Unlike bands, comedians don’t have garages where they can rehearse. No, they can’t try out new jokes that only hurt their parents’ and next-door neighbors’ ears. Instead, they have to thrust their newborn jokes into the often harsh judgment of an audience who may not know or care about them. Worse, an audience who worships and adores them and absolutely does not want this peek behind the flawless curtain. It might be one of the craziest things comedians are willing to do over and over again throughout their career. But it can also be one of the most fun things for an audience, who get to experience a rawer version of the hearts and minds of the comedians they love. This week Christian Finnegan is taking that brave leap of faith, along with a number of other very funny people walking their own comedy tightropes.
Wednesday, August 5:
Fat Baby (112 Rivington Street), 9:30 p.m., Free
Fat Baby is a weekly debauched comedy party tucked away in a downstairs bar on the Lower East Side. Comedians are asked to do a set followed by an improvised rap or song based on titles picked blindly out of a bucket. The crowd often gets very involved (whether the comic likes it or not) as backup dancers, love song targets, and run-of-the-mill hecklers thanks to the strong and plentiful drinks coming from the bartenders. Funny Girls’ Steph Simbari joins the usual crew for the wacky hijinks this week.
Hot Crowd: Rapid Fire
Over the Eight (594 Union Avenue, Brooklyn), 8 p.m., Free
This regular Brooklyn showcase is mixing things up this week, inviting over a dozen comedians to do short sets of new material in quick succession. Megan Gailey, Joe Zimmerman, and Mike Denny are all part of the dirty dozen baring their souls and their notebooks for your pleasure, while you munch on your pick of vegetarian hot dogs made from carrots or giant platters piled with meat from Over the Eight’s resident Venezuelan street food cart.
Thursday, August 6:
Bookstore Cafe (126 Crosby Street), 7 p.m., $10
Joe List, Carmen Lynch, and Sean Donnelly are some of the hottest on-the-cusp comedians in NYC right now, and they’re all together on Loose, having a great time for a good cause. The show itself is exactly what the name implies: loose, unpredictable, and pleasantly chaotic. Plus, your $10 ticket earns you a free drink and good karma, as it’s all donated to Housing Works.
Union Hall (702 Union Street, Brooklyn), 8 p.m., $7
Most people become comedians to avoid having to make PowerPoint presentations filled with budgets, projections, and synergy (that’s what they’re usually about, right?). That’s why the slide decks on Serious Matters tackle bigger issues, like gender, infinity, and…teeth. In between filling your brain with questionable knowledge, you’ll also get a good share of laughs from Michelle Wolf, Nick Vatterott, and Myq Kaplan.
Friday, August 7:
Week at the Creek: Jon Laster
The Creek and the Cave (10-93 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City), 7 p.m., Free
Jon Laster is a great mix of old-school and New Brooklyn, with great jokes and delivery that straddle the stereotypical categories of club, alternative, and urban. So if you don’t find something to love after spending a whole hour with him, you should probably consider getting thee to a hermitage.
The Standing Room Grand Opening
The Standing Room (47-38 Vernon Boulevard, Long Island City), 9 p.m., $15 (Free tickets available on Instagram)
Todd Barry leads a hot lineup of NYC favorites on the official Grand Opening Weekend of Queens’ newest comedy venue. Home of the former Laughing Devil, the recent renovations have transformed the space into a cozy cocktail lounge with a drink lineup that rivals the one onstage.
New York Comedy Club (241 East 24th Street), 11:30 p.m., $5 with code CHUCKLE online
Chris Cotton was one of the standouts during the seemingly interminable and often awkwardly wooden Just for Laughs Festival showcase season this spring. His mix of charming nice-guy cuddliness and Philly swagger animate tight jokes and a well-built set. He’ll be bringing all of that to this late-night show that encourages everyone to get a little bit raunchy.
Saturday, August 8:
Good for You
Cantina Royal (58 North 3rd Street, Brooklyn), 9 p.m., Free
Jermaine Fowler is an explosion of flashy energy and style who has made his mark on TruTV’s sketch series Friends of the People. He’ll be filling this Brooklyn Mexican restaurant/arts space with laughs, along with fellow stand-up standouts Anthony Devito, Giulia Rozzi, and Tom Cowell.
Max Cellar (2 Knickerbocker Avenue, Brooklyn), 8 p.m., Free
If comedy were a high school (and it kind of is), Molly Austin, Liza Treyger, Rojo Perez, Blair Socci, and Joel Kim Booster would be sitting at the cool/weird art kids’ lunch table, while Cipha Sounds and Amanda Seales would be skipping class to DJ some not-really-legal underground party — and Comedy Club would be the big graduation party where they all crossed paths and hijinks ensued. Catch this cool crew of comedians, DJs, and DJ/comedians in an awesome Bushwick performance space while it’s still free and you can find a seat.
Joe’s Pub (425 Lafayette Street), 9:30 p.m., $15 in advance
John Early isn’t a terrible theater kid, he just plays one on Netflix’s Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp. In real life, he’s an engaging and intimate stand-up comedian with a wonderful one-man show whose raison d’être is supposedly to let the audience help pick his headshot, but is really a multimedia night of comedy with help from friends like Jacqueline Novak and drag sensation Hamm Samwich.
Sunday, August 9:
Anthony Kapfer Animated Screening
The Creek and the Cave (10-93 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City), 6 p.m., Free
Anthony Kapfer has a pretty sweet beard. He’s also got jokes, songs, and an all new animated comedy special that he created entirely with his own pen, guitar, and words. You could just watch it online after it’s released, but wouldn’t you rather settle in to watch it with some great Mexican food, cheap beers, and the auteur in the flesh?
Monday, August 10:
Littlefield (622 Degraw Street, Brooklyn), 8 p.m., $5 in advance
Erin Jackson and Hampton Yount both made a splash on the last season of Last Comic Standing. This week’s Night Train gives you the chance to go beyond the two-dimensional, heavily edited clips and experience these excellent comedians in a great live environment.
Over the Eight (594 Union Avenue, Brooklyn), 8 p.m., Free
Emma Willmann is the manic pixie dream girl who should have been in every Nineties romantic comedy if instead of playing opposite Zach Braff, she got to play opposite Natalie Portman. Which is to say that you’d totally want to hang out with her even if she weren’t a finalist in New York’s Funniest and anointed as one of the New Faces at the 2015 Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal. And she’s just one of the pack of funny folks featured in this showcase sure to help you forget it’s your first day back at work.
Tuesday, August 11:
New Release Day With Christian Finnegan
Q.E.D (27-16 23rd Avenue, Queens), 8 p.m., $6
Christian Finnegan seems to appeal to just about every demographic there is, from diehard Chappelle’s Show fans to Best Week Ever–loving pop culture junkies to stand-up aficionados. Everybody enjoys watching the assured, skillful sets he performs in clubs across the country, but it’s a special treat to watch such an experienced comedian try out his newest babies, along with the hilarious Joe Zimmerman and Michelle Wolf.
Union Hall (702 Union Street, Brooklyn), 8 p.m., $12 in advance
This international favorite that pits comedians against a surprise topic from the demented minds of the show’s producers is back in New York! This time around, Cash Cab’s Ben Bailey, wordsmith Myq Kaplan, and all-around incredible performer Nick Vatterott are facing one of the most daunting challenges in comedy.