Chicago comedy spotlight for August 15-21

In town this week: Maria Bamford, Amy Schumer, David Cross, Finesse Mitchell, Doug Benson, Pauly Shore, Neal Brennan, Majah Hype, Max Amini, Jeff Richards, Ben Tedder and David Duchovny.

(Note: if you don’t follow Amy Schumer on social media, this is a great week to start. When she’s in town she often uses Twitter to announce surprise pop-up shows.)

UPDATE 8/18: Amy Schumer’s visit has been canceled. Initial reports blamed the remarks of former Inside Amy Schumer writer, Kurt Metzger (here and here). More recently, the Chicago Tribune reported that she is not feeling well.

In the news: Ray Chao has announced the debut of CrimeCHAT. This new podcast will discuss true crime with a unique opportunity for the audience to learn about the law. You’ll come away with an insider’s understanding of courtroom proceedings and outcomes. Ray is uniquely positioned to provide a riveting experience. Before he was a comedian, he was a successful Cook County prosecutor and law professor. Improv took hold of his heart and he risked all to move to New York and then L.A. You can see him in films and commercials and now back in the courtroom, but this time as our guide. Visit crimeCHAT to experience this exciting new community and to spend time with Ray who is truly a joy to spend time with – I was fortunate enough to speak with him last fall.

Following is this week’s spotlight. For more Chicago comedy and for regular weekly shows, click on Comedy Each Day of the Week above.

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

Thank you to the Chicago comedy community for making this entire blog possible and thanks to you for reading, sharing and helping me spread the word.



Krista Atkinson at Female Funnies at Zanies, 1548 N. Wells, 8:30 p.m. An evening of all-female stand-up hosted by WGN’s Patti Vasquez (Pretty Late). Krista Atkinson is a nationally touring comedian and one of the producers of Thursday’s Just Dickin’ Around open mic and showcase.



4ORMS at The Annoyance Theatre, 851 W. Belmont, 8:00 p.m. A tasting menu of four Annoyance shows: Improvised Twilight Zone (can audience suggestions top Rod Serling?), Dan and Kate’s Book Club (comic reenactments literally), Adult Cousins (demonstrating our mostly involuntary chemical reactions and it’s about time someone pointed them out) and DeAd HeAt and The Scratch (“playing with improvisation in binary” … Do I understand what this means? Maybe. Maybe not.).

Improvised Gilmore Girls at iO, 1501 N. Kingsbury, 8:00 p.m. If you can’t wait for the movie and WHO CAN, Bill Letz and Sean Price will improvise an entire never-before-seen GG episode on the spot.

Fool Me Twice, Déjà Vu at Second City, 1616 N. Wells, 8:00 p.m. The 104th Main Stage Revue. The Chicago Tribune’s Chris Jones called it “exceptionally funny” and “Second City like you’ve never seen it before.” Tickets sell out fast. Check site for additional shows throughout the week.

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.” Chris Jones called it “an admirably fearless” look at our city. Tuesday-Sunday.



Doug Benson at Thalia Hall, 1807 S. Allport, 8:00 p.m. Doug Benson brings Doug Loves Movies to Chicago. This podcast’s home is the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in L.A. The weekly recording features movie-related games, discussion and comedy with celebrity guests.

Laughs in the Lounge: 2-Year Anniversary Show at Rogers Park Social, 6920 N. Glenwood, 9:00 p.m. Hosted by Marla Depew. Featuring Scott Duff (Chigaygo at Laugh Factory), Elizabeth Gomez (The Riff), Kenny Metroff (pH Comedy Showcase), Zach Shornick (Zach Shornick and the Pathetic Men) and Amy Sumpter (The Kates).


Dave Maher II at The Annoyance Theatre, 851 W. Belmont, 9:30 p.m. “The actual, literal Devil takes over the show to roast the audience and put the entire human race on blast.” Only two more shows left in the Dave Maher II summer series, so catch it while you can! (Surprised the devil is taking time off from the campaign trail but apparently, he is.)

The Take Action Show at The Playground Theater, 3209 N. Halsted, 10:00 p.m. Proceeds benefit Chicago Survivors and “Where comedy meets activism.” Featuring Rashida “Sheedz” Olayiwola, Jose Iasel Gonzalez, Patrick Rowland, Shantira Jackson, Dewayne Perkins, John Thibodeaux and Angie Oliver.

TJ & Dave at iO, 1501 N. Kingsbury, 10:30 p.m. Long form improv by internationally renowned legends TJ Jagodowski and Dave Pasquesi who “improvise a one-hour play filled with elaborately imagined characters whose relationships reveal the wildly funny quirks of human nature.” TJ & Dave have inspired both a book (Improvisation at the Speed of Life) and a movie (Trust Us, This is all Made Up).



Stand Up Stand Up Presents: Kristin Clifford One Last Time at The Crocodile, 1540 N. Milwaukee Ave., 8:00 p.m. It’s that season where many of Chicago’s talented comedians leave for points east and west. Tonight’s headliner, Kristin Clifford, is one of them. Featuring Marty DeRosa. With Jake McKenzie, Liz Ziner, and Keith Paesel Ashley Huck. Hosted by Rudy Schultz.


Jeff Richards at The Comedy Bar, 500 N. LaSalle, 8:00 p.m. Thursday- Saturday. Follow link for all showtimes. Interesting fact: Jeff Richards was the first comedian to be a cast member of both MADtv and Saturday Night Live.

Just Dickin’ Around All Ladies Showcase at Hydrate, 3458 N. Halsted, 8:30 p.m. Open mic begins at 8:30 p.m. Showcase at 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 and free pizza! Tonight is hosted by JDA producer Marla Depew. Featuring Krista Atkinson (JDA producer), Kelsie Huff (founder of the kates and Windy City Live guest host), Mary Lorenz and Janice Rodriguez.

Reena Calm at WIP Theater, 6670 N. Northwest Highway, 9:00 p.m. Reena Calm headlines this week’s Prime Time Nine – nine stand-up performances for only nine bucks.


Messing with a Friend at The Annoyance Theatre, 851 W. Belmont, 10:30 pm. Tonight’s friend is Sean Cusick, faculty member, writer and performer with Second City and the Annoyance. This is a show where the improvisers morph from character to character before your eyes. Believable and magical at the same time. A little bit dangerous, too. Anything can happen. Susan Messing was named “Best Improviser” by the Reader and “Improviser of the Year” at the Chicago Improv Festival. Messing with a Friend just celebrated its tenth anniversary.



[FESTIVAL’S LAST YEAR!] The Mary-Arrchie Theater Co.’s Abbie Hoffman Died for Our Sins Festival XXVIII, Friday at 2:00 p.m. thru Monday 12:15 a.m. “Three days of non-stop entertainment include more than 50 theater groups and performers … Festivities begin at 2 p.m. Friday at Daley Plaza, where participants gather for a peaceful march to The Den Theatre.” Comedy and drama. See Complete Schedule. See OPRAH FRAMPTON below.

Maria Bamford at The Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport, 8:00 p.m. Very few seats left to see one of the truest truth-tellers and most engaging comedians ever. “I hope I don’t embarrass you when I say you are my favorite comedian on Planet Earth.” – Stephen Colbert to Maria Bamford


Finesse Mitchell at The Laugh Factory, 3175 N. Broadway, 8:00 p.m. Finesse Mitchell was a cast member on Saturday Night Live (2003-2006) and has also appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and NBC’s Today Show, among many others.


Neal Brennan’s Three Mics at Thalia Hall, 1807 S. Allport, 8:00 p.m. Called Three Mics because of the three mics on stage: one for Neal Brennan’s “one-liners, one for his stand-up and one for his honest, emotional confessions.” Neal Brennan is the Emmy-nominated co-creator of The Chappelle Show. He has also directed episodes of Inside Amy Schumer, The Mindy Project and New Girl. This one-man show is produced by John Legend.

Defending the Caveman at The Skokie Theater, 7924 Lincoln Ave., Skokie, 8:00 p.m. Friday-Sunday. This one-man show answers the pre-historic question, “What’s up between men and women?” Starring Ben Tedder in this 25th anniversary nationally touring edition of Rob Becker’s show.

Dobie Maxwell at Zanies, Pheasant Run Resort, 4051 E. Main St., St. Charles, 8:00 p.m. One of comedy’s best and one of the best people you’ll ever meet. Dobie is a nationally touring headliner, radio personality and mentor to thousands of comedians as a teacher, friend and founder of the Maxwell Method. He also survived a nightmarish childhood, a devastating car accident and being framed in a bank robbery. He wrote all about it in his memoirs published this year, Monkey in the Middle (because for one, the guy who framed him was in a gorilla suit). He was kind enough to speak with me here.

Pauly Shore at The Improv, Woodfield Mall, Schaumburg, 8:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Pauly Shore grew up around comedy as the son of famed Comedy Store founder Mitzi Shore and comedian Sammy Shore. He has been doing stand-up since he was seventeen. You can listen to episodes of his podcast Interested here. He also has a documentary which follows him on the road and as he cares for his mom who now has Parkinsons: Pauly Shore Stands Alone, available on Showtime.

[LAST SHOW] Desert Cool at iO, 1501 N. Kingsbury, 8:30 p.m. “A comedic Hollywood noir.” Recommended by the Chicago Reader.

I Hate Everyone But Us at Flat Iron Comedy, 1579 N. Milwaukee Ave., 9:00 p.m. A work by some of Second City’s best: Julia DiFerdinando, Shantira Jackson and Rachael Mason. Suggested donation: $10. Pay what you can.

Funked Up Friday at The Laugh Factory, 3175 N. Broadway, 10:00 p.m. Finish the week and start the weekend with this party hosted by AJ Lubecker. (Interview here.) Tonight features Kellye Howard and Jonah Jurkens.

Liquid Courage at Second City, 1616 N. Wells, 10:30 p.m. Fridays thru August 26. A cast of characters including Bloody Mary and Fireball are back at Second City by popular demand. Cast: Katherine Biskupic, Terrence Carey, Leah Frires, Katie Nixon, Mollie Rehner, Lee Russell.



Amy Schumer book signing at North Central College, 310 E. Benton Ave., Naperville, 2:00 p.m. 8/18 UPDATE: Sadly, this event has been canceledAmy Schumer’s memoir, The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, was published this week. Buy it at this event and get it signed in person by this award-winning comedian and author. Sponsored by Anderson’s Bookshop.

David Cross at Thalia Hall, 1807 S. Allport, 8:00 p.m. David Cross joins Modern School of Film’s In:Pictures, a discussion with celebrity guests about the movies that have inspired their life and creative work. David Cross has chosen American Beauty, Quadrophenia and Her.

Max Amini at The Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport, 8:00 p.m. Max Amini is an internationally touring comedian who has had recurring roles on Real Rob (Netflix) and Comedy Central’s Mind of Mencia. He is known for his comedy about his Iranian American heritage.


Oprah Frampton at Abbie Hoffman Died for Our Sins Festival at The Den Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee, 9:20 p.m. It’s too late to see the Beatles reprise as the Quarrymen but just as good, here is a rare opportunity to see Lola Balatro perform under their original moniker, Oprah Frampton. The band made their debut at this festival.



David Duchovny at Everybody’s Coffee, 935 W. Wilson, 4:00 p.m. The author, TV and film star is here for a book signing and discussion of his both serious and comic novel, Bucky F*cking Dent. Sponsored by The Book Cellar.

Laugh In Unity Fundraiser at Wire, 6815 Roosevelt Rd., 6:30 p.m. Headliner: Just Nesh. Hosted by Calvin Evans. Featuring Geoffrey Thomas Amus, Reena Calm and Sam Norton. Proceeds benefit the Suburban Unity Alliance.

Caribbean Comedy Explosion with Majah Hype at Apollos 2000, 2875 W. Cermak Rd., 6:30 p.m. The Chicago debut of Caribbean King of Comedy, Majah Hype. Featuring B. Cole and hosted by DJ Boom.

I Killed Peter Rabbit at The Annoyance Theatre, 851 W. Belmont, 8:30 p.m. Tony Czajkowski’s one-man show about growing up on a farm in Hadley, Massachusetts (asparagus capital of the world), his decision to leave and the adjustment to big city perspective. I’m a life-long Beatrix Potter fan and almost couldn’t type the title of this show, except that it sounds so funny, honest and thought-provoking.

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