This week in Cheap Laughs, we have cage matches, bad batches, troll patches, a Pop Rocket pilot and a group of people who ask the most pressing question of our time: What if Wes Anderson remade The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, or any big blockbuster? Here’s our rundown of the best in independently produced New York comedy this week.
Wednesday, April 29
UCBeast, 11.15 p.m., $5
This show brings improvisers and stand-up comedians together in a kind of cross-discipline cage match. Improvisers and stand-up comics do what they do best, and then try their hand at the other “discipline.” The audience then weighs in on which “team” acquitted themselves better. Tonight, UCB Harold Team The Governess takes on a stand-up challenge from Sheng Wang, Jo Firestone, and Brandon Scott Wolf. Who will take home the bragging rights?
The Slipper Room, 8 p.m., $10
What do most late-night hosts have in common? Seth Meyers, Jimmy Fallon, Jon Stewart, that new chubby guy from Into the Woods: They all have penises. So it’s tough for non-males in the world of late-night talk shows. But host Carolyn Castiglia is bringing something different to the table: her vagina. Mixing the best gabfest elements of daytime talk with a nightclub comedy vibe, every show will be taped live, with the intention of selling it to the brave network that is ready to allow women to appear on air unchaperoned after 11 p.m. Tonight’s guests include former child actress and Matilda star Mara Wilson, rapper Jean Grae, and champion beatboxer Kaila Mullady.
Can’t Stop/Won’t Stop: Performers Respond to Online Critics
UCB Chelsea, 11 p.m., $5
For one night only, Kristen Bartlett and Krista Jensen are running an experiment. They’re inviting performers to finally respond to their harshest online critics and meanest reviews. Received internet wisdom is “never read the comments.” But maybe once a year, people should. Like a holy day of shame, rage, then passionate re-commitment to making more stuff regardless of trolls. Call it “Yom Click-pur.”
Thursday, April 30
The Heckler Show
Stand Up NY, 8 p.m., $10
Heckling is an industrial byproduct of comedy. Wherever talented people perform well onstage, a drunk or deluded (and very rarely intelligent) audience member will think, “Being funny is easy! Let me try it now.” They usually fail and embarrass everyone. But every now and then, it can create great moments. This show attempts to re-create those. It’s the only show in New York where the crowd is encouraged to heckle in the hopes of provoking some magic. But be warned: Luis J. Gomez, Yamaneika Saunders, and Kevin Brennan are some of the best in town at spiking whatever volleyball comments you toss out.
Saturday, May 2
Schtick a Pole in It: Van Halen Edition
Drom, 8 p.m., $20
Schtick a Pole… is the show where comedians share the stage with professional pole-dancers (these are not strippers and will react badly if you mistake them as such). These dancers combine athletics, dance, and pop music to create a new performing art. The comedians pull hamstrings just watching. Tonight’s theme is Van Halen: Dancers will choose their favorite song from the band on the understanding that Sammy Hagar–related material is strictlyverboten.
Sunday, May 3
The PIT claims that Clickfest is the world’s first live New Media Comedy Festival. Over 40 online-content creators will gather under one roof to mash up online and in-person comedy experiences. Groups will create new mixed-media sketches, host Q&A sessions, record live podcasts, improvise sets based on Instagram comments, and cross-pollinate in every tech-tastic way possible. Someone will probably talk about Periscope. It’s all very 2016.
Monday, May 4
Littlefield, Doors 7.30 p.m. / Show 8 p.m., $5
Guy Branum is a large homosexual man who rejects any cultural obligation to be cuddly and non-threatening. “Once my parents realized I was going to be gay, they figured they might as well raise the largest one in the country,” he acidly remarks about his size and orientation. Branum will never be cast as the cutesie leading lady’s best gay pal. But sitcoms’ loss is our gain. Fans of the podcast Pop Rocket, Branum’s hilarious intellectual take on pop-culture ephemera, will already be followers of his. Non-followers should go to Night Train tonight and become a fan.
Tuesday, May 5
Forty Minutes in the Style of Wes Anderson
The PIT, 8 p.m., $5
Ever wonder what Jurassic Park or Silence of the Lambs would be like if remade by Wes Anderson? The clothes would be better, the soundtracks more twee, and Alec Baldwin would narrate. What else? This is where the performers at the PIT come in. At the beginning of this show, the audience yells out big-name blockbuster movies for Wes Anderson to “reboot.” Then, eccentrically costumed performers improvise the movie before your very eyes. What will Wes Anderson turn his eye to tonight: 2 Fast 2 Furious? Avengers: Age of Ultron? Perhaps The Hangover? You have to go to know.