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Friday Free-For-All

PhotobucketThe Chicago Reader has chosen its "best of" for 2008, and the Reader's Choice comedy favorites include stand-ups Michael Palascak and Mike Stanley, improvisers Susan Messing and Katie Rich, Improv Groups TJ and Dave and the Hot Karl, sketch groups the Cupid Players and Hey You Millionaires, and venues the Annoyance Theater and ComedySportz.

PhotobucketSchadenfreude is retiring to the lake for the summer! And by that we mean they're doing original sketch shows at the Theater on the Lake (Fullerton Avenue and Lake Michigan), performing some of the best sketches of their ten-year history, and then retiring them! At that point, they'll be referred to as "classics." The shows started Wednesday and run through Sunday night, with all shows at 7:30 (except Sunday's, which will be at 6:30). Tickets are $17.50, call 312-742-7994 for reservations.

PhotobucketChicago stand-up Cameron Esposito was recently a guest on the nationally popular Feast of Fools podcast. She will also be heading to 2009 Aspen Rooftop Comedy Festival.

Visitors Locker Room has redesigned their website and now it's super simple to listen to Chicago comedians Sean Flannery, CJ Sullivan, and guests shoot the breeze about sports and other amusements. VLR podcasts are now available on iTunes, and the new site also features their videos, which enlist Photobucketthe talents of friends like Brady Novak, Matt Braunger, TJ Miller, and others. At least one of the videos is -- how can we phrase this eloquently -- fucking brilliant.

--Elizabeth McQuern


iO's Armando Diaz Experience Gets Real

PhotobucketThis week’s Armando Diaz Experience was more muscular than ever thanks to the presence of human giant Joey Kovar, one of the cast members of MTV’s The Real World Hollywood. The reality show, now in its 20th spectacular year, features the iO West as the housemates’ workplace and theater owner Charna Halpern as their boss.

From a strictly aesthetic perspective, Kovar isn’t the type of person many would associate with the improv scene. Dressed in a sleeveless hoodie, his bulging biceps and chiseled chest make him look like He-Man. Meanwhile a star-studded cast, which included the slender Jet Eveleth, the portly Brian Jack, the waifish Pat O’Brien and the stocky Noah Gregoropoulos, waited in the wings to perform.

For those not familiar with the Armando, it is a format where a guest delivers a monologue, and the cast then uses the story to color their improvised scenes. After a few scenes, the monologist delivers another tale and the sequence repeats. For this show, Halpern and Kovar took the stage together, with Halpern interviewing Kovar about his experiences both on and off camera.

Kovar, who is a recovering alcoholic, described his battle with addiction candidly. He also discussed his experience on the show, giving the inside scoop on his housemates.

The Armando cast refused to hold back from touchy subjects, battling alcoholism head-on in a recurring scene about a play called The Smell of Honey. Even The Real World itself was lampooned when performer Alex Fendrich grabbed a video camera from the front row and followed performers in a scene.

The night ended on a sober note, with Kovar taking the stage to warn others about the dangers of alcohol and drug addiction.

The Armando Diaz Experience is every Monday at iO at 8:30 pm in the upstairs Del Close Theater. Each week the all-star cast welcomes a new monologist to share personal stories that inspire improvised scenes. Tickets are $12.

-- image from iO's website


New Video Wednesday

June 18th The Comedians You Should Know Show, featuring Hannibal Buress, Marty DeRosa, Carrie Callahan, Junior Stopka, Sean Flannery, Nick Vatterott, and James Fritz:

C.J. Toledano at the Lincoln Lodge ruminating on the CTA, Scooby Doo, and AMC Theaters:

Silly Funny Goof Gang - Mentos!:

Scotty Got an Office Job Episode 2:

This Day in History - Adolf Hitler (from Merchandise):

Talkin' Funny - Season 5 - Episode 12 (guest-hosts Paul and Bryan host Talkin Seriously and interview guest Shannon Rose):

Ben Lerman - Leave Imus Alone!:

From 2006, a Run Lola Run homage to the eighth anniversary of The Elevated stand-up showcase, featuring Cayne Collier, Eric Acosta, Nate Craig, Robert Buscemi, Pat Brice, Sharon Hazel, Brady Novak, Josh Cheney, Deb Downing, Pete Grosz, Kumail Nanjiani, Brian McGannon, Mike Olson, and Shawn Cole:

Visitors Locker Room - Illegal Use of Hands (written and co-directed by Ryan Ridley, directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts, featuring Matt Braunger, Brady Novak, TJ Miller, Kyle Kinane, Eric Acosta, Jenny Flack, Danny Jelinek, Mark Teich, Eric Price):

Grandma June's Sewing Circle, currently playing the Apollo Theater:


Tuesday Morning Photo Post

Pete Holmes at Coney Island, by Emily Gordon.

Lincoln Lodger Reilly Lambert rode in the Tour De Fat bike parade, unlike us, who thought about it but ended up not going.

Brady Novak and Cindy Cornelson, outside the Playground Theater, by Bill Cruz.

Bill Cruz as Bo D. Vine, at a recent Don't Spit the Water, photo by Bill Cruz.

Marquee outside of Whiskey Road, where Adam Burke runs a Thursday night open mic, by Bryan Bowden.

Chalk drawing on wall at Whiskey Road, by Bryan Bowden.

Comedienne of tomorrow, Novella (daughter of Dan) Telfer:

As always, feel free to join the Bastion Flickr pool or email us pix here.


RIP George Carlin

PhotobucketLegendary stand-up comedian George Carlin passed away last night at the age of 71. Carlin, who had a history of heart problems, checked into a hospital in Santa Monica reporting chest pain Sunday afternoon. The reported cause of death was heart failure.

Carlin was slated to receive the Mark Twain Prize For American Humor in November. He was chosen to host the very first episode of Saturday Night Live in 1975. He wrote three best-selling books, and recorded twenty comedy albums, the first of which was released in 1967.

He was one of the best known comedians of the 1960's, making more than 80 major television appearances (back when, you know, there were only a few channels, and being on television really meant something). In 1970, uneasy with his initial success, Carlin abandoned his square image, growing out his hair and beard, and doing sex, drugs, and rock and roll stand-up in jeans, finding a younger, hipper audience in the process.

PhotobucketBy the mid-70's Carlin was a bona fide irreverent cultural renegade, focusing his acerbic wit on politics, religion, and other sacred cows.

1977 saw his first HBO comedy special, “George Carlin at USC," with many more to follow, and he made countless feature film and television appearances over the five decades of his career, including in his own sitcom "The George Carlin Show," (1993 to 1995), and his recurring role as Mr. Conductor on the PBS series "Shining Time Station."

In 1991 Carlin told the LA Times "There are three ingredients in my comedy - those three things which wax and wane in importance are English language and wordplay; secondly, mundane, everyday observational comedy -- dogs, cats and all that stuff; and thirdly, sociopolitical attitude comedy."

Coverage in the New York Times CNN, LA Times.

1978's groundbreaking "Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television," bit, which challenged (and eventually changed) existing obscenity laws:

George Carlin on language:

-Elizabeth McQuern