Your Chicago comedy calendar for May 2-May 8

Visitors to Chicago this week include Loni Love, Doug Benson and Liza Treyger, who returns to her hometown. Michael Blackson, Luenell, Benji Brown and Rodney Perry are here with Seandale’s Comedy Explosion. Authors Jeff Kinney, Andy Griffiths, Sayed Kashua and Dave Barry are here for readings and signings. There are also comedians from around the country AND the world performing at the Chicago Improv Festival which begins tonight.

Ticket alert: Martin Lawrence! He’ll be at the Chicago Theatre on June 24. Tickets go on sale this Friday at 11 a.m.

TJ and Dave, the internationally renowned improv duo based right here at iO, the subjects of a movie and a book, will now bring their show to your living room or bedroom or phone. Check out TJ & Dave: The Series on Vimeo.

Here is my “if I could go anywhere and do everything!” spotlight for this week …

Please confirm all details before heading out! If you have a show you would like me to add now or in the future, please email me at


19th Annual Chicago Improv Festival THROUGH MAY 8 105 shows, 170+ acts and ensembles with improvisers from 9 countries at 21 Chicago area venues! How fabulous is that! Check out performers here. Check out Jimmy Carrane’s recommendations here.

It’s hard to stay in the audience at a festival like this where it’s great to watch, but the fun is contagious. It’s easy to do something about that! Study Viola Spolin’s theater games (the basis of Second City) with her granddaughter Aretha Sills or take a workshop with improviser and director Rachael Mason or with Susan Messing, creator of Messing with a Friend. There’s an all-ages family workshop … and much more. Find your  festival workshop here.

Jeff (“Wimpy Kid”) Kinney and Andy (The Day My Butt Went Psycho”) Griffiths at Community Christian Church, 1635 Emerson Lane, Naperville, 6:00 p.m. Raucous storytelling by these two renowned YA (Young Adult) authors. Note: pre-signed books available. No book signing will take place at the event. Sponsored by Anderson’s Bookshops.

Best Night Ever at GMan Tavern, 3740 N. Clark, 8:00 p.m. Mike Cronin hosts Dave Losso, Kristin Ryan, Josh Ballew, Tim McLaughlin and Alex Stone.


Sayed Kashua at The Seminary Co-Op Bookstore, 5751 S. Woodlawn, 6:00 p.m. The Israeli Palestinian comedy writer (creator of the sitcom Arab Labor), columnist and author discusses his newly released memoir.

Is It Still Funny? at The Music Box, 3733 N. Southport, 7:00 p.m. The last week of this four-part series. There’s Something About Mary? … is it still funny almost twenty years later? Watch the movie with film critic Mark Caro, then join the discussion.


Top Ten Tuesdays at The Laugh Factory, 3175 N. Broadway, 7:30 p.m. Featuring Rebecca O’Neal, Sam Gordon, Mikey Manker, Sonia Denis , Pat Tomasulo, David Drake and more comedians TBA.

Secrets, Lies and Alibis One-Year Anniversary Show at The Elbo Room, 2871 N. Lincoln, 8:00 p.m. With Emily Galati (Conan, Last Comic Standing), Erica Nicole Clark, Sammy Arechar, Steven King, Matt Griffo and Elliot Lerner. Hosted by Sarah Albritton. A comic variety show inspired by audience secrets.


Writers with Drinks at Martyrs, 3855 N. Lincoln Ave., 8:00 p.m. The San Francisco spoken word/stand-up comedy/sci-fi/poetry live lit variety show comes to Chicago. Tonight: Luis Alberto Urrea (Queen of America, Into the Beautiful North), Audrey Niffenegger (The Raven Girl, The Time Traveler’s Wife), Dan Sinker (of the &#*$@@ Mayor Emanuel Twitter account), Kristin Clifford (Lincoln Lodge stand-up comedy show) and Charlie Jane Anders (All the Birds in the Sky). I saw on another site that Peter Sagal, author and host of Wait … Wait! Don’t Tell Me!, is also one of the performers, but I haven’t been able to confirm it.

The Comedy Bowl at Diversey River Bowl, 2211 W. Diversey, 8:00 p.m. An evening of stand-up, trivia games and prizes hosted by Mona Aburmishan. Celebrating Mother’s Day tonight with Gwen La Roka (and her Mom), Brian Self, Jaime De Leon and Calvin Evans.


Dobie Maxwell at Zanies, 1548 N. Wells, 8:30 p.m. One of my favorite comedians and people. Check out Dobie’s newly-released memoirs here. His extraordinary story so far includes radio, television, headlining all over the country and two bank robberies (no, he didn’t do it like the FBI first claimed, but it’s heartbreaking who did).

Chicago Underground Comedy at Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont, 9:00 p.m. Hosted by Natalie Jose. Featuring Sam Priest, Rodescu Hopkins, Steven King, Ken Schultz, Kristin Clifford, Jeff Arcuri and Actual Murderers. Music by (my favorite band) LOLA BALATRO.


Dave Barry at Prairie Elementary, 500 S. Charles Ave., Naperville, 7:00 p.m. The Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist reads from his latest kids’ book, Worst Night Ever, the sequel to the Worst Class Trip Ever. Sponsored by Anderson’s Bookshops.

Doug Benson at Zanies, MB Financial Park, 5437 Park Place, Rosemont, 8:00 p.m. The popular podcast Doug Loves Movies is live from Zanies tonight and tomorrow. This weekly podcast is usually recorded at its home base, Upright Citizens Brigade in L.A. and has a permanent home on iTunes. Shows also Thursday and Saturday. See below or check site for details.

99 Problem Presents Kool-Aid Mix at Second City’s Beat Lounge, 230 W. North Ave., 8:00 p.m. An improvised sitcom that follows the lives of characters in 1999’s Plainview, Illinois. Features a different Chicago comedy celebrity each week. Tonight: Joe Janes with cast members Hal Baum, Joel Boyd, Terrence Carey, Catharine Savage, Hannah Starr and Kimberly Michelle Vaughn.

Psychotic Break at Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 8:00 p.m. Free show. “It’s Chicago’s best mental illness-themed variety show! Come hear about some funny shit. But most importantly, we want to remind people that there are so many people who struggle with the addition, anxiety, and depression who aren’t funny at all.” Featuring Erin Diamond and James Gordon.

Comedians You Should Know at Timothy O’Toole’s, 622 N. Fairbanks, 9:00 p.m. Marty DeRosa hosts Mike Cronin, Sean Flannery, Ricky Gonzalez, Clark Jones, Dave Losso, Zach Pugh and Liza Treyger.



Congrats on Your Success at Uncharted Books, 2620 N. Milwaukee Ave., 7:00 p.m. Free show, free beer from Powell’s Brew House. Rebecca O’Neal hosts Congrats on Your Success’s Charlie Rohrer with Sarah Sherman, Terrence Hartnett, Dave Losso and headliner Tim Barnes.


Caryn Bark at The Skokie Theater, 7924 Lincoln Ave., 7:30 p.m. Caryn Bark’s one-woman show, The Jewish Mother’s Guide to Everything. Caryn Bark is fantastic! She is in demand around the country, so this is a rare opportunity to see her at home.

Doug Benson at Zanies, MB Financial Park, 5437 Park Place, Rosemont, 8:00 p.m. The popular podcast Doug Loves Movies is live from Zanies tonight and tomorrow. This weekly podcast is usually recorded at its home base, Upright Citizens Brigade in L.A. and has a permanent home on iTunes. Also a show on Saturday. See below or check site for details.

A Red Line Runs Through It at Second City’s e.t.c. Theater, 1608 N. Wells, 8:00 p.m. The e.t.c.’s 40th Revue “rides the rails of Chicago in order to answer life’s tough questions.” The Tribune’s Chris Jones called this show “an admirably fearless” look at our city. Thursday-Sunday.

The Kates on Broadway at The Laugh Factory, 3175 N. Broadway, 8:00 p.m. This always excellent, unforgettable night of stand-up is hosted by Kelsie Huff and features Chicago’s funniest women. Each show is a different line-up. Tonight: Alex Kumin, Erin Grotheer, Rachel McCartney, Becca Brown, Sonia Denis , Carly Ballerini, Natalie Jose and more TBA.

John DaCosse at Zanies, Pheasant Run Resort, 4051 E. Main St., St. Charles 8:00 p.m. You may already know him from WGN’s Steve Cochran Show. John DaCosse is hilarious and a master of crowd work. You’ll still be laughing and thinking about his down-to-earth take on Everyman and his audience exchanges long after the show has ended.

Just Dickin’ Around All Ladies Showcase at Hydrate, 3458 N. Halsted, 9:45 p.m. “A women-run, queer-friendly showcase that provides a safe, supportive space with a positive energy for our performers and guests.” Free pizza. Tonight’s host is Krista Atkinson. Featuring Mallory Bradford, Elizabeth Gomez, Lainie Lenertz and Anna Lucero.

Messing With A Friend at The Annoyance Theatre, 851 W. Belmont, 10:30 p.m. Susan Messing improvises with another talented comedian. This is a show where the improvisers seem to morph from character to character before your eyes. Believable and magical at the same time. A little bit dangerous, too. Anything can happen. Tonight’s guest is John Cremer.


Comedy Night at Maggiano’s, 240 Center St. Oak Brook, 6:00 p.m. Dinner and a show with Marcos Lara, Angela Vela, Katie Meiners and headliner Matt Drufke. Produced by Chicago’s Comedy Scene Radio.

Lincoln Lodge Showcase at SubT Lounge, 2011 W. North Ave., 8:00 p.m. The Lincoln Lodge Showcase is in its sixteenth season and famous for launching some of the top names in comedy. Tonight: Somebody McMahon, Ricky Gonzalez and musical oxygen by Lola Balatro.

You’re Being Ridiculous presents “I Wish!” At Davenport’s, 1383 North Milwaukee Ave., 8:00 p.m. This is a musical “extravaganza” by the wonderful, hilarious and poignant storytellers of You’re Being Ridiculous. Tonight is about “dreams and aspirations.” Saturday night, too.

Loni Love at The Improv, Woodfield Mall, Schaumburg, 8:00 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. Shows Saturday and Sunday, too. Check site for show times. Loni Love has appeared on Chelsea Lately, Premium Blend, Late Night with Jay Leno and is a host of the talk show, The Real.


Funked Up Friday at The Laugh Factory, 3175 N. Broadway, 10:00 p.m. AJ Lubecker’s partying comedy show where the audience is welcomed as party guests and invited to join in. Featuring A.J., Pat Tomasulo, Deanna Ortiz, Sammy Arechar and more TBA.

BEEF! at @ North, 1637 W. North Ave., 10:30 p.m. I would love to go to this show. I would sit waaay in back and NOT volunteer to be roasted during “Machine Gun.” Chicago’s only insult show features some of comedy’s most turbo charged, impressive brain power. Do not try this at home. Tonight: Mike Makings v Jason Melton, Brandon Kieffer v Bob Keen, Cecilia Laird v Paula Ann, David Philips v Keith Paesel, Bobby Budds v Tyler Snodgrass, Michael Timlin v Blake Burkhart and Adam Burke v Sean White.


Youth Comedy Festival at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont, 9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. A day of workshops and performances for comedians and comedians-to-be, ages 12-17.

Defiant Thomas Brothers Workshop at Second City, 230 W. North Ave., 1:00 p.m. For only $25, the multi-award winning Defiant Thomas Brothers will work with you on getting every laugh from your scene.

Late Late Breakfast at The Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, 2:00 p.m. A party of a comedy variety show. Free pancakes, too.

Doug Benson at Zanies, MB Financial Park, 5437 Park Place, Rosemont, 4:20 p.m. For a minute, I thought, 4:20 … what show starts at …………..ohhhhhhh yeah. Got it.

Seandale’s Comedy Explosion at Arie Crown Theater, 2301 S. Lake Shore Dr., 7:00 p.m. Michael Blackson, Luenell, Benji Brown and Rodney Perry.


HilariTea at Madame Zuzu’s Teahouse, 582 Roger Williams Ave., Highland Park, 8:30 p.m. Patrick O’Hara, Scott Duff, Chris Higgins, Merrit Landsteiner, Patrick O’Hara and Jan Slavin. There will also be performances by HilariTea’s producers and hosts, Krista Atkinson, Elizabeth Gomez and Denise Medina.

VIP Comedy at Seven Bar and Restaurant, 400 E. Randolph St., 8:00 p.m. A new, free weekly stand-up showcase from This inaugural event is hosted by Kevin White. Featuring Kolin Bohannon, T-Murph and Clark Jones. Headliner: Ricky Gonzalez. Seats are limited. First come, first served.

Rebecca O’Neal presents Guest List at Ancien Cycles, 688 N. Milwaukee Ave., 8:30 p.m. Inaugural show tonight and then every first and third Saturday of the month. Created and hosted by Rebecca O’Neal (Laugh Factory, UP Comedy Club, opened for Janeane Garofalo, Maria Bamford, Hannibal Buress, Al Madrigal, Ron Funches, Eddie Pepitone, Joe DeRosa, W. Kamau Bell, Baron Vaughn).  

The first of the excellent line-ups features Jerry Tran (Comedy Sportz, Comedy on State, Cuddle Sessions) with headliner Matty Ryan (Zanies, The Laugh Factory, The Improv, UP Comedy Club, iO, UCB) and special guest Adam Cayton-Holland (Conan, TruTV’s Those Who Can’t, @midnight, ABC’s Happy Endings).

We Still Like You at Flat Iron Comedy in the Salon, 1579 N. Milwaukee Ave., 10:00 p.m. Featuring Danii Gallegos, Alexa Bo Deen, Jason Melton, Kevin Brody, Dave Losso and Peter-john Byrnes. Hosted by Tyler Snodgrass and Dan Sheehan. Live art from J. Michael Osborne. Shameful stories comically told.


Sunday Bloody Mary Sunday at Second City, 1616 N. Wells, 12:00 p.m. Celebrate Mother’s Day with this spectacular brunch and show at Second City.

Julia Sweeney at Mamapalooza, Bookends and Beginnings, 1712 Sherman Ave., Alley #1, Evanston, 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. There’s a whole terrific line-up of authors at this “Mothers’ Mini-Marathon Reading,” but of course, SNL’s wonderful Julia Sweeney caught my eye. Check the site for the entire line-up and times for each reading. Julia Sweeney is at 4:00 p.m. All of the authors’ books will be available for signing and purchase and each mom gets a flower.

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