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Saturday, October 1

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Stand-up Mon Sep 22 2008

Blewtenanny @ Strawdog Theater

From Blewt!, the folks who brought you four years of the brilliant comedy game show Don't Spit the Water and Impress These Apes (season three starts tonight at the Lakeshore Theater, oh yes it does) comes Blewtenanny, the stand-up showcase that's evolving into a sort of "quirky playful post-modern" variety show, according to producer and host Bryan Bowden. Though it began as strictly a stand-up showcase, the format now includes two stand-ups, a musical comedy act, and a "crazy weird-ass wild card" act. Local faves Robert Buscemi and Chad Briggs are booked for the stand-up slots for the next show, on October 3.

Bryan Bowden:
Bryan Bowden Hosting Blewtenanny

"The new format is a chance to bring in a variety of audiences as well as performers," Bowden explained. "That last slot especially is for some of the amazing performers who are engaging and entertaining but hard to book in a normal comedy/music setting. I've seen some really cool acts that are really difficult to classify, and I'm hoping to give those performers a chance at Blewtenanny."

Blewtenanny has been going strong since March, and beginning October 3 will be settling into its new home at The Strawdog Theater (3829 N. Broadway), and its new schedule of the first Friday of every month at 11pm. Admission is $5 and anything you buy at the bar benefits Strawdog itself, which is a non-profit artistic enterprise.

Blewtenanny is a great night of raucous fun for audiences partly because it's one of the comedians' favorite shows to perform at. The earliest shows were at midnight at the BYOB Playground Theater, and caught the leftover audience members from the previous show, the now-retired Don't Spit the Water. That meant a warmed-up, tipsy crowd sometimes ready to get loud and interact with the performers. Bowden, a CPS 8th grade teacher by day, applied a gently authoritative hand, keeping the rowdy crowds engaged but under control.

Alyson Lyon and Sarah King:
Sarah King and Allison

Sarah King, fresh off her well-received one woman show "Good Crazy/Bad Crazy," has performed at Bowden's show twice and said "I think Bryan's room is very welcoming because he's such a nice guy and he makes the comics and audience feel comfortable. He runs it in a casual but professional way that encourages performers to take more chances with their material, so you never know what you're going to see, which I love."

Neil Arsenty, a seasoned improv and sketch vet who recently began exploring stand-up, said "Bryan's show is a great experience. I'm totally grateful to him for giving me a shot as the very first comic in the very first Blewtenanny. I had never done stand-up before but I felt very comfortable. We had drunk people right in the front row who talked to me during my set, and they were the nicest drunk people you could ask for."

Andrew DeWitt, another sketch and comedy video vet who began doing stand-up earlier this year after joining the circle of friends in Bowden's stand-up writing workshop, went from open mics to headlining slots in a scant few months, and openly credits Bowden and other friends for his rapid ascent. DeWitt, who is moving to Los Angeles this week to delve into comedy there, said "I love performing at Blewtenanny. It's always a great time and has a relaxed, laid-back vibe. We get to hang out with all of our comedy friends and stick around afterwards for a while and booze it up with the audience and our pals. Things can get out of hand but only in a good way."

Lincoln Lodge cast member and Fourth Fridays producer Cameron Esposito agrees. "Blewtenanny is one of only a few shows in the city where I feel I can test out really strange and outlandish material," she said. "The crowd may be rowdy and they may be drunk, but it's that rare brand of smart drunk that digs my weirdest comedic thoughts."

More pictures and a video highlight reel of a recent Blewtenanny after the jump.

Amanda Rountree:
Amanda Rountree

Ken Barnard:
Ken Barnard

Andrew DeWitt:
Andrew DeWitt

Highlights from the rowdiest Blewtenanny thus far, on July 12, 2008 -- featuring Bryan Bowden, Sarah King, Your Sunday Best producer and Chicago Underground Comedy cast member James Fritz, longtime Chicago favorite Mike Wiley and Lincoln Lodge castmember Bill Cruz:

(**The fact that the author of this post is inextricably intertwined with Chicago comedy, edited the above video clip and most of the video clips linked to in this post, and probably couldn't be objective about any of this no matter how hard she tried does nothing to negate the awesomeness of all the above-mentioned comedians.)

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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

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By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

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Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

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