Chicago comedy spotlight for September 26-October 2

In town this week: Aparna Nancherla, Lewis Black, Joe Machi, Demetri Martin, Bill Engvall, NeNe Leakes, Will Braden, Chingo Bling, David Venhuizen and Andrew Frank. Plus, Mike Lebovitz returns!

The Defiant Thomas Brothers’ new show premieres on Saturday night! Until then, you can read their thoughts in this interview here.

Ticket alert: Trevor Noah will speak at the Chicago Humanities Festival on November 12. Tickets go on sale September 27 at 10:00 a.m. here. He will sign his new memoir, Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood following the program. Ticket purchase includes a copy of his book.

Spotlight below! As always, please confirm all details before heading out. Thank you to the Chicago comedy community and thank you to you for reading and helping me spread the word.


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 Kelsie Huff and Mona Aburmishan.

The Lincoln Lodge Starts a Revolution at Revolution Brewery, 2323 N. Milwaukee Ave., 7:00 p.m. This is a great cause and opportunity to support one of Chicago’s most star-making showcases in its 17th season. Although it’s got star power, the Lincoln Lodge is committed to making comedy accessible and it’s showcases are typically what you can pay. The fundraiser will help continue this tradition. Open bar, refreshments, raffle and performances by burlesque star Michelle Lamour, Pro Wrestler Colt Cabana and rapping violinist Amanda Bailey and special guest Aparna Nancherla! General tickets tonight are $30. VIP tickets are $50.

The Bardy Bunch at The Mercury Theater, 3745 N. Southport, 7:30 p.m. “The war of the families Partridge and Brady.” Through November 20. Visit site for all show times.


Camp Pain at Zanies, 1548 N. Wells, 8:00 p.m. Watch the first debate live with comic commentary. Appearances by Dobie Maxwell, Fard Muhammad, Dale Irwin, Suzzanne Monk, Scott Stantis, Amanda Cohen, Nick Sansone, Laura Hugg, Sarah Manning, and Sameena Mustafa.

All Alone Together at iO, 1501 N. Kingsbury, 8:00 p.m. Three solo plays in one evening back-to-back. This program is 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.

100 Proof Comedy at ComedySportz, 929 W. Belmont, 8:00 p.m. Headliner: Pat McGann. Hosted by Kaitlyn Grissom. Featuring Ronnie Ray, Janelle James, Steve Hernandez, Tristan A. Smith, Erin Grotheer, and Patrick McManus.

Camp Comedy Presents: Setting Sail 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, Melody Kamali, Sonal Aggarwal, Derek Moulds, Matt Kennedy, Gideon Hambright and Tessa Orzech.

Best Night Ever Presents Kristin Clifford 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. Featuring Kevin White, David Venhuizen (LA), Andrew Frank (STL) and Rebecca Fass.
Interview with Mike Cronin here!

[LAST SHOW!] Stacked: 5-Year Anniversary Run at Second City, 1616 N. Wells, 8:30 p.m. All-female musical improv.

Five Star Comedy at Four Star Lounge, 2666 N. Halsted, 8:30 p.m. Headliner: Pablo. Featuring Claire Swanson, James Fisher and AJ Lubecker. Produced by David Gavri and Steve Rinaldi.

Sadsacks and Wisecracks at High Hat Club, 1920 W. Irving Park Rd., 9:30 p.m. Free stand-up showcase. Hosted by Natalie Jose. Headliner: Joe Alden McMahon. Featuring Rebecca Rush, Janelle James, Casey Larwood, and James Zekis.



An Evening with Tom Dreesen: Celebrating a Life in Comedy at The Museum of Broadcast Communications, 360 N. State St., 6:00 p.m. Hosted by WGN’s Dean Richards. Tonight honors Tom Dreesen’s career. He 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. Check his web site for upcoming appearances.

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

Snack Attack Presents Sherman Edwards and Cheesy Garlic Bread at Elbo Room, 2871 N. Lincoln Ave., 8:00 p.m. Hosted by Prateek Srivastava. Featuring Claire Swanson, Joey Villagomez, Rudy Schultz with a special surprise guest who is about to move to L.A.

Aparna Nancherla at The Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, 8:30 p.m. Aparna Nancherla was named one of Variety’s “Ten Comedians to Watch” in 2016. She has been a writer for Late Night with Seth Meyers and Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell. She has also appeared on Inside Amy Schumer. She is beloved for her very relatable comedy, including being able to articulate perfectly what it’s like to battle depression. Her album Just Putting it Out There was released this summer.


Patti Vasquez at Zanies, 1549 N. Wells, 8:30 p.m. Patti Vasquez is the host of WGN radio’s Pretty Late with Patti Vasquez.

FackBUDDIES at iO, 1501 N. Kingsbury, 8:30 p.m. Long-form improv by Dina Facklis, founder of The Chicago Improv Den, with a different guest each week. Tuesdays thru November 15.



NeNe Leakes at The Promontory, 5311 S. Lake Park Ave. West, 7:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. NeNe Leakes’ “So Nasty, So Rude” one-woman show. NeNe Leakes was an original Real Housewife of Atlanta. She is also known for her roles as Roz Washington on Glee and as Rocky Rhoades on The New Normal. She was a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice and Dancing with the Stars and currently is a panelist on the new version of To Tell the Truth. She also is a host of Fashion Police.

You Joke Like a Girl at Volumes Bookcafé, 1474 N. Milwaukee, 7:15 p.m. Open mic at 7:15 p.m. All-women’s stand-up showcase at 8:30 p.m. Hosted by Elyse Nylin. Showcase features Sarah Manning, Soli Santos, Casey Whitaker and Rebecca V. O’Neal.


Glass Ceiling Comedy at The Brick Lounge, 115 South St., Plano, 8:00 p.m. Headliner: Mike Maxwell. Featuring David Gavri and Melissa Richelle. Special guest: Patrick O’Hara.

Good Evening with Ruby Western at The Annoyance Theatre, 851 W. Belmont Ave., 8:00 p.m. Storytelling, performance art and comedy hosted by Ruby Western. Late night-style interview with each performer plus Bingo game for the audience.

Joe Machi at Zanies, 1548 N. Wells, 8:30 p.m. This Last Comic Standing finalist will be at Zanies downtown Wednesday and Thursday night, at Zanies in St. Charles on Friday night and at Zanies in Rosemont on Saturday night.


[LAST SHOW!] Dylan’s Apartment at iO, 1501 N. Kingsbury, 8:30 p.m. Adventure finds a guy who’s just trying to hide in his studio apartment.

Comedians You Should Know at Timothy O’Toole’s, 622 N. Fairbanks, 9:30 p.m. $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).



Explorations in Etiquette: Miss Manners on Music at Volumes Bookcafé, 1474 N. Milwaukee Ave., 7:00 p.m. “An evening dedicated to the wit and wisdom of Miss Manners.”

Bill Engvall at Genesee Theater, 203 N. Genesee St., Waukegan, 7:30 p.m. Bill Egvall was one of the original members of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour. He also starred in his own sitcom for TBS, The Bill Engvall Show. He got his start in comedy when he left college and pursued a bunch of different jobs. A gig as club DJ led to him trying stand-up at an open mic. In 1990, he moved to L.A. to pursue comedy full time and soon appeared on The Golden Girls spin-off, The Golden Palace as Blanche’s son, a stockbroker who wanted to become a stand-up. Soon after, he was invited to appear on An Evening at the Improv, The Tonight Show and Late Night with David Letterman.

Dobie Maxwell at Zanies, Pheasant Run Resort, 4051 E. Main St., St. Charles, 8:00 p.m. Dobie Maxwell is one of my favorite comedians and favorite people in the universe. I could go on, but interview here! His recently published memoir, Monkey in the Middle, is a hit. His famous bank robbery story is detailed along with the backstory of his extraordinary life. In addition to being a nationally touring stand-up with too many television and radio credits to list, Dobie teaches stand-up comedy and has helped thousands of students launch their careers, including Alex Moffat, who joins Saturday Night Live this weekend.

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.

Lewis Black: The Emperor’s New Clothes-The Naked Truth Tour at North Shore Center for Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie, 8:00 p.m. This show is sold out! I’m very angry! But you know what I always say … call the theater. If you can, maybe show up. Sometimes extra tickets materialize right before a show and it’s always worth asking. We always need Lewis Black, but now more than ever!
Even if you can’t get tickets, you can still go to Lewis Black’s web site and join the exclusive community: Frustrated Union of Cynical Kindreds Universal a/k/a F.U.C.K.U.


Glass Basement at iO, 1501 N. Kingsbury, 8:00 p.m. An evening with veteran women improvisers. An audience member will be invited onstage to perform with them for the final scene. Thursdays.

The MLKs of Comedy: 90s Variety Show at Gorilla Tango Theater, 1919 N. Milwaukee Ave., 8:00 p.m. Everything ‘90s, including Chicago’s ‘90s sitcom, 99 Problemz.

Myq Kaplan at Schubas, 3159 N. Southport Ave., 8:00 p.m. Myq Kaplan was a Last Comic Standing finalist and has appeared on The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien, The Late Show with David Letterman and Comedy Central. Myq’s latest album is Tall, Dork and Handsome. Featuring Marty DeRosa, Alex Kumin and Julia Weiss.


Mama Said Knock You Out at Under the Gun Theater, 956 W. Newport, 9:00 p.m. A hip hop comedy challenge.

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. Tonight’s friend is Charles Pettit.



Chingo Bling on Chicago’s Comedy Scene Radio, 8:15 a.m. Tony Carr and Steve Touhy interview this week’s Improv headliner. Follow the link or download the app and listen anywhere you are.

Drinkers with Writing Problems at Brisku’s Bistro, 4100 N. Kedzie, 7:30 p.m. Live lit. Personal essay, comedy, poetry, creative nonfiction and short stories. Tonight: Murphy Row, Jeff Philips, Michael Van Kerckhove, Nire Nah, Conor Cawley, Kate Hawbaker-Krohn, Kim Nelson and Ada Cheng.

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.

On Dee El Variety Hour at The Revival, 1160 E. 55th St., 8:00 p.m. An evening of favorite comedic things with Second City’s Andel Sudik.

Chingo Bling at The Improv, Woodfield Mall, Schaumburg, 8:00 p.m. Through Sunday. Check site for all show times. Chingo Bling is an actor, comedian and rapper. His real name is Pedro Herrera III.

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. No two shows the same.

Mike Lebovitz at Zanies, 1548 N. Wells, 8:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Shows Friday-Sunday. Check site for all show times. Mike Lebovitz started his career in Chicago and was a member of Comedians You Should Know. He was one of the most memorable comedians on Last Comic Standing in 2015.


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

Stir Friday Night Presents: 8 Angry Asians Starring Scarlett Johansson at Second City, 1616 N. Wells, 9:00 p.m. Stir Friday Night’s latest revue.

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. You’ll feel like a welcome guest and you might meet AJ before you even get in the door. How did he become Chicago’s favorite comedy party host? Interview here.


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.

Demetri Martin at The Vic Theater, 3145 N. Sheffield Ave., 8:00 p.m. Demetri Martin was a contributor to The Daily Show, and is also know for Comedy Central’s Important Things with Demetri Martin. He is the author of This is a Book, Point You Face at This and 19 1/2 Stories to be published in January.

Lobotomy Myself and I at Second City, 1616 N. Wells, 8:30 p.m. The description of this show feels like it read my mind. How did so much fear invade our world and what the heck do we do now? This new Bosom Friends production brings the laughs and even answers. Written by Kelly Ann Johnson, Brookes May and Rachel Pokay. Directed by Megan Johns. Starring Theo Allyn, Rebecca Gold, Andrew Kudla, Neftali Morales, Katie Perry and Allison Taylor. Saturdays through November 5.

Funny First Saturday at Universal Entertainment Center, 11901 S. Loomis, 9:00 p.m. Monthly showcase produced and hosted by Damon Williams. Tonight: Rudy Rush from The Doug Banks Show and Steve Brown.

Defiant Thomas Brothers SEASON PREMIERE at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave., 10:30 p.m. Saturdays thru November 19. The Defiant Thomas Brothers are back!! What will happen next? I just know we’ll be talking about it and wanting to see it again. Interview about their new show here.



CatVideoFest at The Music Box, 3733 N. Southport Ave., 2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. Hosted by Will Braden, creator and author of the most relatable cat who ever had an existential crisis, Henri Le Chat Noir.

#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?


Arguments & Grievances at @North Bar, 1637 W. North Ave., 8:00 p.m. Special recording for Tonight’s debates are free with an RSVP to and feature Chicago comedy all-stars: Kristin Toomey vs Bobby Budds (Paper vs Plastic), Peter-john Byrnes vs Cody Melcher (Canada vs Australia), Derek Smith vs Fran Hoepfner (Open Carry vs Open Container) and Sean Flannery vs Jeff Scheen (Man vs Machine).

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