This week in Cheap Laughs, we have ice cream cakes, neighborhood shakes, personal screenplays, and a gloriously wild remake of Jurassic Park. Here’s our rundown of the best in independently produced New York comedy this week.
Wednesday, February 18
The show title nods to Sid Caesar’s iconic TV program, and it lives up to the billing. This Carolines cavalcade of stand-ups is, pound for pound, probably the best-value night out in comedy this week. Jessica Kirson is a killing machine of laughter, dirty bird Mark Normand is ripping it up on the road, and Tony Deyo is the clean genius whose clips you can send to your grandmother the next day. Host Scott Rogowsky imbues the event with some Old Hollywood charm that Caesar himself would have appreciated.
This is the only show in New York that combines the pleasures of storytelling with the joy of a childhood birthday party. Host Robin Gelfenbien makes ice cream cakes from scratch and prepares nostalgic spreads of candy for her guests to devour as they’re entertained by big names from the comedy world. Tonight, SNL‘s Sasheer Zamata and ex-State and current RISK! impresario Kevin Allison are her headliners.
Thursday, February 19
It’s Sooo Up and Coming
739 Franklin, 8.45 p.m., Free
Crown Heights needed a great local comedy night. And lo, did Khalid Rahmaan see it, and made it so. His biweekly showcase gets the neighborhood crowd rocking with mixed and mashed lineups of solid New York comics. Tonight, Canadian Pakistani Sabrina Jalees shares the stage with Brooklyn powerhouse Drew Dowdey and a host of other fine acts. Latecomers will endure standing room only, so shake your tail and get there early.
Stand Up On the Spot
The Stand, 8 p.m., $15
This L.A.-transplant, improvised stand-up show continues to build a loyal following in NYC. Ultra-experienced comedians are thrown to the wolves, shorn of their tried-and-tested jokes and forced to improvise material on any subject the crowd yells out. It could be topical. It could be philosophical. And depending on how many drinks the audience has had, it could be scatological. Everything is on the table. Big Jay Oakerson, Yannis Pappas, and Casey Balsham are some of the best at it, and they’re all on the bill tonight.
Friday, February 20
Mike Lemme: The Depression and Swag Tour
Under St. Marks, 7 p.m., $5 for two tickets
Comic Mike Lemme takes to this venerable East Village stage to discuss struggle, survival, and scoliosis. Wetting the bed? Low self-esteem? Visiting family in mental hospitals? Life’s rich tapestry of pain is all here, along with the jokes that make it bearable.
On the next page: Dinosaurs and butts (at the same time).
The Graham Bar, 8 p.m., Free Will Winner and Kyle Ayers ran one of the hottest shows in Williamsburg. But, being Williamsburg, the bar they called home was sold and will imminently become an Apple Store or kombucha vineyard or some shit. After a brief hiatus, they have relocated, naturally, to Bushwick. Tonight they host the bearded Ben Kronberg, the dreamy Joel Kim Booster, and the deeply disturbed Amber Nelson. The show is still free and still wonderfully ridiculous.
Sunday, February 22
Hold On to Your Butts
The PIT, 2 p.m., $1 for students/$18 for others
Now, this is fun. Do you know what a foley artist is? They are studio professionals who make sound effects — not with computers, but with real-life objects. And foley artist Kelsey Didion is one of the keys to this deeply creative, insane show. Basically, two actors (Kyle Schaefer and Nick Abeel) perform a live, “shot-for-shot” re-enactment of the 1993 smash hit film Jurassic Park, complete with live sound. It’s bonkers and hilarious. We didn’t think such a show was possible, but…life found a way.
The Macaulay Culkin Show
Shea Stadium, 7 p.m., $5
Jon Glaser is a beloved recurring character on HBO’s Girls and Parks and Recreation and the grumpy darling of Gotham alt comedy. In 2014, Brett Davis asked Glaser to be a guest on this monthly comedy show “whenever possible forever.” Glaser replied, “Only if you write me a screenplay called Whenever Possible Forever.” Davis wrote that screenplay. And at this month’s Macaulay Culkin Show, it shall be performed live. We can’t guarantee it will get weird, but we’ll take that risk anyway.
Tuesday, February 24
61 Local, 8.30 p.m., Free
Gary Gulman might be the only living stand-up comedian to have performed on every network late-night talk show. At rough count, it’s about seven different shows, which makes him the Jackie Joyner-Kersee of comedy. He performs for the low price of bupkis this evening alongside a packed lineup of variety, featuring musical improv from Pop Roulette and wry observations from the New Yorker‘s Ben Greenman.
Over the Eight, 8 p.m. Free
Sarah Tollemache is one of the strongest joke writers in the game and just enjoyed her television debut. She is one great reason to attend this goof-around at Over the Eight. Another is the hyperactive hosting threesome of Tynan Delong, Marcia Belsky, and Mike Abrusci. As a trio, they look like a clownish hybrid of Dr. Demento, a punk-rock pro wrestler, and Jewish Annie. They’re good people.