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Wednesday, November 25

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« Man of Steel, This is the End, Dirty Wars, Somm & Pandora's Promise Russell Brand: TBS Just for Laughs Festival »

Comedy Fri Jun 14 2013

Knuckleheads: SNL Cast Members Come Back to Chicago Just For Laughs

jfl13_Knuckleheads-All_715x353_051420130559.jpgIf I can tell you just one thing about Chicago, besides never even hinting at ketchup on a hotdog, it's comedy. I'm always so confused when Chicagoans don't go see comedy on the regular; I'm like, "What are you doing with your life right now?" We not only have the opportunity to catch (sometimes free) shows every night of the week, we also get major festivals like this week's TBS Just For Laughs, which started Wednesday and power-hours through Sunday the 17th .

The Festival is a major deal (see: TBS) with shows featuring famous comedians like Russell Brand and Bill Maher, and more local up-and-coming/established people doing their thing at big venues all over the city, as well. A few weeks ago, while eating my proverbial (daily) croissant, I went over the Just for Laughs schedule and got, to be honest, most excited about Knuckleheads, a sketch/improv show with "Saturday Night Live" members, Aidy Bryant, Tim Robinson, and Cecily Strong in Second City's UP Comedy Club.

All three knuckleheads have strong ties to Chicago, having performed at any place where people regularly laugh/want to not-cry. Where you could once catch them performing in a show down the street, you can now watch them on your TV/Hulu. At the beginning of the show Aidy explained that when the three were official chosen for SNL, they had to move to NYC without telling anyone the reason. A vow of secrecy is a sure sign that they had made it; of course, there are many ways to make it -- and not make it -- as a comedian, but, let's be real it's "SNL," so, 'nuff said.

For the past year-and-a-half or so, I've written about the comedy scene, from the small indie spaces to Chicago SketchFest and the trio's success has been so overwhelming good for Chicago vibes. It has given the city that much more visibility, more aspiring comedians coming to take classes at Second City, iO, the Annoyance, et al. People were already making this trek for comedy, but people want to be near the most recent success. I mean, I've heard more than a few people say they've come to Chicago to take classes and be on "SNL". We could laugh at that overnight success idea, because it doesn't work that way: Rachel Dratch said in her memoir that she was on the Chicago scene for ten years before she made it to "SNL," but the fact is people are still coming to the city to be funny. Only a slim fraction of these people will "make it" but that's not really the point. The more people are learning and performing, the more solid shows Chicago gets to see. The Knuckleheads coming back to Chicago and performing together in the festival felt really important, like that's such a non-diva, Chicago thing to do.

I'm sure that no one in Thursday's sold-out audience had any doubts about the three as performers, they've all done really funny work this past season on "SNL," and, the sketches were just as good as everyone thought they were going to be. Each did some solo work--Tim and Cecily tried out some new characters, which felt really low-key and cool to see. Their improv set was crazy good; they even brought on a few special guests, one of them being Mike O'Brien, "SNL" writer and "Seven Minutes in Heaven" host.

There are a ton of great shows during the Festival; seriously, Chicago, go check out the schedule and at least go to something. But, watching the Knuckleheads perform together just felt "no-ketchup-on-hotdog" Chicago and I couldn't recommend it more.

There are four more Knuckleheads shows left: tonight and tomorrow, at 8pm and 11pm. Tickets are $25, get them here.

above photo credit: TBS JFL website

 
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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

Read this column »

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