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Kevin Bacon Worship, Comedy While Jogging, and More Performance Picks

(image via Fresh Ground Pepper / Facebook)

Fresh Ground Pepper Festival
Now through April 21 at New Ohio Theater, various times, various prices.

If you thought theater festivals just happen during January and in the summer for Fringe, think again, my friend. There is a theater festival happening right now, and I don’t mean that in the theoretical sense. I mean that performance incubator Fresh Ground Pepper’s first-ever festival is actually happening, right now, until April 21. Unlike some theater festivals which just have some plays and some musicals maybe, there’s quite the dose of variety with this one. In addition to new play readings and devised theater showings, here are two late-night comedy evenings curated by everyone’s fave deranged comedian Lorelei Ramirez, a politically-themed “experimental art party,” a day of activities for actual children, and more.

If you’re around tonight, there’ll be readings of Krista Knight’s High Blonde, a play about city planning and accessibility, and Nate Weida and Ben Holbrook’s musical The Church of the 1st Order of Cloud City’s Inaugural Unity Jamboree, which is not about the art space in Williamsburg. Keep Reading »

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Get Woke and Dodge the Oscars With This Week’s Performance Picks

THURSDAY

(flyer via Woke AF / Facebook)

Woke AF: A Mind-Opening Variety Show
Thursday, March 1 at UCB East, 11 pm: $7

Minds are like doors, I guess. Some are closed and some are open and some are in between and uh, some have doorbells? I’m working on it. Instead of trying to continue this bit, let’s get to the point here: Woke AF is a comedy variety show that aims to open your mind by exposing you to a diverse group of people waxing poetic/comedic about social issues they feel particularly attached to. Maybe it’s a topic you’re well versed in but have never heard joked about lovingly, or maybe you’ll learn something totally new. However your mind will react to this proposed awakening, you can expect to see ruminations of all sorts from Jes Tom, Corin Wells, Timothy Dunn, Glorilis Tavarez, Jesse Roth, and Kami Dmitrova. Just remember not to be too performatively woke, even if this is a performance. Keep Reading »

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Steve Earle Gets Theatrical, Philippine Dance, and More Performance Picks

WEDNESDAY

(image via Soho Rep)

Samara
Now through May 7 at the Mezzanine Theater at A.R.T. New York Theaters, 8 pm (select times at 3 pm and 5 pm): $35+

Though this show is playing up near Hell’s Kitchen, it’s commissioned by Soho Rep, the acclaimed and boundary-pushing theater that recently left its longtime home base on Walker Street, downtown, due to conflicts regarding what the building was zoned for and what they needed to do to operate the theater. Without any sign of stopping their production output, Soho Rep and artistic director Sarah Benson have been putting up shows elsewhere in the meantime.

Samara unites two downtown theater heavy-hitters, Benson and Richard Maxwell of the New York City Players. Maxwell rarely brings outside directors on board, but has asked Benson herself to direct his latest work. They’ve assembled a cast that is diverse in gender, race, and even age, as the ensemble’s age range is 14 to 92. Notably, the cast includes singer-songwriter Steve Earle, who has a storied (and Grammy-winning) career in American roots and folk music and has penned tunes recorded by Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris, and more. Earle has also composed music for the play, so whether you’re a fan of avant-garde theater or just good old-fashioned American grooves, you’ll probably find something to like about this show. Keep Reading »

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Bejeweled Opera, Empowering Blurred Lines, and More Performance Picks

WEDNESDAY

(image courtesy of Hallie Haas)

(image courtesy of Hallie Haas)

Masterpiece Classic: Women in Art
Wednesday, February 8 at UCB Chelsea, 8 pm: $7

It is generally agreed upon that art is Good. However, the art world is where things get a little more polarized. This new character-based show by comedian and actress Hallie Haas takes on the type of people who consider themselves high and mighty creators, the type of people who take themselves reeeeeeally seriously. The premise is that Laura Linney, of course, has gathered together seven of the most sophisticated and acclaimed women artists for an evening that feels a lot like a certain public access television show. Only probably a lot weirder. Especially considering Haas will be playing every character. This spoof on PBS classics feels especially timely, considering I just got an email asking me to sign an online petition so that Donald Trump doesn’t get rid of PBS Kids. Please, think of the children. And the art.

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Performance Picks: Murder Mystery, Spaghetti Puppetry, and Poetry Marathons for the New Year

WEDNESDAY

(image via Future Forms / Facebook)

(image via Future Forms / Facebook)

Future Forms
Wednesday, December 28 at Throne Watches, 8 pm: FREE 

Mary Houlihan, Joe Rumrill, Sam Taggart, and Julio Torres’s recurring comedy show Future Forms is a tasty treat, and probably one of the only shows you can say you’ve seen in a watch showroom. I mean, with the impending closure of spaces like Cake Shop, and DIY spaces getting all hush-hush for fear of getting shut down, perhaps we’ll all soon be watching shows in the aisles of grocery stores or something like that. Which could be fun, but the lighting leaves something to be desired.

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Two Trump Foes, Bill Maher and Anthony Atamanuik, Make Their Last Jabs

Anthony Atamanuik as Trump. (Photo:)

Anthony Atamanuik as Trump. (Photo:)

While the candidates continue to campaign with just hours left on the clock, two of Donald Trump’s biggest critics, Bill Maher and Anthony Atamanuik, made their final appeals to NYC voters during separate appearances at the New York Comedy Festival. Maher did his “whiny little bitch” routine to a packed house at the Theater at Madison Square Garden on Saturday and Atamanuik brought his scary-good/good-and-scary Trump impression to NYU on Thursday.

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Performance Picks: Interplanetary Educational Comedy, My Old Man, Joey Arias

(image via Pop Roulette / Facebook)

(image via Pop Roulette / Facebook)

WEDNESDAY

Pop Roulette Presents: Amazing Earth
Wednesday, October 5 at UCB Chelsea, 8 pm: $5. 

Musical comedy group Pop Roulette is out of this world. Literally. They’ve been sent to the planet Keplar in an attempt to educate its citizens about what makes America, well, America. More than that, they’re going to try and do so through the mediums of comedy and music, which might not be as easy as it looks in a world that seems to get slightly more depressing every day. I feel that they’ll do an okay job, considering I heard one of their songs several months ago and it still floats into my head sometimes. Granted, the only lyric I can recall is “I came on everything,” but I think that’s worth something. Also, the music video for their totally catchy song “Sex With My Teacher” recently premiered through Comedy Central, so at least they’ve got fans here on Earth.

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Tonight’s Debate: Where to Watch, Drink and (Try to) Laugh It Off

(flyer via NOW-NYC / Facebook)

(flyer via NOW-NYC / Facebook)

The sun is shining, birds are chirping, and I somehow just got an email from Al Franken with the subject line “Time to panic.” Looks like it’s Debate Day.

As Hillary and Donald face off in Long Island tonight, some will watch alone in the dark, while clutching a pint of ice cream in sheer fear. Others will jump into the thick of it and head to Hofstra University, where street performer and purveyor of love and farts Matthew Silver will be debating fringe candidate Vermin Supreme. Good luck finding them. Thousands of protestors — not to mention a 51-foot joint — are also expected to descend on the Hempstead school.

Don’t worry, you can also watch from a safe distance. Here’s who’s throwing watch parties, offering drink specials, or otherwise spicing up this evening of discourse.

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Next Week in Comedy: Seinfeld, Space and Singing

TUESDAY

(Flyer via Facebook)

Mary Houlihan & The Yellow Dress in “This Could Be Anything”
Tuesday September 6, 8 p.m. at Over the Eight: FREE. 
As the name suggests this one is a bit of a mystery. It’s a musical, but who knows what about? Written by indie pop musician Dan Weiss (with his band the Yellow Dress) and comedian Mary Houlihan, whose regular show, Cartoon Monsoon, usually includes a fair amount of funny singing, it definitely has a lot going for it. Sure, “comedy musicals” don’t always end well, but I have a feeling this one is going to be good.

It’ll also feature comedians like Carmen Christopher, Susan Casey, Pat Wise, Tim Platt and Joe Rumrill. As if that’s not enough, there’ll also be songs about “friendship and bravery.” If you’re curious to know any more details, then I guess you’ll just have to go and find out for yourself on Tuesday.

FRIDAY

(Flyer via UCBtheatre.com)

(Flyer via UCBtheatre.com)

Improvised Seinfeld
Friday September 9, 7:30 p.m. at UCB Chelsea: $10. 
Do you ever imagine Seinfeld still on TV? It’s a pie-in-the-sky dream so long as Seinfeld is busy getting coffee and complaining about college students, but it’s nice to think about, right? If, however, that’s not enough to scratch your Seinfeldian itch, then fear not, because there’s always Improvised Seinfeld.

At this semi-regular show, former UCB Maude team, Bellevue (who wrote a pretty good new episode of Seinfeld a while ago), perform a fully improvised episode of Seinfeld based on an audience suggestion. I’ve seen the show a few times myself and it is startlingly close to the real thing—the tone, the episode structure and even the actors playing the main cast (the Elaine stand-in, Cathryn Mudon, is an especially close dead-ringer for Julia Louis Dreyfus). So if you can’t even imagine it, then stop thinking about it and see it for yourself.

(Flyer via the Annoyance Theater)

(Flyer via the Annoyance Theater)

Deep Space Live!
Friday September 9, 8 p.m. at the Annoyance Theater: $10. 
In an effort to cope with the impenetrable loneliness of space travel, NASA scientist Sam Weiss (played by comedian Sam Weiss) has taken to hosting a weekly late night talk show. Because, honestly, what better way to deal with the existential ennui of being thousands of miles away from any other human beings than hosting a talk show?

This week also happens to be your last chance to catch Deep Space Live, which will feature guest appearances from the likes of the voices in Weiss’s head, some aliens and comedians including Sam Taggart and Ben Hosley.

SUNDAY

(Flyer via Facebook)

(Flyer via Facebook)

The Famous Awards
Sunday September 11, 6 p.m. at the Bushwick Public House: FREE. 
Next Sunday, comedian Kady Ruth Ashcraft will host the first ever Famous Awards—a one-of-a-kind award show that will celebrate and crown the world’s most famous individuals. You know, those traditionally unsung heroes of this world. Selfless and brave, every one of them.

The event promises to feature “a red carpet, step and repeat, champagne toasts, and most importantly, awards celebrating the 2016 accomplishments of famous people.” The show itself is free, but also be aware that it is 100% black tie mandatory.

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Week in Comedy: Orgies, Dancing and… Murder?

(Photo: via Union Hall)

(Photo: via Union Hall)

MONDAY

Pasic and Platt: The Orgy
Monday August 29, 8 p.m. at Union Hall: $5
Mo Fry Pasic and Tim Platt are two comedians who have teamed up a few times in the past to disgust, bring dread and even break up. Now, the two are moving their show to Union Hall where they’ll be taking the next logical step and hosting an orgy. Sort of. As the event description explains, they’ll be hosting this show as “a modern couple trying to organize an orgy for, undeniably, the wrong reasons.” It’ll be a show with fewer fast, ridiculous comedy scenes and more slow, serious acting around a ridiculous idea. They’re also joined by a bill packed with other great comedians and actors, including Carmen Christopher, Aaron Jackson, Betsy Kenney and Anna Drezen.

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Coming Up in Comedy: Roasts, Absurdity, the Olympics and Marnie the Dog

(Photo: Jewel Frankel)

(Photo: Jewel Frankel)

MONDAY

The Open Mic Roast of Riley Soloner
August 1 at Over the Eight, 594 Union Ave, Brooklyn. This show is free and starts at 9:30 p.m. More info on the event page.
Comedian Riley Soloner is hosting an open mic in which he will let anyone in the audience—including complete strangers—roast him in any way they want. Soloner is an improviser and comedian probably best known for his appearances on The Chris Gethard Show, but if you’re unfamiliar with him, that’s fine. He still would like you to roast him. In what the event page describes as “a truly bold and stupid move,” Soloner crowd-sourced this show via Facebook, where people requested that it be “a roast” and “sad.” Please don’t let him down—say something vile to his face.

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Improv Nerd? Don’t Hesitate to See Mike Birbiglia’s New Film, Don’t Think Twice

Birbiglia, Micucci, Tami, Gethard, Jacobs. (Photo: Daniel Maurer)

Birbiglia, Micucci, Tami, Gethard, Jacobs. (Photo: Daniel Maurer)

It’s a case of #improveverywhere this year at South by Southwest. Not only is Thank You, Del Close screening, but UCB is doing live shows: last night, Anthony Atamanuik dropped into one of them and just destroyed with his scarily spot-on impression of Donald Trump going after America’s new foe, Italian ISIS (say it out loud and you’ll get it). In addition to all that, Mike Birbiglia world-premiered his new dramedy about a UCB-esque New York City improv troupe on Sunday.

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