The Roots Present the Jam
Weekly; Highline Ballroom; 431 W. 16th St., nr. Ninth Ave.; 212-414-5994
As the Village Voice pointed out, now that the Roots are Jimmy Fallon's band, they're also sort of New York's. The most palpable development is this weekly jam, a loose late-night set of reconstructed Roots tracks, face-melting solos from these crack musicians, and—best of all—unannounced guest appearances from the extended Roots crew. Talib Kweli, Pharoahe Monch, and Chrisette Michele all christened the first-ever jam — who's up next?
Weekly, Thursdays; (Le) Poisson Rouge; 158 Bleecker St., nr. Thompson St.; 212-505-3474
If that's not enough Roots action for you, hold tight: Drummer/bandleader ?uestlove's D.J. residency promises eclectic selections (find out for yourself what a well-placed "Smells Like Teen Spirit" spin can do to a crowd) from his deep, deep collection, and his own brand of special guests.
Punch Up Your Life
Weekly, Tuesdays; Housing Works Bookstore Café; 126 Crosby St., nr. Houston St.; 212-334-3324
Housing Works, usually home to hushed readings, submits its own entry into the city's free-comedy-night corps. Punch Up is presented by vets Jesse Klein and Pete Holmes, and has already seen appearances from John Mulaney, Nick Kroll, John Oliver, and Janeane Garofalo.
Weekly, Mondays; UCB Theater; 307 W. 26th St., nr. Eighth Ave.; 212-366-9176
The resident graybeard of the bunch (it's been around since September) is another gem birthed by the city's incestuous comedy scene: A night of alternative stand-up, it features unleashed sets from local heroes like Todd Barry, Arj Barker, Brett Gelman, Aziz Ansari, Baron Vaughn, and Dave Hill. Hosted by Leo Allen, who has written for SNL, Human Giant, and Important Things With Demetri Martin and is a great stand-up in his own right.
John Wesley Harding's Cabinet of Wonders
April 15; (Le) Poisson Rouge; 158 Bleecker St., nr. Thompson St.; 212-505-3474
To celebrate the release of March's Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead, the Brooklyn folk troubadour has put up a series of oddball variety shows. The Cabinet is currently on tour, but comes back in April for its finale. On hand will be all manner of interesting people, including Graham Parker, Sam Lipsyte, Daniel Wallace, and Dan John Miller.