Jen Kirkman is an incredibly talented comedian, writer, podcaster, and drunk historian. Stepping out from an often behind the scenes role at Chelsea Lately, she’s become a national treasure with an amazing book about loving the life you live (I Can Barely Take Care of Myself), a beloved public journal of a podcast (I Seem Fun), and a tremendous Netflix special (I’m Gonna Die Alone). But potentially eclipsing all that are her incredibly charming and passionate appearances on Drunk History. This week, she’s just one of the multi-faceted, ridiculously talented comedians gracing the stages in New York. Here’s the best comedy happening this week.
Wednesday, August 26:
Damaged and Proud
QED: A Place to Show & Tell (27-16 23rd Avenue, Astoria) , 8:30 p.m., $5
Comedians are the quintessential “sad clowns” driven to seek attention and laughter from strangers thanks to a host or neuroses, addictions, and straight-up mental illness. So why not celebrate that? Damaged and Proud faces those demons head-on, this month tackling depression, disabilities, drug addiction, and suicide. Sounds depressing, but the old saw that comedy is tragedy plus time isn’t a cliché for nothing. Queens native Jon Fisch heads up an amazing lineup of openly damaged goods.
The Front Room (Brooklyn Comedy Festival Edition)
The Knitting Factory (362 Metropolitan Avenue, Brooklyn), 8:30 p.m., Free
The little festival that could keeps on rolling this week with a host of special edition showcases from the borough’s favorite regular shows. If you had to pick just one to attend, this would be a great option. With both Sean Patton and Amber Nelson on the lineup, it threatens to be an out of control, wild and woolly great time that will test exactly how much you can laugh over the course of two hours.
Lemonade Stand Variety Show
The Stand (239 3rd Avenue), 10 p.m., $10
Everyone’s heard the one about the person who says, “I’m a singer and an actress and a sketch improviser,” and gets the response, “So you’re a waiter?” But it’s no joke that most New York bars and restaurants employ enough talent to stage a Broadway revival. The Stand is grasping that resource with both hands, mixing in professional stand-ups and musicians with homegrown singer-songwriters, poets, and improvisers. Guest hosts Emily Tarver and Pete Lee lead this menagerie of entertainers.
Thursday, August 27:
Impro(VS)tandup (Brooklyn Comedy Festival Edition)
Union Hall (702 Union Street, Brooklyn), 8 p.m., $10
There’s a long-standing feud between the two comedy disciplines of Improv and Stand-Up. Which one’s harder? Which one’s better? Which one is more annoying and self-indulgent? This show gives you the chance to decide for yourself, with high quality stand-ups and great improv teams each doing their own thing… then doing the other thing. Sometimes the laughs are unintentional, but it’s always hilarious.
Live on Broadgay
Littlefield (622 Degraw Street, Brooklyn), 8:30 p.m., $10
If I told you there is a show where mostly gay men reenact a classic episode of Sex and The City, you’d probably picture a campy night in a black box theater in the East Village. Add in the fact that everyone involved is a comedian and it’s in Brooklyn and the silly, campy, fun factor goes up to 11. Matteo Lane, Julio Torres, and Joel Kim Booster are just part of the crew taking the piss at the Fabulous Foursome in this awesome night of retro drag comedy.
High Voltage Comedy Night
Verboten Culture (54 North 11th Street, Brooklyn), 7 p.m., $5 in advance
Here’s another chance to see the high energy, outlandishly hilarious Amber Nelson this week! She is truly an unpredictable delight to watch, with cat-rapid comedy reflexes that can shift the set’s gears at any moment. She’s joined by a group of equally amazing and fun comedians that truly live up to the show’s name, including loudmouth goofball Derek Gaines and the incredible Chloé Hilliard.
An Hour with Rachel Feinstein!
The Stand (239 3rd Avenue), 8 and 10 p.m., $5
Rachel Feinstein can do it all — jokes, characters, voices, charm, and snark. She is unfailingly ingratiating, whether explaining the difference between A Tool and A Douche, doing an impression of her mom, or running an off-the-cuff riff. Her Comedy Central Half Hour was a stellar showing and now she’s got a full hour of witty, charming bits on deck.
Friday, August 28:
Awkward Sex… and the City
The Pleasure Chest (1150 2nd Avenue), 8 p.m. and 10 p.m., $15 in advance
Everybody loves talking about sex, especially the awful, awkward parts of it. As proof, this sexy-silly storytelling show is celebrating two full years of comedians rehashing the most mortifying carnal moments they’re willing to share. With guests Emma Willmann and Phoebe Robinson, the anniversary is sure to hit some new and bluntly embarrassing highs.
Remember Your Spirit
The Creek and The Cave (10-93 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City), midnight, Free
Andy Sandford is exactly the type of comedian who would call shenanigans on some phony spiritual enterprise, just created for the purpose of bilking the trusting masses of their hard earned money. Deadpan observations about the things we should have all already realized were stupid and ridiculous are his stock and trade. So it’s fitting he’s one of the featured comedians on this show whose premise is that it is run by exactly that sort of lowlife scum.
Saturday, August 29:
The Wonderful World of Boning: Sex Ed With a Sense of Humor
Union Hall (702 Union Street, Brooklyn), 7:30 p.m., $8
Remember in fifth grade, when the boys and girls were spirited off to separate rooms to sit and watch squirm-inducing videos on Your Changing Body? Well, now you can get some laugh therapy for that trauma by watching the terrible sex-ed videos of our youth along with an actually entertaining sex educator and a host of hilarious stand-up comedians. Hey, you might even learn about Why You Have Hair There.
Creek Cave Live
The Creek and The Cave (10-93 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City), 10 p.m., Free
Rob Haze and Kevin Iso are two very funny young comedians, who are more than worth the price of (free) admission. Throw in another dozen of NYC’s up-and-comers and a free beer just for coming, and you’re basically getting paid to enjoy yourself.
Sunday, August 30:
Gotham Comedy Club (2018 West 23rd Street), 8 p.m., $26
There is not room enough in this column to properly sing the praises of Ted Alexandro. He is undeniably one of the absolute best comedians working in the city (or country, for that matter), with an ease and flow onstage that belies the fact that his set is built with the artistry and intricacy of a Swiss watch. A really funny Swiss watch, of course. He’s also an avid community organizer who regularly uses his notoriety to speak out about racism, sexism, and general human dignity. You don’t need to know that to enjoy his hour, but knowing you’re supporting such a Good Guy should help ease any guilt you feel at how indulgently enjoyable it is.
Monday, August 31:
The Loud Boys Show
Pianos (158 Ludlow Street), 7 p.m., $5
Let’s just declare this Amber Nelson week, because she’s everywhere! Lucky you! This show brings together four comedians, two hosts, and lots of singing, dancing, and free candy. And yes, one of those comedians is the aforementioned Amber Nelson. But the awesomeness doesn’t end there. Nick Vatterott is also on hand to add a second dose of quick, funny, unexpected hilarity to the show.
Tuesday, September 1:
Bowery Ballroom (6 Delancey Street), 9 p.m., $20
For someone who spends her time talking about the pros of being divorced and childless, fighting off sexist internet trolls, and hosting an audio-diary style podcast from the confines of her bedroom, Jen Kirkman is incredibly pleasant and fun. She does all these things with such humor and openness, that it’s impossible not to immediately be on her side. And if you didn’t fall in love with her during her appearances on Drunk History, you are clearly a soulless monster.
The Stand (239 3rd Avenue), 8 p.m., $5 with code VOICE online
Godfrey is almost too much charisma and talent to be confined to fifteen minutes in one of our city’s wonderful, but relatively small clubs. Watching his fun, funny, physical set in this setting is absolutely enjoyable, but also feels a little like flying too close to the sun. Then again, maybe that’s that makes it all the more enjoyable. So strap on your wax wings and check him out.