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« Critic's Choice: Completeness at Theater Wit Review: From Doo Wop to Hip Hop »

Burlesque Mon Feb 25 2013

Brass Chuckles: A New Kind of Comedy Show

GrinderClareDickerson.jpg

Brass Chuckles is a playful, monthly comedy show at The Playground Theater that values genuine comedic expression over perfection. This makes sense given it was created by one Chicago's most exploratory artists, Tamale Sepp. Hanging out with Tamale at a tea lounge is just like watching her produce a show. She oozes positivity and acceptance, and she notices everything. Are you standing in the doorway and making everyone cold? She will politely ask you to move. Did you leave your mug at your table when you left? Tamale's got it. It is exactly these superpowers of perception and caring that make Tamale a fantastic producer.

Tamale, who has a background in fire dancing, burlesque, drag, sketch, improv and stand-up, created Brass Chuckles to foster comedy in Chicago that is as interdisciplinary as she is. Brass Chuckles performances range from drag to videos to performance art, with comedic expression as the through-line, and Tamale hosts the whole thing with an upbeat charm. The show aims to bring different artistic communities together to play and to learn from each other. A stand-up who watches fire dancing, for example, can learn a new meaning of silence from a crowd. "When I'm fire dancing, my audience does not talk," says Tamale. "People are hypnotized, so they don't have a lot of response. This does not equate to them not being invested or completely involved in that experience. It's the opposite. And that can be true during tension-filled moments of stand-up."

Brass Chuckles has been running since August and has featured everything from storytelling to angle grinding (in February, I was lucky enough to see Tamale grind a handheld power tool into a metal plate strapped to her crotch as part of a performance piece about love). The next show on March 2nd, however, is a special stand-up showcase hosted by Tamale and co-produced by Chicago comic Kristin Clifford. In honor of St. Patty's day, the lineup is all redhead stand-up comics, including Katey Selix, Matty Ryan, Stephanie Hasz, Kate Streit, Jason Earl Folks, Joe Kilgallon, and Megan Gailey. The show promises to be a space for bonding and venting among delicately complexioned comics and audience alike, but also, in St. Patty's day fashion, a place for raucous fun. "You get teased a lot in high school as a redhead," Tamale says, "there are stereotypes, and you just stand out so you're an easy target." The goal of Brass Chuckles, no matter what the lineup, is to experiment and have fun. "The concept of play is important to me," Tamale says, "creating art isn't about being perfect."

Brass Chuckles Comedy runs once a month at The Playground Theater on varying dates. For tickets and showtimes, visit BrassChucklesComedy.com.

Photo by Clare Dickerson

Follow me on twitter: @caitlinebergh

 
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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.
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Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

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