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Comedy Fri Mar 15 2013
Ever Mainard and Rasa Gierstikas are two Chicago comics and producers who are as similar as they are opposite. Both sassy, loud, and unapologetic, but in totally different ways, they are a unique and dynamic duo when they take the stage to co-host The Shit Show, a free comedy showcase on the last Friday of every month at The Shambles. While Mainard, a cast member at Chicago Underground Comedy, packs her schedule with stand-up, sketch and film, the more focused Gierstikas pours herself entirely into the project that she and Mainard are currently co-producing: The Shit Show. Mainard and Gierstikas have devoted many more hours of planning and decorating to the show than their audience, buzzed from The Shit Show's free Fireball Whiskey shots and delirious from laughing too hard, might ever know. But now they can! Here, the co-producers confess that their "shit show" is much more work than the title suggests, and that their relationship is a bizarre, but functional, business and drinking partnership.
The Shit Show started as an open mic that was a comedian-favorite on Monday nights, but, since August, you've transformed it into a showcase on the last Friday of every month. What was that transition like?
Mainard: We knew it would be a little different to run it as a showcase. There's a lot of organizing and a crazy number of press releases to send. We were a little nervous about turnout, but it's been fun watching the show grow more and more.
Gierstikas: I think since it was an open mic before, we know what we want from the showcase and it transitioned smoothly. I haven't experienced the worst of it yet (except for Ever Mainard).
How did you two decide to do a show together? What is it like being co-producers?
Mainard: I met Rasa when I used to go to The Shambles open mic. I thought she hated me and was the meanest person I had ever met. We started working together and the open mic grew from just 7 comics stepping up to the mic to the now 100 people in attendance for the show. [As co-producers], we try and fail at GoogleDocs and then we text a lot. We also meet at The Shambles to talk and plan and drink. We have fun, and then we stay out of each other's lives.
Gierstikas: [When I met Ever], I thought she was really fun and talented, so it seemed like the logical choice to have her help take over co-hosting The Shambles open mic every week. We're on the same page with what we want from this show and I think we trust each other's judgment.
Beyond having fun, is there another goal of The Shit Show?
Mainard: Just to have a great time. Also, our only rule is NO DICKS! No dick stand ups and no dick audience members. (Dicks being jerks, not men, but NO DICKS is our mission).
Gierstikas: I think we're in a phase of trying to brand it and make it synonymous with a solid, fun show with a variety of comedic performers. Hopefully, that will bring us more opportunities on a grander scale.
What sets The Shit Show apart from other showcases?
Mainard: Uh, the sheer awesomeness of it! We have a mascot, Hot Dog Man, who passes out Fireball Whiskey and pumps up the crowd. There are always party favors and shitty decorations on the wall to make you feel like you're at some wild comedy birthday party.
The show is also FREE! It's been really fun to let the pressure of comedy go during this show. We want it to be like a comedy vacation, you know? We want comics to feel supported and feel light-hearted like comedy should be.
Gierstikas: We try and make it so that there is a unique blend of people that come by and perform. We also try to make it more interactive with the audience [they get to yell "best joke" for their favorite joke] so that they feel like they are not excluded. We just really want it to be a good time for everyone. We want comics to be happy with the crowd and we want the crowd to be into the comics.
How did the infamous Shit Show decorations start?
Mainard: We got to The Shambles one day after reggae night and the bar had left all of the decorations up. By time we got there, most of the decorations were halfway pulled down or on the floor. We thought it looked like somebody had a real shit show of a party and we kept it.
I've heard you've had packed houses for several months now. How does that feel? After so much success, what are the next steps for the show?
Mainard: Yeah, the first show we had roughly 50-60 people, but it grew and grew! Now we have an average of 100 people a show. It's awesome. Fireball has been a big help and so has minglearound.com (show sponsors). I think our next step would be to do a quarterly BIG show at a bigger venue. Just once every four months. It would be fun to have a blow out!
Gierstikas: It's been incredible and really validating. It's a great feeling to see that the time and effort we are putting into it is paying off and that it's tangible. It's hard to say where it can go. I'm definitely open to the possibilities.
Where else can we see you performing in the city? Any other projects you want to plug?
Mainard: I am a cast member of Chicago Underground Comedy and you can see me on given nights at The Beat Kitchen and for more info visit evermainard.com.
Gierstikas: Not really on my end. At this time, most of my effort goes into promoting The Shit Show but I'd like to start getting back out there.
The Shit Show is a free comedy show at 8pm on the last Friday of every month at The Shambles (2050 W Division). The March 29 lineup includes stand-up comics Adam Burke, Megan Gailey and improviser Emily Walker.
Photo by Eliaz Rodriguez.