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Entries in chicago comedy (35)


The CHI Hip Tip

Going for a drive | Photo by Johnny KnightIf you’ve been privy to the Ken Barnard Experience, the first question of this interview will totally make sense. The Experience has many parts that make the whole, and rare is it that they are all manifested in any one given place and time. Maybe you lightly sob while Ken, dressed in full merman regalia, belts out the weepiest version of Part of Your World this side of Triton’s castle, maybe you’re an audience member to a live reading of the great paperback Rocky III, or maybe you’re watching a live puppet show that goes horribly, horribly wrong. Whichever Experience you have, be forewarned that you will be grinning and guffawing in giggly, welcomed bemusement. Luckily for Chicago, the full Experience is coming to the Lakeshore Theater, TONIGHT and Saturday, Feb. 20, 7:30 p.m., where Ken will headline as part of the Art of Local Comedy series.

What's your favorite racist potato chip flavor?

KB: My favorite racist potato chip flavor is Muslim Curry.  Mainly because it is so ignorant.  I mean, curry is an Indian dish and over 80% of Indians are Hindu, not Muslim.  Also, it tastes like Chinese food.

Rocky I, II, or III, and why?

KB: Picking a favorite Rocky movie is hard.  I fell in love with Rocky III, but Rocky is the original and arguably the best stand-alone flick (it won an Oscar for Best Picture, for cripes sake.)  Even Rocky V, the worst one, has a kick-ass ending credit sequence with a badass Elton John song.  Regardless of which movie I’m watching, I always cheer Rock on during the fight just like if I was ringside and had money on him.

If you could get your ass kicked by one past or current Steelers player, who would you choose and why?

KB: If I could get my ass kicked by one Steelers player, who would I choose?  Somebody’s seen “Big Fan,” huh? That’s a tough question, a lot like the Rocky one.  Both Rocky and my beloved “Stillers” are so near and dear to my old aorta.  I’m going to have to pick two Steelers – one former and one current player.  Past Steeler has gotta be Jack Lambert.  He had no front teeth and wore a shirt that said “I’m a Fuckin’ Maniac.”  Needless to say, he was.  If a current Steeler were to kick my ass, I’d want it to be kicker Jeff Reed.  He’s got a history of ridiculous, drunken violence and I’d love to be a part of that legend.  The guy fought a paper towel dispenser once.  Who wouldn’t want to be punched by that moron?

As a background to The Ken Barnard, how long have you been performing comedy and in what forms?

KB: I’ve been performing comedy, in one way or another, since college – so about 10 years.  (By the way, I dropped out of college, so don’t go trying to figure out how old I am, kittens.)  I did all the theater-type stuff in earlier school though.  Show choir, plays, musicals, you name it, I did it.  I’m happy to focus solely on the funny stuff currently, though.  That’s dead-center in my wheelhouse.  Weird solo comedy is my main gig right now (performance comedy, if you will) but I’m also doing some improv and I always enjoy collaborating with talented people on video projects.

Please name some life-changing/affirming performance events in your past.

KB: My most life-affirming performance was my first time at the Andy Kaufman Award Contest in 2006.  It was surreal to fly back and forth from Chicago to New York twice to be able to make the finals.  It really was a dream come true and I’ve met so many awesome people because of it.  As far as life-changing performances, I’m not selfish.  I save my most epiphany-inducing energies for the audience, so that they leave happier and, ultimately, holier.

Have you performed other one-man shows?

KB: I did a one-man show in 2008 at the Lincoln Lodge called “Get Into It.”  It was the first time I attempted an hour plus of comedy on my own, so it was quite a challenge.  I learned a lot from it, so this time around should be as good as that but with more explosions.  Honestly though, my current show “Ken Barnard’s Greatest Bits,” is just that – my best material.  If you come to see the show and you don’t like it, you either have a really straight-laced sense of humor, or you hate me as a person.  (Either way, please say hi after the show!)  I’m also excited about the live camera backstage.  It’ll give the audience an idea of what goes on behind-the-scenes at a comedy show.

What are some upcoming projects on the radar for you?

KB: I’m excited to go to LA at the beginning of March to audition for “Last Comic Standing.”  I’ve been told that I’m attending an “invite-only” audition, so hopefully I won’t be standing in a cattle call line outside for five hours.  Even so, five hours outside in LA is the equivalent to all of the sunshine that we get here in five months, so it won’t be so bad.  I’ve also got some other shows lined up and I hope to go to Disneyland as Nicky Mouse.  Stick it to the man, you know?

OK, full details on Lakeshore tonight and tomorrow, plz.

KB: My one-man show – “Ken Barnard’s Greatest Bits!”  - is going down this Friday, February 19 and Saturday, February 20 at 7:30 p.m. at the fabulous Lakeshore Theater.  It costs $15, but is $5 off with the code word “LOCAL.”  It’s part of the “Art of Local Comedy” series at the Lakeshore which features the best comics in the city.  I know some people are upset that Chicago didn’t get the Olympics, but this show will be just like that, only with more singing and fake blood.

--Kristy Mangel (and special thanks to comedian Ricky Carmona for the first three warm-up/more fun questions)


The CHI Honey Shot

ESL Players at Chicago SketchFest 2010 | Photo: Kristy Mangel
  • THE PLUG: Don't miss the final performance of the ESL Players in "We Don't Need Know Stinkin Edumacation!" 8PM, TONIGHT, at the Chicago Center for the Performing Arts, 777 North Green Street, Chicago. Tickets are $10 and all proceeds go to the Red Cross Haiti Relief Fund. The ESL Players are Alonzo Alcaraz, Antonia Arcely, Joe Fernandez, Miguel Morales, Ricky Carmona, and Selene Mojica.

Wanna plug? E-mail me photo & credit. And join our flickr group. Send 10 days in advance.


The Chi Hip Tip

Kyle Lane and Mike David gear up for the big show. Photo courtesy of Mike David

Mike David is finally throwing the comedy show he wants to see, and thinks downtown Chicago needs to see.

After four years of seeing local stand-up comedy and inviting Chicago comedians to co-host on his popular and wonderfully giddy and crass Internet radio show Red Bar Radio, David, in partnership with comedian Kyle Lane, will be producing a new weekly stand-up show in downtown Chicago at the Ontourage nightclub. David says, “I have been going to comedy shows for the last four years and have done a lot of complaining. I never thought any of the shows in Chicago were up to Chicago standards. We’re the third largest city in the country, and we don’t have a world class comedy club…there’s no reason why we can’t have comedy clubs that pay comedians.”

David also has ideas about how to present comedians as entertainment to his downtown audience: “[We will book] three-person line-ups, ensuring that each comic gets their time on stage, to connect with an audience…give the comics a chance to make a name for themselves.”

The Red Bar Comedy Club is one of just a few rooms seeking to bring local stand-up comedy to downtown Chicago, populated at night by four-star hotel patrons, Northwestern University students, and Gold Coast condo owners*. “The ultimate goal is to have this club become a Chicago staple for downtown. This is where you go when you visit Chicago for stand-up,” David says.

For the inaugural event, many members of David’s “Barmy”, the legion of devoted Red Bar radio show fans throughout the United States, have committed to spending the weekend in Chicago and attending the event – “We have over one hundred Red Bar fans flying in to see the first show,” David said.

The Red Bar Radio podcast can be found here.

The first Red Bar Comedy Club show is TOMORROW, 8:30PM, and will feature local stand-up comics Dean Carlson, James Fritz, and Sean Flannery, with host Steve O. Harvey. The Ontourage nightclub is located at 157 W. Ontario, downtown Chicago. $10 admission, no drink minimum, 280 person capacity seating.

*Statement not in any way verified by a census; just personal observation.

--Kristy Mangel


The Art of Local Comedy at the Lakeshore -- Prescott Tolk

Tonight and tomorrow night are the first in the Lakeshore Theater series, "The Art of Local Comedy." The theater will be hosting headliner sets for five Chicago stand-up comics over the next six months, kicking off this weekend with hometown hero, Prescott Tolk. A staunch proponent of staying in Chicago, Tolk has been entertaining throughout the country for years and has even roped in that seemingly elusive TV cred, all from the cozy confines of the Heart of America. We got to chat with Prescott a bit on his decision to stay in Chicago, and some memorable gig experiences:

"I just love Chicago. I appreciate the diversity of comedic styles the scene offers, and I am a fan of the rent-to-square-footage ratio. I just formed an improv group (JJ Dart), and I have some webisodes in the works. It seems relatively easy for me to dip my feet into new projects because I know everybody, and they are comfortable with my feet.

"For the past several years, I have managed to headline a lot of fun clubs in the Midwest. This past summer I headlined Cap City Comedy Club in Austin, Texas, which was awesome. I usually do one or two club dates a month and a couple of college dates. I purposely split up my time between the showcase rooms in Chicago and these road gigs because I like being able to play to both crowds, which are often very different. I also got a chance to open for some really big names recently: Dave Attell and Todd Barry. I mention these two guys in any conversation about my favorites, so it was great to work with them."

See him TONIGHT and TOMORROW, 7:30PM, $15, Lakeshore Theater, Chicago. Opening for Tolk will be Chicago comic Marty DeRosa and visiting Australian comic, Nick Sun.

--Kristy Mangel


The Honey Shot

Mo Welch, courtesy of Mo Welch

  • THE PLUG (CHICAGO): Don't miss variety show The Mo Show, Number Tres TONIGHT @ 10PM at Studio BE, 3110 N. Sheffield, Chicago, $5, BYOB. Hosted by the delightfully wacky Mo Welch, with performances by Chris Condren, Beth Stelling, Aaron Weaver, Johnny Carwash and the Dollar Bills, with sketch by Electric Baby Safari and guest Ever Mainard.

The Real Housewives of Fargo:

Wanna plug? E-mail me photo & credit. And join our flickr group. Send 10 days in advance.


The Chi Hip Tip (x2)

Freshly showered and shaved and ready for the first CYSK show tomorrow

In Chicago (and elsewhere, it's assumed), stand-up comics will work together, much like a cast or troupe, to create rooms for themselves and their friends -- in the back rooms of bars, in loft-style theater spaces, in restaurants -- anywhere a stage can be concocted and an amp plugged in.

A "cast" of eight stand-up comics have been doing just that the last few years, banding together to make a stage for themselves in the city: Beginning in 2008, the Comedians You Should Know got together to start a weekly room at Fizz Bar and Grill. When Fizz, well, fizzled out, CYSK continued to work together in the city on various projects, open mics, and rooms. Over the last couple years, these eight comics have grown to be some of the strongest voices in the underground stand-up comedy scene in Chicago, and will be relaunching their weekly showcase, now to be housed in the swanky basement lounge of Timothy O'Tooles in downtown Chicago every Wednesday at 9PM. In addition, they begin a monthly show at the city's hottest theater space for national and local acts alike, the Lakeshore Theater. The first Lakeshore show is this Friday, January 8, 10:30PM, $15. Buy tix here, and use the code CREEP to get 'em half off!

The Comedians You Should Know are Marty DeRosa, Danny Kallas, Joe Kilgallon, Mike Lebovitz, Drew Michael, Michael Sanchez, Mike Sheehan, and Junior Stopka.

--Kristy Mangel


Chicago Checklist

Photo courtesy of Time Out New YorkTwo Chicago expats are up for Time Out New York's Joke of the Year -- vote now for David Angelo or Kumail Nanjiani (or both!). They are joined by formidable competition in the form of Zach Galifianakis, Sean Patton, Chelsea Peretti, Taylor Williamson, Erik Bergstrom, Brent Weinbach and Aziz Ansari.

Speaking of Time Out, Chicago Time Out comedy editor Jason Heidemann gives his (mostly) tongue-in-cheek "Comedy Predictions for 2010". Do you have any predictions of your own?

Nick Vatterott has some pointers for people dreaming of standing up for the first time. Check out his detailed blog post, if you're one of these folks.

Paul F. Tompkins talks to Chicago Public Radio's WBEZ about using social media to convince him to perform at various cities in the country. The successful Chicago effort was headed by Chicago Underground Comedy co-producer Dan Telfer (Tompkins is still looking for the perfect venue here in CHI, and has not set a date yet.)

2009 was a pretty good year for both Mike Bridenstine and Matt Braunger, judging from their recent "2009 Round-Ups". Best of luck for 2010, everyone!

--Kristy Mangel


SNL Alum Joe Piscopo to Feature Local CHI Comics on New TV Variety Show

Tonight is the first of two scheduled showcase auditions for Joe Piscopo's proposed television variety series After Dark with Joe Piscopo, happening at the Joynt, 7 p.m. Eight local comics will vie for a feature spot on the series, scheduled to begin filming January 11. Tonight's showcase is already sold out; the next show will be December 29, and advanced tickets are highly recommended. You can purchase those tickets here. Tonight's line-up will feature Jim Flannigan, Michael Palascak, Prescott Tolk, Emily Galati, Joe Kilgallon, Michael Aaron, Joe Red, and Joe Kwaczala.

Show producer Fred Farris at Key Management has this to say regarding to the proposed television series: "There are major networks interested but there hasn't been a deal inked as of yet. If/when a network picks it up they will determine how many episodes will be put into production. There may be additional stand-up comedy audition showcase shows next year depending on what happens."

After Dark seeks to include artists from all genres of entertainment, including music, comedy, theatre, and film.

A short interview with Farris can be seen below.

--Kristy Mangel