What’s that? A beehive? No! It’s Oscar buzz. The west coast is gearing up for its annual backslapathon, with all the glamour and glitz the Tinseltown dream factory can possibly secrete, spread over a week of hype. By all means enjoy it, but don’t forget that 90% of the Academy crowd started right here in Gotham. In fact, many of them have wrestled laughter out of audiences at the very clubs and venues we highlight every week. And yet, comedies rarely win the top honors at the gong fest. There’s not even an Oscar for comedy. Best animated short. Yeah, there’s one for that. But comedy? “Nope, fuck those clowns,” says Hollywood. To protest that clear injustice, we suggest you attend one of the shows listed below. Because that’ll show them. Here’s our round-up of the best of New York’s independently produced comedy shows this week.
Wednesday, February 26th
Hand Job Academy
House of Vans, 9.30 p.m. Free.
If there were an Oscar for best all-girl rap group name, Hand Job Academy would sweep the category. Lil T, Clara Bizna$$, and Ash Wednesday are not strictly a comedy act, but that doesn’t mean their tight rhymes aren’t brutally funny. The posse is probably best known for their song (and video) “Shark Week,” a hip-hop paean to menstruation in all its gory glory. Catch them now at a free show before they’re opening for Childish Gambino or something.
Hindsight: Stories From The Lab
Stand Up NY, 8 p.m. Free.
Other legacy stand-up clubs in the city should take a leaf out of Stand Up New York’s book, with experiments like Stand Up NY Labs. The Upper West Side club recently created an intimate, black-box performance space upstairs from its classic showroom, using it to incubate new talent, record odd podcasts, and do weird cool shit of all kinds. Labs shows are almost all free, and allow the club to serve two broad crowds (old school and alternative) in the same building. This monthly storytelling show is a great example. Dan Perlman and a guest co-host Billy Prinsell feature comedians telling the stories that they don’t have time to develop in a regular stand-up set. It’s lively, loose, and anything can happen. Make time for it, and for other shows at the space.
Thursday, February 27th
Andy Sandford Album Release Show-A-Bration!
The Creek and the Cave, 10 p.m. Free.
Andy Sanford is both dry and sweet, like an impossibly fine white wine. One quarter of the famed “Beards of Comedy” tour, Sandford is releasing his own album this week, entitled Me the Whole Time. You can buy it here, and then swing by the show to see what new bits this young colt is cooking up. Also worth your attention? The other comics on the show include Gary Gulman, Maria Heinegg, Nate Fridson and Noah Gardenswartz.
Friday, February 28th
Heavy Metal Laser Plane: The One Year Anniversary
Legion Bar, Doors: 7:30 p.m. / Show: 8 p.m. Free.
The greatest comedy show that happens across the street from a White Castle? It celebrates its 12 month anniversary today. Expect behavior common to all one-year olds: manic laughter, falling down, and some light spitting up. Recent Comedy Central Half Hour Special “recipient” Mark Normand appears, as does the impish Anthony DeVito, Sachi Ezura and Jordan Temple.
Saturday, March 1st
UCB Chelsea, 11.59 p.m. $5.
Pure and simple: this is a great stand-up showcase. What else would you expect from a Saturday midnight spot at the UCB? VH1 Best Week Ever goon Nick Turner joins Chelsea Lately regular Ali Wong and Daily Show writer Jena Friedman for a knock-around good time. Aaron Glaser is your host with the most. Sunday March, 2nd
Andy Daly Live
The Bell House, Doors: 7:30 p.m. / Show: 8 p.m. $15.
Ooh, now this is a doozy. Andy Daly is one of the most brilliant improvisers and character comedians ever to pass through the doors of the UCB (or anywhere else). His 2007 comedy album Nine Sweaters is the very summit of the mountaintop of character stand-up, perhaps never to be surpassed. He’s now the creator and star of Review, premiering on Comedy Central this Thursday. Daly plays Forrest MacNeil, a TV host who reviews life’s most intense experiences by going through them on air. Sleeping with celebrities, road rage, drug addiction and stealing are all reviewed by Forrest, on a zero to five star scale. This night features some stage work, plus a sneak peek of the TV show. If Daly doesn’t become a huge star, we should all give up because the universe is cruel and capricious. Here’s a clip from Nine Sweaters to prove it:
Tuesday, March 4th
COOKIEPOCALYPSE 2014: Countdown To Katie Fisher Day
UCBeast, 8 p.m. $5.
For all its cynicism and depravity, New York’s clown community does acts of love too, sometimes in profound fashion. Case in point: Katie Fisher Day. In the summer of 2010, Katie was killed in a car accident. Beloved by all who knew her, she was particularly famed for baking cookies. For everyone. For no reason. Because she was wonderful. She baked them for her brother, UCB improv star Matt Fisher, every week for all four years of college. Why? Because… Katie. To process the grief, Matt created Katie Fisher Day, encouraging people to simply bake cookies for their loved ones (or perform any another random act of kindness) every March 12th. The event is now spreading like a sweet virus. This show is a lead-up to the big day, and will feature comedy, nonsense, and good vibes on an industrial scale. If you’re feeling unloved, unloving, or hopeless, this show might fix it, even for just a day.
Tom Cowell is a comedian. Follow him on Twitter @mrtomcowell