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Best comedy shows in New York 2014
Book early as Amy Schumer, David Koechner and Sinbad make the year’s comedy show calendar look very promising
Wed Jan 15 2014
Those looking to catch into the best comedy of 2014 should start booking tickets now. Though announcements about happenings in the latter half of the year are fairly nonexistent, certain staples—big holiday cabaret shows at Joe’s Pub from performers like Jackie Hoffman, and New Year’s Eve extravaganzas at Carolines, Gotham and just about every other club in town—are a sure thing. Click through the slideshow to find the biggest and most intriguing comics we’ll be hosting in the city in the coming months.
RECOMMENDED: Full list of New York's best
The title of Sinbad's 2010 special, Where U Been, said it all; though he'd appeared briefly in shows like Celebrity Apprentice, the stand-up and TV personality had mostly been off the map since the late ’90s, only making headlines when he declared bankruptcy in 2009. As Where U Been shows, Sinbad—now in his mid-fifties—is thrilled to be back onstage. He tells jokes about relationships and getting older with confident authority, and his performance exudes the sort of giddy enthusiasm capable of infecting audiences.
Between the success of sketch-interview-stand-up show Inside Amy Schumer and her recent special, Mostly Sex Stuff, the comic's fan base is growing exponentially. It's more than Schumer's ability to play off her nasty quips against her Kewpie-doll cuteness; her act has become more revealing over time, and she has found a way to come across like an insecure everygirl while telling stories that would make Mom blush. This tour brings some of our favorite IAS writers and pals to the stage.
Shaq may not be the first name that comes to mind when you think of comedy, but he's been producing these All Star Jams for a few years now. The lineup this time, which favors old-school characters, is the most promising one yet. Individually, D.L. Hughley, Earthquake, Tony Roberts and Deon Cole would make the evening worthwhile; together, they have a chance of blowing the roof off the auditorium.
The Pajama Men (Shenoah Allen and Mark Chavez) are odd birds. This Albuquerque sketch duo brings surreal theatrics, physical bits and an improvisational playfulness to narrative storytelling. The result—a kinetic, shape-shifting show performed by two guys in their jammies—has baffled people in the States a bit, but made the pair stars at festivals around the world.
You already know this comic as the quintessentially obnoxious Todd Packer on The Office and brash sportscaster Champ Kind from the Anchorman movies. His stand-up is just as bold as his onscreen personas, but tends to feature a good deal more self-reflection. Koechner’s routines mine his past for material (he grew up in Missouri and worked for his dad making turkey coops before cutting his comedy teeth in Chicago) and touch upon his current life as a father of five.
Former New Yorker Andy Daly, who was a magnetically weird presence on local improv group the Swarm, will be most recognizable to a national audience for his small parts on Eastbound & Down, Delocated and Comedy Bang! Bang! His new Comedy Central show, Review with Forrest MacNeil, gives him a break he deserves; in it, he'll play a critic evaluating the experiences of his life as he lives them. This show at the Bell House is a homecoming and a sneak peek at the series.
Having presided over roasts of celebrities ranging from Flavor Flav to Joan Rivers, the Roastmaster General has also hacked his way into other media with a book (I Only Roast the Ones I Love) and a DVD (No Offense: Live from New Jersey). Onstage, his commitment to evisceration remains, even as he launches his arrows at a larger number of targets.
Playing Leon Black on Curb Your Enthusiasm gained this stand-up and former SNL writer the wide audience he rightly deserves. As his special That's How I Dooz It showed, Smoove's madcap, highly improvisational stage act is just as animated and off-the-wall as Leon.
Brit stand-up Russell Howard is like a puppy who's just been fed a few Pixy Stix: He bounds across the stage with exceedingly good cheer, flopping about in a naturally funny way. He's also quite clever. The combination, on view in his series Russell Howard's Good News, is irresistible.
Even just workshopping Force Majeure last year, the world-renowned comedian and "executive transvestite" dazzled with his language games, historical concerns and fanciful visions of yak dressage. No doubt when Izzard visits the city as part of this global tour, the finished product will be as energetic, witty and strangely informative as past efforts.
Get over the politics and the pudding pops, and spend the rest of your life boasting to parents and comics that you spent time with the Cos. His clean, amiable slice-of-life stand-up laid the foundation for everything from his book Fatherhood to The Cosby Show. On tour and in his recent special (Far from Finished), his stories are as sharp as ever.
This annual celebration in honor of long-form improvisation's mad guru, Del Close, is many things: 56 continuous hours of staged silliness, a chance to spot visiting comedy names in signature shows or weird one-off happenings, a bacchanalian summer camp for performers and an endurance contest for stalwart audience members. A weekend pass gets you into anything on smaller stages, space pending; individual tickets for shows on bigger stages cost a bit more. As always, star-studded ASSSSCAT 3000 shows close out the weekend. More details will be revealed at ucbtheatre.com and, eventually, delclosemarathon.com.
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