This week in Cheap Laughs, we have square deals, pizza steals, slammed meals, and copped feels. Here’s our rundown of the best in independently produced New York comedy this week.
Wednesday, November 12th
UCB Chelsea, 9.30 p.m. $5.
Whenever Pete Grosz does something, it’s pretty good. That’s not easy to do. The Second City alumnus was an early writer on Colbert and a key part of that show’s golden years. His stage show “Misled,” with SNL performer Mike O’Brien, is one of the funniest things ever hosted by UCB. And even his corporate sell-out work is great: You’ll recognize his mug from his very entertaining ads for Sonic Restaurants. He’s now a writer on the steadily awesome-becoming Late Night With Seth Meyers, and takes a night off to perform with 30 Rock‘s adorable mascot of failure and confusion: John Lutz. It’s a wholly improvised one-hour show, and these guys are some of the best that ever did it. Make time for it if you can.
Gandhi, Is That You?
Lucky Jack’s, 9 p.m. Free.
If you frequent the Lower East Side on a Wednesday, “Gandhi…” should be your first port of call for free entertainment. A comedy show that has lasted in New York for over five years? That’s a good show. Period. And now they’re reaping the rewards of longevity with occasional big-name surprise drop-ins, like C.K. and Jim Gaffigan. Tonight, “The Ultimate Worrier” Joe List is joined by polyamorous polymath Myq Kaplan, Montreal’s Brian Frange, and a host of other talent. It’s free. Plus sometimes they buy the audience pizza (true). What’s stopping you?
Thursday, November 13th
My Dining Hell, with Jay Rayner
Union Hall, Door 7.30 p.m. / Show 8 p.m. $10.
Jay Rayner is a funny, grumpy bastard. The restaurant critic for London’s Observer newspaper for over 15 years, he found fame as master of the bad restaurant review. It’s not hard to see why: As Rayner says himself, readers prefer bad reviews to good ones. They “feast upon them like starving vultures who have spotted fly-blown carrion out in the bush.” You have to love a guy who describes eateries as “what Dante had in mind when he imagined the seventh circle of hell,” or a waiter who “was to warmth and charm what Burma is to democracy.” He has now collected his hit-pieces in book form, and is also selling another tome: A Greedy Man in a Hungry World: Why (Almost) Everything You Thought You Knew About Food Is Wrong. It’s an excellent corrective to some of the utter horseshit that farmers’-market fascists are fond of spouting.
Friday, November 14th
And I’m Not Lying
UCB East, 11.59 p.m. $5.
The East Village’s best variety show returns this evening with real percussive punch. The 10-woman Afro-Brazilian drum band Batalá will pound out some brutal beats as burlesque performer Tiny D takes (almost) everything off. Comedy Central Half Hour vet Sheng Wang performs, Atlanta’s Shalewa Sharpe tell jokes, and belly dance impresario Calypso shakes the jewel for the crowd. Jeff Simmermon hosts and tries to contain the rampant sexual energy.
Go here to get Cheap Laughs direct to your inbox, every week.
Saturday, November 15th
Good for You!
Cantina Royal, 9 p.m. Free.
Tacos and $3 beers, plus liberal shot specials, greet you at this friendly Williamsburg pal-around. Avoid the bridge-and-tunnel interlopers who are ruining (RUINING!) Bedford Avenue, and enjoy an excellent stand-up show for the low, low price of nothing. Montreal Comedy Fest alum Sam Evans joins Tonight Show writer Mike Drucker and many other funny joke-tellers.
O.S.F.U.G.: A Fast F*ckin’ Sketch Show
UCBeast, 11.30 p.m. $5.
This show is like a punk-rock version of SNL. They cram 20 times the sketches/jokes/characters into half the time it takes Lorne Michaels and Co. to lumber through a Saturday night show. Anything these performers lack in polish they make up for in total commitment, ripped shirts, rabid rants, horrific scenarios, and furious indignation. Or, to put it another way: If Glenn Danzig wrote sketch comedy, it would look and sound like this.
Monday, November 17th
Spike Hill, 7.30 p.m. Free
Well, ain’t this a sign of the times. For what seems like forever, Williamsburg bar Spike Hill has been lubricating the commuters, cokeheads, and curious characters spilling out of the L train at 7th and Bedford. But no more. The bar is closing, destined to become some yuppie store that sells yak cheese or dildo terrariums. But tonight, longtime Spike Hill comedy show “Game Night” hosts its farewell performance. Go, and share in the special glow of performers with absolutely nothing to lose.
Tuesday, November 18th
The Illuminati Party
The Stand, 10 p.m. $5.
The Illuminati Party has a fun hook to get butts on seats. Every show is just $5, but you get in free if you tweet the hosts a selfie (no nudes, pervs). Tonight, the angriest husband in the world (and Opie & Anthony staple) Nick DiPaolo joins Comedy Central’s Ari Shaffir and Bushwick badboy Chris Distefano. Hosts Alexis Guerreros and Mike Cannon keep the room-energy up with airy insouciance. And let’s be honest: Who doesn’t love airy insouciance?
Tom Cowell is a comedian.