Monday, July 7, 2014

The Comedy Expostion of 2014

Just For Laughs Chicago was a pretty big deal for stand-up comedy in years past. It’s the fest anyone who performs standup vies to get into as you are sharing billing with some of the world’s top comedians. It’s a pretty big milestone (and rightfully so) for anyone who was asked to perform during it. It was announced late last year that Just for Laughs would not be coming to Chicago in 2014. No official reason why, just not this year.

Amidst all the frowny-faces emoticons as other comics and fans of comedy shared this announcement via social media, Katie McVay tweeted out “somebody should start a comedy festival here.” A bunch of people replied telling her she should do it and that they would help.

The Comedy Exposition 2014 was founded.
Goodrich Gevaart
While the catalyst may have been the absence of Just for Laughs Chicago, this festival started out with one key ingredient missing from the equation: money. Any of it. Katie enlisted comedians Stephanie Hasz, Zach Peterson, and myself in addition to Matt Byrne who writes about comedy in various Chicago publications and has his own blog The Steamroller who all have their own skills to contribute, none of which were being an independently wealthy bajillionare who is willing to throw cash at a sure-fire money losing scheme like a comedy festival.

Collectively we had a vision for what kind of festival we wanted to run something like Bridgetown, High Plains in Denver, or Crom in Omaha. A fun, comedian-run festival where visiting comics get to have the time of their lives meeting other comics and performing for discerning fans of comedy.

For lack of a better way to acquire funds, we launched a kickstarter, hoping to get $3,000 to bring in a few headliners and try not to end the festival writing people checks from our own bank accounts. In a resounding show of support, Chicago’s stand-up community donated that much money in 24 hours.

Email and text correspondence between the festival organizers went something like this:


We did not expect that at all. We were overjoyed and invigorated. This festival was really going to happen. In the end we raised $7,000 between donations and comedian submissions. It was pretty amazing. The support from all over Chicago gave us all a warm feeling about our comedy community. Now all we had to do was figure out how to run a festival.

Starting with pre-fest party show “42x42” at Gallery Cabaret and ending with a show headlined by comedy legend Andy Kindler, we will in total put up over 70 comics from all over the country. July 11-13 will have shows in three different neighborhoods (Lakeview, Wicker Park, & Logan Square) specifics can be found at our website:

You know when comics from other cities come visit Chicago and do a run of shows over the course of the week and they say “wow, I love doing comedy in this city”? That’s the feeling we wanted to give all the people coming in to perform for the Comedy Exposition. We teamed up with some of our favorite independent Chicago showcases and venues to see and perform in.

We want this to be a fun time for comics and fans of comedy and we hope you’ll come out to the shows. Aside from the headliners we’ve brought in (Jackie Kashian, Adam Cayton-Holland, Sean Patton, Sean O’Connor, Aparna Nancherla, Brooks Wheelan, & Ryan Singer) there are great comics from all over the US that submitted to perform. We’re really proud of the lineup we’ve put together.

Goodrich Gevaart - Goodrich is a comedian, writer, producer and co-organizer of the Chicago 2014 Comedy Exposition