Your Chicago comedy calendar for May 16-22

Here comes a week of momentous comic happenings.

Carol Burnett is here!

Ferris Fest begins on Friday! Ferris Bueller’s parents, Cindy Pickett and Lyman Ward, are expected to attend, as well as Jonathan Schmock (maitre’d of Chez Quis), Edie McClurg (Grace) and Larry “Flash” Jenkins, one of the heart-attack inducing garage attendants.

Visitors this week also include Gabriel Iglesias, Chris Tucker, Kevin Nealon, The Comedy Bang! Bang! Tour of Scott Aukerman, Lauren Lapkus, Paul F. Tompkins and Neil Campbell and the Coast2Coast Comedy Tour of Robert Punchur, Gabe Marshall, Jakub Haczkiewicz, Norlex Belma, Mike Sasson and Joshua Draper.

Several Chicagoans are back in their hometown: Nick Vatterott, Deon Cole, Lil Rel Howery, Craig Robinson, and W.Kamau Bell, who’s here with his frequent partner in comedy, Hari Kondabolu.

In the news: Sameena Mustafa was featured on Vocalo discussing diversity in Hollywood. Find the conversation here.

Comedy Central announced the fifth season line-up of The Half Hour and it includes two comedians who launched their careers in Chicago: Drew Michael and Nate Fernald. Entire line-up here.

Not Chicago news, but there’s some stop-everything-worthy onscreen viewing. On Friday night, CBS will air colorized versions of I Love Lucy, specifically Lucy Visits Grauman’s and Lucy and John Wayne. For the first time ever, the two episodes will be edited together into one story.

Also on Friday, Netflix releases 13 episodes of Maria Bamford’s new comedy, Lady Dynamite. The series is a mockumentary based on Maria Bamford’s life. Like you probably know, she’s a traveler of the soul who visits the darkest and brightest reaches of the spirit and no one can describe them like she can. She’s a truth-teller extraordinaire and she makes even the worst shit that happens funny. When you hear her, you know you’ll never be alone. A few months ago on The Late Show, Stephen Colbert revealed that she is his favorite comedian on the planet. Previous ticket alert worth repeating: Maria Bamford will be at The Athenaeum Theatre on August 19 (I learned how to spell “Athenaeum” for the occasion). Tickets

Ticket alerts! The Fifth Annual Chicago Women’s Funny Festival is June 16-19 and tickets are here.

Breaking news: this morning, Bridget Everett announced a U.S. tour later this year and it will include Chicago. Watch for details on this Friday!

Also this morning, Louis C.K. emailed fans that he’s added more Chicago shows (May 31-June 3) to his tour. Check it out here.

As always, please confirm all details. When something catches your eye, check out the venue’s other offerings. This listing is everywhere I wish I could go this week. But these are only some of the constellations in this brilliant comic cosmos, so explore and you’ll find many things to delight. Guaranteed.

Got a show you’d like me to add? Please email


Louder Than a Mom at Martyrs’, 3855 N. Lincoln Ave., 8:00 p.m. Storytelling about the hilariously tragic and tragically hilarious side of family.

Gender is a Drag at iO, 1501 N. Kingsbury, 8:00 p.m. Celebrating gender in all its humor and complications.

100 Proof Comedy at Comedy Sportz Theater, 929 W. Belmont, 8:00 p.m. Stand-up showcase. Headliner: Felonious Munk. Felonious Munk is a regular on The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore and is a creator with Dave Helem of The Blipster Life, a show launched (and continuing) in Chicago and now traveling the country. Tonight also features Kristen Lundberg, Tyler Jackson, Rebecca Loeser, Casey Larwood, Patrick McManus and host Jerry Tran.

The Female Funnies at Zanies, 1548 N. Wells, 8:30 p.m. With the host of WGN Radio’s Pretty Late, Patti Vasquez.


Write Club at The Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, 7:00 p.m. During this award-winning evening, comedians and writers duke it out. Their only weapons: laughter and literature. Tonight: Whit Nelson (BLOOD) vs Jen Ellison (MONEY), Corrbette Pasko (WORKER) vs Willy Nast (BOSS), Diana Slickman (ADVANCE) vs Dave Stinton (RETREAT).

Carol Burnett: An Evening of Laughter and Reflection Where The Audience Asks The Questions at The Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State St. 8:00 p.m. Shows tonight, Thursday and Friday. A rare chance to see this beloved, iconic multi-award-winning comedian and author. Her awards include twenty-five Emmys, plus Golden Globes, the People’s Choice Award, the Peabody, the Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize, induction into the television Hall of Fame, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and a Presidential Medal of Freedom.


Stand Up Then Sit Down at The Comedy Bar, 500 N. LaSalle, 8:00 p.m. Following their sets, comedians sit down for an interview with host Michael Rice.

The Comedy Bowl at Diversey River Bowl, 2211 W. Diversey, 8:00 p.m. A night of comedy and trivia hosted by Mona Aburmishan. Featuring Alicia Molina, Patrick Chase, Chris Trani, Larry Bloom and Michelle Krajecki.

Damon Williams at Zanies, 1548 N. Wells, 8:30 p.m. This upbeat Chicago comedian and national headliner will be at Zanies tonight through Sunday. Check site for additional show times.



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: Martin Morrow with cast members Hal Baum, Joel Boyd, Terrence Carey, Catharine Savage, Hannah Starr and Kimberly Michelle Vaughn.

Nick Vatterott at Zanies, MB Financial Park, Rosemont, 8:00 p.m. Nick Vatterott got his comedy start here and was named “Funniest Man in Chicago” by Chicago Magazine. Shows through Saturday. Check site for times.


Pilsen Stand Up at Simone’s, 960 W. 18th St., 8:30 p.m. Featuring Shina London, Brian Self and Adam Burke with the Pilsen Stand-Up Crew: Jaime de Leon, Mickey Housley, Sydney Adeniyi and Abi Sanchez. Music by Pablo Serrano with karaoke after the show.

TJ & Dave at iO, 1501 N. Kingsbury, 10:30 p.m. This world-renowned long-form improv duo is at iO every Wednesday night. A priceless night of comedy for just $10. (When we recently had visitors from London, this was their first choice of things to do in Chicago.)


Laughs on the Lake Comedy Cruise departs from Navy Pier, 7:00 p.m. Hosted by Darren Georgia with Paul Farahvar and Sydney Adeniyi.

Carol Burnett: An Evening of Laughter and Reflection Where The Audience Asks The Questions at The Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State St. 8:00 p.m. Second of three shows this week. Last show on Friday. A rare chance to see this beloved, iconic multi-award-winning comedian and author. Her awards include twenty-five Emmys, Golden Globes, the People’s Choice Award, the Peabody, the Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize, induction into the television Hall of Fame, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and a Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Here are Carol Burnett, Harvey Korman and Carl Reiner!


The Attic at Lincoln Tap Room, 3010 N. Lincoln, 8:00 p.m. Hosted by Ed Towns. Featuring Kristen Lundberg, Joel Boyd, Brandan Kieffer and Derek Marchel.

All Ladies Showcase at Hydrate, 3458 N. Halsted, 9:45 p.m. The JDA showcase is “a women-run, queer-friendly showcase that provides a safe, supportive space with a positive energy for our performers and guests.” Free show, although donations are appreciated. Free pizza. Co-produced by comedian, writer and ChicagoNow blogger Krista Atkinson. Featuring Krista Atkinson, Kristin Fenchak, Rachel McCartney and Soli Santos. Hosted by Marla Depew.

Coast2Coast Comedy Tour at Zanies, 1548 N. Wells, 9:30 p.m. This nationally touring comedy showcase is hosted by Robert Punchur (MTV International) and features Gabe Marshall (SNL Weekend Update Freelance Contributor), Jakub Haczkiewicz (by way of Poland, Chicago and New York), Norlex Belma (The Comedy Confluence PBS), Mike Sasson (PBS Scientastic), Will Kean (UCB, Suits on USA) and Joshua Draper (SXSW Komedy Kickoff).

Messing with a Friend at The Annoyance Theatre, 851 W. Belmont, 10:30 p.m. Susan Messing has been named “Improviser of the Year” at The Chicago Improv Festival, “Best Improviser” by The Chicago Reader and “The Funniest Woman in Chicago” by Chicago Magazine. Tonight’s friend is actor and improviser Dan Jessup.


Deon Cole Interview on Chicago’s Comedy Scene Radio, 8:45 a.m. Tony Carr and Steve Touhy interview this week’s Improv headliner. Follow the link or download the app and they’ll all come to you!

Ferris Fest at locations around Chicago through May 22 A festival celebrating the 30th Anniversary of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. (Favorite movie of all time.) There are appearances from many of the film’s stars, a screening with Richard Roeper, a parade reenactment and more!


Craig Robinson at The Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport, 7:00 p.m. Chicagoan, Second City alum, stand-up and actor Craig Robinson appears in person for the Chicago premiere of his latest film, Morris From America. He is also know for his roles in Hot Tub Time MachineThis Is The EndArrested Development and as Darryl in The Office among many other credits. Director Chad Hartigan will also appear.

Long-Form Improv at The Comedy Clubhouse, 1462 N. Ashland, 8:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. Shows Fridays and Saturdays. Recommended by improv master Jimmy Carrane.

W. Kamau Bell and Hari Kondabolu at Merle Reskin Theater, 60 E. Balbo Ave., 7:00 p.m. Two of comedy’s best social commentators. Highly recommended: W. Kamau Bell’s United Shades of America, Sunday, 9:00 CST p.m. on CNN. Hari Kondabalu was a writer and on-air correspondent on W. Kamau Bell’s acclaimed Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell. Interesting facts: W. Kamau Bell grew up in Chicago. His mom is author Janet Cheatham Bell.


Comedy Bang! Bang! At Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport, 7:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. Scott Aukerman’s live podcast taping is sold out, but call the theater and maybe even show up. You never know. There may be no-shows or some other way of getting in.

Carol Burnett: An Evening of Laughter and Reflection Where The Audience Asks The Questions at The Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State St. 8:00 p.m. Last Chicago show on this tour! A rare chance to see this beloved, iconic multi-award-winning comedian and author. Her awards include twenty-five Emmys, Golden Globes, the People’s Choice Award, the Peabody, the Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize, induction into the television Hall of Fame, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and a Presidential Medal of Freedom.


Funnier By The Lake at Madame Zuzu’s Teahouse, 582 Roger Williams Ave., Highland Park, 8:00 p.m. Hosted by Mike Hover. Featuring Sarah Albritton, Larry Bloom, Peter Lipsey, Elaine Phillips and Catye Palomino. Free show.

Deon Cole at The Improv, Woodfield Mall, Schaumburg, 8:00 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. Shows through Sunday. Check site for details. Deon Cole is a nationally touring headliner, television writer and actor who has a recurring role on ABC’s Black-ish.

Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias at Allstate Arena, Rosemont, 8:00 p.m. There is a second show Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. Rumor is that the “Trevor” in this clip is Trevor Noah.


Brian Da Wildcat Smith at Jokes and Notes, 4641 S. King Dr., 8:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Tonight and Saturday. This Chicagoan is the winner of the 2015 Shaq Allstar Competition and a five-time winner of Showtime at the Apollo.

Save My Life, Please at The Revival, 1160 E. 55th St., 9:30 p.m. Improv peeps and other creative folks will solve your life’s problems so you can walk out the door better than when you came in. Cheaper, funnier and less somber than your therapist, but I’m guessing you still have to leave when the time is up.

Cards Against Humanity Live at iO, 1501 N. Kingsbury, 11:55 p.m. “Join the Cards Against Humanity late night writer’s room. You’ll pitch your card ideas to the game creators, and the best suggestions will be acted out live by the Nerdologues and friends. The worst suggestions will be mercilessly ridiculed.”


Ferris Fest at locations around Chicago, through May 22 Continuing the celebration of the 30th Anniversary of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. The actual 30th anniversary is June 11th. Fact I dislike: Matthew Broderick was nominated for a Golden Globe for best actor, but didn’t win. That year, the award went to Paul Hogan for Crocodile Dundee. Ferris wouldn’t waste time mourning the loss, although with a billion percent certainty he deserved the win.

Another interesting fact: I only realized just now looking at IMDB – Chicago improv legend Del Close appears in the film as an English teacher! I’ve seen this movie a gazillion times – how did I miss that! Must go find it. In the meantime …



Morning Show Saturday Night at The Wilmette Theatre, 1122 Central Ave., Wilmette, 7:00 p.m. Comedian Tim Benker with WGN Morning anchors (and comedians) Mike Toomey and sportscaster Pat Tomasulo.

Here’s Mike Toomey:

Chris Tucker at Horseshoe Casino, Hammond Indiana, 8:00 p.m. Chris Tucker’s movie credits include Silver Lining Playbook, The Fifth Element and the Rush Hour movies. He is also frequently featured on Def Comedy Jam.

Guest List at Anciens Cycle, 688 N. Milwaukee Ave., 8:30 p.m. Produced and hosted by Rebecca O’Neal. Headliner: Adam Burke (Chicago Reader’s Best Stand-Up 2014 and panelist NPR’s Wait … Wait! Don’t Tell Me). Featuring Bill Bullock. $10 at the door. $5 for students with ID. FREE with email rsvp to


Fool Me Twice, Déjà Vu at Second City, 1616 N. Wells, 11:00 p.m. This 104th Mainstage revue plays all week, but this is the only time that isn’t already sold out!


Ferris Fest at locations around Chicago, through May 22 The celebration’s last official day, although nothing’s stopping us from officially celebrating forever. Even though this movie is a great comedy and the one that to me best captures Chicago (“make no little plans”), it’s still got splashes of melancholia. I’m more of a Cameron wishing I were more of a Ferris, so Cameron’s  pensive where-the-hell-am-I-going moments really resonate. These are my favorite shots of Cameron, my spiritual doppelganger, feeling the cloud and the pain and the wonderment and maybe some rays of possibility:


Meet and Greet with Lil’ Rel Howery at Studio Xfinity at The Shops at Fremont, 901 W. Weed St., 1:00 p.m. One of the stars of NBC’s The Carmichael Show, Lil’ Rel returns to his hometown. Season finale coming up on May 29. This rare sitcom makes life’s thorniest issues funny and admits it when there are no easy answers.


Sideswiping Normal: An Afternoon of Stories with Huitt and Hollander at Martyrs’, 3855 N. Lincoln Ave., 3:00 p.m. Nicole Hollander, the world-famous cartoonist, author and creator of Sylvia, and writer and actress June Huitt share personal stories.

Kevin Nealon at City Winery, 1200 W. Randolph St., 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Kevin Nealon is known for Saturday Night Live (1986-1995), for his starring role on Weeds and of course, for his stand-up. His specials include Now, Hear Me Out and Whelmed, But Not Overly.


Blue Island Compatriot at The Annoyance Theatre, 851 W. Belmont, 8:oo p.m. Like Prairie Home Companion, but about Chicago.

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