Cheap Laughs: The Best in Indie and Alt Comedy This Week, 1/8 – 1/14/2014

Live comedy is a talky genre, but this week’s Cheap Laughs features an unusually chatty bunch of shows. The NYC PodFest takes over the Lower East Side this weekend, bringing you the best audio over-sharers in the city. Lewis Black (a.k.a. the Picasso of Ranting) and Radiolab’s storyteller-in-chief Jad Abrumbad share a comedy stage this Wednesday. And there are performances that highlight all kinds of blabbing, from the genial ribbing of game shows, to the agonized arguments behind the scenes in a talk show monologue writers’ room. Plus, as usual, we bring you our pick of the best indie and alternative comedy shows happening over the next seven days. Let’s go.

Wednesday, January 8th

Employee of the Month
Joe’s Pub, 7 p.m. $20.
The hit UCB show, all about dream jobs and the people who do them, moves to Joe’s Pub for the first time tonight. The Daily Show’s grizzled rage-fountain Lewis Black appears, alongside WNYC’s Radiolab host Jad Abumrad, Tony Award-winning Broadway producer Daryl Roth, and witty songstress Nellie McKay. They join previous illustrious recipients of the Employee of the Month plaque, such as Rachel Maddow, Gloria Steinem, and Triumph the Insult Comic Dog.

Gandhi, Is That You?
Lucky Jack’s, 9 p.m. Free.
This Lower East Side independent show has been running for almost four years, and keeps churning out fantastic shows. It’s something to do with excellent line-ups, packed crowds, and free pizza for audience members. It’s not rocket science. This week, DC Benny, Daily Show writer Adam Lowitt and the very funny Janelle James top the bill. Emailing to reserve seats in advance is recommended.

Thursday, January 9th

Class War
Three of Cups, 8 p.m. Free.
Chris Gethard is filming a Comedy Central pilot based on his book, “A Bad Idea I’m About to Do”, but still has time to headline this great little show in the East Village. Handsome manchild Jason Burke hosts Will Miles, Myka Fox, Evan Davis and others to prepare the ground for the UCB’s pre-eminent public access talk show host.

Saturday, January 11th

The NYC Podfest
Fontana’s, Shows from 3 p.m to 11 p.m. (Ticket prices vary by event)
New York has lagged a little behind L.A. in the blooming of comedy podcasts. It’s not a question of broadcast talent, more one of real estate: who can physically fit all those mics and mixing boards into a small studio apartment? But with a bunch of established podcast networks solving that space issue, Gotham is catching up, and this annual shindig is showing off the goods. Pick of the bunch is “Tell Your Friends!” at 10 p.m. with guest Gilbert Gottfried, but you’ll discover great shows all day long.

The Killing Joke
Legion Bar, 7.30 p.m. Free.
The second Saturday of every month brings this tight standup show to Legion Bar, hosted by the arch Ali Prier and Louisiana scoundrel Scotland Green. Come for the show, stay for the $3 atomic lager and $5 beer/shot specials. Rob Cantrell, Erik Bergstrom, Tim Dillon and more are your clowns for the evening.

Sunday, January 12th

The NYC Podfest
Fontana’s, Shows from 3 p.m to 10 p.m. (Ticket prices vary by event)
The festival rolls on with a packed second day. Recommended is the Laughspin podcast taping with the legendary Colin Quinn and Dave Hill at 6 p.m. Also worth seeing is Pep Talks at 8 p.m, featuring “the Bitter Buddha” Eddie Pepitone interviewing the living NYC comedy encyclopedia Eddie Brill. Finally, if you’re a man having trouble with the ladies, The Beige Philip Show is an advice show for dudes, and a successor to a project helmed by the late Patrice O’Neal. Their taping is at 9 p.m., with guests Michael Che and Andrew Schulz. It will get very blue, and very funny.

Monday, January 13th

Fly On A Wall: Inside a Monologue Writers’ Room
The PIT Theater, 8 p.m. $8.
This is an intriguing look at what goes on in a comedy writers’ room. Tonight you’ll watch a group of seasoned joke writers put together a late night talk show opening monologue, featuring Neil Berliner and special guests Mark DeMayo, RG Daniels, and Harrison Greenbaum. Expect tears of laughter and tantrums of rejection.

Tuesday, January 14th

The Incredible Game Show Showcase

UCBeast, 8 p.m. $5.
How do you get a game show to work? Well, you test it, in front of a live audience. This experimental show does just that. Three fledgling shows will get a trial run in front of a gracious crowd. Afterward, the audience members will vote on which idea they desperately fax to Alex Trebek in a vain attempt to get on TV. Hosted by Jo Firestone.

Tom Cowell is a comedian.

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