This week in Cheap Laughs, we have boning, groaning, smoking, shaming, writing, failing…and just making things up on the spot. Here’s our rundown of the best in independently produced New York comedy this week.
Wednesday, April 15
Seth Meyers has a professional crush on his writer Michelle Wolf. Whether it’s asking her to comment on Kim Kardashian’s naked photos, dress up as an adult Li’l Orphan Annie, or just do stand-up to entertain his crowd, Wolf is a go-to joke machine for Meyers in the grand tradition of late-night TV silliness. See her get more than five minutes of airtime tonight at New York Comedy Club. Joining her are the crime-obsessed Pat Dixon and the hilarious Mike Recine.
What if stand-ups just winged it? That’s the question this show asks. Forcing comedians to perform without “a net” (i.e., their act), the producers dial up the anticipation of the crowd to fever pitch and unleash some of the fastest minds in comedy to write jokes on the spot about any topic the audience throws out. It’s like a UCB improv show, but with fewer scenes about bad doctors or people on a first date. None, in fact. Janeane Garofalo, Big Jay Oakerson, and the filthy Ari Shaffir are the big draws.
Thursday, April 16
Over the Eight, 8 p.m., Free
Every comedian has a drawer (or a large closet) full of jokes that don’t work. It’s a graveyard of funny ideas, and in that graveyard wander the ghosts of restless bits that the performer just can’t admit are dead. That’s the premise of SHIT BITS, a show where comedians perform jokes that they love but have never been able to make an audience accept. Part workshop, part therapy, all absurd: Some of the city’s premier alternative comics risk total humiliation for your amusement.
Dan + Joe + Charles Show
UCBeast, 11 p.m., $5
A trifecta of rising alt-comics — Dan Licata, Charles Gould, and Joe Pera — curate an off-center stand-up showcase late on Thursday nights. It’s a show that’s big on risk-taking performers and low on pretension. Tonight, profane D.C. comic Seaton Smith joins absurd L.A. crank (and Wolf of Wall Street actor) Barry Rothbart.
Friday, April 17
The Wonderful World of Boning
Union Hall, Doors 7 p.m. / Show 7.30 p.m., $8
Let’s all admit it: Boning is wonderful. But how did we all learn to do it? Why, with terrible sex education videos, of course! Comic and professional sex educator Lux Alptraum tracks down the most cringe-inducing, genital-shriveling sex ed flicks on earth, and invites comedian pals to provide running commentary. Everything is on the table: pregnancy, consent, STDs, and why your bio teacher is showing this video for the third week running, sweating a lot, and rummaging through his pants pockets.
Saturday, April 18
The Shame Game
Union Hall, Doors 7.30 p.m. / Show 8 p.m., $8
Shame: It’s the great leveler. No matter how confident a person seems, deep down, they’re ashamed of something. This show celebrates that emotion, as hosts Ginny Leise and Soojeong Son invite comics to bare their most shameful secrets in hopes of being crowned the King or Queen of Shame. Look out for David Carl, who can be seen around the city performing the entirety of Hamlet, by himself, in character as B-list actor and ongoing trainwreck Gary Busey. It’s spellbinding. Also on deck, Subhah Agarwal, Charla Lauriston, and Ashley Brooke Roberts.
Monday, April 20
Rob Cantrell & Murderfist Save the Earth
The Knitting Factory, Doors 7 p.m. / Show 8 p.m., $10
There’s a pot leaf sticker on your calendar, and that can only mean one thing: Today is 4/20! To celebrate, comedian and THC enthusiast Rob Cantrell has teamed up with absurdist sketch group Murderfist to celebrate wacky-tabacky and mad, mad laughter. They’re joined by Nick Vatterott, musical guests Unicorn Smack, and many others. The show’s producers advise stoners to “get tickets now so you don’t forget…because let’s be honest, you’ll probably forget.”
Tuesday, April 21
Literary Death Match
The Bell House, Doors 7.30p.m. / Show 8.15 p.m., $8
If you put some stand-up comedy, a game show, and searing satire of literary pretension in a blender, this show would be the smoothie you got. Celebrating all that is literarily and comically glorious about Brooklyn, four writers read their own work for seven minutes or less, and are then judged by three all-star judges. Two finalists are chosen to compete in the Literary Death Match finale, a vaguely literary gameshow-down to decide the ultimate winner. Bring your Moleskine and your creative-writing MFA. You’ll be burning them both afterwards.