This week in New York comedy is a mixed bag, but in a good way. Come to think of it, why does the phrase “mixed bag” denote something bad? Mixes are good. They’re full of surprises. Show me a bag with ten of the same thing, and I’ll show you a boring bag. The next seven days will feature comedy talk shows, tributes to dead pop legends, a neophyte Keanu Reeves, and large amounts of free vodka. Sound like your bag? Read on for our run-down of the best in independently produced New York comedy this week.
Wednesday, March 5th
Are You There, Ghandi?
Lucky Jack’s, 9 p.m. Free
The best thing about New York comedy is that practically every neighborhood has a regular free standup show, featuring amazing talent, that also bribes you with free stuff. For the Lower East Side, that show is Are You There, Ghandi? This week, new Comedy Central Half Hour alumna Rachel Feinstein stops by, along with Luis Gomez, Brian Jian, Kareem Green, and bunch of other funny guys. As well as all these funny people? There’s free pizza. What more could you want?
Employee of The Month
Joe’s Pub, 9:30 p.m. $20
Catie Lazarus‘ sweet-tempered talk show keeps on trucking in its fancy new venue. This month features another solid roster of guests: Andrew Rannells (Book of Mormon star and best male non-Adam Driver eye candy on Girls), Seth Godin (entrepenuer and legit business guru) and the new Cabaret revival’s Danny Burstein.
Thursday, March 6th
Point Break Live
Littlefield, 8 p.m. $19
What would happen if you attempted to stage a live version of the 1991 surf/noir masterpiece Point Break? And what if your lead (Johnny Utah, a.k.a. Keanu Reeves) was played not by an actor, but by a randomly chosen audience member, who reads his lines from cue cards? Find out at this performance. It’s one of the weirdest (and therefore best) things out there. Maybe you should volunteer to be Johnny Utah. “If you want the ultimate, you’ve got to be willing to pay the ultimate price” (yes, that’s from the movie).
Modern Day Philosophers
The Creek and the Cave, 8 p.m. Free
This show has an open vodka bar from 7.30pm to 8.00pm, free pinball play at the downstairs bar, and the finest in pre-show entertainment: Hanna-Barbera and Merrie Melodies cartoons on the big projector. Plus, the comedy is fantastic. Hosts Leah Bonnema and Tim Warner are the real deal, welcoming Rojo Perez, Ajani Thompson, Kevin Bartini and others.
Friday, March 7th
The Big Weird Patio Show
Over the Eight, 8.00 p.m. Free
Williamsburg has an embarrassment of comedy riches, but this monthly show is one of the best in the ‘hood. Hosts Ryan Beck and Casey James Salengo team up with DJ Will Winner (he always wears a fleece with puppies on it – look out for him) for a night of quality stand-up. Tonight, you get fastball pitchers like Brendan Eyre and Christy Coffey, and curveball goons like Bill Stiteler and Morgan Miller.
Saturday, March 8th
Comedy at Stonewall: Liza Dye Benefit Show
Stonewall Inn, 8 p.m. $5
The comedy scene is still coming out big for injured, train-struck performer Liza Dye. This benefit bill is a hot one. Kurt Metzger is so brutally funny it hurts people, VH1 star Michelle Buteau has enough sass to fill a canyon, and the whole undercard (Sam Evans, Missy Baker, Julio Torres, Kerryn Feehan) can deliver hard laughs all day. Buy a ticket, feel good about yourself, and clap loud for host Chrissie Mayr.
Monday, March 10th
Michael Jackson Jukebox Musical
Cameo, 8 p.m. $10
From the people who made the Beyonce musical “Pussy to the Sky” and Whitney Houston spectacular “Houston: We Have a Whitney”, comes this great/terrible tribute to The King of Pop. If you’ve ever wanted to star in a musical entirely made up of Michael Jackson songs, you came to right place. This show strings together the best of Mr. Jackson’s hits, with some mermaids and nonsense thrown in. Audience members can also volunteer to play singing and non-singing roles, alongside actual stars Jo Firestone, Josh Sharp and Aaron Jackson.
Tuesday, March 11th
UCBeast, 8 p.m. $5
Co-created by Dan Harmon, the genius behind NBC’s Community, Channel 101 is like a petri dish for comedy web series. Each month, anyone in New York can make a five-minute TV show, submit it to Channel 101, and potentially screen it before a live audience. The crowd votes to renew some of them and “cancel” others. The top five shows become next month’s “prime time” line-up, and creators must make a new episode, which will go head to head against a fresh crop of new pilots. We’re looking forward to the next episode of Junior Adventure Squad (see above). But will they make the cut?
The Stand, 8 p.m. $5 (with code “Northern” at NorthernDiscomfort.com)
Hosts Josh Carter and Ray DeVito throw together some of the best lineups in the city on the reg, and this show is no different. Gary Gulman (who’s “In This Economy” was arguably the best special released in the last year-ish), Letterman alumni Jon Fisch and Carmen Lynch, Chappelle Show vet Kyle Grooms, and venue favorite Janeane Garofalo will entertain you, for less than the price of a beer. It’s a steal.
Tom Cowell is a comedian. Follow him on Twitter @mrtomcowell.