This week in Cheap Laughs, we bring you New York’s new beloved lord of minutiae, a night of raucous riffing, beards, gays, guts, stories, and TED talks that don’t go anywhere. We’re running the table, baby. Here’s our pick of the best in independently produced comedy this week.
Wednesday, April 23
Since Jerry Seinfeld became a billionaire stadium-only act, New York comedy has sought The Next Chosen One: our city’s undisputed king of jokes about minutiae. Call off the search. Hand the crown to Gary Gulman. Take the chance to see him for free tonight, and then spend all week obsessing over his Netflix special “In This Economy.” Hosts Jono Zalay, Taylor Ketchum, and Joe Zimmerman bring you the fun.
Each month at Rifftown, big name New York comedians get together and throw their set lists out the window for a night of total improvisation. Stand-ups either premiere a story that they’ve never told before, improvise a stand-up set based on an audience suggestion, or rant off the cuff. Expect freestyling and musical improv, too. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience. Tonight New York City Crime Report host Pat Dixon, Christian Finnegan and Hadiyah Robinson are among the comedians walking the tightrope.
Thursday, April 24
Chris Laker is the filthy, bearded Bodhisattva of New York comedy. He was sent to teach us important things. But these things mostly relate to sex, depravity, and dirty stuff of all descriptions. Tonight Chris is recording his first album for New Wave Dynamics, gathering up the best bits from 12 solid years of performing. If you like his stuff, his podcasts are recommended too: The Show and The Week.
Hindsight: Stories From The Lab
Stand Up New York Labs, 8 p.m. Free.
Here’s how this storytelling show works: stand-up comedians tell random stories they’ve never shared before. After each tale, the comic gets follow-up questions from the hosts and audience, based on whatever weird parts of their story were unclear, or just didn’t make sense. It’s a great lineup of raconteurs this month, including Greg Stone, Evan Williams, Akaash Singh, and Mookie Thompson.
Friday, April 25
There’s a brutally funny lineup at this Williamsburg showcase tonight. Adam Newman is hilariously strange (he has a podcast about butts), Sarah Tollemache is one of the best joke writers in the city right now, and Will Winner is the most infectiously joyous performer on the Eastern Seaboard. 30 Rock‘s John Anderson and [Ed. note: the incredibly handsome]Tom Cowell host the madness.
Is anything more ripe for mockery than TED Talks? The very concept is infuriating: “things are complicated, but my 15 minute lecture into a headset mic will FIX EVERYTHING!” Thank goodness Raj Sivaraman created this stage show to make merciless fun out of it. Comedians gather to make tongue-in-cheek presentations on a given topic — this month’s theme is the reassuringly vague “Nature” — then Sivaraman delivers a plenary talk that will end world hunger and cure AIDS.
Saturday, April 26
It’s a Long Story
UCB East, 11.30 p.m. $5.
The way stage-time works in New York, comics don’t get many chances to weave narratives together, or work on long-form bits. But thanks to shows like this one, that’s thankfully changing. “It’s a Long Story” host Alison Leiby invites Brian Frange, Kenny DeForest, Justy Dodge, and absurdist dynamo Nick Vatterott to stretch their legs and punch up a meaty story.
Sunday, April 27
Brooklyn’s newest gay bar hosts its first comedy show tonight, hosted by the delightful Joel Kim Booster, grumpy straight guy Patrick Schroeder, and ungrumpy straight girl Courtney Maginnis. There are 2-for-1 drink specials, post-jokes karaoke, and Gary Vider. What more could you want?
Tuesday, April 29
Andrew Short and Jason Burke host one of the strongest lineups in New York comedy this week. VH1’s Best Week Ever wunderkind Nick Turner, bitter beauty Nate Fridson, one-line genius Ben Kronberg and the life-affirming Doug Smith. If you were looking for a great deal on an entertaining Tuesday night out, you just found it.
Tom Cowell is a comedian. Follow him on Twitter @mrtomcowell. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with all listing suggestions.