Meanwhile, back in Lowbrow Comedyville: if you're swayed by Steve Macone's defense of DANE COOK, you can check out Cook's 7 pm show ($30–$100) at TD Garden (150 Causeway Street, Boston; 800.653.8000; tdgarden.com), where perhaps life will stop kicking the guy in the crotch long enough to let him get a word in edgewise. But those of you with a severe Cook allergy still have comedy options. Once again, First Night swoops in to the rescue, with showcases by IMPROVBOSTON (7:30 pm, 8:45 pm, and 10 pm) and local stalwarts TONY V and JIMMY DUNN (7:45 pm, 9 pm, and 10:15 pm) at Hynes. Across the river, at Harvard Square's Comedy Studio (1238 Mass Ave, Cambridge; 617.661.6507; thecomedystudio.com), ZACH "MC MR. NAPKINS" SHERWIN (who kidnapped our Best Local Comedian spot this year) hosts SARAH BLODGETT, JOSH GONDELMAN, RICK JENKINS, RICK CANAVAN, JONO ZALA, and ED KOPESKY at 8 pm ($8–$10). Expect — nay, demand — Napkins's signature bewildering raps about hospital equipment.
There's thems who fancy shelling out sheaves of cash for a VIP booth at a posh club to get their NYE kicks — and then there's thems who prefer to save their pennies for the finer things in life (spelled B-E-E-R). Obviously, the best way to be a tightwad on New Year's is to just stay home and channel surf; but one notch above that is getting to take part in First Night without prying your wallet open or leaving your house. WGBH 89.7's Toast of the Nation, a nine-hour live-jazz broadcast, kicks off at 8 pm with reedwoman ANAT COHEN's show at the Berklee Performance Center (136 Mass Ave, Boston; 617.747.8820; berkleebpc.com). Jazz not your thing? You might have more luck on WFNX 101.7 (our corporate sister), which — starting at midnight and running all weekend — will be counting down the decade's top 101 alternative albums, as decided by wfnx.com visitors.
But if you like your gratis handouts with a side of masochism (as all good freegans should), plenty of cheap thrills await in the frozen tundrascapes that are Boston's public thoroughfares. Brave the cold and you'll be rewarded with a heap of live music, also courtesy of First Night. From 7:30 pm to 9:30 pm, JORDAN VALENTINE & THE SUNDAY SAINTS storm Boston Common's Parkman Bandstand; fronted by the turbo-lunged lady Valentine, this funk-inflected R&B throwback unthaws '60s sounds to get your blood pumping. Although, if that fails, a quick jog around First Night's colossal ICE SCULPTURES — including "Michelangelo Sculpting David" at Park Street Station, "Time Travelers from 2000 BC" at the Frog Pond, and recreations of Botticelli's "Venus" and Winslow Homer's "Fisherman" at Copley Square — oughta do it. Then it's a race to the end-o'-2009 finish line, with two bands counting down to midnight: BLACK TAXI dispense tunes that sound like "a Tarantino film in stereo" (according to them) or Cake meets Talking Heads (according to us) at 10 pm in Copley Square. Meanwhile, the FATAL FLAW, brainchild of Cali transplant Joel Reader, serve up sugar-coated pop-punk back at Parkman. And we know it'll be tough, but save some of your oohing and aahing for First Night's MIDNIGHT FIREWORKS DISPLAY, launching out of Boston Harbor just off the New England Aquarium (though Boston Common will be a fine spot from which to rubberneck).