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Comedy Sun Mar 31 2013

Bringing People Together Through Comedy at R.E.A.C.H.

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Diversity is something that is often hard to find in a lineup at a comedy club. It happens easily though, at UP Comedy Club, especially on second Sundays of the month when Brian Babylon of WBEZ's Vocalo Radio hosts an incredible new monthly showcase called "R.E.A.C.H."--and acronym for "Risky Eclectic Artists Comedy Hour"--and it is exactly that..

Every month, R.E.A.C.H. features different performers who express themselves on a given theme in a variety of ways, from spoken word to stand-up to song. The rotating themes include history, women, sex and violence, race and LGBTQ. In March, I had the pleasure of seeing the R.E.A.C.H. show on women, during which performers of all races, gender expressions, sexual orientations and experiences, taking the stage to sing their uniquely feminist praises.

Many of the R.E.A.C.H. artists shared personal stories about finding self-respect, including show curator Dionna Griffin-Irons, slam poet Shannon Matesky and spoken word artist Angela "Anjee-O" Oliver, which made their performances especially powerful. The audience was right there with each woman, feeling her lows and cheering for her highs. The March R.E.A.C.H. also included an excerpt from Brianna Baker's solo show "Bede," which gave us a chance to see her unique view of the world as young girl. Jasbir Singh, the DJ who was on stage all night, created one of the most hilarious moments of the show when he told jokes interspersed with some 90s songs we never thought we'd hear again. Sarah Shook endeared the crowd with a hilarious Keira Knightley impersonation and we were all pretty speechless after Tamale Sepp's closing performance, a piece about chocolate addiction, which involved her pouring Hershey's on herself on stage.

What was perhaps most amazing about the show was not just the performers and their diversity, but also the crowd and its diversity of reactions, including dancing, laughing, singing, snapping, clapping and shouting (politely) at various points during the show. It was an amazing array of people coming together, both on stage and in the seats, to appreciate women, and to appreciate humanity, in all of its varied forms. If comedy does have the power to change the world, R.E.A.C.H. will certainly be one of the shows to do it.

"R.E.A.C.H." is on second Sundays of the month at UP Comedy Club, 230 W. North Ave. The upcoming show on April 14th is on sex and violence, just in time for Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Tickets are $13 at upcomedyclub.com or at the door. A portion of ticket sales supports scholarships to emerging talent from Second City Outreach & Diversity.

Photo of "R.E.A.C.H." performers from goldstar.com

 
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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

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