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"Whirled News"...the Other Night at i.O.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingThe Bastion braved the heat and the sweaty exodus of Cubs fans after the game Saturday night to head to i.O. on North Clark for the satirical improv show "Whirled News Tonight" at 8.

As they say, "The news is real. Everything else is improvised." Pre-show, audience members are invited to pick through the day's local and national papers and clip the articles they want the improvisers to create on-the-spot funny with. Easily enough achieved when the headline suggests that President Bush's "I'm just a regular guy" schtick might be backfiring on him a little bit, but it's surely something of a challenge when so many headlines are of the tragic variety. Yet somehow, with a collective memory bank of social and cultural information, and a commitment to quick comedic collaboration, they pull it off.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting"Whirled News Tonight" loses the mock stuffiness of the satirical news format in the second part of the show, where they create stories based on real-life tales shared by castmembers after being prompted for a theme by the audience.

Strengthened by a three-year history together, and collective experience with comedy of all forms throughout Chicago and elsewhere, this troupe is happy to prod humor from daily news every Saturday night in the Del Close Theater.

Thanks to Bastion reader (by way of The Apiary) and WNT castmember Arnie Niekamp for the "how do you do."

-Elizabeth McQuern


The Pitchforkian Hilarity You Would Have Seen

...had you been at the Metro Friday night: Aziz Ansari (who came in on a late flight but made the most of his stage time) and Eugene Mirman, being their hilarious selves. Also doing his magic at the Metro was Todd Barry.

The Bastion was tied up with family and work obligations, and can't decide whether we're more disappointed that we missed these fantastic New York comics, or the book signing appearance of Adrienne Barbeau, star of D-classics Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death as well as Escape From New York.

(EDIT: F.O.B. Robert Buscemi fills us in on the Metro show: "Mirman was funny as always, and Todd Barry did great. The crowd was huge, and both comics did lots of crowd work. Barry is really good at riffing. The crowd was much more attentive than you'd expect from a huge rock crowd, in fact much more attentive than when I saw Mirman last year (or whenever that was) at the Subterranean, when people were talking over him and opening act Leo Allen, who's also a really funny comic.")

-Elizabeth McQuern


"Porn" Is a Good Career Choice: Chicago's Chuckle Sandwich Makes Inroads in NYC

This very afternoon, in an editing suite on the 27th floor at Lexington and 51st in New York City, Chicago's own TJ Miller is reviewing some very bad porn.

No, we're not criticizing TJ's sexual proclivities; this is actually a new project that's being heavily shopped in NYC this week, in conjunction with the Del Close Improv Marathon, where Chicago sketch troupe Chuckle Sandwich (featuring TJ Miller, Thomas Middleditch, Mark Raterman, and Nick Vatterott) have secured the coveted 10:30 p.m. Saturday night slot.

To top things off, we heard that Thomas Middleditch received a call from Brillstein & Grey (production company behind Mr. Show, among others) just yesterday afternoon, offering him a deal after seeing him a few weeks ago at I.O.

The Chicago crew was also seen hobnobbing at Bungalow 8 Wednesday night, having a few drinks and chatting with several people including an Esquire and GQ writer, a prominent media mogul, and a columnist from the New York Post.

The Bastion has been promised a full report when TJ gets back to town next weekend; in the meantime, he can be seen all over NYC doing stand-up, and from what we know of TJ's schedule when he's home in Chicago, we're positive he'll be in at least five different places every night this coming week.


Bring Me The Head of Del Close

Is Del Close the Piltdown Man of comedy?

Gaper's Block and the Trib have been discussing whether the skull that enjoys a place of respect in the office of Goodman Theater artistic director Robert Falls is really that of Chicago improv legend Del Close, who supposedly willed his cranium to the theater to be used as a prop in Hamlet.

Loyola University paleopathologists have examined it and said "eh."

Friends also tend to think it isn't really Close's skull, but love the spirit behind the darkly eccentric gesture.

If you happen to be in New York City tomorrow you can ask Close's longtime I.O. partner, Charna Halpern, who we saw last night at the Chicago Short Comedy Video and Film Festival. Our Big Poppa The Apiary tells us she'll be at the UCB Theater Saturday afternoon to sign copies of her new book.

Also, of course, the Del Close Marathon is kicking off today at the UCB Theater in New York.

-Elizabeth McQuern


Funny Ha-Ha: Next Tuesday Night at the Hideout

(As opposed to "Funny Weird"?) Fart jokes are all well and good, but how about we mix it up with a little literary humor? You know, stuff that looks as pretty on paper as it sounds coming out of your mouth.

Next Tuesday, August 1, at 7, Chicago blogging royalty Claire Zulkey will host the latest of Funny Ha-Ha, the literary humor reading series.

"This installment features sketch comedy by Schadenfreude, a monologue by comedian Andy Ross, short films by Steve Delahoyde and readings from Eric Spitznagel (editor at The Believer and author of Fast Forward: Confessions of a Porn Screenwriter), Mimi Smartypants (blogger and author of The World According to Mimi Smartypants), and John Green (author of Looking for Alaska and the forthcoming An Abundance of Katherines.)"

Where? The Hideout . How much? $5 suggested donation at the door. All proceeds benefit the Neighborhood Writing Alliance. (Yeah, the initials are N.W.A. But it's not these guys. Nor is it the National Weather Association.) Call 773.227.4433 for more info.

-Elizabeth McQuern