Ha-ha, Happy New Year! You’ve heard the jokes:
“A New Year's resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other.”
“A New Year’s resolution is a fragile bit of crockery fashioned on the first day of January and usually broken on the second.”
“This is the first day of January: I’ll give you one day to stop drinking.”
“All right — I’ll take the Fourth of July.”
Those ancient groaners (drawn from 1940s reference works “Thesaurus of Humor” and “Esar’s Comic Dictionary”) should resolve you to find better, more current gags to brighten up the last hours of 2017.
It shouldn’t be difficult. The final week of December is when theaters that have spent December largely dormant (or in the thrall of Christmas shows) break loose again. For years, comedy has been as big an element in the New Year’s experience as Broadway concerts, swing bands or noisemakers.
Because New Year’s Day falls on a Monday this year, a lot of venues are starting the celebrations early, with Friday and Saturday comedy shows instead of actual New Year’s Eve observations.
The latest “Best of Boston Comedy Festival” shows at the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center are Dec. 29 and 30 at 8 p.m., bringing in a gaggle of stand-ups from the reliably raucous Boston comedy scene. (The names of the specific performers at The Kate’s events have yet to be divulged.) Tickets are $25 to $30. Seating includes the usual auditorium plus cabaret tables in front the stage. 877-503-1286 and katharinehepburntheater.org.
Bob DiBuono, who gets an early start on New Year revelry with an 8 p.m. Dec. 29 stand-up set at Stamford Palace, has become know for his Donald Trump impersonation. He played the president regularly on the late, lamented “Nightly Show” on Comedy Central last year. He also does other impersonations, as well as “everyman” observational comedy about the struggles of daily existence in these United States. Tickets are $19. 203-325-4466, palacestamford.org.
The biggest comedy names playing Connecticut hit the state’s resort casinos. HBO “Last Week Tonight” host John Oliver does two shows at Foxwoods on Dec. 29 at 7:30 and 10:30 p.m.; then another two Dec. 30 at 7 and 10 p.m. (The big New Year’s Eve event at Foxwoods is a concert by The B-52s, plus special parties at the resort casino’s Shrine, Scorpion Bar, High Rollers and Hard Rock Cafe clubs.) John Oliver tickets are $74 and $89. 800-FOXWOODS and foxwoods.com.
While John Oliver is convulsing Foxwoods, Kevin Hart brings his “Irresponsible Tour” to Mohegan Sun Arena at 8 pm. Dec. 30. Tickets are $79 to $155. On New Year’s Eve proper, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 31, Mohegan Sun’s Comix comedy club presents Paul Mercurio, who wrote for “The Daily Show” from 1996 to 2002 and has performed on Comedy Central and Stephen Colbert’s “The Late Show.” Mercurio does two shows, at 7:30 p.m. ($25 to $55) and 10 p.m. ($45 to $110). There’s a $10 food and drink minimum. 888-226-7711 and mohegansun.com.
At some Connecticut theaters, New Year’s Eve comedy has been a longstanding annual tradition. On Dec. 31, Seven Angels Theatre in Waterbury offers “Stand Up, Count Down — New Year’s Eve Comedy Night.” Four New York funny people will share the laughs: comedian/actor/kid’s book author Gianmarco Soresi, self-described “Greek Goddess of Comedy” Ellen Karis, Mike Dugan (author of the book “Men Fake Foreplay”) and headliner Joe Matarese, who’s appeared everywhere from “Comedy Central Presents” and “America’s Got Talent” to Bravo’s “Better Half” and hosts the forthcoming podcast “Stand-Up Lie Down.” There are two performances, an early 6:30 p.m. show and then a 9:30 p.m. show that will morph into an appetizers-and-champagne toast event at midnight. The early show is $55, the later one $65. 203-757-4676 and sevenangelstheatre.org.
City Steam, 942 Main St., Hartford, hosts comedy shows at 7 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. on New Year’s Eve with comedians Geno Bisconte and John Ivarone. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.; admission is $30. The menu features assorted a la carte specials. Complimentary champagne toast at midnight. 860-525-1600, citysteam.biz.
The Funny Bone comedy club at the Shoppes at Bucklands Hill mall in Manchester rings in 2018 with Josh Blue, with two shows on Dec. 31 at 7 and 10 p.m. for $25. Blue, who has cerebral palsy and jokes about it in his act, has visited the Funny Bone before. He was a winner of the fourth season of the TV comedy competition “Last Comic Standing.” 860-432-8600 and hartford.funnybone.com.
Playhouse on Park in West Hartford is offering a special New Year’s performance of its ribald revue “Mama D’s Christmas Stocking: Where’s Santa?” The 8 p.m. show is preceded by a reception with wine, beer and appetizers in the theater lobby, then followed by a champagne toast, desserts and a dance party on the playhouse stage. “Mama D’s Christmas Stocking: Where’s Santa?” is a no-holds-barred modern-day burlesque show, with blue comedy, scantily clad dancers, rowdy singers and musicians and specialty acts. Tickets are $60; details at 860-523-5900 and playhouseonpark.org.
In decades past, the legendary Shubert theater in New Haven has hosted everyone from the illusionists Penn and Teller to Broadway diva Betty Buckley on New Year’s Eve. In recent years, comedy has been a constant. This year, the Shubert’s “First Night of Funny” New Year’s Eve comedy show features three seasoned stand-ups: Eddie Brill, who used to book comics for David Letterman’s “Late Show” and was also the comedian who’d warm up audiences for the broadcasts; Earl David Reed, whose reportedly made the leap to a comedy career while attending college and working at a comedy club in Connecticut decades ago; and New Jersey raised “Last Comic Standing” semifinalist Mike Gaffney. $30-$40. 203-562-5666 and shubert.com.
Treehouse Comedy Productions, which has been promoting comedy shows in Connecticut for more than three decades, has two separate “Laugh-In 2018” New Year’s shows happening Dec. 31. One is at Bobby V’s in Windsor Locks, with Jim David, Leighann Lord and Connecticut’s own Darren Rivera; a dinner-and-show package is $88. The other is at Bistro B in Westport with Brian Scott McFadden (whose voice you’ve heard in animated features such as “Top Cat” and “Ice Age”), Melvin George and Sean Morton. 203-230-8700 and treehousecomedy.com.
As one of Connecticut’s funniest people ever, Mark Twain, wrote in a column published on Jan. 1 in the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise newspaper, “New Year's is a harmless annual institution, of no particular use to anybody save as a scapegoat for promiscuous drunks, and friendly calls, and humbug resolutions, and we wish you to enjoy it with a looseness suited to the greatness of the occasion.”