This week in Cheap Laughs, we have Japanese humiliation, Game of Thrones temptation, teenage indignation, and a big pile of Holy Fuck. Also, it’s NYC Comedy Week, where the city collaborates with venues to offer 2-for-1 tickets for dozens of performance spaces. This is the time to experiment and hit up that venue you’ve walked past dozens of times but never explored. It’s like the restaurant week of comedy, except the providers don’t slash quality and treat you like a rube. It’s prime rib every night! Here’s our rundown of the best in independently produced New York comedy this week.
Wednesday, April 8
UCB Chelsea, 8 p.m., $5
Frank Garcia Hejl is one of the most gifted mimics around. His impressions of Seth Rogen, Vince Vaughn, and Nick Offerman are frighteningly on-point. But if you’re concerned his act is warmed-over, Frank Calliendo–ish shtick, relax. Hejl is not an impressionist, but a great character comic who happens to do sweet impressions. Tonight he plays his alter ego, self-help author Preston Santiago, who’s presenting his new book, Life Vibrations. It’s filled with dramatized case studies (all roles played by Hejl), including a troubled cop, a violently ticklish grandpa, and a DJ drunk on his own power.
Thursday, April 9
Batsu! The Japanese Comedy Gameshow
JeBon Sushi, Doors 7.30 p.m. / Show 8 p.m., $25
Japan is an alternate comedy dimension. Western humor is largely a product of the written word: jokes, scripts, etc. Japan focuses on physical embarrassment, clowning, and “batsu” (Japanese for “punishment”). That’s why all their shows have guys getting hit in the nuts with knotted rope, or thrown in giant washing machines full of noodles. Want to sample it? No need to fly to Tokyo: Like so many disgusting things, it’s happening right here in an East Village basement. Hosted by Japanese child star Brian “Bu-Chan” Walters, Batsu pits improv comics against one another to avoid electric shocks, paintball guns, giant egg-smashing chickens, and other indignities.
The Annoyance, 10.30 p.m., Free
When the Upright Citizens Brigade arrived in New York, it was extremely punk rock. Now it’s the establishment: a comedy brand of quality and consistency, to which ambitious performers turn for training and the chance to get noticed. But if you miss that old “What the hell is happening?” chaotic energy from back in the day, it’s unfolding in a barely marked basement under the Williamsburg Bridge. The Annoyance is the new(ish) sister club of its long-running namesake in Chicago. Holy Fuck is its signature show, a curated hour of eclectic, bizarro material written in a week with no rehearsals. If this is your thing, it’s going to be…like…your thing. We hope that makes sense.
Friday, April 10
And I’m Not Lying
UCBeast, 11.59 p.m., $5
If you are literally dying for the next season of Game of Thrones to start, come down to UCBeast and get some temporary relief with the aid of burlesque. Performers Cherry Pitz and Rosie Cheeks will prime your pump with some special Westeros-themed acts. Alongside them will be storyteller and Moth host Peter Aguero, and stand-up from Aaron Glazer and Broad City writer Naomi Ekperigin.
The Bitch Seat
Union Hall, 8 p.m.
In this live talk show, host Lyssa Mandel invites guests to present poignant and painful creations from their adolescence onstage. It could be anything: poetry, drawings, videos…even relics from a dark Wiccan past. Previous artifacts have included Dawson’s Creek/*NSync mash-up fan fiction, a camp song about kangaroos, and a LOT of cringe-inducing bar mitzvah footage. Jo Firestone, Matteo Lane, and Dan Hodapp will risk ridicule for your enjoyment.
Sunday, April 12
Center City Comedy
The Stand, 10 p.m., $15
Center City is what Philadelphians call their downtown. So it’s a great name for this troupe of dirty-dog Philly comics, who enjoy discussing downtown areas whenever possible. If you’re from the City of Brotherly Love, you may recognize typical big guys with big, mid-Atlantic personalities, like H. Foley and Reggie Conquest, from a ton of local YouTube vids.
Cake Shop Comedy
Cake Shop, 7.30 p.m., Free
Ex–Police Academy star and current go-to comedy director Bobcat Goldthwait dropped in to this show last week, which goes to show how achingly hip it is. The Lower East Side’s leading venue for experimental rock acts, Cake Shop is now getting more traffic as a comedy venue thanks to this show, with smart booking that skews to the “weird and wonderful” side. Co-hosts John Early, Liza Treyger, Sabrina Jalees, and Jacqueline Novak (buy her album Quality Notions right now if you haven’t already) build a vibe in which taking risks is heavily encouraged.