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Comedy Mon Aug 20 2012
If you need a good laugh -- and puh-leeze, who doesn't? -- Chicago is the bomb place to call home. Comedy in Chicago is like the city's deep-dish pizza places: everywhere. From established powerhouse comedy venues like Second City or iO to smaller independent spaces such as Upstairs Gallery, live comedy is happening every night of the week.
There are so many great places to see a show that it's almost impossible to check out all the ones you want, but damn it, I can try. Here are mini-reviews (think fast-food drive-thru quick) of the shows I saw last week.
Mitch Greene Presents: Monkeyshines (Upstairs Gallery) - 8:00PM
The lineup consisted of not only comedy, but also spoken word, dance, and even an act that involved a dog - yes, a real live dog. The show was hosted by the cooler-than-cool "Mitch Greene." I loved the energy in the room and everyone was really supportive of people trying out new things.
Carol Bontekoe led a ten-minute session of "Laughter Yoga," which is basically a series of laughing exercise where audience members were encouraged -- OK, forced -- to interact with each other. Fake-laughter can "trick" your brain into thinking that you are actually laughing and by the end, everyone really seemed to be having a great time. Jasbir Singh Vazquez's "Ted Talk" was f-ing brilliant and hilarious. Also, Velvet Rope -- an all-female improv team -- cracked me up. Seriously, I think I could watch Velvet Rope perform for hours and hours.
Oh and remember, "I am a better human being because of Mitch Greene."
Check out Monkeyshines tonight (Aug. 20) or next Monday, Aug. 27 at 8:00pm. The show is free, but donations are accepted and BYOB.
The Harold (iO) - 10:30 PM
The Harold is an iO institution; it's a long-form improv structure that was created by Del Close and Charna Halpern. Just like other improv shows, the Harold starts with an audience suggestion, but unlike some short-form games, it develops a longer, more intertwined narrative.
The two Monday night teams -- each performed for about half an hour -- played well together. The audience suggestion for the second team was "piss" (yes, it was urine) and there were some good bits about Cubs bathrooms. The character that most stood out, to my friends and me, was the creepy guy who kept weirdly hitting on guys.
The Harold teams are full of talented people and Harold shows happen every night (except Tuesday).
Pocketful of Posers and The War Room presents, The Pocket War! Unclassified Improv Comedy Show case! (Upstairs Gallery)
Tuesday night was Chris Fair's Birthday Show, which meant cake and improv -- a great combination. Fair's "Laser Improv" was really cool, and I couldn't figure out how the laser stayed up on that big sheet.
Each of the four improv teams brought something different to the table. Special guests "The Adventurers" took a suggestion like "the wood-board from the Titanic" and turned it into a funny scene about class and money. The War Room was especially interesting -- the suggestion was "World War II" and the team really "killed" it.
This showcase will run Aug. 21 and 28 at 8:00PM.
Friday (08. 17)
Jason Stuart (Laugh Factory)
Jason Stuart's standup set was quick-witted and brazen. His banter with the audience kept the energy up the whole night. He was both bored and best friends with everyone -- especially the couple in the front row. He interacted with the crowd, making it a personalized show.
Stuart's anecdotes about dating, his families, and getting older, were really fun to watch. He ended the night with a great impersonation of a reality-television singing-competition hopeful.
Check out his online talk show "Name-Dropping with Jason Stuart."
The Laugh Factor has some well-known people coming to the theater, so check out their listings for upcoming shows.
Annoyance Theatre 25th Anniversary Celebration (Park West)
The Annoyance celebrated 25 years of "no judgement" theater in Chicago. The anniversary event was hilarious, insightful, and inspiring. I'm going to do a full post about this event, so I won't spoil it now.
If you know what's good for you -- or what's f-ed up, if you're into that type of thing, which I know you are -- go see an Annoyance show this week.