January 3, 2011

Chicago Comedy: Short Review and My Favorites of 2010: BY DANNY KALLAS

Danny Kallas
One of our  favorite comedians Danny Kallas wrote this great "note" about his views on the scene, here it is unfiltered.
Live @ CYSK Live album recording

I wanted to write a brief note, mostly about how proud I am to be part of the Chicago stand-up comedy scene, especially the last 365 days. In 2010, we had a new comedy club open: The Red Bar Comedy Club. It was an immediate success and continues to thrive, booking almost all local comedians! As far as showcases, we had the resurgence of Comedians You Should Know and the debut of new QUALITY ones like Rotten Comedy and Speak Easy Comedy. If other comedians take the time to put in the effort it takes for a show to succeed, the sky is the limit for 2011! If the scene continues to be this good, New York City will remain a good place to just visit...at least for me.

What a mug
If there's one thing I've learned in my four and a half years on the scene, it's that no body's gonna give you jack shit! If you think you're overlooked by clubs and showcases, then STOP YOUR BITCHING AND START YOUR OWN SHOW! And not just any show. A good show! In a good venue! With good talent!

Over the years, I've heard many comedians, both old and new to the scene, talk about having to move to NYC or Los Angeles in order to "make it". I'm not saying I won't ever move to one of the coasts, since it's still necessary in order to get a writing job and that's something I'd like to some day do, but I always thought "making it" meant making a living doing stand-up comedy. Last time I checked, both Michael Palascak and Mike Stanley still live here.  Just like anything in life, if you keep telling yourself something is not possible, then you're probably right. YOU probably won't "make it" in Chicago. I refuse to believe that. Chicago is the third largest city in America. There's three million people in the city and nine million in the metropolitan area. This ain't a fuckin' cow town!

If anyone cares, here's my favorites of 2010. If you're one of them, feel free to use this credit in your introduction or bio. Note:  No one will care.

Favorite Newcomer:  Kenny DeForest...This hillbilly-fuck has all the tools to be a good stand-up:  confidence, good writer, great delivery. He's a hustler, and for reasons unbeknownst to me, the chicks dig him. What I'm saying is, if you perform with Kenny, you better be really funny or that girl in the third row you were eyeing up from the stage will forget the two of you were ever in the same room.
Honorable mention goes to Kent Haines and Jeff Steinbrunner.

Most Improved:  Liza Treyger...This Jew broad continues to impress me, despite not seeming to know a thing about how to do stand-up. I believe that is the great thing about her. Nothing seems contrived. On stage, she's completely herself.
Honorable mention goes to Joe McAdam, Dan Ronan, and Jim Zekis.

Most Underrated:  Joe Fernandez...This half-breed is one of the best performers in the scene. Whether at a big show or a late-night open mic, he gives the audience all he's got. Armed with smart, satirical jokes and really funny characters, 2011 will be the year Fernandez's name will be listed in every other Facebook invite you continue to ignore.
Honorable mention goes to Joe Motisi and Sam Norton.

Favorite Stand-Up:  Joe Kilgallon..."The Portage Park Mad Man" is a mental case, both onstage and off. There's more talented comedians in Chicago, there's even funnier ones, but if someone told me they needed a comedian for a show but did not tell me if there was any language restrictions or the demographics of the audience or the set-up of the room, I would tell them to contact Joe Kilgallon. There's no one I know who is more reliable in that situation and, because of that and the ability to make me do my "sound-like-a-witch" laugh at least once per set, Joey was my favorite Chicago comedian of 2010. Look for him to murder someone in 2011.

A special thanks goes out to the Chicago media for finally realizing this year what local comedians have known for a long time: Junior Stopka is a funny motherfucker!

If you notice, I never say the word "best", rather favorite. This was not a list, not a ranking. Just a few of my favorites of 2010. The Chicago stand-up comedy scene is extremely talented.  I love all of you! Please don't shake my hand every time I see you. Give me a hug. Thanks.
Danny Kallas

There you have it.  Danny is part of the Comedians You Should Know showcase which has a powerhouse line up this week.  You should check it out.