Chicago comedy spotlight for September 19-25

In town this week: Maz Jobrani, Chris Gethard, Kate Beaton, Jamie Lee Curtis,Ari Shaffir, Tom Rhodes, Tim Harmston, Throwing Shade, Adam Carolla, Nemr, Jo Koy and Clark Jones. Returning Chicagoans include Ian Abramson,  Sean White here to record his album, and Bonnie Hunt, who will throw out the first pitch and lead the 7th Inning Stretch at the Cubs game on Monday. I still get pangs every day at 2:00 p.m. where the Bonnie Hunt Show used to be.

In the news:

Chicagoan Jill Soloway won a “Best Director” Emmy last night for Transparent for the second year in a row. She got her comedy start here at The Annoyance Theatre where she created The Real Live Brady Bunch with her sister Faith. Faith is also a writer on Transparent.

Starting September 22, you can stream Chicago writer and director Joe Swanberg’s new anthology series, Easy, about love and relationships in the Tinder age. Comedians to look out for include Hannibal Buress and Marc Maron.  In fact, one of Marc Maron’s scenes was filmed at the City Lit bookstore in Logan Square. According to the store’s newsletter, you can see several of their booksellers in the background.

9/20 Ticket Alert Update! This morning Louis C.K. announced two shows in Chicago on October 4 and 5 at the Chicago Theatre. Tickets are available through his web site.

By the way, I sometimes hear that people don’t go to a lot of comedy because of budget concerns. Please note how many shows listed here are FREE or extremely low cost. You can see comedy’s stars and stars-in-the-making every night of the week. You’ll be so glad you did and your wallet will have no idea!

This week’s spotlight below. As always, please confirm all details before setting out. Please also check out my “Comedy Each Day of the Week” tab above. The spotlight is just a fraction of the unbelievably great comedy we’re lucky to have here every day of the week.

Thank you to Chicago’s comedy community and thank you for reading and helping me spread the word.



Bonnie Hunt at the Cubs game, Wrigley Field, 7:05 p.m. Bonnie Hunt throws out the first pitch and leads the stretch. Dear God, please bring back The Bonnie Hunt Show and I will never ask for anything else again.


the kates host The Riff at Gallery Cabaret, 2020 N. Oakley Ave., 7:00 p.m. A daredevil open mic where comics draw a topic on the spot and then go! Hosted by the always fabulous kates. Tonight’s kates cast is Brittany Meyer and Soli Santos.

Ladylike at Café Mustache, 2313 N. Milwaukee Ave., 8:00 p.m. Gross and funny stories in a completely safe environment. Audience members will have a chance to have a story read anonymously. Tonight features Megan Stalter, Melissa Fischer, Niamh O’Neill Culhane, Erin Grotheer, Alex Kumin, Erica Nicole Clark and Natalie Jose. Hosted by Alison Dunne.

All Alone Together at iO, 1501 N. Kingsbury, 8:00 p.m. Three solo plays in one evening back-to-back. This program will run Mondays through October 3.

(1) Trapped by Brittany Bookbinder. A dark comedy about fear, relationships, beliefs and who you can really trust. How about your building super on a dark and stormy night?

(2) Something for Everyone by James Dugan. Desperation for approval is examined through characters, stories and personal essays.

(3) Can I Interest You in Me? written by Kelly McGuigan. How do you get others to see your value? In this play, it’s through storytelling, music, and audience participation.

Yas, Queen! at The Playground Theater, 3209 N. Halsted, 8:00 p.m. A monthly variety show produced by and starring women but everybody is invited. Tonight: Whitney Wasson, Alex Richmond, The ladies of Cadaver – An iO Harold Team, Alex Seligsohn, Lydia House, Lisa Peters and Compliment Queens. $10

Sadsacks and Wisecracks at High Hat Club, 1920 W. Irving Park Rd., 8:00 p.m. Free stand-up showcase. Headliner: Ricky Gonzalez, Becca Brown, Shannon Noll, Diego Attanasio, Kristen Lundberg, Odinaka Od Ezeokoli and Brandon Kieffer. Hosted by Natalie Jose.

Camp Comedy at Village Tap, 2055 W. Roscoe, 8:00 p.m. This free showcase hosted by Tessa Orzech and Samantha Berkman is getting rave reviews. Tonight: Kelsie Huff, Kaitlyn Grissom, Michael Robinson, Danny Maupin, Rebecca Rush, Alex Moore, Scott Meyer and Claire Friedman.

Kelsie Huff is a stand-up comedian, the founder and producer of the kates and head of Feminine Comique.

Best Night Ever at the Gman Tavern, 3740 N. Clark 8:00 p.m. Free stand-up showcase. Produced by Sam McHale, Mike Bobrinskoy, Mike Cronin and Jeff Arcuri. Interview with Mike Cronin here!

Stacked: 5-Year Anniversary Run at Second City, 1616 N. Wells, 8:30 p.m. This all-female musical improv is at Second City. One more show on September 26.

Chris Gethard at The Annoyance Theatre, 851 W. Belmont Ave., 9:00 p.m. From The Chris Gethard Show, Don’t Think Twice and the podcast, Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People. He is in town tonight for a special edition of his one-man show, The Career Suicide Show.



Steve Dahl at Anderson’s Bookshop, 26 S. La Grange Rd., La Grange, 7:00 p.m. Steve Dahl talks about the famed Disco Demolition at Comiskey Park in 1979 and signs copies of his new book, Disco Demolition: The Night Disco Died. Photographer Paul Natkin, whose photos are included in the book, and journalist Dave Hoekstra, whose interviews are included in the book, will also be there. To participate in the signing, you must buy the book from Anderson’s.

Tom Dreesen at the Cubs Game, Wrigley Field, 7:05 p.m. Whenever the 7th inning stretch comes, Tom Dreesen will be leading it. Tom Dreesen is originally from Harvey, was one half of the ground-breaking duo Tim & Tom, toured with Frank Sinatra as his opening act and has over 500 television appearances including 60 appearances on The Tonight Show. He was also a frequent guest host of The Late Show with David Letterman. He continues to tour and inspire with his comedy and motivational talks. He has several events coming up. Check out his web site and schedule here.


Sean White Album Recording at Chicago Underground Comedy at Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont, 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. This is one of the “must” comedy events of the year. Sean White, who recently left Chicago for his tour and new residence in L.A., returns to his comedy hometown to record his second album. I don’t know why it’s only $5, but it is. Be present at a historic comedy event (mark my words) and see him at this low price while you can.

Chicago magazine named him one of the top comedians in the city. AXS singled out his first album, Dead and Gone, for the best track of 2015. The Chicago Tribune said the album was “an essential rumination about loss” and it was also named one of the best of 2015 by the A.V. Club and best comedy album by UNScene Comedy. He has appeared in comedy festivals across the U.S. and internationally and on Comedy Central.

This album recording is part of Sean’s “Angry & Alone World Tour.” He is one of the best when it comes to writing about life’s bad, better, and unfathomable. His uncanny ability to find laughs at every level of light and darkness makes his shows uniquely uplifting and memorable events.


Cheers Live on Stage at Broadway Playhouse, Water Tower Place, 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays thru Sundays until October 23. Check site for all show times.


Sight Lines: a Showcase of Deaf and Hearing Talent at iO, 1501 N. Kingsbury, 8:00 p.m. Produced and hosted by Danielle Susi and Cat Abood. Featuring Bethany Garth, Erika L. Sánchez, Will Sonheim, Hush Improv, The Comedy Dance Collective, and more. Interpretation by CJ Speakman, Kristin Schmitz, and interpreting student Phillip Lewis. Majority of proceeds benefit Neverbird Project, a Chicago-based Deaf and hearing youth theater company. Evening includes a sign-language performance of Neverbird Project’s Pinocchio.

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.

Tom Rhodes at Zanies, 1548 N. Wells, 8:30 p.m. Shows also Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Check site for all show times.



Kate Beaton at Anderson’s Bookshop, 26 S. LaGrange Rd., LaGrange, 7:00 p.m. The humor writer is in town to talk about her new book, King Baby, about life with a new baby. Free event, although purchasing the book at Anderson’s is required to join the signing line.

Tim Harmston at Zanies, MB Financial Park, 8:00 p.m. Tim Harmston has appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman, Last Comic Standing, Comedy Central’s Live at Gotham and at comedy festivals around the country.


Mom Genes at Café Mustache, 2313 N. Milwaukee Ave., 8:00 p.m. Tonight: Brittny Congleton, Brandon Kieffer, Arish Singh and Rebecca Fass. Headliner: Kristin Clifford.


Pilsen Stand-Up: So Long Summer at Simone’s, 960 W. 18th St., 8:30 p.m. Featuring Jesnaira Baez, Ricky Gonzalez, Dennis Banks aka Felonious Munk, Erica Nicole Clark, along with hosts Jaime, Mickey & Abi. The People’s Stage Karaoke with Pablo Serrano follows the showcase. $5

Laughs in the Lounge at Rogers Park Social, 6920 N. Glenwood Ave., 9:00 p.m. Free showcase. Donations accepted. Hosted by Marla Depew. Featuring Alex Dragicevich, Adam Bindert, Vikram Pandya, Laura Hugg and Cynthis Shur Petts.

Comedians You Should Know at Timothy O’Toole’s, 622 N. Fairbanks, 9:30 p.m. Kristen Toomey hosts Cleveland Anderson, Kristin Clifford, Jeanie Doogan, Ricky Gonzalez, Steve Hernandez, Tommy McNamara. $5 online, $10 at the door.

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). $10



Jamie Lee Curtis at Anderson’s Book Shop, 123 W. Jefferson Ave., 4:00 p.m. The actress and comedian is in town to talk about and sign her new book about immigration, This is Me: A Story of Who We Are and Where We Came From. Tickets are required for this event.

I’m with Hilarity at iO, 1501 N. Kingsbury, 7:30 p.m. Proceeds benefit the Hillary Victory Fund. $10 in advance. $20 at the door.

Ari Shaffir at Zanies, 1548 N. Wells, 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Ari Shaffir says his comedy is like “a puppet show, but way filthier and without the puppets.” I know him from his Comedy Central show, This is Not Happening, but had no idea until this moment that he grew up orthodox Jewish and went to yeshiva in Israel for two years. I did know that while he is a searcher, his comedy is not for the faint-hearted.  He will be at Zanies in Rosemont on September 23 and 24.

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. Thursday-Sunday.

Blue Line Laughs at Independence Tap, 3932 W. Irving Park Rd., 8:00 p.m. Hosted by Lindsey Shaw. Featuring Ron Ervin, Ryan Croft, Jeff Dygola, Sameena Mustafa, Mike Stricker and Amanda Cohen. Open mic following the show.


Rat Pack Comedy: That Ole Laugh Magic at The Holiday Club, 4000 N. Sheridan, 8:00 p.m. A vintage vibe with headliner Marty DeRosa. Featuring Eli Hamilton, Mona Aburmishan, Max Friedman and Sydney Davis. Hosted by Terence Hartnett. Music by Mike Dlugosz. Photography by Sarah Larson.

This Week’s Show at Stanley’s Kitchen & Tap, 1970 N. Lincoln Ave., 8:00 p.m. Headliner: Erica Nicole Clark. You can get to know Erica Nicole Clark on this episode of Marty DeRosa’s excellent podcast, Wrestling with Depression. She is a wonderful comedian in her own right and a Moth GrandSLAM winner with the added perspective that she is Mr. T’s daughter. Featuring Dale McPeek, Joe McMahon, Aaron Sutherland, Austin Lafond, Tommy McNamara and Joe Fernandez. $5 online. $10 at the door.

Just Dickin’ Around All Genders Showcase at Hydrate, 3458 N. Halsted, 8:30 p.m. Open mic begins at 8:30 p.m. A chance to see fourteen comedians who each have four minutes. 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’s showcase is hosted by JDA producer Krista Atkinson (JDA member) and features Marla Depew (JDA member), Derek Moulds, Dylan Scott and Prateek Srivastava. JDA Interview here.

Throwing Shade at Thalia Hall, 1807 S. Allport St., 8:30 p.m. The topical “infotainment” podcast which Rolling Stone called one of the best of all comedy podcasts is live tonight with hosts Bryan Safi and Erin Gibson.

Messing with a Friend at The Annoyance Theatre, 851 W. Belmont, 10:30 p.m. 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. She is world renowned. Tonight’s friend is Sherman Edwards. $5. I know that number seems like a typo, but it isn’t. That’s how affordable great comedy is in Chicago.



Simmer Brown: Battle Tested at @North Bar, 1637 W. North, 7:30 p.m. Recommend getting your tickets early because (1) limited number of $10 tickets available in advance (2) tickets sells out early! Headliner: Xavier Lamont. Featuring Shannon Noll, Michael Robinson, Improv from the FUN FUN BOYS, Music from the Korean Power Drumming Team and more TBA. Plus performances from Simmer Brown producers Prateek Srivastava, Sameena Mustafa and Jerry Tran.


Nemr at The Laugh Factory, 3175 N. Broadway, 8:00 p.m. Nemr’s comedy stands for “No Politics, No Religion, One Love.” He is known as Lebanon’s “King of Comedy.” He was born in Beirut in 1983. His family immigrated to San Diego in 1987 seeking refuge from Lebanon’s civil war. He returned to Lebanon in 1993. He was part of the Axis of Evil Comedy Tour and performs internationally.

Jo Koy at The Improv, Woodfield Mall, 8:00 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Still tickets for tonight’s shows. Saturday’s shows are sold out.

The Lincoln Lodge at Subterranean, 2011 W. North Ave., 8:00 p.m. The Lincoln Lodge is known for the comedians it helped launch: Cameron Esposito, Hannibal Buress and TJ Miller and more. Always high quality comedy with local and visiting performers. Dedicated to making comedy available to everyone: you decide what to pay.

Fuck Trump: A Collection of Songs to Show What a Horrible Person Donald Trump Is at The Annoyance Theatre, 851 W. Belmont, 8: 00 p.m. Directed by Mick Napier. Through November 11.

Friday Night Fudge at iO, 1501 N. Kingsbury, 8:30 p.m. The acclaimed Friday Night  Fudge has moved to iO. Fudge is Damian Anaya, Tim Lyons, Vince Portacci, and Dan White. The evening is half-music, half-comedy and all independent creativity. One of iO’s in-house teams will rotate through each week to present The Harold. The interplay of music and comedy will determine the course of each evening and no two shows will be the same.

The Time is Now at Under the Gun Theater, 956 W. Newport, 9:00 p.m. Through September 30. A comedy revue asking what would happen if we really carpe’d the diem.

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 with AJ here.



Saturday Morning Funnies at Edge Theater, 5451 N. Broadway, 10:00 a.m. “Sketch comedy for children performed by children inspired by children.”

Surprise Party Presents Steven King at SFR-Logan Square, 2830 W. Armitage, 7:00 p.m. Frees showcase. Featuring Toler Wolf, Rachel McCartney, Allison Dunne and Sarah Squirm. Hosted by Erin Grotheer. Headliner: Steven King.

The Two-Hour Comedy Hour at Gallery Cabaret, 2020 N. Oakley, 7:00 p.m. Free showcase. Tonight features Tommy McNamara and Steve Hernandez, Jeanie Doogan, Aaron Sutherland, Abi Sanchez and Merrit Landsteiner.

the kates at The Book Cellar, 4736 N. Lincoln Ave., 7:30 p.m. Featuring Ellen Wesley, Sarah Alice Weidmann, Sarah Albritton, Angelica Davila, Nicky Margolis, Chris Hauri, Elyse Nylin, Ju Lee Anna, Cate Bretch and hosted by Sam Gordon.

Tom Dreesen: An Evening of Laughter and Stories of Sinatra at Freedom Hall, 410 Lakewood Blvd, Park Forest, 7:30 p.m. Tom Dreesen is one of the United States’ classic comedy stars who’s lived through and made comedy history and continues to do so. He is also an entrancing storyteller whose generous and uplifting spirit is contagious. See Cubs game above. This is his one-man show. He is being honored at Chicago’s Museum of Broadcast Communications next week for his contributions to American culture.

Blind Date at Under the Gun Theater, 956 W. Newport, 7:30 p.m. Two audience members will be set up on a real blind date and get to see their future improv’ed before them.

Adam Carolla at The Vic, 3145 N. Sheffield, 8:00 p.m. The comedian and author brings his podcast to Chicago.

Bell Hop with Ian Abramson at Virgin Hotels, 203 N. Wabash, 9:00 p.m. Free stand-up showcase presented by the A.V. Club with special guests Adam Burke, Tommy McNamara, Gena Gephart, Geoffrey Asmus, Arish Singh, Blake Burkhart, and more TBA.

The Revival Hour at The Revival, 1160 E. 55th St., 10:00 p.m. Sketch, improv and music from South Side artists.

The Yeah Buddy Awesome Time Comedy Show at Impossible Industries Games & Comics, 1750 W. North Ave., 10:00 p.m. Free showcase. Featuring Mike O’Keefe, Laura Hugg, Kristin Clifford, Dinner for Yesterday, Bobby Hill, Michael Rice. Hosted by John Margelewski and Nicky Martin.

The Green Room at The Revival, 1160 E. 55th St., 10:00 p.m.  A stand-up showcase hosted by Dave Helem and Felonious Munk.



Maz Jobrani at The Siskel Center, 164 N. State St., 5:15 p.m. and 7:45 p.m. Maz Jobrani’s new movie, Jimmy Vestvood: Amerikan Hero premieres this week and he is here for a stand-up set and audience discussion at both Sunday shows. Maz Jobrani’s comedy is all about the connections between people and knocking down stereotypes. He is also a favorite panelist on Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me! Check out his book, too, I’m Not a Terrorist, But I Played One on TV. Interview here.


#DateMe at Second City’s UP Comedy Club, 230 W. North Ave., 7:00 p.m. What happens when a comedian places multiple “undateable” profiles on a real dating site?


Tuxedo Cat Comedy at Innertown Pub, 1935 W. Thomas, 7:00 p.m. Free showcase, but donations appreciated and go to performers. Tonight: Derek Smith, Clark Jones, Kaitlyn Grissom, Michael Njuguna Robinson, Brittany Meyer and TCC producer Rebecca Fass. Hosted by TCC producer David Philips.

Hoo Ha Comedy Presents: September at Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 8:00 p.m. Free showcase. Featuring Janelle James, Nick Rouley, Sarah Sherman, Megan Stalter, Mary Jordan and Geoff Asmus. Headliner: Kristin Clifford who is about to leave for LA. Hosted by Melody Kamali and Heidi Butler.


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