Winter's top 20 comedy shows

Get your bowl full of jelly wiggling with laughter this season.



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  • John Waters

  • Michael Showalter

  • Stephen Merchant

  • Liam McEneaney

  • Jeffrey Ross

  • Sandra Bernhard

  • Photograph: Mindy Tucker


    John F. O'Donnell

  • Photograph: Ari Scott

    The Improvised Shakespeare Company

    The Improvised Shakespeare Company

  • Amy Schumer

  • Cedric the Entertainer

    Cedric the Entertainer

John Waters

A John Waters Christmas
Get your season in full swing with a visit from trash auteur John Waters, who's bringing wicked wit and "perverted gifts" to town once again with this vaudevillian one-man show. Bone up on his Christmas album and read his essay "Why I Love Christmas" before you go, and then get ready for carols like "Happy Birthday, Jesus." B.B. King Blues Club & Grill, 237 W 42nd St between Seventh and Eighth Aves (212-997-4144, Dec 19, 20 at 8pm; $45, advance $40.

The Moon's Multi-Dimensional Year-End Celebration
For tonight's installment of this comic variety show, which includes readings, oddball videos, live music and more, the giddy Moon tribe welcomes scribe Michael Showalter, How Was Your Week podcast host Julie Klausner and the intelligently goofy local standout stand-up Andrea Rosen. 92YTribeca, 200 Hudson St at Canal St (212-601-1000, Dec 19 at 8pm; $12.

Stephen Merchant
The cocreator of The Office and Extras who's not named Ricky Gervais performs his first stand-up gigs in the States. Merchant plays the perfect straight man and comic counterpart to the ever-manic Gervais in the aforementioned sitcoms and on the entertaining-as-hell podcast The Ricky Gervais Show—and we can't wait to witness his intelligent, shy-guy wit in person. The Town Hall, 123 W 43rd St between Sixth Ave and Broadway (212-840-2824, Dec 20, 21 at 8pm; $29--$49.

Liam McEneaney hosts comics including Todd Barry, Janeane Garofalo and Sandy Marks to entertain a crowd of the Chosen (or any other holiday refugees who'd prefer to be out laughing than stuck in the house). 92YTribeca, 200 Hudson St at Canal St (212-601-1000, Dec 24 at 8pm; $15, advance $13.

Jeffrey Ross
Having presided over roasts of celebrities ranging from Flavor Flav to Joan Rivers, the Roastmaster General has begun hacking his way into other media with a recent book (I Only Roast the Ones I Love) and DVD (No Offense: Live from New Jersey). Onstage, his commitment to evisceration remains, even as he slings his arrows at a larger number of targets. Carolines on Broadway, 1626 Broadway between 49th and 50th Sts (212-757-4100, Dec 26--28 at 7:30pm; Dec 29, 30 at 8, 10:30pm. $38 plus two-drink minimum.

Sandra Bernhard
Establishing a new year-end tradition, Sandra Bernhard takes up residency at Joe's Pub for a run of shows leading up to (and including) New Year's Eve. Righteous and randy, she wields words and sex like weapons before, during and after performing a few numbers with her band, the Righteous Jezebels. Joe's Pub at the Public Theater, 425 Lafayette St between Astor Pl and E 4th St (212-539-8778, Dec 28--30 at 7:30, 9:30pm; Dec 31 at 9, 11pm. $85-$150.

50 First Jokes
Every January, John F. O'Donnell invites 50 of his favorite comics to each present their first new joke of the year. It's a busy meet-and-greet for some of the city's best young comics, and an interesting look at how jokes are born and what they're like before they're honed and polished. The Bell House, 149 7th St between Second and Third Aves, Gowanus, Brooklyn (718-643-6510, Jan 4 at 8pm; $12, advance $10.

The Improvised Shakespeare Company
Another periodic visitation from the Chicago-based ISC means more Elizabethan slang, rhyming couplets, goofy acrobatics, bad accents and belly laughs than thou canst shake a stick at. This rotating troupe of guys brings enough warmth and joy to their performances to make the ISC one of the only improv shows able to go on tour, so get ready to be impressed. Theatre 80, 80 St. Marks Pl between Second and Third Aves (212-388-0388, Jan 6 at 10pm; Jan 7, 8 at 7:30, 10pm; $25.

Amy Schumer
The ever-rising comedian takes over Carolines for a string of dates, bringing her brand of foulmouthed, taboo-touching comedy to Broadway. Carolines on Broadway, 1626 Broadway between 49th and 50th Sts (212-757-4100, Jan 5, 8 at 8pm; Jan 6, 7 at 8, 10:30pm. $32.75 plus two-drink minimum.

Cedric the Entertainer
The King of Comedy (or one of them, anyway) hits town for a Valentine's Day show, providing a nice option for folks whose better halves would rather enjoy an evening of solidly down-to-earth, crowd-pleasing jokes than a romantic dinner. Beacon Theatre, 2124 Broadway at 74th St (212-465-6500, Feb 14 at 7:30pm; $74-$83.

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