Thursday, August 21

Gapers Block

Gapers Block on Facebook Gapers Block on Flickr Gapers Block on Twitter The Gapers Block Tumblr

« At Steppenwolf: The Motherf**ker with the Hat SketchFest 2013: Big Event with Even Bigger Laughs »

Comedy Tue Jan 08 2013

Comedy Seen: Five Great Comedy Shows of 2012

Comedy Seen.jpgAs we close(ed) the curtain on 2012 and head(ed) into lucky '13, I thought I'd write about the comedy shows that my brain remembers with the most fondness. This past year I saw a lot of funny shows -- seriously, people are crushing the game -- but it was only a small percentage of what's out there. There is no way I could or would want to make a hierarchical list, so this is not a "Best Of." Plus, I've noticed that with some people "best" usually just means most boring. This list is just to say, "Hey, these shows are super funny, and you should go see them."

With that said, the comedy scene in Chicago is producing consistently great work, and I want to give props to all the writers, performers, lighting people, and everyone else that have put themselves out there for us to laugh. In no or arbitrarily numerical order, here are five of my favorite comedy shows that I saw in 2012.

Messing with a Friend -- the Annoyance, Thursdays @ 10:30pm, $5

Susan.JPGWhen it comes to improvising, few people can out-weird Susan Messing. The thing I love so much about her show -- where she invites one of her friends to play with her -- is that I always leave thinking they made a situation that shouldn't be funny absolutely hilarious. There are always just really great moments dropped throughout the whole show. It can be a mind-fuck in the best way possible.

Messing has been in the game for a while (in a lot of ways she is the game) and has the ability to really control the audience while still keeping things fresh, a talent that makes each show scary-good.

Making Out with Wes Perry and Friends -- Upstairs Gallery, every third Wednesday of the month @ 8pm, free

Making Out is a variety show in Andersonville. Conner O'Malley, Gary Richardson, and Philip Markle have all performed at the show. But Perry doesn't only ask comedians -- he also invites performers like performance artists (Colin Self) and story tellers (Eric Budzynski). You never know what to expect (besides that it will be a good time).

"It's a mix of comedy, performance art, drag queens, and me, and it's free," said Perry back in our September interview (which we did on a curb next to Beauty Bar). "[I]n that show I host and I tell true stories and sing songs with a live band."

To Thine Own Self Be Skewed -- Chemically Imbalanced Comedy

Brianna.JPGPart of CIC's Solo Series, To Thine Own Self was made up of two solo shows: "This is Me, This is You," by Patrick Rowland, and "Bede" by Brianna Baker. While this show had a limited run at CIC, you can catch Baker and Rowland performing everywhere in the city -- they are really on their grind. Baker will be performing Bede at the PIT in NYC on Feb. 19 -- check it out if you can.

What I said: "[In This is Me, This is You] Patrick Rowland -- of Barack All Night -- plays a mix of characters that he's observed while living in Chicago. That's what good comedians do, they observe, and Rowland runs through a mix of characters that are not only hilarious but real."

"OK, so I'm just going to get right to the point: "Bede" is good, like -- and I'm only supposed to curse when absolutely necessary -- really fucking good."

Dummy -- iO, Wednesdays @ 10:30pm in the Del Close Theater, $5, free for iO students

Two-person improvised sets are some of my favorites to watch because you really get to see the performers' talents. It can also be scary. The two have to trust each other with their lives; they are basically sky diving on stage. If they don't pull the ripcord in time, everyone will just be awkwardly staring at each other wondering when it's time to go.

In Dummy, Colleen Doyle and Jason Shotts are the perfect compliments to each other. They let their scenes build in a really rich way, and they are both really good at playing multiple characters at once without it being confusing (unlike this sentence, amiright?).

You should definitely go jump out of an airplane with these two. Or maybe just go check out their show.

Lethal Action Force (improv group)

I saw this relatively new team back in October at the Playground Theater, and they had almost more energy than I can handle (I said almost!). As to where they'll be performing in 2013, a post on the team's Facebook page says "February...Saturdays at midnight...IO Chicago...yippie kay yay...Wrigleyville." Check back in with them for more details and to make sure of the date/time of their performances.

What I said: "Seeing Lethal Action Force perform is like watching an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie but with better acting. Throughout the set, team members call out different camera angles -- like, "close up" or "from his crotch's perspective" -- and the team adjusts the point-of-view for the audience. It might seem confusing, but the team does a really good job of just rolling with it, and a few minutes into the set I was right there with them."

photos of Susan Messing (upper) and Brianna Baker (lower) courtesy of Carol Bontekoe of Colorful Cow Photography


Tyler / January 14, 2013 12:02 PM

Nice list of unique comedy shows! I'll have to check some of these out.

Add a Comment

Please enter the letter c in the field below:

Live Comment Preview

Notes & Tags

Items marked with a * are required fields. Please respect each other. We reserve the right to delete any comments borne out of douchebaggery or that deal in asshattery.

Permitted tags and how to use them:

To link: <a href="">Link text</a>
To italicize: <em>Your text</em>
To bold: <strong>Your text</strong>

Theater Wed Aug 13 2014

An Epic, Tragic Win: All Our Tragic

By Benjamin Cannon & Mike Ewing

What then is to be made of the Hypocrites' new stage production, All Our Tragic? This massive opus, comprising all 32 surviving Greek tragedy plays re-written and directed by Sean Graney, lasts a staggering 12 hours, including intermissions and meal breaks. Ben and Mike go the distance.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Aug 15 2014

The Expendables 3, Let's Be Cops, The Giver, Venus in Fur, Dinosaur 13 & The German Doctor

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »


An Angry White Guy
AREA Chicago
ArchitectureChicago Plus
Arts Engagement Exchange
The Art Letter
Art or Idiocy?
Art Slant Chicago
Art Talk Chicago
Bad at Sports
Bite and Smile
Brian Dickie of COT
Bridgeport International
Carrie Secrist Gallery
Chainsaw Calligraphy
Chicago Art Blog
Chicago Art Department
Chicago Art Examiner
Chicago Art Journal
Chicago Artists Resource
Chicago Art Map
Chicago Art Review
Chicago Classical Music
Chicago Comedy Examiner
Chicago Cultural Center
Chicago Daily Views
Chicago Film Examiner
Chicago Film Archives
Chicago Gallery News
Chicago Uncommon
Contemporary Art Space
Co-op Image Group
Co-Prosperity Sphere
Chicago Urban Art Society
Creative Control
Devening Projects
DIY Film
The Exhibition Agency
The Flatiron Project
F newsmagazine
The Gallery Crawl...
Galerie F
The Gaudy God
Happy Dog Gallery
Homeroom Chicago
I, Homunculus
Hyde Park Artcenter Blog
Joyce Owens: Artist on Art
Julius Caesar
Kasia Kay Gallery
Kavi Gupta Gallery
Rob Kozlowski
Lookingglass Theatre Blog
Lumpen Blog
Mess Hall
Neoteric Art
Not If But When
Noun and Verb
On Film
On the Make
Peanut Gallery
Peregrine Program
The Poor Choices Show
Pop Up Art Loop
The Post Family
The Recycled Film
Reversible Eye
Rhona Hoffman Gallery
Roots & Culture Gallery
The Seen
Sisterman Vintage
Site of Big Shoulders
Sixty Inches From Center
Soleil's To-Do's
Sometimes Store
Stop Go Stop
Storefront Rebellion
TOC Blog
Theater for the Future
Theatre in Chicago
The Franklin
The Mission
The Theater Loop
Thomas Robertello Gallery
Time Tells Tony Wight Gallery
Uncommon Photographers
The Unscene Chicago
The Visualist
Western Exhibitions
What's Going On?
What to Wear During an Orange Alert?
You, Me, Them, Everybody
Zg Gallery



Thu Aug 21 2014
Invaders from Mars & The General w/Live Soundtrack

Thu Aug 21 2014
Aloft Circus Arts Presents Dinner of Our Discontent @ Chopin Theatre

Thu Aug 21 2014
Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone @ Lincoln Park Zoo

Thu Aug 21 2014
A Jangleheart Circus

Thu Aug 21 2014
Chicago Comic Con

Fri Aug 22 2014
Aloft Circus Arts Presents Dinner of Our Discontent @ Chopin Theatre

Fri Aug 22 2014
A Jangleheart Circus

Fri Aug 22 2014
Chicago Dancing Festival

Fri Aug 22 2014
Chicago Comic Con

Sat Aug 23 2014
Queerpocalypse @ Mayne Stage

Sat Aug 23 2014
Aloft Circus Arts Presents Dinner of Our Discontent @ Chopin Theatre

Sat Aug 23 2014
Chicago Dancing Festival

Sat Aug 23 2014
A Jangleheart Circus

Sat Aug 23 2014
Bucktown Arts Festival

Sat Aug 23 2014
Chicago Comic Con

Sun Aug 24 2014
Aloft Circus Arts Presents Dinner of Our Discontent @ Chopin Theatre

Sun Aug 24 2014
Bucktown Arts Festival

Sun Aug 24 2014
Chicago Comic Con

Mon Aug 25 2014
Impress These Apes @ ComedySportz

Tue Aug 26 2014
The Moth StorySLAM @ Martyrs'

Tue Aug 26 2014
The Wizard of Oz @ Millennium Park

Wed Aug 27 2014
Avatar @ Millennium Park

A/C on Flickr

Join the A/C Flickr Pool.

About A/C

A/C is the arts and culture section of Gapers Block, covering the many forms of expression on display in Chicago. More...
Please see our submission guidelines.

Editor: LaShawn Williams,
A/C staff inbox:



A/C Flickr Pool
 Subscribe in a reader.

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15


Sign up for our free email newsletter I Star Chi and get a weekly round-up of the best of Gapers Block, plus our picks for must-do events each weekend!


Preferred format    Preferred format