedy feature film Wet Hot American Summer).

Tonight's awesome all-star guests include

Aziz Ansari, Rob Huebel, and Paul Scheer, the wonderful stars of MTV comedy hit

Human Giant, whose second season will be airing in just a few weeks

(and whose first season was, in my opinion, one of the funniest shows in TV history;

for details, please click here),

Reggie Watts (winner of 3rd Annual Andy Kaufman Award; scary talented vocalist, beatboxer, and musician who will likely amaze you; to learn more, please visit, and

Matt Goldich (lightning-fast stand-up; Comedy Central's Premium Blend, NY1's The Call, contributor to book  Bar Mitzvah Disco; for a stand-up sample, please click here).

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.




A showcase for talented improvisation twosomes.

Tonight's scheduled duos are

David Furfero & Babsy Singer,

Corey Grimes & Charlie Whitcroft,

McNerney & Kanellis, and

Samantha Gurewitz & Ernie Privetera

Hosted by Alex Marino.

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



Name That Tune with Sara Schaefer

The delightful Sara Schaefer (VH1's Best Week Ever, E! Network's Rise of the Geeks;

UCBT's Video Gaga) hosts this free comedic musical game show in Brooklyn,

complete with silly prizes. Expect fun.

9:15ish pm at Union Hall, 702 Union Street at 5th Avenue in Park Slope, Brooklyn; free

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.



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 each—

please read Hy on Theatre Discounts.



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