Wednesday, July 27, 2011

They Call Her Sweet Beth

Beth Stelling performed last Thursday at the new Big Sleazy comedy showcase.  Wow, she smashed it out of the park.  We were lucky enough to catch this performance (one of her last gigs in Chicago before she moves to L.A.) on camera.  Check out her near perfect set.

Beth is currently performing in the play 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche, which has extended it's run (read the rave review) through August 13th and will also perform standup on August 8th @ Hug City Productions @Rancine plumbing and Grill.  You should catch Beth before she leaves town, check out her website for more event info.

James Kamp

Monday, July 25, 2011

Interview With Marty DeRosa!!

Marty DeRosa is a nonstop creative force in the Chicago comedy scene. The man has set himself apart through his tireless work ethic, uncanny flair for crowd work and an amazing knowledge of professional wrestling.  He's a south side favorite and member of one of the hottest comedy showcases in Chicago.  The Indiana native found time in his busy schedule to give us an interview:

Comedy Of Comedy:  What compels you to perform stand up comedy and how long have you been at it?

Marty DeRosa: I've been performing for around five years.  I feel very lucky to have found my thing.  I wanted to perform for the longest time yet I just never really knew how to get the ball rolling.  After a few false starts I finally got into the swing of things.  After years of working 40 hours a week at my day job and performing almost nightly I couldn't imagine not doing this.  I used to be the laziest guy party due to depression and partly due to just not knowing what I wanted to do with my life.  I had a bad streak of luck with both my mom and sister dying when I was 21.  That pretty much ruined my 20's. It took me a long time to bounce back from that.  For most of my 20's I was drunk or laying on a couch watching stand-up or wrestling.  I feel like I have completely turned my life around. Having come from when I came from I am able to really enjoy this part of my life.  I live in a great city with amazingly talented friends and we get to perform for packed crowds. None of that is lost on me.

COC: Among your many side ventures are two wresting themed video projects. Tell us about "5 dollar wresting" and "Creative Has Nothing For You"

MD: $5 Wrestling features Pro Wrestler Colt Cabana and myself doing MST3K style commentary over terrible wrestling. It has been a blast doing them and getting positive feedback from not only other comedians but also some of my favorite wrestlers has been amazing. Creative Has Nothing For You is a series of web-shorts, again with me and Cabana, that takes a backstage look at the relationship between wrestlers and the story writers that work behind the scenes for a wrestling company. Both of these have been amazing projects to work on. We did a live $5 Wrestling in Atlanta, GA the night before Wrestle Mania and it was one of the most fun shows I've ever been a part of. I am also beyond pleased with the reviews of CHNFY. The wrestling community seems to love it and we have been averaging over 16,000 hits on You Tube per episode.

COC: Does anyone ever ask you "Marty your a stand up comedian whats up with the wrestling?"

MD: I hear that all the time.  I really can't say enough about how much I love wrestling.  I feel like wrestling has taught me a lot about performing. The best wrestlers have always pretty much been themselves in front of the camera just with the volume cranked up. That is what I try to do in my act. When I go up for my set I really try to attack the stage. I want to set myself aside from the other comics.

COC: Comedians You Should Know, is currently one of the most successful comedy showcases in Chicago, this did not happen over night correct?

MD: Nope.  It has been the result of years of hard work.  I'm proud to be a part of the group.  When we started the show we were mostly just newer comedians who wanted stage time and wanted to simply put on a great show.  In the process, we all became much better comedians and learned how to run a great showcase. I think that we all push each other to be the best comedians we can be. The show keeps getting better and better and I am always excited when new people do the show.  I'm quick to tell people that I am a member of CYSK. I'm not a producer.  The guys who produce the show put in tons of hours of hard work and they deserve all the credit in the world.  That and Michael Sanchez is really into women's feet.

COC: Your crowd work is legendary, why is it important to have a diverse skill set beyond just joke telling?

MD: I love to do crowd work. It is a huge part of my act.  I like to weave written material in with crowd work and make it look as seamless as possible. If it's done properly the entire set can look and feel completely improvised.  I still have to write jokes and have an act because some headliners don't want you to do crowd work.  I did a big show recently and the headliner didn't want me to do any crowd work and it was fine with me. I took it as a real challenge. It was interesting to so hear people's reaction to me doing a set without crowd work.

COC: Why is Chicago a great comedy town?

MD: I can only answer that for myself.  I think at this point in my comedy career, this is the best place for me.  I am having the time of my life and I hope that all the great opportunities continue to roll in. This comedy scene is exactly what you make of it.  If you want to just drink and fuck, you can do that. If you want to work hard and get your name out there, you can do that too.  I have been on both sides of that coin. Now that I'm not drinking I feel like I have been way more productive. I have some big plans and I look forward to the future.

COC: Seems like you've always got something in the works, anything coming up?

MD: I will be appearing at ICP's Gathering of the Juggalos.  Cabana and I just filmed tons of $5 Wrestling. Also, we have new episodes of "Creative Has Nothing For You" premiering every Monday night right before Raw and on our You Tube channel. Michael Sanchez and I have also recorded a handful of podcasts entitled "Brunch with Marty" featuring interviews with lots of great local comics.  We now have a sponsor and we will be doing a launch for the show very soon. Besides that I can be seen most weekends at The Red Bar Comedy Club and most Wednesdays at Comedians You Should Know. That's about it. Just follow me on twitter @martyderosa.

James Allen Kamp

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Plugs for your mugs....

UPDATES GALORE!    There are some great comedy options going on in Chicago this week, our open mic and showcase lists have been updated to reflect the new additions and we've been getting lots of requests to plug some of the upcoming shows so here we go:

The Big Sleazy -Weekly Comedy Showcase, Opening Night 7/22 Thursdays @ Green Door Tavern
Wow this showcase looks to be super bananas.  Kudos to the producers of this show for really pulling out all the stops and organizing an amazing lineup: Andrew Halter, David Drake, Lauren Vino, Adam Burke, Beth Stelling, C.J. Sullivan, Sean Flannery, Headliner Prescott Tolk
Only $5, "Suggested"  What!?  That's a ridiculously cheap cover for such a stacked line up.

Impress These Apes -  Comedy competition - 8 week run ends July 26th,
Mondays @ Comedy Sportz
Heard great things about this show, catch it before it's over, here's the press release: Impress These Apes is an 8-week talent competition of epic proportions! Eight unique performers from Chicago's diverse performance community will compete weekly in an intense talent challenge - each time judged and scored by hyper-intelligent apes from the future. The contestant with the most points at the end of the run wins $500 cash money, a grab bag of groovy prizes, and the coveted title of "LEAST PITIFUL HUMAN!"

Your Funniest Friends - Monthly Showcase,  Sat 7/30 @ Trace Bar
We did a review of this great new monthly a few weeks ago, so we won't rehash the all details other then to say it's that it's a very solid production at the douche free Trace Bar in Wrigleyville You should check it out, this months line up features: Julia Solomon, Jesse Baltes, Megan Gailey, Bill Cruz headlines.  Hosted by Lane Pieschel and Jeff Steinbrunner

People Under The Stares - Monthly Showcase, Thur 7/21 @ The Hideaway
OK so we'll admit we knew nothing about this showcase, which is produced by  local record label Drag City, until they contacted us, but  it turns out they have had some top notch comedians perform in the past, Thursdays show is no exception with Kyle Kinane, Brent Weinbach and Michael Sanchez, check their face book press release:  "The People Under the Stares is a monthly comedy showcase at the Hideout in Chicago, presented by the unusual gang of idiots at Drag City Records.  Alumni include Zach Galifianakis, Paul F. Tompkins, Morgan Murphy, Hannibal, Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Brent Weinbach, Fred Armisen, Neil Hamburger, etc"

Jokes and Jam's - Monthly Showcase, Fri 7/22 @ Mullens
Have not been to this yet but the word is it's a solid, fun showcase.  This months lineup features: David Drake, Khaleel The Comedian, Ali Clayton, Jack Calhoun, Drew Michael, Hosted by Stacey Norgren and Jerry Legan

Mikey O's Comedy Cantina Open Mic - Tuesday Nights @ Wicker Well, 1637 W. North Ave
This is supposed to be the new hot open mic in wicker park, produced by the prodigious Mikey O.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Advice For Newbie Comics By: Priscilla Francis

To quote Doug Stanhope: "Never give anyone advice because you're only telling them to be more like you". Which is probably the best advice ever told. I wouldn't ever give anyone any stylistic or artistic advice, but I would on work ethic. First and foremost, stop asking for advice. A comic can tell you how they do something or about their writing process, but doing something someone else does isn't going to help you be a better artist. The way we think and come up with jokes and tags are what make us different. If we all thought the same way and used the same thought process or regimen we wouldn't be individuals. In turn we would all have the same premises, jokes and punch-lines or areas in our life that we should focus on because that’s what people like. If you want to talk about it, talk about it. At the end of the day walking about with crutches you didn't need didn't help you get across the street better.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Farewell Ken Barnard

Ken Barnard is one of our favorite comedians.  Unfortunately the hilarious maniac weirdo is leaving town and moving to the god forsaken wasteland of L.A.  His second to last Chicago performance is July 22 at the Lincoln lodge, you should be there.  Check out the press release:

The Lincoln Lodge presents:
The Penultimate Ken Barnard Experience
A comedy happening that is second to none

Ken Barnard, a fixture of the Chicago comedy scene for the past 8 years, invites YOU to The Penultimate Ken Barnard Experience - his farewell show before relocating to HollywoodThe Penultimate Ken Barnard Experience will feature the jokes, skits and songs that have endeared Ken to audiences citywide. While some comedians celebrate their exodus from Chicago with special final shows, Ken is planning to make his second-to-last show, second to none. The evening will also showcase some of the city’s finest weirdos with performances from Chad Briggs, Chris Condren and Michael Sanchez.  Ken Barnard has been entertaining audiences around the world with his off-kilter comedy for more than 10 years. Most recently, Ken shot a pilot for the comedy game show “Don’t Spit the Water!” with Blewt Productions. He has also starred in commercials for Empire Carpet and Central DuPage Hospital, and was in the debut episode of Last Comic Standing’s seventh season for several seconds standing in the background. 
Date: Friday, July 22, 2011
Time: 9:00 p.m.
Location: The Lincoln Lodge at the Lincoln Restaurant
4008 N. Lincoln Ave (intersection of Lincoln, Damen and Irving Park) Chicago
Tickets: $10 each. Call 773-251-1539

Saturday, July 2, 2011

YFF Showcase

Megan Gailey and Joe Fernandez
Lane Pieschel
It's can be hard to maintain a quality comedy showcase in Chicago.  First of all it's a grind, especially if your running a weekly show.  There are so many variables to keep in mind when trying to produce a quality product that folks (outside of your friends) will show up for AND have a good time, laugh, spread the word of mouth, attend multiple shows and hopefully spend some money to cover costs.  There's lighting, sound systems, seating and bar managers to deal with, but most importantly you have to book talented comics that will keep the crowd laughing.  Without that last ingredient even the best run showcase will crash and burn. Now having all this in mind, I went to the debut of the "Your Funniest Friends" showcase last Saturday at the hip Trace Bar in Wrigleyville.  Bam! The YFF cast really hit a home run. The whole operation was a class act.  It was held in a upstairs bar/room that was separate from the main bar, which is always important for a real showcase. The lighting was great, the sound was good and the line up was solid.  People were seated quickly and the show started on time, I know that sounds elementary but you would be surprised how many showcases screw that up.  YFF did not disappoint.  Not only was the show well run but the comedy was top notch.  Megan Gailey and Joe Fernandez hosted and they rocked it, the chemistry between these two was amazing.  Lane Pieschel Matt Riggs, and Jeff Steinbrunner were also solid and funny as hell, but headliner Drew Frees killed it.  I have covered Drew's antics before so I wont go into his far out performance other then to say he was his usually hilarious, maniac self.  What's also cool about YFF is that although it's primarily a stand up comedy show, they sprinkle sketch and improv shenanigans throughout the show to keep things fresh and unpredictable.  All and and all a great debut, I hope they keep it up.  You should check it out:  Last Saturday of every month @ Trace Bar 3714 N. Clark St. Chicago.

James Allen Kamp