July 24, 2014

Nothing is Off Limits

If you randomly give strangers in Burlington Coat Factory your unique views on rape, gender roles and the mentally handicap, you’re a crazy person. If you go to a comedy show and are offended simply because these topics are brought up, you’re a crazy person.

Comedy can be an effective way to actually inform and expand minds on important issues, simply because it’s the only place where nothing is out of bounds. Just within the past century, there’s been a dramatic evolution in thinking on a wide range of important issues that nobody even questioned for thousands of years. A lot of those mind shifts can be traced back to comedy—stand-up, specifically. And while we’ve come a long way, we still have a long road ahead. Stand-up will not only play a role in us moving forward, without it, we can’t and we won’t. Government PSAs and your uncle’s facebook post, just aren’t going to cut it.

July 23, 2014

Evolution of a Sh*t Show

Rasa Gierstika
The Shit Show comedy showcase has been a work in progress for a few years now. It started as a weekly open mic that had aspiring and seasoned performers come and try out new material. The premise behind the open mic was to have safe and fun place where people interested in performing would have fun in a supportive environment. When I first decided to try open mics and get rid of my stage fright, I found that the scene wasn't always the most welcoming and supportive of new comics.

Since a lot of the same comics frequented the same open mics it was easy to see that they forged friendships with each other which made it more intimidating for someone who was new and was starting out in standup. Running a show by yourself is one of the hardest jobs someone can take on so when Ever Mainard and I decided to do the open mic together the idea was to start a fun open mic where comics would feel comfortable trying out whatever material they wanted with no judgments and the show’s personality started to evolve into the show it is now.

July 22, 2014

Interview With Danny Kallas

Danny Kallas is one of the five Chicago-based comedians and producers of the tremendously successful showcase, Comedians You Should Know. Alongside Marty DeRosa, Joe Kilgallon, Mike Lebovitz, and Michael Sanchez (current members), Danny started the showcase back in 2008, and it has been rockin’ audiences ever since.

Danny’s list of accomplishments only skyrockets from there. He has been named one of funniest comedians in Chicago, was the winner of Snubfest 2009 (and host 2014), and has participated in numerous comedy festivals including Just For Laughs in Chicago and the Laughing Skull Festival in Atlanta.

After a recent performance at the “Chicago’s Best Stand Up” show at the world famous Laugh Factory, Danny was nice enough to share his advice on what it takes to not only be a great stand up, but to also run a great showcase. Danny was a little drunk during the interview, which made the conversation more enlightening and even more entertaining. Enjoy...

July 21, 2014

What's Popping

Yo! Plugging a ton of sweet comedy shows and hot mics for the week. Get out and support while the weather's great. Here's what's popping in the scene this week.

Performance Anxiety
at The Pleasure Chest Chicago
Showcase @ an adult toy store.
Brandie Posey
John-Michael Bond
Irene Tu
Brock Wilbur
Grace Lusk
Sean White

Best Night Ever!
at GMan Tavern - 3740 N Clark St
Joshua Murphy - Host
Alex Stone
Ruthie Lichtenstein
Jesse Baltes
Brock Wilbur
John-Michael Bond
Brandie Posey
Bill Cruz - Headliner!
8PM - FREE! - $4 Drafts

July 18, 2014

Diversity in The Chicago Comedy Scene

In wake of a bogus Comedy Exposition Twitter account that was created, I was inspired to write about something that means a lot to me and that’s diversity (or lack of) in the Chicago comedy scene. The Comedy Exposition took place over several north side neighborhoods (Lakeview, Logan Square, and Wicker Park) through the course of the weekend and consisted of some great local Chicago comics and national touring headliners. The festival was a success and there were a lot of comics on the bill but it was a misrepresentation of the Chicago comedy scene as a whole and that's when an unknown source made a parody twitter account: Comedy Exposition 2015. Sending tweets along the lines of “How many white bearded comics do you need on one weekend?” Even though the timing/execution in bringing up this issue was terrible, the message was accurate. Sadly it’s not just this festival its everywhere.

July 17, 2014

The Cost Of Comedy

Melissa Richelle in Winnipeg Canada
We all know that comedians are in comedy because they love it, not because they are trying to get rich. When you start comedy you do a lot of free gigs or gigs that get paid in free drinks. Recently I was selected to perfrom at the Rumors Comedy Club as part of the World Series of Comedy.

I was on the fence about whether or not I should go because it was not paid and it was in Winnipeg Canada. Since I've only been doing stand up for about a year I didn't know if the costs would be worth going since my chances of advancing were slim based on the more experienced comics I was up against.

I ended up going because I had some paid vacation days to use at my day job and because of being new I decided to take advantage of this amazing opportunity to get stage time in an actual club with a real audience. I was excited to be in front of a new club owner and the producers of The World Series of Comedy as well. Even if I didn't end up advancing this year if I had a good performance it could only help my chances of doing well in future years and be a great opportunity to network with other comedians.

July 16, 2014

Hump Day Happenings.

Brian Babylon
It's Wednesday and the world keeps turning with a solid night of comedy shows.

First and foremost you have The 7th annual summer Bronzeville Comedy Showcase, presented by Vocalo 90.7 and hosted by comedian Brian Babylon, host of Vocalo’s Morning AMp and panelist on Chicago Public Media’s Wait, Wait...Don’t Tell Me!, debuts tonight for a 4 week run.

The popular Bronzeville Comedy Showcase is a seasonal weekly comedy event where comedians (both local and national headliners) try out fresh sets in front of a mixed audience. The showcase, booked by Babylon, brings together diverse comedians from across Chicagoland. "I have been doing this show for seven years now, and it’s always one of the best places to see comedy,” says Babylon. “We decided last year to move the show to a bigger venue to accommodate the large crowd that has made this the best summertime comedy showcase. The Blanc gallery is a swanky art space with a large outdoor area that takes this comedy show to the next level. This is gearing up to be the best summer to date.”

July 15, 2014

Growing Up in the Chicago Comedy Scene

We all have to start somewhere: our first joke at our first open-mic, bombing after weeks of crushing it, killing it after weeks of self-doubt. Then maybe you go on tour, travel, do stand-up in a new city, in a new scene. Maybe your comedy really fits in with the city you would least expect it to. Your jokes get better over time (hopefully), yet certain mics might not work for you, while other mics might really dig your style. This comedy life we live: it's all a lesson in learning how to grow, letting yourself fail, laughing about it, and getting back up there to try it again. Learning to be patient.

We’re all trying to accomplish the same goal: be a successful (or at least paid a little) Comedian. So I suppose I should “get” why there’s some competitive and immature behavior - but I don’t get it. Are you really trying so hard to be famous that you don’t care about making friends, getting constructive criticism, and growing as a performer? It is really helpful for your career to put everyone else down and act like you're the best?! You can be funny as hell, but if you’re a dick, who’s really gonna wanna book you? I’m not saying you won’t get booked ever again, but your fan base may fall off the bandwagon if you treat everyone like you’re better than them and your jokes never evolve past the “classics”. Then where do you go from there if you're "successful" and "people know you" but nobody wants to book you anymore? To quote a shitty Disney channel movie my little sister was really obsessed with: “We’re all in this together!” Yeah. That’s from “High School Musical,” No, I didn’t watch it, but I did hear the same stupid songs over and over again.