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Inside With: Jamie Kilstein

By: Matthew Filipowicz

Jamie Kilstein's list of fans is pretty impressive. Janeane Garafolo, Paul Provenza, Brian Eno, Noam Chomsky... Yes, you read that right. Noam Chomsky.

Chomsky called Citizen Radio, the political talk show Jamie hosts with Allison Kilkenny,

"An important political radio show that balances humor and unreported news. At a time when media conglomerates dominate the airwaves, independent media like Citizen Radio is vital to national discourse."

Not bad, considering Chomsky is one of the greatest political minds of our generation.

In addition to constantly touring the globe, Jamie’s been seen on Comedy Central, the BBC, and GritTV. He’s also a contributor to a little newspaper called the Onion.

I recently sat down with Jamie, via email, to ask him a few questions about his stand-up, his radio show, and his upcoming gig tomorrow, January 21, at the Lakeshore Theater in Chicago.

MATT: So, in addition to doing stand-up, you also co-host Citizen Radio. How'd you get started with that?

JAMIE: We started it because there were political topics that I couldn't really talk about on stage. I mean, I talk about them but I could not go into as much detail as I would like. It's hard enough what I do with out being like "So the military industrial complex teamed with private mercenaries are really perpetrating a myth of security while murdering innocent Muslims and escalating the conflicts, all the while using it as an excuse for the government to take away our civil liberties AM I RIGHT FELLAS?!

We started it really on the cheap. We did it from our cellphones in our studio apartment in Queens. We couldn't even be in the same room with each other because of feedback. It was so insane. Somehow the show got a really big following, though, cause we weren't talking down to people. I had lunch yesterday with Ralph Nader’s running mate, Matt Gonzalez, and finally confessed to him that when we had him and Ralph on the show, claiming to be professional, I was pacing around in my kitchen on my cell phone while doing it, occasionally running into the bedroom to give Allison the thumbs up.

Then we had a meeting with CNN and Breakthru Radio, an online station that plays free indie music, on the same day. CNN was such a fucking nightmare that we decided to make less money but stay closer to our roots so that's where we are now. I think I'll tell the CNN story this week on stage.

MATT: Was it an easy transition from stand-up to radio?

JAMIE: In terms of the transition, it is all improv. So it was really a new muscle for me but I think once I got used to it, they both started to compliment each other. So I'm really excited about that. The show is at

MATT: Who've been your favorite interviews, so far?

JAMIE: Howard Zinn, by far. He invited Allison and I to his house, which was fucking nuts. I mean A Peoples History Of The United States has changed countless lives. This guy is a fucking hero. His home looks exactly how you would picture it. Old tucked away modest wrap around porch. It was like going to visit your grandfather. The second we walked in he offered us juice. It was fucking adorable. So we sit down with him and he is 6 inches away talking about the war, talking about history, making fun of himself. The dude had has laughing more then most comics. Just a genuine fucking hero.

MATT: You're well known for doing political standup. What topics can audiences expect in your Lakeshore show?

JAMIE: Old, out dated George Bush jokes. I'm kidding. I don't mention his name.

Without giving too much away, it's very political but I'm trying some new sorta risky things that so far have been getting the best reaction I think I have ever received.

MATT: The Democrats are in power... shit's as fucked up as ever. Go. (I know this isn't technically a question...)

JAMIE: Ha. I think it's disgusting that liberals are not willing to criticize their own team when they are in power. We are supposed to be the party of reason and of inquiry. I go after them hard.

MATT: Your latest CD, Zombie Jesus was actually recorded at the Lakeshore. Why’d you choose to record it here in Chicago?

JAMIE: Lakeshore is the only venue I would have done it at. No fucking drink minimum. No puppets. It's about comedy, not joke stealing hacks who want another shit balled sitcom. If you are reading this and you think I sound like a preachy cunt then go see someone else, some other time at Lakeshore. It's one of the only places that's going to save and keep comedy alive and we need to support it.

Matthew Filipowicz is a comedian, cartoonist and satirist whose work can be found at


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 CHI Hip Tip

Robert Buscemi | Photo by Sarah Hadley

Tonight, stand-up comedian and actor Robert Buscemi (Aspen Rooftop Comedy Festival, Chicago Improv Festival, Snubfest, Andy Kaufman Awards), will be recording his album, Palpable, for Rooftop Comedy Records. Top local comic Adam Burke will host. Tickets are $10; click to purchase. 8 p.m., TONIGHT, Lincoln Lodge, 4008 N. Lincoln, Chicago.


The CHI Hip Tip

Illustration by: Andrew DeWitt

Stand-up comedian Cameron Esposito (Just for Laughs Chicago, Aspen Rooftop Comedy Festival, Leicester (UK) Comedy Festival, After Ellen, and current ringmaster for the Chicago-based El Circo Cheapo Cabaret), will be recording her first album, Grab Them Aghast, for Rooftop Comedy Records. Top local comic Adam Burke will host an evening featuring glasswalker Dizzy Lizzy Delicious, and music by Chris Condren. Tickets are $10; click to purchase. 9 p.m., TONIGHT and TOMORROW, Lincoln Lodge, 4008 N. Lincoln, Chicago.


The CHI Hip Tip

Ricky Carmona | Photo: Cheryl Mann

Stand-up comedian Ricky Carmona will star in the fourth of the showcase series "Unlimited", designed to give Chicago Underground Comedy's strongest performers special 45 minute sets. Featuring Chad Briggs, Joe Fernandez and Carrie Callahan, with music by DJ Sadie Woods.

The theme of the show, in Carmona's words, is "Good Funkin' Times. If it was up to me I would get a time machine and go back to the Parliament Funkadelic Mothership Connection Tour. I would bring P-Funk back with me and the show would start with P-Funk climbing out of the stage and funk just being smacked in people's faces. It's a party and errrybody is invited."

9:30 p.m., TONIGHT, Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont, Chicago. FREE.


The CHI Hip Tip

Ben Lerman | Photo: Elizabeth McQuern

NYC ukulele comedian Ben Lerman (Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Feast of Fun) returns to Hamburger Mary’s for one night of music and comedy to celebrate the release of his new EP, Size Matters, featuring Chicago stand-up comics Cameron Esposito and Dan Telfer. Tickets are $12; click to purchase. 7 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 28, Hamburger Mary’s, 5400 N. Clark, Chicago.