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Comedy Tue Aug 14 2012
Chicago has some really f-ing funny women and a prime example of this can be found in comedy group the kates.
For the past four years the kates have found a home-performance-base at the Book Cellar in Lincoln Square. Last Friday, was the first time I saw the group - a rotating lineup of all female comedians. Local comedian Kelsie Huff hosted the evening - her emcee skills were definitely put to good use as she easily transitioned from each performer, keeping the energy high the whole night.
Because the kates perform in the bookstore -- with families sometimes walking in just to browse the books not knowing about the show -- Huff told the audience that the women weren't supposed to use the "f-word," but that it might happen anyway. In preparation for this, she had the audience practice "gasping in horror." This type of banter set the tone for an interactive and conversational show that really worked for the setting.
The thing I liked most about the show was the variety of comedy. Some of the performers did stand-up sets, others monologues or storytelling and often a mixture of stuff that blurred these lines. The lineup consisted of Tamale, Sarah Gallagher, Stephanie Hasz, Sapna Kumar, Natalie Kossar, Kate Stetsko, Annie Rijks, Christi Lowell, and Alexandra Tsarpalas. Huff really managed the pacing well - allowing each woman seven minutes to perform.
While all the performers had the crowd laughing -- I was really feelin' Sarah Gallagher. She opened the show with an irreverent -- I love irreverent stuff -- set about lying at the doctor's office, drinking problems, and trailer parks. She was eating a sandwich throughout the whole thing, making the somewhat f-ed up stuff she said seem so natural.
I also really liked Natalie Kossar, who had an almost-aggressive set where she was reading jokes from notecards in a really planned way. Christi Lowell drove all the way from Wisconsin to do her set, and I'm glad she decided to make the trek because she shut it down. Oh, and Tamale's "Photoshop is for faking things that never happened and never will" joke really landed with me.
All the women were fun and the tone was like a group of really clever friends kicking it and telling jokes. The kates website describes the group as "an exclusive comedy group that encompasses the distinct voices of several up and coming Chicago performers" and that's exactly what the night felt like to me.
The material at the kates show was horror-gasp funny, and I think it's great when female comedians come together to work on their comedic-hustle. I definitely recommend seeing a show.
The Book Cellar is also a cool alternative to comedy night clubs or stand-up at a bar (which is of course a great time, but some people might prefer something a little more low-key). The shows are a $10 suggested donation -- the money going to the performers to, you know, help them eat and make rent.
The kates don't only do these comedy shows - the group is also interested in fostering talent. The group is developing outreach programing for "young girls (and boys) looking to find their comedic voices."
Another outreach the group is connected to is The Feminine Comique, a series of comedy classes created by the Lincoln Lodge. The Feminine Comique is described as "a beginner's foundation course that strives to give prospective female performers the confidence and skills they need to begin a career in standup comedy." The class was started by well-known performer Cameron Esposito and is taught by Kelsie Huff. The Feminine Comique gives space for female comedians and is also trans-friendly.
Go check the kates out sometime. The group performs every second Friday and last Saturday of each month at the Book Cellar, 4736 N. Lincoln Ave.