Chicago comedy spotlight for July 11-17

This week’s list of visitors includes groundbreaking comedians and writers: Jessi Klein, Tim Allen, Big Jay Oakerson, Mike Birbiglia and Ray Harrington.

Comedians whose careers began in Chicago are in the news: Rhea Butcher’s debut album will be released on August 19 on the label Kill Rock Stars and is now available for pre-order.  Her first television series, Take My Wife (with real life wife, Cameron Esposito) premieres on Seeso on August 11th. Rhea co-hosts She Said on Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls Network and the L.A. podcast Put Your Hands Together. She is also a headliner at Chicago’s Comedy Exposition next week! Speaking of Seeso, the line-up for the new season of Funny As Hell was just announced and includes five comedians who got their start here: Emo, Cameron Esposito, Beth Stelling, Ian Abramson and Liza Treyger.

The August issue of Chicago magazine is out with its “best of awards.” Best comedy venue is The Revival in Hyde Park on the original site of The Compass Players. Best rising comic is Onion writer and stand-up Fran Hoepfner.

Following is my spotlight, but it’s just a fraction of the original, worthy comedy events happening this week. I’ve got lists of regular weekly showcases and events under the “Comedy Each Day of the Week” tab. Friday and Saturday are up. All days of the week coming very soon. Do you have a show to add? Please email me at

Please confirm all details before setting out!


Va-Jam at iO, 1501 N. Kingsbury, 8:00 p.m. Improvisers of all skill levels identifying as women or as part of the LGBTQ community are invited to participate. The evening begins with a workshop hosted by iO’s SuperHuman, 3Peat and Harold Teams. Jammers break up into teams and at the end of the evening perform together then enjoy a set from the hosts.

Camp: A Comedy Show presents Care Package at The Village Tap, 2055 W. Roscoe, 8:00 p.m. Rebecca Loeser, Jimmy Whispers, Steve Gerard, Ben Banach, Lara Beitz, Sammy Arechar and Max Friedman. Hosted by Camp counselors Tessa Orzech and Samantha Berkman.


The Monday Mulligan at The Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, 10:00 p.m. Hosted by Adam Burke (Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!, The Reader’s Best Stand-Up) and Melodi Kamali (cast member, Comedy Sportz). “A comedy show celebrating second chances, regrets, and re-tries.”



Hella Immaculate at Volumes Bookcafe, 1474 N. Milwaukee Ave., 7:30 p.m. A new comedy showcase hosted by Dave Maher.

Top Ten Tuesdays at The Laugh Factory, 3175 N. Broadway, 7:30 p.m. A new weekly open mic and stand-up showcase hosted by Rebecca O’Neal.

Comedy Bowl at Diversey River Bowl, 2211 W. Diversey, 8:00 p.m. Comedy and trivia hosted by Mona Aburmishan. Tonight’s stand-up by Alexandra Tsarpalas, Mike Fionia, Jeanie Doogan and Pat McGann.



Ladylike at Café Mustache, 2313 N. Milwaukee Ave., 8:30 p.m. Free. $5 donation suggested. “Women tell the most disgusting stories they’ve got. Audience members can join in the fun by submitting their own gross stories to be read anonymously onstage by the host.” Stories from: Danii Gallegos, Brittany Meyer, Tien Tran Hank-Tina Tran, Ruthie Lichtenstein, Sarah Squirm and Sonia Denis. Hosted by Allison Dunne. Produced by Gena Gephart, Carly Ballerini, Allison Dunne and Sarah Squirm.

Dave Maher II: Live Shows Are Pointless at The Annoyance Theatre, 9:30 p.m. “Dan Shar is a prolific comedy writer and the director of Dave Maher Coma Show. He also believes live shows are pointless, because neither comedian nor audience takes away anything tangible from the experience. That changes this week, as Dan and Dave help audience members complete as many personal and creative tasks as possible in one hour, so they can leave with something tangible accomplished.” Check out Dave Maher II – a different show each Wednesday through August 24.



Jessi Klein at The Standard Club, 320 S. Plymouth Court, 11:30 a.m. Comedian Jessi Klein is the multi-award winning head writer of Inside Amy Schumer. She’s here to talk about her new memoir, You’ll Grow Out of It. Sponsored by Anderson’s Bookshop.

Interesting fact: Jessi Klein knew Amy Schumer from New York’s stand-up scene. When Comedy Central first approached Amy Schumer about her own show it was envisioned as a talk show. But Jessi Klein, who had previously worked in Comedy Central’s development office, thought a sketch series would be even better. More in this Vogue interview.

In You’ll Grow Out of It, Jessi Klein writes about growing up a late bloomer and navigating life’s confusing mixed messages. Most wanted book trio of the summer: You’ll Grow Out of It, Tig Notaro’s I’m Just a Person (published in June) and Amy Schumer’s The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo (August).

One of many memorable sketches written with Jessi Klein at the helm:


Mike Birbiglia at The Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport, 7:30 p.m. Mike Birbiglia is here for a sneak preview and Q&A for his new film, Don’t Think Twice about an improv team dealing with the break-out success of one of its members. Cast full of great comedians includes: Keegan-Michael Key, Gillian Jacobs, Mike Birbiglia, Kate Micucci, Chris Gethard and Tami Sagher.


Tim Allen at The Laugh Factory, 3175 N. Broadway, 8:00 p.m. A rare stand-up appearance by Tim Allen, the star of ABC’s Last Man Standing and the voice of Buzz Lightyear. As the star of Home Improvement, he won The People’s Choice Award for Favorite Male Television Perfomer for eight consecutive years.

Rat Pack Comedy at The Holiday Club, 4000 N. Sheridan Rd., 8:00 p.m. Headliner: Gwen La Roka. Hosted by Kahlil Wilson.


Big Jay Oakerson at Zanies, 1548 N. Wells, 8:30 p.m. Big Jay Oakerson is at Zanies in Chicago for one show on Thursday and  two shows on Friday. On Saturday: two shows at Zanies in Rosemont. Follow link for all show times. The New York Times summed up Jay Oakerson thusly, “Mr. Oakerson has a therapist’s knack for putting people at ease and a comedian’s gift for making them uncomfortable.”


 Just Dickin’ Around All Genders 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.” Enough reason to go, but also: free pizza! Produced by Krista Atkinson, Scott Duff and Marla Depew. Host: Scott Duff. Featuring Marla Depew, Martin Morrow, Joseph William Reese and Will Stagg.



Ghostbusters arrives in theaters! With Melissa McCarthy (originally from Plainfield), Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones and Kristen Wiig.


Brent Morin Interview on Chicago’s Comedy Scene Radio, 8:00 a.m. Tony Carr and Steve Touhy interview Brent Morin, this week’s improv headliner. Follow the link or download CCSR’s app and the interview will come to you.

The So What Issue?!? at The Revival, 1160 E. 55th St., 8:00 p.m. New sketch and improv comedy revue presented by EbonyEssenceJet: Ashley Bland, Briane Goodrum, Kimberly Banks, and Salesha (Lele) Mason.

Funnier By the Lake at Madame ZuZu’s Teahouse, 582 Roger Williams Ave., Highland Park, 8:00 p.m. Free. This showcase celebrates its one-year anniversary with Mona Aburmishan, Cameron Little, Larry Bloom, Grey Dolan and Kat Herskovic. Hosted by Ricky March.

Will You Accept This Rose? at Under the Gun Theater, 956 W. Newport, 9:00 p.m. Bachelorette parody with real Bachelorette contestants. This week: Tony “the Healer” Harris (The Bachelorette Season 11)

Black Friday: Heat Wave at The Revival, 1160 E. 55th St., 9:30 p.m. Featuring The Martin Luther Kings of Comedy with special guests, Oscar Carvajal, Preach (Improv) and Max Walter. Headliner: Jarrell Scott Barnes. Musical guest: Zeph. Hosted by Mike Robinson.

Stand Up! Records’ Ray Harrington at WIP Theater, 6670 N. Northwest Highway, 10:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights. Ray Harrington’s debut album, The Worst is Over reached #1 and #2 on the Amazon and iTune charts respectively. He was named “Best Comic” by the Providence Phoenix and won Best Actor and Best Film awards in the 48 Hour Film Festival for the short film, Relax.

Ray Harrington’s new film asks what it means to Be A Man.


Unlikely Company at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont, 10:30 p.m. A new show by Brian Posen. Unlikely Company is Di Billick, Liam Gallogly, Ryan Kappmeyer, Brian Morrow, Kate Nixon, and Mollie Rehner. They “focus on exposing the comedic seediness of everyday life, combining eclectic music and sketch comedy with intelligence, vulgarity and candor.” Fridays in July.



The Second City’s Neighborhood Tour, Second City, 1616 N. Wells, 10:00 a.m. Tour guide is Second City alum Margaret Hicks, author of Chicago Comedy: A Fairly Serious History. Tour Old Town and end up inside Second City’s famed lobby which doubles as a museum of who’s who in comedy history. Also Sundays at 10:00 a.m. and Wednesdays at 4:00 p.m.

Big Jay Oakerson at Zanies, MB Financial Park, Rosemont, 7:00 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.

We Still Like You at Flat Iron Comedy, 1579 N. Milwaukee, 10:00 p.m. Free. Donations encouraged. Arrive early for seats. This “most vulnerable comedic storytelling show” is a night “of shame, celebration, and empathy.” Featuring Kahlil Wilson (Rat Pack Comedy), Clare Austen-Smith (Flat Iron Comedy, iO Comedy Network), Charlie Rohrer (Congrats On Your Success, moving to NYC!), Conor Cawley (Rat Pack Comedy), Keith Paesel (Stand Up Stand Up), Jeanie Doogan (Laugh Factory) and more TBA. Hosted by Dan Sheehan and Shannon Noll. Live art by Tyler Snodgrass.



Tuxedo Cat Comedy at Innertown Pub, 1935 W. Thomas, 7:00 p.m. “Celebrating 3 years of stand-up comedy at Innertown Pub! We couldn’t have done it without you, so we’re throwing an EPIC anniversary show and birthday party and bringing together your favorite headliners from the last 3 years to properly thank you!” With Kristen Toomey, Danny Kallas, Jeff Arcuri, Kristin Rand and sets from Tuxedo Cat producers David Philips, Rebecca Fass and Jerry Tran. Hosted by TCC producer Sean White in his last Tuxedo Cat appearance before he moves to L.A.  I’m quite certain this is one of the last opportunities Chicagoans have to see him in a setting where you don’t have to locate your seat by row number. More about Sean here. Free show. Donations appreciated and go to performers.

A Red Line Runs Through It at Second City, 1616 N. Wells, 7:00 p .m. The Second City e.t.c’s 40th Revue. Improv and sketch all about Chicago. A hit with critics and audiences. Shows throughout the week.

The Whiskey Journal Live at The Comedy Bar, 500 N. LaSalle, 7:30 p.m. Hosted by Kyle Scanlan. Before the show, visit “America’s second favorite source for fake news” online with stories such as “5 Diseases to Get Before You Die,” “Woman Complaining About Freeloading Foreigners Has Fifteen Birdfeeders,” and “Dodgy Codgers Leave Limeys In Fiddle Twibs.”

The Free For All at The Playground Theater, 3209 N. Halsted, 7:30 p.m. A free improv show “combining the thoughtful, intelligent play of Koleno, with the bombastic, thrill-seeking of Delirious Confetti.”

Worlds: An Improvised Podcast at pH Theater, 1515 W. Berwyn, 8:00 p.m. Audience/storyteller interaction creates a new world which will then launch a completely original podcast. The evening comes with a souvenir – you can download the podcast and keep it for eternity. Sundays through August 14.

Sacred Cow at The Annoyance Theatre, 851 W. Belmont, 9:30 p.m. An evening of especially spontaneous improv.


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