As of January 1, 2016, Gapers Block is on indefinite hiatus. The site will remain up in archive form while we evaluate our options, which may include a redesign or sale. ✶ Thank you for your readership and contributions over the past 12-plus years. ✶
Postcards from the Mess is a weekly poem-comic about and inspired by art/artists, music/musicians, performers/performances, etc. This week, it's about Alexander Stewart.
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Alexander Stewart's work ranges from film and animation to drawing and printing, but its his exploration within the parameters and limitations of these mediums that brings a cohesion to his pieces. Stylistically, he often employees a clean flatness to his shapes and lines, stripping the images down to a bare elegance. We're presented with gauzy, Xerox-textured panes and hair-like bands, which float in a negative space that maintains its own significant weight.
And all the while, there's a sense of Stewart's mind at play. This is an artist who dismantles everyday concepts of the benign, which have receded into the clutter of our media landscape, and placed them in the foreground, requesting our attention. They're accomplished meditations and inquisitive studies, which dance away from being humorless, cold, or detached.
You can view more of Alexander Stewart's work by clicking HERE.
Postcards from the Mess is a weekly poem-comic about and inspired by art/artists, music/musicians, performers/performances, etc. This week, it's about Sarah Mosk.
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"Mosky," as I sometimes refer to her (regardless of her preference on the matter, which I'm honestly not sure of), is a visual artist, whose clear vision is consistent across mediums. Whether it be collage or animation, the viewer is drawn ever deeper into her familiar scenes of idealized domesticity, then disoriented as she fractures their deceptive nostalgia for days gone by. Like a hall of shattered mirrors, we're left with image fragments that don't quite piece together, and therein lies our own portrait.
My comic this week is a response to her work, which has been an unusually tough nut to crack. Up until the last minute I had no idea how to approach it, and I sat at my desk into the wee hours, jittering from coffee and exhaustion, as I tried to make my Tuesday deadline. Even now, it's 7pm the day it's due, and I'm just posting it.
I can sense the progression of this weekly series as the comics evolve from being tribute-responses rooted in aesthetics to something more personally conversational. There's an exchange that's beginning to take place, as my own emotions and recent experiences tinge the work. This series is helping me to better understand the art that my peers make, but it's also drawing out something from within me, which I'm giving them in return. All in all, it's a pretty great journey.
Postcards from the Mess is a weekly poem-comic about and inspired by art/artists, music/musicians, performers/performances, etc. This week, it's about Rachel Niffenegger.
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Rachel Niffenegger stands at the gates to some realm beyond our humble human perception, and what she chooses to let squeak through into our world is what we refer to as her artwork. Girl's blowing up like mitosis, and soon she'll have transformed our reality into hers. Her work at once makes the viewer a participant in its unease, but it's the lasting personal resonance that one will be unable to shake. She's showing us something we didn't know about ourselves, or, at the very least, try not to acknowledge. For more information on Rachel and her work please visit her website.
Postcards from the Mess is a weekly poem-comic about and inspired by art/artists, music/musicians, performers/performances, etc. This week, it's about Max Morris.
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Max Morris is a comics artists in a state of ecstatic fervor. He has risen again to remind us of our fallen punk oath. Additionally, he's an organizer for the Chicago Alternative Comics Expo (CAKE), and the editor of the Vacuum Horror anthology. This poem-comic was created in response to his performative comics reading at Brain Frame 17, which has been described by its host, Lyra Hill, as having a "propulsive energy and mounting tension." For me, it was akin to a frenzied religious experience, wherein I was swept up in Morris' good word. For more information on Max and his work please visit his website.
Postcards from the Mess is a weekly poem-comic about and inspired by art/artists, music/musicians, performers/performances, etc. This week, it's about Edie Fake.
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Edie Fake is a masked and writhing Tweety Bird. He's a comics artist, and a fine artist to boot. His series Gaylord Phoenix was collected by Secret Acres in 2010, and dude's also a member of Trubble Club. In 2013 I attended his art opening of Memory Palaces at Thomas Robertello Gallery, and now those same drawings are available in a juicy monograph by the same name (also published by Secret Acres). Meet Edie and buy Memory Palaces! His book release party is at Quimby's on May 17 at 7pm. For more information on Edie and his work please visit his website.
Postcards from the Mess is a weekly poem-comic about and inspired by art/artists, music/musicians, performers/performances, etc. This week, it's about Night Terror.
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Night Terror is a giallo-inspired musical project, which haunts the Chicago underground. Its sole member is Tyson Torstensen. This poem-comic was a reaction to his performance at Situations after Zine Fest 2014. For more information please visit the Night Terror Facebook page.
You might know comedic actor Lucus Neff from his primetime role playing Jimmy Chance on FOX's "Raising Hope." Raised only a few miles from Improv Olympic himself, this Chicago-born star is back in town for a night of wacky skits and laughs this Saturday, March 30 as a guest in iO's sketch comedy show, The Late Live Show.
The Late Live Show will host Neff as well as the musical guest for the night, Brighton MA. Their indie stylings have been featured on shows such as "Gossip Girl," "Community," "Castle" and "One Tree Hill."
Along with Neff and Brighton MA, the Late Live Show's Players will also perform, so get ready for a night of weird jokes, sketches, and characters, all crafted by the iO staff writers, whose credits include The Onion News Network and Funny or Die.
See The Late Live Show Saturday, March 30 at 11:59 pm at iO Theater, 3541 N. Clark St. Tickets are $5; for more information, call 773-880-0199.
Alex Nall is a recent college graduate, an emerging local comic artist and a self-described dork. Nall is impressively prolific -- every day, after coming home from his full-time day job at Lakeview Sport and Fitness, he spends the rest of his night in his studio at his apartment in Logan Square working on his colorful and succinct autobiographical comics. I sat down there with him a couple weeks ago to learn more about what makes him tick and why he chose to take root in Chicago.
How did you get into drawing?
I've been drawing all my life. I guess I got into cartooning and telling stories with pictures in first grade when I made my first book called Alex the Snake's Birthday Party. It was about Alex the Snake, who was green. He wore a red shirt, blue pants, and he had arms and legs. So he wasnt really a snake at all, and basically the entire plot was copied from a Mercer Mayer critter book. So yeah, basically it just came from a love of looking at pictures while reading in school and thinking, 'Ooh I could do this, I like doing it', and as the years went on, most of my school notebook's margins were covered in doodles -- those were the things I ended up studying more than more notes for school. I didn't pursue drawing or art in college. I went to Monmouth College -- a small liberal arts college. I did English and theater mostly and I kept drawing on the side. It wasn't until last year when I went back for my senior year that I started submitting a weekly comic strip to my school newspaper and sending out editorial cartoons to the town paper.
Influential humorist and art commentator Hennessey Youngman will visit the Windy City on September 7 to join "The Dialogue," an annual live-chat panel on "museums, diversity, and inclusion" at the Museum of Contemporary Art Theater. This year's event with Youngman will focus on Millennials and their effect on museum issues, alongside "Chicago's Commissioner of Cultural Affairs, Michelle T. Boone, and our newest curator, Naomi Beckwith, formerly of The Studio Museum in Harlem." While some concerns with Youngman's gender politics have been voiced among those in the art crowd, his highly entertaining video segments are largely appreciated for gleefully punching holes in otherwise hyper-serious art world conventions. The MCA's press materials describe Youngman as "You Tube's most followed art theorist," and points out Art in America's description of his satirical Art Thoughtz program performances as "Ali G with an MFA."
The characterization seems apt. In response to this writer's recent romantic breakup and search for art to make/look at appropriate to the moment, Youngman had the following hilarious advice (intentional spelling errors and grammatical breakages left in): "Break up art? Break into her/his house and lay naked in their bed until they come home from work and recite TLC's "Waterfalls" while they call the police. Videotape the whole ordeal, show the video of you waiting in bed on one channel projected onto the wall, then the police beating and crying on another channel, but way smaller. This way, the audience connects more with your interpretation of your ex's arrival, and your humiliation is underplayed and dismissible, also take every Macbook photobooth photo you've ever taken with them and make a rapid slideshow of the images to enduce nausia."
The Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago Ave. Program and reception $35. Program only: nonmembers $10; MCA members $8; students $6. If you can't make it to the live event, check out the Live Tweet at @mcachicago, using the #thedialogue to participate in the conversation via tweet. Twitter comments can also be followed live during the event at the MCA's website.
Everyone knows who Bobcat Goldthwait is. He's the 'guy from Police Academy, right?'. Yes, he is that guy from Police Academy, but he is also a stand-up comedian. A very funny, endearing, surprisingly underrated stand-up comedian. I had the pleasure of seeing the first of his two sets at Mayne Stage last night, and it was well worth the time and ticket price.
Well, ready or not, he's here and said he wants to go as loud as he can to tell stories through his work in a non-traditional way.
"You have to have a home base to blow up," said Brantley. "I've been blessed and fortunate enough to build a base here and now I'm ready to conquer the rest of the world."
The Chicago native said this city is the best place to establish that home base. Brantley said his recent solo exhibition, Afro-Futurism: Impossible View, served as a major stepping stone in his young career, as the first African-American under the age of 30 (at the time) to be featured at the Zhou B. Art Center in Bridgeport-- not far from his stomping ground of Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood. In this exhibit, his illustrations depict stories surrounded by his creation of a superhero named Flyboy and other goggle-eyed creatures--children specifically--and their emotions from today's socioeconomic times and a group of World War II unsung heroes-- The Tuskegee Airmen.
One of the greatest things about Chicago is the abundance of comedic talent that you're likely to find on any one of the city's stages. One of the saddest things about Chicago is the abundance of comedic talent that migrates to the coasts looking for bigger fish to fry. That is where the internet comes in handy. When Chicago ex-pats do great things that are captured on YouTube, the glory of technology makes it possible for us to keep tabs on them.
Second City alum Rebecca Drysdale has recorded her own contribution to the "It Gets Better" project, a slammin' dance track that's funny, vulgar, and encouraging all at the same time. It combines hopeful honesty with filthy lyrics and hip hop dancing, which is always a winning combination.
Chicago area visual artists are encouraged to submit work to an art exhibition to kick off Chicago Artists Month that will sponsored by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, the Chicago Arts District and Gapers Block. A panel of three Gapers Block staffers will curate the show, and selected artists will participate in the exhibition on Friday, October 1 from 6-10pm at 2001 S. Halsted Street.
Registration begins now! For a graphic novel camp taught by renowned cartoonist Nicole Hollander who is the creator of famous "Sylvia" cartoon strip. Starting at Lill Street Art Center, 4401 N Ravenswood Ave. from August 2nd to the 6th, this unique one-week camp enables children from ages 10 to 14 to create their own short graphic novel. No previous experience is necessary! Camp fees are $175 for Lillstreet Members and $180 for non-members. To register, visit lillstreet.com or call 773-769-4226.
Registration is open for a graphic novel camp taught by renowned cartoonist Nicole Hollander, creator of famous "Sylvia" cartoon strip. From August 2 to the 6, this one-week camp at Lillstreet Art Center enables children from ages 10 to 14 to create their own short graphic novel. Camp fees are $175 for Lillstreet members and $180 for non-members. To register, visit lillstreet.com or call 773-769-4226.
I recently took a weeklong hiatus from Chicago to cruise to Bermuda with my family and Chicago followed me all the way to the Atlantic Ocean! Second City, Chicago's famous improvisational comedy troupe is in the middle of a four-month contract with the cruise boat I ventured out on- the Norwegian Dawn. On a boat dominated by East Coasters-- New Jersey and Long Island accents a-plenty-- I was so excited to see these hilarious Chicagoans on the list of entertainment for the week.
Last Saturday the first installment of Second City's The Late Live Show premiered at their da Maat Theater. The show adopts the traditional "late night variety show" format made popular by the likes of Carson and Letterman, and is hosted by local comics Joe Kwaczala and C.J. Toledano.
The Late Live Show will take place every Saturday night at midnight at Second City's da Maat Theater located at 1616 N Wells Ave. The show is free, but you can reserve tickets for $5 through secondcity.com or calling the Second City box office at 312-337-3992.
Long-running sketch group Schadenfreude and the soul, hip-hop and funk band The Jordan Years blend music and comedy with occasional rent party shows, but their Chicago Just For Laughs show pulls out all the stops adding some of the city's top comedians and a Grammy award-winning rapper.
"I've been racking my brain to try to figure out how to explain it, because you don't see a lot of things like this," said Justin Kaufmann, who makes up Schadenfreude with Kate James, Sandy Marshall, Adam Witt and Stephen Schmidt. "It's sort of rock and roll with actual comedy."
The 90-minute comedy hybrid show examines Chicago from an insider's perspective, facing the day-to-day jerking around city-dwellers face, from parking meter privatization to skyrocketing property taxes, the cutback of city services and the ever-rising crime rate. Schadenfreude performed at last year's inaugural Chicago Just For Laughs Festival and were invited back by the producers.
The first Saturday of May is Free Comic Book Day, where independent stores everywhere get together to celebrate the illustrated violence, humor, and action comic books bring to us every day by offering free issues of today's best and brightest story lines. This Saturday May 1 marks this year's Free Comic Book Day and many of Chicago's best stores are celebrating in their own way. Here's a quick list of stores in Chicago along with the special events they will be holding tomorrow:
Graham Crackers - Mouse Guard artist David Petersen will be at the Graham Crackers Loop location from 11-3 pm signing artwork and comics. Both the Loop and Lincoln Park stores are offering a slew of free comics, limit 3 per customer. Check out their full selection here.
Dark Tower Comics - Dark Tower Comics has all their merchandise 10-75% off throughout the day. Scottie Young and Tim Seeley will be at the store signing autographs and artwork 1-4 pm.
The Comic Vault - All hardcovers are 50% off, all back issues are $1 or fill a longbox for $100, and all other merchandise is 25% off. The Comic Vault will be holding a hourly raffle from 12-7 pm and if you're into comic books the prizes are worth the wait. The store is also doing a whole Iron Man day which includes a raffle for Iron Man 2 IMAX tickets and tons of free Iron Man variant swag.
Chicago Comics - Free comics all day. No special signings but mark your calendars for June 5. Alex Ross will be in the store to sign his signature artwork.
Now in its 13th year, the Chicago Improv Festival will be kicking off on Monday, April 19 and running for a full week, showcasing the talents of 40 Chicago area improv groups, 24 from cities around the country and eight from outside of the United States.
Special events held in conjunction with the festival include the 2010 Lifetime Achievement Awards on Wednesday, April 21 at The Second City ETC. Recipients will include Harold Ramis, Dick Schall and Severn Darden (accepted by his widow, Heather Darden) and others.
Tickets to individual events range from $10-$20, and can be purchased online starting April 1.
Don't schedule any meetings for this Friday at 10am, because you're going to need to be at your computer to purchase tickets for the Chicago debut of "Celebrity Autobiography," which is playing at the Royal George Theatre April 30 and May 1 at 8pm.
"Celebrity Autobiography" gives comedians and actors a chance to interpret the actual autobiographies of celebrities, many of which lend themselves nicely to unintentional hilarity. Past autobiographies read have included the works of Tiger Woods, The Jonas Brothers, Vanna White, Neil Sedaka, and more.
Chicago standup Sean Flanneryhates Google, mostly because it's a killjoy during barroom arguments. As a guy who likes to run his mouth about ... well, just about everything, he's none to happy about "some vanilla with an iPhone" proving him wrong. Get the full background here, and then dive into his retort, Ungoogleable.info, where Flannery can "argue in the margins and shadows -- where Google cannot find me."
A cavalcade of sketch comedians will bum rush The Theater Building on West Belmont on Thursday for the opening of SketchFest, a two-week sketch comedy festival featuring an amalgamation of comedy talent from across the country.
"Every hour on the hour you get to choose between one of three great shows," said Brian Posen, SketchFest's executive director. "You get to ask yourself, 'Should I go see the lesbians from Portland or the black and white group from New York or the group from here who sings?'"
The world's largest sketch comedy festival just keeps getting bigger, too. The ninth installment brought in more submissions than ever, plus 100 new groups wrangled for debut slots, according to Posen, who dreamt up the idea nearly a decade ago.
"It's just exploding," Posen said. "Flash back to the first three years when we had to research groups all over the country and heavily court them -- now we're in a position where the bar's so high and we're training people so well that we have to turn people away, which we hate to do, but that just builds the festival and makes it stronger."
Groups from all over -- Indy, North Carolina, LA, New York, Virginia, Maryland and Canada -- are in this year's mix. Check Slowdown for our daily SketchFest picks or see the full schedule here. But with 113 groups performing, you'll likely find something up your alley.
The ninth annual SketchFest -- the world's largest sketch comedy festival, covering two long weekends with 100 sketch groups and 125 shows -- descends on Chicago starting Thursday. Tickets are $12.50 for each timeslot and a limited number of festival passes are available. Buy tickets and see the entire schedule here. SketchFest runs Jan. 7 through Jan. 17, 2010 at the Theater Building, 1225 West Belmont.
We'll also post don't-miss shows in Slowdown, so keep an eye on oll'a that. (Tickets to buy now: Hey You Millionaires, Long Pork, Buffet Shark, BriTANick, Heavyweight, The Cool Table, 365 Sketches, Pangea 3000, Bri-Ko, Robot v. Dinosaur, The Reckoning, Jablonski!, Kerpatty, and Aemilia & Ed's One Man Show.)
Cameron Esposito, whose flair for joke telling is bested only by her charm, is recording her first live comedy album, Grab Them Aghast, a title that she says illustrates her comedy style: a slow-burn punctuated by firecrackers.
A cornerstone of Chicago's comedy scene, Esposito was nominated for Best Female Comic at the 2008 Chicago Comedy Awards and was picked to appear at the 2009 Aspen Rooftop Comedy Festival. She's also a sort of a Yoda for bourgeoning female comics as the brains behind The Feminine Comique, a five-week course to help ladies discover and develop their standup skills.
Her live album recording will be hosted by Adam Burke, an agreeable jester in his own right and Esposito's regular co-host each Wednesday at Cole's Open Mic. Also coming to the table is Dizzy Lizzy Delicious, a delightful young woman who jumps around on a pile of razor-sharp broken glass.
Check out the live recording of Grab Them Aghast, produced by Rooftop Comedy Records, at 9pm Thursday and Friday at the Lincoln Lodge, 4008 N. Lincoln. Tickets are $10 for each night. Call 773-251-1539 or click here for more.
Chicago's sinner concentration isn't any higher than say, San Francisco's, but God's Pottery will do their best to -- satirically -- save some souls when they hit The Lakeshore Theater on Thursday.
"It would be nice if we could say honestly that all the heathens were located in one place, but unfortunately, there are desperate souls spread out across the land," said Gideon Lamb, half of the screwball duo that spreads their God-fearing message through music and motivational spoofs.
"The truth is, there are people sprinkled all over this country who need our help and that's why we're on the road," said duo's other Christian caricature, Jeremiah Smallchild. "Really, our work is never done."
The real truth is that God's Pottery is promoting their new book, What Would God's Pottery Do? released on the heels of their attention-grabbing run on NBC's "Last Comic Standing." They've also been busy making "Christ'd" episodes, sort of like "Punk'd" but with good-natured pranks, and hitting audiences over the head with their twisted theology.
No stranger to comics, movies, or Chicago, it seems only natural that Gordon McAlpin would create Multiplex, "a comic strip about life at a movie theater." The Peoria native's knowledge of and deep affection for the webcomic's prevailing topics is evident: characters and dialogue have an easy familiarity to them, movement and expression coming through surprisingly well given the strip's slightly static, cartoonish aesthetic. Recently, Gordon filled me in on his history, Multiplex's backstory, and the next step in its evolution.
How did you get into comics in the first place?
I always loved superheroes from watching cartoons, specifically Super Friends. My older brother read a few comics, horror comics, he had the most copies of Gru. He was never really into it. He was more into D&D and heavy metal. In 4th or 5th grade, I got the DC Heroes roleplaying game. They kept referencing this series called Crisis on Infinite Earth, so I saved up more allowance, trucked on over to a comic book store, picked up the old Crisis books. I started hanging around Metropolis, a comic book store, then Acme, its competitor. A chain-smoking, curmudgeonly guy named Jim would recommend stuff to me. Eventually, he would introduce me to slightly more grown-up stuff, he knew I wasn't going to run and show it to my mom. I hung out there for years. Fell in love with the medium, and I always liked to draw.
Now, I know what your thinking: retired running back Barry Sanders is making art now -- how awesome is that? And, as much as I would like to tell you that was true, it is just too good to be so. Berry Sanders is a painter from Eindhoven, in the Netherlands. He is in Chicago participating in a residency program at the Co-Prosperity Sphere.
These works are all large, black and white, oil paintings on a prepared paper, you "prepare" paper because otherwise you would get unsightly stains from both the turpentine and the oil. With the smallest dimension of every piece being 55 inches, these do demand a bit of attention. The imagery is obviously narrative, and in the statement for the show they address that calling the pieces "stories". These stories do have a lot to tell, although it is ultimately left to the viewer to decide how much and what.
First it was Pat O'Brien, now we find out that Chicago stand-up Hannibal Buress has also been hired to write for the newest season of Saturday Night Live. Buress has been living and performing in New York City, having recently appeared on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, and he recently announced on his Twitter page that he would be joining the SNL cast on the 17th floor of 30 Rockefeller Plaza.
"hey. i found out that ill be writing on this season of SNL. lots of elaborate poop sketches will be pitched this season:"
Tune in to the season premiere of the 35th season of SNL on September 26th on NBC!
Long el rides, MegaBustrips to visit your family in Milwaukee, waiting to see if you'll be called to serve on a jury- these painfully long occasions all require some sort of self-contained entertainment to get you through them, and a clever podcast might be just what you need.
We'll Be Right Back with Ruby Streak is a Second City endeavor, hosted by their mainstage musical director Ruby Streak. It's both entertaining and edutaining, as the show's guests chat about life, comedy, and often their paths that lead them to Second City. They interview local Second City folk, in addition to reaching out to their extended family on the coasts and getting folks like "30 Rock's" Jack McBrayer and Scott Adsit to spill the beans. The show may slant towards comedy nerd-dom, but all should find it a good listen.
Tonight Chemically Imbalanced Comedy hosts their fledgling Open Mic night at their home at 1425 W. Irving Park Road. The free show starts at 9:15, but if you're hoping to perform yourself, sign-up begins at 9 pm. The night isn't just limited to stand-up, and the evening may include sketch comedy, music, slam poetry, and more.
Are you a Doubting Thomas with a sharp tongue and a penchant for reilgious satire? If so, the Best Church of God may be looking for you!
The local sketch comedy group has been a favorite of audiences and critics alike, and they recently were part of Chicago's inaugural Just for Laughs festival. They're hoping to expand their congregation of writer/performers as they prepare to begin a run at the Lakeshore Theater. Audition information is below:
Auditions for Best Church of God
Monday, July 20th from 6-10pm
Location: The Theater Building at 1225 W Belmont Ave., Chicago, IL 60657
Call Backs: July 21st from 6-8pm at the Theater Building
Email resume to: auditions@BestChurchofGod.org
Best Church of God, the critically acclaimed, hard-hitting religious satire is adding ensemble members. You must have at least 1 year of improv and/or professional theater experience. Comedic writing skills a plus. Prepare two (2) contrasting 1-minute comedic pieces; at least one must be original. You may also prepare 30 seconds of a song (optional). Accompanist provided. Email resume (include any writing credits) and availability to secure a spot. BCOG will run Sundays at 1pm beginning September 6th at the Lakeshore Theater. No pay.
No, that's not the name of R. Kelly's latest album, but rather the latest stage show by Big Dog Eat Child. Big Dog Eat Child (of Boozeleggers Ball and Jones' Good Ass BBQ and Foot Massage fame) brings their show to the Lakeshore Theatre stage this Friday, May 29th at Midnight. More than just your run-of-the-mill comedy show, Intergalactic Sex Rodeo features live music from buzz band The Wires, burlesque dancers from the acclaimed Varietease Cabaret, comedy super-group Big Dog Eat Child, and comedians Marty DeRosa and Bill Cruz.
Maybe some of y'all will accuse me of being a Jerome to his Morris Day, but I'm going to hype my man Hannibal Buress whenever I can, because he's hurt-your-abs-hilarious and if we don't support our local people, we're no good.
You probably have plans after-work today to sit on a patio in the sun sipping mojitos, but what are you going to do when the sun goes down?
Perhaps you should hit up the Schadenfruede Rent Party. Tonight at Gallery Cabaret (2020 N. Oakley, Bucktown), for only $10, the local comedy group will host an evening of (free) food, (cheap) booze, and (plentiful) laughter. Doors open at 8pm, and the show starts at 9pm, featuring Lola Balatro, Ken Barnard, Eric Zorn, and Seth Weitberg (host of the Chicago Sessions, which we love).
The Reader has named oddball stand-up Robert Buscemi as the city's best, a fact you appreciate more when you consider that something like 30% of America's comedy comes from Chicago (there's actually a statistic somewhere to back that up, but I can't find it, so you'll have to rely on my considerable integrity).
I first saw Robusc (not a real nickname, I'm just tired of typing Buscemi) perform in the cramped confines of the Beat Kitchen's upstairs room, essentially an apartment, two years ago or more. Buscemi's stand up is unique and, in an era of irony-heavy, tortuously self-aware comedy, refreshing. He maintains a relentlessly sunny but thematically strange and even dark stage persona, going between stem-winding set pieces with rewarding payoffs to one-off one liners and observations. The thing that's refreshing about Buscemi's comedy is that it's shot through with a selfless desire to perform for an audience--a lot of stand up (even good stand up) suffers from the performers' desire to showcase cleverness or a certain sensibility without risking making an ass of themselves.
Punchline magazine interviewed Buscemi recently--the article is missing from their site, so here it is on Buscemi's own. He recently released his second DVD, and can be seen among other local places at Chicago Underground Comedy, the showcase you're going to claim you used to check out every Tuesday when it is cited as part of the revitalization of American stand up in a few years.
Every March the nation's coolest kids head to Austin, TX for South by Southwest, a series of film, interactive, and music festivals and conferences where the newest emerging artsists and technologies are showcased. This year, two of Chicago's own will be heading down for the SXSW Film Festival, where their short film will be presented. Teenager of the Year, also known as Joe Avella and Tim Racine, made Scatterbrained!, which will be shown as part of the "Midnight Shorts" series.
The Trubble Club is a group of local artists -- Al Burian, Lilli Carre, Ezra Claytan Daniels, Anya Davidson, Lucy Knisley, Rachel Niffennegger, Burnie McGovern, Onsmith, Laura Park, Aaron Renier, Grant Reynolds, Becca Taylor, Jeremy Tinder, Marco Torres and others -- who get together once a week to create collaborative comics, with each one contributing one panel. The result is often beautiful and almost always utterly surreal.
The Trubble Club recently produced a comic book collecting a bunch of their strips. It's available at Quimby's for just $3.