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A/C

Comedy Tue Sep 01 2015

The Jangleheart Circus Returns with 3 Nights of Comedy

A Jangleheart CircusThe Jangleheart Circus by Upstairs Gallery -- one of the city's largest and most diverse comedy festivals, featuring local improv, sketch, and stand-up stars -- returns for its third year this Thursday, Friday and Saturday night (September 3-5) at three different venues on the North Side.

On Thursday night, the CiC Theater (a few blocks north of the Music Box) will host 12 acts including one of iO Chicago's best Harold teams, The Late '90s, and the popular independent improv group, Sand.

On Friday night, the Annoyance Theatre & Bar at Belmont and Clark will feature stand-up from Late Night with Seth Meyers writer Conner O'Malley, the Annoyance's experimental group Holy Fuck Comedy Hour, and 17 additional acts.

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Adam Morgan

Art Wed Jul 08 2015

Stand-up Comedy & Human Nature: The Second Annual Comedy Exposition

chicago comedy exposition 2015Can we talk kind of seriously about comedy for a moment? Please understand that this question is posed in full recognition of how stupid an idea this is: since time immemorial it has been understood that comedy is a topic preternaturally averse to being examined in such a manner, ideologically like a thigmonastic plant, shrinking away in response to interrogative stimuli. Often though the harder a topic is to delve into, the more rewarding it is to explore.

The aforementioned topic hangs thick in the air because this weekend will see our fair city play host to some of the best stand-up comedy talent in the country at the second annual Comedy Exposition—recently named Best New Comedy Festival on the 2015 Reader Best Of Chicago list—which kicks off this Friday, July 10. The festivities run through Sunday night when the festival ends with a closing ceremony performance at the UP Comedy Club by the fantastic Todd Glass. In between the fest will feature some 75 comedians, with roughly half of that talent pool drawn exclusively from the local stand-up scene.

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Benjamin Cannon

Contest Wed Nov 13 2013

Contest: Lewis Black @ Chicago Theatre

Comedian Lewis Black always gets big laughs in Chicago. His acerbic wit and his sardonic political commentary play to Chicagoans' own brand of gallows humor about politics and power, and he's done well here long before his appearances on "The Daily Show."

Black will be back at the Chicago Theatre May 10, 2014 with his latest show, "The Rant is Due." Tickets go on sale this Friday, Nov. 15 at 11am, but we've got a pair to give away right now.

To enter, email contests@gapersblock.com with the subject line "Lewis Black" and your name and phone number in the body. We'll select a winner at noon on Friday, Nov. 15. Good luck! UPDATE: We have a winner! Congratulations to Venkatesh.

Andrew Huff

Stand-up Mon Jul 15 2013

Paul Mooney: "The Godfather of Comedy" Comes to Chicago

Bold. Audacious. Unafraid.
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There are perhaps dozens more adjectives that could describe Paul Mooney; however, for die hard, or even casual observers of the legendary stand-up comedian, these pretty much sum things up.

Fans and students of comedy will tell you that while Mooney wrote for classic 70s sitcoms like "Sanford and Son" and "Good Times," he is best known for his close ties to the late Richard Pryor, which has resulted, in some circles, with him being hailed as "the man behind the man." In the early days and during the peak of Pryor's career, Mooney wrote (or co-wrote) a lot of his television and big screen material, including the short-lived "The Richard Pryor Show," his classic "Saturday Night Live" appearance, JoJo Dancer Your Life is Calling, and much more.

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LaShawn Williams / Comments (1)

Interview Fri Jul 12 2013

Old Man Porn with Dave Attell

Dave Attell.jpg

This weekend, legendary comic Dave Attell performs alongside Chicago native Danny Kallas at Mayne Stage in Rogers Park. I was able to chat with the stand-up legend and hilarious 'Insomniac' Attell; the comedian got nasty as we discussed retro porn, his favorite dirty comics and tips to navigate the entertainment business.

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Joey Delisi

Comedy Fri Jun 14 2013

Russell Brand: TBS Just for Laughs Festival

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From the moment Russell Brand hit the Chicago Theatre stage, the enthusiastic [largely female] crowd greeted him with applause befitting a rock star. The British comedic actor, who became a U.S. household name after roles in box office hits like Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Get Him to the Greek and Rock of Ages, served as a headliner Wednesday night at this year's TBS Just for Laughs Festival.

Brand, much to the crowd's delight, began the evening by acknowledging the Chicago Blackhawks' run for the Stanley Cup; from there, he continued his set, in an "everywhere-and-all-over-the-place" fashion, on subjects that included the Chicago Theatre's architecture (certain structures were "phallic" while others resembled female genitalia), the reciprocal relationship of "sexting," his "internet death" (snowboarding incident), his admiration of the late Michael Jackson (sans the "Jesus juice pajama parties"), weird State of Illinois laws--and even civil rights.

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LaShawn Williams

Comedy Thu Jun 06 2013

TBS Just for Laughs: 5th Annual Funny Festival Returns to Chicago

Thumbnail image for TBS JFL CHGO THEATRE.jpg Photo courtesy of TBS Just for Laughs.

For both casual and die-hard comedy fans, TBS Just for Laughs Chicago is undoubtedly one of the most highly-anticipated comedy festivals around; this annual event, which boasts some of the biggest names in comedy as well as stars on the rise, returns to Chicago June 11-16.

Celebrating Chicago's legendary and vibrant comedy scene, Just for Laughs will feature city-wide showcases at venues like Jokes and Notes, the Chicago Theatre, Park West, UP Comedy Club and more, with a diverse array of shows that covers areas including stand-up, improv, podcasts, and interactive comedy, will be featured.

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LaShawn Williams / Comments (1)

Comedy Fri Mar 15 2013

The Shit Show: A Tale of Two Ladies and a Hot Dog Man

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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.

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Caitlin Bergh

Comedy Wed Mar 13 2013

Congrats On Your Success: Free Comedy Showcase in Logan Square

decaudienceflyersmall.jpgLast Thursday, I trekked through early-March slush to watch local standups perform in Congrats On Your Success, a BYOB showcase held every first Thursday of the month at Uncharted Books in Logan Square. At first read, standup in a used bookstore might seem strange -- wait, aren't standups confined to dark dive bars, you say -- but that's the great thing about Chicago comedy right now, it's happening all over the city, anywhere people can get a microphone and a crowd.

With its mismatched chairs and exposed brick, Uncharted Books feels like the basement of your friend's cool parents. The unconventional comedy space is a little more accessible for people who might not see many shows and conversely a change of pace for people who see comedy/perform every night.

Hosted by Bill Bullock, the CoYS lineup featured five smart comics who gave us a mix of storytelling, observations, and solid jokes. All the performers seemed really relaxed, which was nice because we got to hear jokes that felt natural -- anything from Rebecca O'Neal talking about a Venn diagram of her love life to Nicholas Rouley's feelings on having children.

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Tyler Gillespie / Comments (1)

Burlesque Mon Feb 25 2013

Brass Chuckles: A New Kind of Comedy Show

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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."

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Caitlin Bergh

Stand-up Mon Feb 11 2013

Still Standing: An Interview with Comedian Sinbad

sinbad.pngFor a great example of longevity in the world of entertainment, look no further than the legendary Sinbad; the veteran comedian, named one of "Comedy Central's 100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time," has enjoyed a solid, decades-long career that includes movies, television, stand-up specials and more. Whether he's talking about politics or pop culture, relationships or reality shows, Sinbad's "straight, no chaser" style has kept audiences laughing for years. I spoke with him in advance of his show this Friday night at The Chicago Theatre, as he discussed his career's early days, his love of funk music and why he rejects the "clean comedian" label.

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LaShawn Williams

Stand-up Fri Jan 18 2013

Interview: Comedian Todd Barry

comedian Todd BarryBy Doug Rapp

Todd Barry is a comedian who comedy nerds know and the casual fan might recognize from his acting on "Louie" or as the prickly grocery store manager in "The Wrestler." He's recorded four albums, and the title of the first one — Medium Energy — sums up his stage presence. His comedy has been described as dry, deadpan, concise, at best put out, subdued. Barry's always done some crowd work, including on his last special, "Super Crazy." Now he's on a short tour doing crowd work exclusively — no material, just back and forth with the audience. That's a bold move for a comedian who usually tells tight jokes on mundane topics without a word out of place. If any town can appreciate a comedian improvising an entire show with the audience, it's Chicago. Barry will be performing at Schubas on Wednesday, Jan. 23, and Thursday, Jan. 24. Both shows are at 9pm. Tickets are $14.

I emailed the New York-based comedian a few questions and he kindly replied.

You've done a bit of crowd work before, and there's some on your last special, "Super Crazy." Why did you decide to do whole tour of crowd work and why now?

I don't know. I guess I was worried about having a special out, then going on the road and still doing some of those jokes. I've always done crowd work in my shows. It seemed like an interesting idea to do a whole tour of it. I'm scared and excited about the whole thing.

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A/C

Performance Fri Jan 11 2013

MST3K's Joel Hodgson: Riffing Himself at Mayne Stage

Joel Hodgson325.jpgWhen I heard Joel Hodgson was going to be performing his one man show, "Riffing Myself" in Chicago, I jumped at the opportunity to interview the man. For those of you who are either not old enough to know Joel or just missed out on all fun because you were doing something else, he is the man behind MST3K.

What, you may ask, is MST3K? Well, it is a cult comic series that begin in 1988 and featured mad scientists who shot Joel, and later, Mike into space forcing them to watch the worst movies ever made. The reason for this was so that the scientists could unleash the movie onto unwitting audiences and ultimately rule the world. Joel was accompanied by two robots which, as the shows intro explains, he made and together they make comedic comments about and during the movies, otherwise known as riffing. Oh yeah, MST3K stands for "Mystery Science Theater 3000," and fans of the show are called Mysties.

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MartinJon / Comments (5)

Stand-up Tue Oct 30 2012

A Radio Riot: An Interview with Comedian Rudy Rush

Whether it is through television specials or on the radio as one-third of the nationally-syndicated Doug Banks Radio Show, comedian Rudy Rush is definitely one of the hardest-working stand-ups in the business. A native New Yorker who holds the title as youngest host of "Showtime at the Apollo" and who has worked with comedians including Martin Lawrence and Dave Chappelle, Rush has been entertaining audiences for over 15 years. This weekend, he hits town for four shows at Jokes and Notes; recently, I spoke with him via telephone about starting in the business, how he keeps it real on the radio and what Chicago can expect from a "Rudy Rush experience."

RUDYRUSH1.jpg

When it comes to stand-up, you've done everything from "Martin Lawrence Presents 1st Amendment Stand-Up" to "Def Comedy Jam," along with specials on Comedy Central and Showtime--how did you get your start in stand-up?

I worked at a law firm in downtown New York City once I got out of high school. I built some really strong relationships there and they were prepping me to become a paralegal or a lawyer, but looking at the caseloads some of them had, I really didn't want to be a lawyer. I never saw myself as a comedian, but I would always make everyone at the office laugh.

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LaShawn Williams / Comments (3)

Comedy Fri Aug 10 2012

Comedian Hannibal Buress Talks Steak Tortas & Staying Hydrated

By Rachel Angres

Hannibal Buress came to visit his hometown of Chicago during Pitchfork Music Festival weekend. A venerable writer for some critically acclaimed television series, namely 30 ROCK and SNL, Hannibal has earned his place in the entertainment business. The majority would not recognize him unless they have seen him play the apathetic co-host on Adult Swim's "The Eric Andre Show." His stand-up special "Animal Furnace" aired in May on Comedy Central, and since its premiere he has been on a national comedy tour.

Cole's Bar in Logan Square hosts a stand up open mic every Wednesday where one wouldn't expect to see an actual comedian dare set foot inside, but leave it to Buress to not only go onstage to do his bit, but stay until close to chat with fans, finally leaving with a crew to visit the infamous 4am bar, The Owl, just down the street.

The next day, as sirens blared in the background, Hannibal sat on his friend's couch, ordering steak tacos to-go. I asked him about his eating habits.

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A/C

Stand-up Tue Jun 19 2012

The W. Kamau Bell Curve: Ending Racism in About An Hour at TBS Just For Laughs Chicago

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W. Kamau Bell in The W. Kamau Bell Curve: Ending Racism in About An Hour at The Hideout during TBS Just For Laughs Chicago 2012 presented by State Farm; Photographer: Jeremy Freeman.

This past week, comedy invaded Chicago in a major way through TBS's "Just for Laughs"; with a mix of local standouts, as well as veterans, household names and newcomers from stand-up, television, film, and improv, this annual funny festival had something for everyone.

Saturday night, The Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, hosted one of the festival's highlights via W. Kamau Bell's The W. Kamau Bell Curve: Ending Racism In About An Hour, the comedian's one-man show that explores race and racism from various angles including the world of sports (Ben & Jerry's fortune cookie-laced [Jeremy Lin] "Lin-Sanity" ice cream), pop culture (The Hunger Games) and social media; however, it was politics that hilariously served as the central topic and the crowd pleaser, as Bell compared the GOP primaries to a "parade of 'Batman' villains"--with Michelle Bachman and Rick Santorum as "Two-Face" and "Mr. Frothy," respectively.

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LaShawn Williams

Comedy Fri Jun 01 2012

Interview with Comedian Gary Owen: Shaquille O'Neal Presents: All Star Comedy Jam

GARY O.jpg

When it comes to comedy, Ohio native Gary Owen has brought it in every way; from hosting BET's "Comic View" to sold-out national comedy tours to television ("Tyler Perry's House of Payne" and "True Story") and movies (Think Like A Man), he definitely keeps audiences laughing. Here, the affable comedian and actor, who is coming to town this month as host of "Shaquille O'Neal Presents: All Star Comedy Jam," talks about his comedy, family and why we can expect to see him at a game for a certain Chicago sports team.


You were in the Navy and in your routines, you've often talked about that time, specifically, how and when you knew you weren't really cut out for the military. Tell us about that experience.

It sounds crazy, but I didn't join the military to serve my country or be some "proud American"; I just lived in a trailer park and wanted to get out. The recruiter came to our trailer and said he could get me out, so I was like, "Cool..." I didn't know where I wanted to go--I just knew where I didn't want to be. So, while I was in the Navy, I always wanted to be a stand-up but I didn't know how you did it--I was under the assumption you had to go to L.A.--I didn't know you could start in any hometown or any city. My whole thing was, "How can I get to L.A.?" And when I got a chance to get stationed in San Diego, I said, "Well, that's close; now I can get to L.A. and start telling jokes." And that's how it happened.

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LaShawn Williams

Humor Me Podcast Tue May 22 2012

Humor Me Podcast #1: Kelsie Huff

humormepodcast.jpgHumor Me Podcast is what happens when you get one comedy nerd and her friends together before, after and during shows and events. Each month, I will crash my talented friends and peers and force them to talk with me about, well, whatever I want. Listen to us nerd out about comedy, music, entertainment, life, and everything in between. Because forcing people to Humor Me is fun.

For my first podcast, I hung out with Kelsie Huff in the bathroom backstage at Comedy Sportz after 100 Proof Comedy. She headlined that night, and her bits about troll dolls and Moms resonated with me -- so much so that we called my own mother to talk about her new cookbook. We also talked about her new short film, Lucy, her frozen yogurt addiction, and her long-running, all-female show the kates. Listen below, or download the mp3.

Themesong by the Swimsuit Addition. Post-production by Cold Bones at Swingset Sound. Special thanks to ComedySportz for the use of their bathroom.

Nellie Huggins / Comments (6)

Stand-up Wed May 16 2012

Hannibal Buress Fires Up the "Animal Furnace"

hannibalburess_cc.jpg"Animal Furnace," Chicago-born standup comedian Hannibal Buress' first comedy special, debuts on Comedy Central this Sunday, May 20 at 10pm. According to the press release,

[Buress] brings his celebrated deadpan wit to life's absurdities with stories of his three-cop jaywalking bust in Montreal, a bloodless airport shoot-out, and various late nights with questionable women. In front of a live audience at the Gramercy Theatre in New York, Buress re-imagines hardcore rappers as real estate agents, skewers grown men who can't hold their liquor, and, as an enterprising reporter actually wrote, performs "comedic jokes related to personal stories, current events, the streets, and even food."

An unrated DVD will be released on Tuesday, May 22. The DVD includes a short documentary, "A Week To Kill," which follows Buress around New York and Chicago the week before the show taping.

Here's a little taste of "Animal Furnace":

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Andrew Huff

Interview Mon Apr 09 2012

Interview: Judah Friedlander

Judah Friedlander, arguably most popular for his role as Frank on 30 Rock is visiting Chicago this week for his one-night only show at Mayne Stage, 1328 W. Morse Ave.

People know you as Frank, but a lot of people don't know that you have this stand-up career that is sort of your home base.

So far you are correct on everything.

How often do you perform standup?

Just about every night. Usually when I'm in New York a couple shows a night.

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Nellie Huggins

Comedy Tue Jan 03 2012

Michael Palascak @ Zanies

Comedian Michael Palascak starts his week-long run at Zanies, 1548 N. Wells St., at 8:30pm tonight. He has appeared on "The Late Show With David Letterman," "Comedy Central's Live At Gotham," and numerous local showcases in the past. Tickets are $25 with a two food/drink item minimum.

Here's a clip of his recent appearance on "The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson":

Jason Prechtel

Stand-up Thu Nov 10 2011

Preview: Side Mullet Nation

side mullet nation.jpgCameron Esposito combines stand-up with special guests and hand-drawn animation to create a world-class quality yet personable storytelling experience. Side-Mullet Nation was commissioned for inclusion in TBS' Just for Laughs Chicago and has played to sold out crowds in Chicago and New York. Garnishing such acclaim as Time Out Chicago "Critic's Pick," Time OutNew York "Critic's Pick," The Onion's AV Club Chicago "Best of the Fest" and Chicago Reader "featured show." The show runs Thursdays through Dec. 15 The Comedy Bar, 157 W. Ontario St. Tickets and more information can be found here.

Nellie Huggins

Comedy Thu Nov 10 2011

Marimachas!

The women of Teatro Luna* have brought Latina theatre to Chicago's stages for 10 seasons, and as they kick off their eleventh they're even venturing into new territory with the launch of Marimachas! A New Latin Comedy Series. For years Teatro Luna has offered an outlet for local Latina theatre artists, and with this new venture the company hopes to expand their support to the comedy arena.

Teatro Luna Artistic Associate Christina Igaraividez, who is also one of the performers this Friday, describes Marimachas as, "a safe place for the performers. Everyone performing just wants to have a good time with the audience. It isn't a transaction type of environment where the performer tells joke then audience provides laugh. We are sharing, commiserating, hoping, loving, laughing all the way through with you." Marimachas is this Friday at 7:30pm at Calles y SueƱos (1900 S. Carpenter). Tickets can be purchased online or at the venue for $20, and the price of admission includes an "Ay, Virgen!" Teatro Luna's signature cocktail.

*Whom the author has worked with before and thinks are the cat's pajamas

Dyan Flores

Feature Thu Oct 06 2011

Women in Comedy

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Elizabeth McQuern producing at Chicago Underground Comedy. Photo Credit: Tripp Watson

When I was given the opportunity to write about women in Chicago comedy, I knew exactly whom I wanted to feature. These five women were my first choice, not because they are better or more deserving than any other women in comedy, but because each of them has had a significant impact, in some way, on my own experience. Some of them are performers, some producers, some teachers, but they are all equally important, to me and to comedy as a whole. This is my homage to them.

Elizabeth McQuern

Elizabeth McQuern was one of the first people I met after moving to Chicago. If not for her, I wouldn't have met most of the people that I did the first year I was here. She co-produces Chicago Underground Comedy, one of the longest running and most popular stand-up showcases in Chicago and freelances as a video editor, among other things. As a producer, writer, photographer and filmmaker, she is one of many unsung heroes of Chicago Comedy.

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Nellie Huggins / Comments (9)

Interview Thu Sep 22 2011

Interview: Robert Buscemi

Buscemi_Cowboy_Small_File_Color_X.jpgI recently spoke with Robert Buscemi, who is best known for his offbeat standup as well as the many characters that he showcased on the local hit game-show, Don't Spit The Water. Buscemi is returning home to Chicago next Sunday, Oct. 2 for his one-night-only show at The Annoyance Theater. Here is what he had to say about it.

Welcome back to Chicago. How does it feel to be performing on the old stomping grounds?

Great. I love seeing who the cool new stand-up kids are, what the new hot shows are, and seeing some old friends whose talents and experience are paying off. And I love hitting the Annoyance again, which is the coolest comedy venue in America. And hitting Chicago Underground Comedy at The Beat Kitchen is like coming home.

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Nellie Huggins

Comedy Mon Sep 19 2011

James Fritz Headlining Queer Comedy At Zanies

James Fritz is one of the most sought-after stand-up comics in Chicago; he has performed with comedy greats such as Doug Stanhope, Jamie Kilstein and TJ Miller. He was featured in the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in Chicago and his comedy album, Deflated, was rated number one on iTunes. He was recently voted the number one comic in Chicago by The Chicago Reader and on Tuesday, September 27, Fritz is headlining Queer Comedy at Zanies alongside Ever Mainard, Candy Lawrence, Nyle Fisher and Meg O'Rourke.

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Photo Credit: John Sturdy

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Nellie Huggins

Comedy Fri Sep 09 2011

Interview: Brian Posehn

Posehn-Brian.jpgBrian Posehn, best known for his involvement in The Comedians of Comedy, is performing at the Cubby Bear this Saturday, Sept. 10. I recently had the opportunity to talk with him about comedy, fatherhood, the Insane Clown Posse and pot smoking. Here is what he had to say.

I was just re-listening to your most recent album, Fart and Wiener Jokes, in preparation for our call, and I was literally crying.

Nice. Out of laughter, right?

Definitely laughter, not sadness or regret or anything like that.

OK, good.

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Nellie Huggins / Comments (1)

Stand-up Mon Aug 08 2011

Cameron Esposito's "Side Mullet Nation"

esposito.jpgThe page in my notebook where I took notes for Cameron Esposito's "Side Mullet Nation" is covered in jottings that I hoped would help me remember her funniest jokes. The notes started out fairly detailed, such as with "Life was his perpetual keg stand and nobody had to hold his feet," a clever aphorism that Esposito used to describe an ebullient ex-boyfriend, but they quickly devolved into nonsensical scribblings, such as "drest" and "polish-carrying a lot of meat," as I struggled to keep up with the breakneck pace at which Esposito brought on the laughs.

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Dyan Flores

Stand-up Thu Jun 16 2011

Don't Miss Bobcat Goldthwait at Mayne Stage

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.

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Nellie Huggins

Comedy Thu Jun 16 2011

Paul F. Tompkins with Demetri Martin and friends, tonight at the Chicago Theater

I recently had the opportunity to talk with Paul F. Tompkins, who is performing at the Chicago Theater tonight in Demetri Martin & Special Guests, Who Are Also Comedians and Friends of His, about his career, his upcoming album and his feelings about American Idol.

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Nellie Huggins

Comedy Mon Jun 06 2011

Comedians With A Heart: A Benefit

Best known for her work with the Wood Sugars and her podcast Dates with Ever, as well as hosting The Starving Artist Project, Ever Mainard is a rising star of Chicago comedy. Her mother, Mary Mainard, has fallen ill and cannot afford the medical care she requires, so Chicago comics, producers, performers and fans have joined forces in an effort to help raise money and lend support.

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Nellie Huggins

Comedy Fri Apr 29 2011

How To Be A Good Audience Member

Anyone who has seen live comedy knows one of the biggest hurdles to enjoying a show can be hearing the comic over the inevitable presence of the (hopefully singular) drunk, loud, chatty audience member. If you can't think of who that person was at the last show you went to, it was probably you.

Two of Chicago's most up-and-coming comics shared their thoughts with me recently, in an effort to shed some light on the question that is (and should be) looming in everyones mind: 'How can I be a good audience member?'.

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Nellie Huggins

Interview Mon Apr 18 2011

8 Questions With Kelsie Huff

Kelsie Huff may be the hardest working woman in Chicago comedy. Whether she is producing the kates, a rotating cast of all-female comedians, developing comedy-focused outreach programs and workshops for children, or preparing for the opening of her new one-woman show, Bruiser, Huff manages to keep it all together with a smile on her face and the energy of a hummingbird.

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Nellie Huggins

Comedy Sun Mar 27 2011

Jokes and Notes Presents: Rodney Perry

Comedian Rodney Perry, who is also Oscar winner Mo'Nique's co-host and sidekick on BET's "The Mo'Nique Show," returns home for a full weekend of stand-up comedy.
The Chicago native, who has appeared on various stand-up comedy shows including "Martin Lawrence Presents 1st Amendment Stand-Up" and HBO's "Def Comedy Jam," will also appear in Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family, due out next month.

Catch Rodney Perry, along with comedian D.L. "DeMarco" Monroe and host "Baldhead," Friday and Saturday, April 1-2 at Jokes and Notes, 4641 S. King Dr. Show times both nights are 8:30pm and 10:30pm; tickets are $20 and can be purchased at the box office. For more information, call 773-373-3390.

LaShawn Williams

Stand-up Thu Mar 10 2011

Just For Your Laughs

Dan Telfer wants your laughs. A local finalist for the Chicago and Montreal Just for Laughs festivals, Telfer is performing tonight at the Red Bar Comedy Club in River North to seal the deal. A stand up's performance is only as good as the audience, so why don't you get out there and give some laughs; thankfully, Dan is hilarious. He offers more incentives (if paying $5 to be cracked up just isn't enough for you) in the the video below.


Telfer will also be appearing on the live recording of the Comedy Death Ray podcast in Chicago on March 18th.

Ramsin Canon

Interview Tue Mar 01 2011

Never Been to Paris: Sean Flannery is Every Mom's Worst Nightmare*

Following a sold-out run this past fall, Chicago Meat Authority's "Funniest Comedian in Chicago," Sean Flannery, is getting a second run of his one man show, Never Been to Paris, starting this Friday.

Flannery is both a warm and hilarious storyteller; the show spins what seem like tall tales but in fact are real-life experiences of the baffling number of ways Flannery has nearly killed himself (or friends, or siblings), as well as other just plain dumb things one does when drunk and lives to tell about (don't we all have a Taco Bell parking lot story?). The show also features the only acceptable use of a Power Point presentation.

I sat down to my laptop last week to ask Sean a few questions about the show and comedy in general.

Continue reading this entry »

Jen Bacher

Stand-up Mon Feb 14 2011

Review: James Fritz' "Deflated"

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I can't tell my jokes if I'm in a good mood.

Stand up comedy proves the notion that revealing your vulnerabilities instead of hiding them is what strength really means. Stand up is probably the easiest type of performance to do in fact, and one of the hardest to do right (to be fair, ballet is probably harder, their feet are gross). Chicago comic James Fritz' newish* record Deflated, recorded at Chicago Underground Comedy at the Beat Kitchen, is sweetly and aggressively vulnerable and really, really funny. Fritz is palpably intolerant of pretense and stupidity, furious at willful ignorance, and kind of in love with the misery of the human condition.

One of the best things about the growing community of what used to be called alternative comics is that no matter the comic's subject matter or technique, the common theme is to challenge the audience to figure out the conceit or the comment on the subject on their own; this is why "comedy nerds" have such an in-group mentality; they (yeah, yeah, "we") really value every joke for having put a little work into it. Also contributing of course are lots of pop culture references and somewhat justified fart and dick jokes made to an audience of people at the maturity edge of having to stop making fart and dick jokes in public.

Continue reading this entry »

Ramsin Canon / Comments (1)

Feature Fri Jan 14 2011

Laugh Quest: A Week at Chicago's Comedy Open Mics

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Comedians killing time

This story was submitted by Emerson Dameron. Photos by Erin Nekervis.

"It would be pretty cool if mermaids were real, because I could stop fucking all these manatees."
-Kevin Hogan

Schubas
3159 N. Southport
773-525-2508
First Sundays of the month, 8pm sign-up, 9:30 show


"You're not funny," says the skinny, lisping frat spud. He breaks into my birth control joke. This guy is not a comedian. Normally, open-mic comedians love "civilians," real audience members who show up just to watch. Civilians are few, and they're a better litmus test for material, for many complex reasons, than fellow comedians.

But this drunken asswipe has been antagonizing us all night. I first noticed him downstairs, after I signed up and during the long wait before showtime. His voice carried as he shouted at his friends about "bitches." Now, he's breaking into everyone's set and refusing to leave or shut up.

And after he breaks into mine, everyone else finally wants blood. Another group of civilians lays into him about his striped shirt and wallet chain. He offers a fist bump, as though it's all good and we're all buddies. His fist bump is declined. Another comedian tells him to go choke himself. It is now the heckler versus everyone else in the room. I've lost the room's attention. My set is totaled.

Continue reading this entry »

A/C / Comments (1)

Stand-up Tue Dec 28 2010

New Year's Hangover Stand-up Marathon

New Year's Day for most people is spent eating greasy food, watching college football, and resolving to drink less in the new year, but once the bowl games are finished and your hangover is (somewhat) in check you'll need something else to do. Enter the ComedySportz New Year's Hangover Stand-up Marathon.

Come any time between 7 and 11pm on New Year's Day and pay only $10 for the entire evening. Host Jamie Campbell presents an evening of laughs featuring 20 of Chicago's top stand-up comics. If you're still feeling too hungover to go to the extra effort of putting on clothes, wearing pajamas gets you half-price admission.

To reserve tickets, call 773-549-8080. ComedySportz is located at 929 W. Belmont, near the red/purple/brown line station.

Dyan Flores

Stand-up Wed Dec 15 2010

She-nanigans' Comedy Challenge

Do you think you're funny? Is your New Year's Resolution to do something that scares you? Could you use some extra cash money? Then the Second Bi-Annual She-nanigans Comedy Challenge might be the answer to your prayers. It's a weekly comedy show where contestants compete for $500 and the position of She-Nanigans' house comic.

Terry Donlon will emcee and host this second run of the Comedy Challenge at She-Nannigans House of Beer. The winner of the first Comedy Challenge, Anish Shah, will judge along with a rotating panel of other comics and comedic experts. The show takes place every Thursday from January 6 through March 31, 2011 at 7 p.m. Comics will need to sign up, in advance, by emailing mattk@rushanddivision.com, and include a photo and/or any links to videos of their act, no later than the last preliminary week of March 16, 2011.

If you'd rather watch than participate, spectators are encouraged to laugh and imbibe with $2.50 PBR cans, $10 domestic pitchers and $8 bombs, and $5 Cuervo Gold and Silver Tequila shots. She-Nanigans House of Beer is located at 16 West Division Street.

Dyan Flores

Stand-up Tue Nov 30 2010

Adele Givens: Back on the Laugh Track

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Photo courtesy of Starz.

Chicago's Adele Givens is definitely one of the most well-known stand-up comediennes in the business. In addition to being one-fourth of the history-making, all-female comedy tour and film ensemble, Queens of Comedy, alongside fellow comediennes Mo'Nique, Sommore, and Laura Hayes, Givens has also enjoyed success on the small screen as host of HBO's "Def Comedy Jam," as well as numerous guest-starring roles on popular sitcoms including "The Hughleys" "Tracey Takes On," and "The Steve Harvey Show."

With a comedy career full of highs, why did Givens not only stop doing comedy, but also consider giving it up altogether?

Continue reading this entry »

LaShawn Williams

Stand-up Tue Oct 26 2010

Comedy at the Congress Theater

Though the Congress Theater is mostly known as a local concert venue, they're about to expand their offerings with a monthly comedy show. Featuring comedians from film and television, the first show kicks off this Thursday night at 7pm Comics performing include Neal Brennan (creator of "The Chapelle Show," co-writer of Half Baked), Bryan Callen ("Mad TV", The Hangover), and Dov Davidoff (Comedy Central, "Chelsea Lately").

The Congress Theater is located at 2135 N. Milwaukee Avenue. Tickets can be purchased online for $18, though by visiting here you can print out a pass for free entry for two.

Dyan Flores

Stand-up Thu Sep 09 2010

Jokes and Notes

"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter."
-Charlie Chaplin


After a recent visit to Jokes and Notes Comedy Club, I think Chaplin might indeed have been on to something.

Jokes and Notes, a cozy comedy club located in the heart of the city's Bronzeville district, is home to some of the funniest up-and-coming and established comedians around. Of course, the club pays homage to its own, as noted by the walls that are adorned with sketches of Chicago-born comedians including George Willborn, Damon Williams and the late, legendary Robin Harris.

With so many people experiencing hardship today, according to house emcee Marlon Mitchell, laughter is indeed something that is sorely needed. "Jokes and Notes is necessary," said Mitchell. "There's so much going on in Chicago and in the world that people just want to escape. It's just a good place to come enjoy yourself."

Continue reading this entry »

LaShawn Williams

Stand-up Wed Aug 04 2010

Stone Cold Comedy at Mayne Stage

Rogers Park's Mayne Stage continues to prove its dedication to being an upcoming comedy and performing arts destination with the addition of a new show this Saturday night, "Lakeshore Presents Stone Cold Comedy at Mayne Stage." The showcase begins at 8 p.m., and features local comedians Drew Michael, Mike Stanley, Beth Stelling, and Junior Stopka (Stelling and Stopka tied for the Chicago Reader's Best Stand-Up Comedian).

Tickets are just $5 and can be purchased at maynestage.com or by calling 773-381-4554. Mayne Stage is located at 1328 W. Morse Ave.

Dyan Flores

Stand-up Tue Jul 13 2010

Deon Cole: On the Watch List

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If you haven't been keeping tabs on comedian Deon Cole, now is a good time to start; according to Variety, the Chicago-born funnyman is one of the industry's "10 Comics to Watch."

Cole's career began with his days in local Chicago comedy clubs, then on to cable TV specials and movies, and finally culminated as an Emmy-nominated staff writer of the now defunct "The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien."

Here, Cole speaks to Variety about his comedic influences, what it's like being a member of "Team Coco" and how he really considers himself "just a guy from the South Side of Chicago doing standup."

LaShawn Williams / Comments (1)

Stand-up Wed Jun 30 2010

The Fact That It's Free Makes It Even Funnier

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.

Guests on the show will include graphic novelist Paul Hornschemeier, Groupon CEO Andrew Mason, AV Club head writer Nathan Rabin, Mr. Skin, Gold Motel, The Heligoats and Joe Pug.

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.

Kelly Reaves / Comments (5)

Stand-up Tue Jun 22 2010

It's a Hot D8 @ Hamburger Mary's

hotd8.jpgComedy isn't often both hip and queer, at least according to one of Chicago's hippest, queerest comedians, but it will be this weekend when The Hot D8 Campaign kicks off a mini tour in the midst of Gay Pride weekend.

"It's the opposite of that Gay Gays of Gay-type Tour," said Cameron Esposito, who performs with ukulele-strumming funnyman Ben Lerman and awkward-come-lovely comic Mo Welch in the queer-themed standup show.

"I think it's really hard for people to get on board if you're not also being like, 'Hey, here's something less shocking,'" Esposito said. "I like just getting into people's heads and rocking their world, but not making them feel uncomfortable while they're doing it."

Continue reading this entry »

Michelle Peterson

Stand-up Thu Jun 17 2010

Good Little Winnetka Boy @ The Annoyance

Moffat.jpgLocal actor/comedian Alex Moffat has become a staple of the late night comedy scene, his El Show, a talk show featuring local performers of all stripes, holding down the midnight slot at iO's Del Close Theatre for several months now.

With his one-man show, Good Little Winnetka Boy, Moffat's moved into prime time, creating an "eccentric sketch and variety show" that explores the "small village" of his subconscious through "German standup comedy, 'ice skating' onstage, and good ol' fashioned piano playing at its finest." There are only two shows left, tonight and next Thursday, before Moffat sails off as part of a Second City cruise ship cast (a pretty sweet gig from what I gather), but he plans on reviving the show once he's back to Chicago. But that's only IF he decides to come back, so it's probably a good idea to catch it now.

Good Little Winnetka Boy plays tonight and next Thursday, June 24, at the Annoyance Theatre (4830 N. Broadway). Tickets are $10 and can be purchased online or by calling the box office: 773-561-HONK (4665).

Randall Colburn

Comics Mon Jun 14 2010

Comedy and Funk Make This City Work

061410_schadenfreude.jpgLong-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.

Continue reading this entry »

Michelle Peterson

Stand-up Thu Jun 10 2010

Fresh Jokes Tonight

Looking for something to do tonight? A new standup comedy series called Comics and Villians is kicking off tonight at Lucky Numbers Grill (1931 N. Milwaukee) and I've been told it'll be a knee slapper. If you can't make it tonight, the show will continue every second Thursday of the month from here on out. Click here for details.

Kelly Reaves

Stand-up Tue Jun 01 2010

Chicago Underground Comedy Celebrates 5 Years, Telfer CD Release

Regular readers will know I'm a big fan of Chicago Underground Comedy, which showcases Chicago's funniest people Tuesdays at 9pm at the Beat Kitchen. Tonight's show is extra special, as ChUC co-producer Dan Telfer is releasing his split CD (also featuring Greg Proops and Paul F. Tompkins), and the ChUC celebrates its 5th Anniversary. Tonight is a ChUC who's who: Tony Sam (who co-founded the show with Brooke Van Poppelen), CJ Sullivan (of Visitor's Locker Room), Rick Carmona, and Nick Vatterot will be there too.

Few better things to do on a Tuesday night in Chicago. See you there.

Ramsin Canon

Interview Sun May 09 2010

"1st Amendment Stand-Up": An Interview With Doug Williams

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If you like your comedy uncensored and uncut, you definitely won't want to miss the Starz Network's "Martin Lawrence Presents: 1st Amendment Stand-Up." Comedian Doug Williams, the show's co-creator and executive producer, talks about everything from the show's new host, the reason the show was brought to Chicago and of course, the First Amendment.

The show's fifth season will be taped in Chicago. What was behind the decision to bring it to the Windy City?

Chicago has been known as a comedy town and we wanted to do something different. A few members of our production staff are from Chicago and we thought it would a great city to come and do some stand up comedy.

Continue reading this entry »

LaShawn Williams / Comments (5)

Stand-up Fri May 07 2010

A Pro"mo" For This Month's Madcap Mo Show

moshow.jpgOriginally conceived as a one-woman Internet series, The Mo Show, which goes up this weekend in its seventh inception, has evolved into a once-a-month comedy variety show blending some of Chicago's top standups, sketch comedians, musicians and circus performers.

"The best advice I've ever heard about doing things in Chicago is just to put up your own show, and then you can do whatever you want," said comedian and host Mo Welch, whose comic sensibilities can't be boxed into a four-minute open mic or even a regular standup showcase. "Since it's my show, I can do whatever. I can dress up like gangster if I want."

And she does. She also nabs a handful of performers from her big bag of comedy friends and/or performers she sees around the city and then hosts wild mix of comedy, music and insanity.

Continue reading this entry »

Michelle Peterson

Stand-up Thu Apr 22 2010

Two Jeffs and a Fred

Comedians and musicians seem to have a sort of symbiotic relationship. After recognizing that they may share some of the same audience base, it's becoming more commonplace to catch a band whose opener is a comedian, or vice versa. Folks who like awesome music probably like awesome comedy as well, so props to these comedians and musicians for wising up to this.

If you find yourself in that intersecting section of the Venn diagram of both comedy and music fans, then the upcoming performance that features Jeff Tweedy (Wilco), Jeff Garlin ("Curb Your Enthusiasm"), and Fred Armisen ("Saturday Night Live") will be right up your alley. On May 16th, the trio will be taking the stage in "Comedy, Q's and A's," a performance that will involve stand-up by Garlin and Armisen, and a musical set by Tweedy, followed by an opportunity to ask Armisen about his experiences on "Saturday Night Live."

"Comedy, Q's and A's" is May 16th at 8:00 p.m. at Emanuel Congregation (5959 N. Sheridan Ave.). Proceeds support youth programming at Emanuel Congregation. Tickets may be purchased at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/108329 or by calling 800-838-3006. General seating tickets are $50 or $75 and include a pre-show pizza buffet with entertainment by Matt Ryd. Patron and benefactor tickets range from $175 to $1000 and include preferred seating, on-site parking and admission to a pre-show cocktail hour. There will be a cash bar open to all ticket-holders.

Dyan Flores

Film Wed Mar 31 2010

Salty Language Peppered Morals Premiere

Tonight is the premiere of Salty Language Peppered Morals, a documentary by Chicago filmmaker Andrew Zeiter, which follows standup comedian Mike Stanley on the road to Boston. The free film screening starts at 8:30 pm (doors at 8 pm) at the Lakeshore Theater with a little pregame by comedians Brendan McGowan and Matt Ryan.

Michelle Peterson

Performance Mon Mar 22 2010

Cameron Esposito In Today's Sun-Times

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Cameron Esposito, Image Courtesy of Rich Hein, Chicago Sun-Times

Cameron Esposito is the one to watch. Nominated for Best Female Comic at the 2008 Chicago Comedy Awards, it seems everywhere I look, someone is writing something great about her stand-up comedy and gig as MC for El Circo Cheapo. Back in November, Michelle Peterson from Gapers Block wrote a piece about Esposito and I interviewed El Circo Cheapo founder, Shayna Swanson. In today's Sun-Times, Mark Konkol wrote a short feature about Esposito. Check out all the write-ups and more importantly, go check out Cameron Esposito!

Whitney Stoepel / Comments (1)

Comics Wed Feb 24 2010

Arguing in a World with Google

Chicago standup Sean Flannery hates 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."

Michelle Peterson

Literary Mon Dec 28 2009

Open Mic Storytelling: The Moth Story Slam

storyslams.jpgNational, non-profit storytelling show, The Moth, is like karaoke for writers. Only, members of the audience, many nervously clutching their five-minute-long stories are chosen at random to take the stage, and well, there's no singing. As a matter of fact, it's forbidden to read from a prompt at all.

The idea is to tell a conflict/resolution story within the time allocated based on the night's theme with the goal to captivate. Typically successful stories are the ones that don't sound like you're reciting a memorized essay. So, less of a disposition and more of a conversational tale you'd tell at a dinner party, The Moth suggests.

And audience members don't necessarily have to participate either. Many come for the simple appreciation of spoken word. Can't make it to The Moth readings? Check out the weekly podcast. Stories range from the tumultuous to the joyful with a lengthy backlog of stories from writers like Malcom Gladwell, Erica Jong, Moby, Andy Borowitz, Jonathan Ames, and more, to keep your ears enthralled.

The next Chicago chapter of The Moth StorySLAM will be on Dec. 29 at Martyr's, 3855 N. Lincoln Ave. The theme for submission is "Cars" (previous themes have been "firsts" and "blunders"). The story slam begins at 8pm and there's a $7 cover at the door.

John Lendman

Stand-up Tue Dec 08 2009

Chicago Underground Comedy Tonight

The ChUC Halloween Highlight Reel is up, which gives me perfect occasion to remind you that Tuesdays you can see some of the funniest people in Chicago at the Beat Kitchen for a mere $5 pittance. Tonight Prescott Tolk and CJ Sullivan will distributing the funny along with Paul Thomas and Dan Polydoris. It's snowing, I get it, don't be such a pansy.


Not Safe For Your Nerdly Work

Ramsin Canon

Stand-up Sat Nov 28 2009

Go On the Record With Cameron Esposito

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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.

Michelle Peterson

Stand-up Mon Nov 16 2009

Wool-y Bully

UK-by-way-of-Vancouver comedian Glenn Wool will be coming to the Lakeshore Theater November 20th and 21st. A popular name among the up and coming English comedy circuit, Wool is doing a rare US tour after a string of overseas engagements, including the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Roadshow.

Wool will be playing the Lakeshore Theater (3175 N. Broadway) on Nov 20 & 21, showtimes 7:30 & 10:30 each night. Tickets are $15 and available online or at the door.

Here is a clip of Wool, musing on the ineffectiveness of swearing.

Dyan Flores

Stand-up Thu Oct 01 2009

Brent Weinbach at the Lincoln Lodge

Comedian Brent Weinbach's latest album, "The Night Shift", is what one might expect from an Andy Kaufman Award-winner. It's odd, very odd, but funny, and it goes all over the place. Stand-up bits are interspersed with cracked anecdotes told in a gravely NPR-esque voice, a few phone conversations are thrown in and to top it off there are some Cole Porter type piano tunes as well. The album is a grab bag of crassness, creepiness, sincerity, and foreign language lessons (I'm going to say "pinatas" and hope that at some point you will know what I'm talking about, and come back and laugh at this reference.), which is a lot to digest while listening to on your iPod, and might just be better served live.

Fortunately for Chicagoans, Brent Weinbach will be in town this evening kicking off the tenth season of comedy at the Lincoln Lodge. The Lincoln Lodge is a premier showcase for local comedians and variety acts, and to celebrate their tenth season they're bringing in headliners and Lincoln Lodge alumni. The show is tonight at 9:00 pm at the Lincoln Lodge (4008 N. Lincoln Ave), and tickets can be purchased for $10 here or by calling (773) 251-1539.

Dyan Flores

Stand-up Mon Sep 28 2009

Side Splitting Comedy

Mark Faje.jpgWhen a comedian's intro involves lugging a suitcase full of props on stage, most stand-up enthusiasts may shrug cynically -- until he whips out flaming chainsaws and knife-strapped bowling balls to juggle on his face. Well, then it gets interesting.

"The World's Most Dangerous Comic" or Mark "the Knife" Faje isn't exactly a one-trick switch-blade-emblazoned-flaming pony either. He's got jokes, and has performed or opened for numerous bands from Pearl Jam and Marilyn Manson to Nelly and John Mayer, to name a few. Aside from his appearance on "America's Got Talent," Faje has also been seen on "Late Night with David Letterman" and "Ripley's Believe It or Not."

Luckily for Chicago, Faje is not only performing two of his gasp-inducing acts, but it's "free" with a $10 returnable deposit. The shows are on Saturday, Oct. 3 at 7pm and 10pm at Aloft Loft, 2041 W. Carroll Ave. Tickets and further information available at their Brown Paper Tickets site.

John Lendman

Theatre Thu Sep 03 2009

Time for Some Kosher Fun

What could be more fun than Hebrew school? How about a bunch of naughty Jewish girls displaying a heck of a lot of chutzpah?

"Nice Jewish Girls Gone Bad," a humorous mix of comedy, music, and burlesque, is playing at Lakeshore Theater this weekend. The show includes a rotating cast of women who have been featured on Comedy Central, HBO, and MTV, and have been wowing crowds everywhere with this over-the-top performance.

The show follows the "badass chosen chicks" as they deconstruct years of tradition, rebeling against the expectations of their religion. These are the girls who smoked at Hebrew school, got drunk at BatMitzvahs, and prefer schtuppa rather than the chupah. And if that is not enough to entice a crowd, their rendition of "L'chaim" will certainly do it.

The show begins Friday, September 4 at 7:30 p.m. There will be two performances on Saturday, September 5, 7:30 and 10:30 p.m. Tickets are $20. These girls have been selling out shows everywhere, so get your tickets quick! Lakeshore Theater: 3175 N. Broadway, Chicago, IL 60657, 773-472-3492

Vanessa Day

Comics Tue Aug 25 2009

SNL Slowly Relocating Chicago's Comedy Population to 30 Rock

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!

Dyan Flores

Stand-up Thu Jul 30 2009

Comic to Watch: Al Madrigal

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Winner of the Jury Award for Best Stand-Up Comedian at the 2004 HBO Aspen Comedy Festival, Al Madrigal is a fast-rising comedic star. The New York Times has praised him as "dynamic" and his spontaneous, fresh personality shines through in his knack for humorous storytelling. He has landed numerous television spots, including his own Comedy Central Presents Special. Recently, he starred as "Jesus" in the CBS show Welcome to the Captain, and he is expected to star in another CBS production called Project Gary. Now he is coming to Chicago.

This weekend, Al will be performing at Lakeshore Theatre on Friday, July 31, and Saturday, August 1. There are two shows per night, one at 7 p.m. and the other at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are only $15. Contact Lakeshore Theatre for more details and ticket purchases. 773-472-3492. 3175 N. Broadway, Chicago, IL 60657.

Vanessa Day

Stand-up Thu Jun 18 2009

Beloved Comedy Goddess Comes to Town

Anyone who has popped onto jezebel.com or a similar lady-centric site in the past few months is probably familiar with Sarah Haskins. Haskins is the genius behind Target Women, a hilarious snark-heavy Current TV series that tackles the most infuriating types of female-centric advertising and broadcasting. This weekend Haskins will be bringing some of that hilarity back to Chicago (she's a Second City and iO alum) as part of the Just for Laughs festival.

Haskins will be performing with improv group American Dream on Friday night at 10 pm at the Playground, and again with beloved late night sketch show The Late Night Late Show on Saturday at Midnight at iO.

Tickets can be purchased on the Just For Laughs website here.


And here's one of my favorite Target Women pieces, where Sarah Haskins worries about the safety of Ann Curry:

Dyan Flores

Theatre Wed Jun 03 2009

Qweirdo!

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 123PhotoA.jpgThis Thursday at iO (3541 N. Clark St), local improv group 1,2,3, Fag! begins their run of Qweirdo, a totally gay, totally hilarious showcase that features homosexual performers from Chicago's comedy scene. The men of 1,2,3, Fag! are Kellen Alexander, Seth Dodson, and John Hartman, who met at The Playground and began improvising together this spring. Though the members of 1, 2, 3, Fag! are all gay, they do not set out to promote any type of political agenda when they perform. "1, 2, 3, Fag! sets out to entertain the audience and make them laugh, just like any other comedy group," says Dodson. "However, being three young gay men in a scene where we are a minority, our own viewpoints, opinions and feelings are undoubtedly going to be expressed."

Continue reading this entry »

Dyan Flores

Improv Wed Mar 18 2009

And the winner is...

In an effort to compare apples and oranges, NBC 5 had a showdown between Zanies and iO Theater where Chicagoans could vote on the "Best Laughs" in the city. Zanies was triumphant, winning by a staggering 51% to iO's meager 49%. What's funnier than either comedy club, however, is the comments on the debate page. My personal favorites are "you suck, improv is not comedy and you need to realize that," and the claims that the competition is rigged. People apparently get pretty worked up when there's a human trophy at stake.

Dyan Flores

Stand-up Tue Feb 10 2009

Denis Leary Rescues the Chicago Theater

Well, not exactly, but his Rescue Me Comedy Tour is coming to the Chicago Theater April 11, and tickets are on sale now.

Readers of GB's Party Line newsletter got a chance to win a pair of tickets to the show last week, but you've got another chance over at Chicagoist. Otherwise, tickets are on sale now.

Andrew Huff

Stand-up Wed Feb 04 2009

Maria Bamford b/w Dan Telfer at the Lakeshore

I'm bored! It's f'ing freezing out there. I've been working 16 hour days. Life's got me down--sometimes, it's just too much gherkins, as the ancient saying goes.

Luckily, one of the funniest people in the country (Maria Bamford), joined by one of the funniest people in the city (Dan Telfer), are going to be performing at one of the best venues in the city (Lakeshore Theater) for only $20 (uh...10+10) this Friday and Saturday, and what's more, you can "vote with your feet" against Christopher Hitchens' once-infamous, always-asinine contention that women aren't funny because evolutionary sexual selection makes it unnecessary, and making a woman laugh is proof that you can make her "surrender" (his creepy word). Anyway.

Here's Maria:


Here's Dan (who, besides co-producing Chicago Underground Comedy, writes all these books):

Ramsin Canon / Comments (1)

Stand-up Mon Dec 15 2008

Hannibal Buress Is An Awkward King

Hannibal Buress is a genuine Chicago local and one of the featured stand-ups in the new stand-up feature documentary The Awkward Kings of Comedy, which aims to show another side of the so-called "black comic." Hannibal is hilarious. Watch the trailer, then watch Hannibal.

Continue reading this entry »

Ramsin Canon

Improv Thu Nov 06 2008

Lodge Alum, SNL-featured Kumail, Tribune Illustrator/Satirist Tonight @ Lincoln Lodge

Halloween at the Lincoln Lodge 2008

Chicago stand-up showcase stalwart The Lincoln Lodge is all atwitter over a strong lineup for tonight and Friday night.

Lodge alumni Kumail, who is currently making it big in New York, recently made his debut on Saturday Night Live with a speaking part in a media-related sketch, and is back in town to make all his old pals at the Lodge laugh again. Also scheduled to perform are local favorites Dan Telfer and Allison Leber.

Still feeling political? Well, you can catch Chicago Tribune opinion page illustrator Joe Fournier giving a quick lesson in silly sketching at the Lodge as well. Audience members are invited to compete in a contest to sketch President-Elect Obama and his VP-Elect Joe Biden.

So brave the drizzle and boogie on over to the Lincoln Restaurant (4008 N. Lincoln Avenue, at the intersection of Lincoln, Damen and Irving Park), tonight at 9:00, part with a paltry $10, and enjoy a night of top-notch stand-up comedy, Chicago style.

Elizabeth McQuern

Stand-up Mon Sep 22 2008

Blewtenanny @ Strawdog Theater

From Blewt!, the folks who brought you four years of the brilliant comedy game show Don't Spit the Water and Impress These Apes (season three starts tonight at the Lakeshore Theater, oh yes it does) comes Blewtenanny, the stand-up showcase that's evolving into a sort of "quirky playful post-modern" variety show, according to producer and host Bryan Bowden. Though it began as strictly a stand-up showcase, the format now includes two stand-ups, a musical comedy act, and a "crazy weird-ass wild card" act. Local faves Robert Buscemi and Chad Briggs are booked for the stand-up slots for the next show, on October 3.

Bryan Bowden:
Bryan Bowden Hosting Blewtenanny

"The new format is a chance to bring in a variety of audiences as well as performers," Bowden explained. "That last slot especially is for some of the amazing performers who are engaging and entertaining but hard to book in a normal comedy/music setting. I've seen some really cool acts that are really difficult to classify, and I'm hoping to give those performers a chance at Blewtenanny."

Blewtenanny has been going strong since March, and beginning October 3 will be settling into its new home at The Strawdog Theater (3829 N. Broadway), and its new schedule of the first Friday of every month at 11pm. Admission is $5 and anything you buy at the bar benefits Strawdog itself, which is a non-profit artistic enterprise.

Blewtenanny is a great night of raucous fun for audiences partly because it's one of the comedians' favorite shows to perform at. The earliest shows were at midnight at the BYOB Playground Theater, and caught the leftover audience members from the previous show, the now-retired Don't Spit the Water. That meant a warmed-up, tipsy crowd sometimes ready to get loud and interact with the performers. Bowden, a CPS 8th grade teacher by day, applied a gently authoritative hand, keeping the rowdy crowds engaged but under control.

Alyson Lyon and Sarah King:
Sarah King and Allison

Sarah King, fresh off her well-received one woman show "Good Crazy/Bad Crazy," has performed at Bowden's show twice and said "I think Bryan's room is very welcoming because he's such a nice guy and he makes the comics and audience feel comfortable. He runs it in a casual but professional way that encourages performers to take more chances with their material, so you never know what you're going to see, which I love."

Neil Arsenty, a seasoned improv and sketch vet who recently began exploring stand-up, said "Bryan's show is a great experience. I'm totally grateful to him for giving me a shot as the very first comic in the very first Blewtenanny. I had never done stand-up before but I felt very comfortable. We had drunk people right in the front row who talked to me during my set, and they were the nicest drunk people you could ask for."

Andrew DeWitt, another sketch and comedy video vet who began doing stand-up earlier this year after joining the circle of friends in Bowden's stand-up writing workshop, went from open mics to headlining slots in a scant few months, and openly credits Bowden and other friends for his rapid ascent. DeWitt, who is moving to Los Angeles this week to delve into comedy there, said "I love performing at Blewtenanny. It's always a great time and has a relaxed, laid-back vibe. We get to hang out with all of our comedy friends and stick around afterwards for a while and booze it up with the audience and our pals. Things can get out of hand but only in a good way."

Lincoln Lodge cast member and Fourth Fridays producer Cameron Esposito agrees. "Blewtenanny is one of only a few shows in the city where I feel I can test out really strange and outlandish material," she said. "The crowd may be rowdy and they may be drunk, but it's that rare brand of smart drunk that digs my weirdest comedic thoughts."

More pictures and a video highlight reel of a recent Blewtenanny after the jump.

Continue reading this entry »

Elizabeth McQuern

Stand-up Fri Sep 12 2008

Chicago Underground Comedy @ the Beat Kitchen

(*This post's author co-produces Chicago Underground Comedy.)

Every Tuesday at 9:30pm, the Beat Kitchen (2100 W. Belmont) takes a break from the rock and punk bands that grace the stage every other night of the week to host Chicago Underground Comedy, an independent artist-produced stand-up showcase featuring Chicago's best and brightest alternative stand-up comedy talent. It's a lot of smart funny for only $5.

The show began several years ago with 16 core cast members, but few of those original comedians remain. The group is constantly refreshed with up-and-coming new talent, as every few months, another comedian leaves the training ground of Chicago for New York or L.A.

Among the show's current cast members, favorite guests, and returning ex-pats are an impressive tally of credits: new writers for Saturday Night Live, new cast members on MADtv, and performances on Comedy Death Ray, Comedy Central's Premium Blend and Live at Gotham, the Craig Ferguson Show, Last Call With Carson Daly, and more.

Highlight video from May and more photos from last Tuesday's Chicago Underground Comedy show after the jump!

Continue reading this entry »

Elizabeth McQuern

Stand-up Tue Sep 09 2008

"Entertaining Julia" @ Town Hall Pub

Sunday nights at 8pm, Town Hall Pub (3340 N. Halsted) opens its doors for "Entertaining Julia," a free comedy variety show currently produced by local comedians Beth Stelling, and sisters Danielle and Tiffany Puterbaugh. (Yes, Julia is the lass behind the bar.)

Chicago's small but thriving stand-up scene, long overshadowed by Chicago's legendary improv influence, is vital partly because of its "put on your own show" mindset, and this show has all the charming DIY hallmarks: a flexible start time, cheap beer specials, a nice mix of stand-up and music, and hosts in silly wigs and costumes who hug you the minute you come in the door.

Beth Stelling:
Beth Stelling at Entertaining Julia, Town Hall Pub Chicago, Sept. 7, 2008

More photos and video after the jump!

Continue reading this entry »

Elizabeth McQuern

Stand-up Sun Sep 07 2008

The Last Bastion

Sad news for the comedy and improv community: The Bastion is closing down due to the overwhelming schedules of its primary writers, Elizabeth McQuern and Kristy Mangel. McQuern shares more of the backstory as to why it's shutting down rather than switching to a new editor here.

Here at A/C, we'll do what we can to cover the scene, but it will pale, at least in the short term, in comparison to what the Bastion has done. It will certainly be missed.

Andrew Huff

Stand-up Wed Jul 02 2008

F Yeah Tour in Chicago

The F Yeah Tour, featuring musical acts like Monotonix and Team Robespierre, will have a comedy contingent when it comes to Chicago. The very hilarious Nick Flanagan and native Chicagoan Hannibal Buress will anchor the show. Hannibal is the funniest man in Chicago, if TimeOut Chicago is to be trusted (in this case, yes, they are), and if you've heard his bit about text messaging at parties about parties, and if you're me, then you would agree. Hannibal is on the rise; he's been touring his act and has popped up on the late night circuit, on the Craig Ferguson show. Hannibal once told me that the thing he liked most about doing stand-up was making people laugh, and that sums him up: he's really, really funny, no matter what genre of comedy you enjoy, whether comedy nerd or bachelorette party.

(NSfW)

Hannibal is going to appearing tomorrow night at Stan Mansion at 2408 N. Kedzie starting at 7p.m. It's all ages, only $12. Laugh and laugh and laugh.

Ramsin Canon

Performance Tue Apr 08 2008

Jared Logan Unlimited

Jared Logan, 2007's Best Comedian at the Chicago Comedy Awards, is going to be famous, and then you can be one of those annoying people who says, "That guy? Man, I saw him back in the day, when he used to perform in the back of this bar on Belmont." You can talk about how you "like his old stuff better." Don't you want to be one of those annoying people?

Jared is performing a 45-minute set tonight at the Beat Kitchen -- for free -- at 9:30. For stand-ups, a 45-minute set is something like an artist getting their own gallery show, except it is considerably less annoying, and about two-thirds drunker. How about another clever metaphor -- a 45-minute set for a comic is like bragging to all your friends that you're going to bowl a perfect game. So when you come to the Beat Kitchen to support one of Chicago's funniest humans, hold him to the standard of bowling a perfect game. Not really.

The set is presented by my heroes at Chicago Underground Comedy. Jared is a member of the fearsome Blerds. Come, drink, laugh, and flirt with the comics at the bar.

Ramsin Canon

GB store

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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