Chicago comedy spotlight for Monday, October 30-November 5, 2017

In town: Paula Poundstone, Denis Leary, Toya Turn Up, Darren Fleet, Zainab Johnson, Nick Swardson, Dana Gould, and Alan Alda.

The cast of Superior Donuts is here: Maz Jobrani, Jermaine Fowler, David Koechner, Maz Jobrani and Rell Battle. 

Returning to comedy hometown Chicago: Michael Palascak, David Sedaris (Art Institute grad) and David Koechner.

In the news: Netflix announced Season 2 of The Standups. The next comedians to record their own half-hour specials for the series are Kyle Kinane, Aparna Nancherla, Rachel Feinstein, Joe List, Gina Yashere and Brent Morin. Chicago connection: Kyle Kinane’s career began here.

NBC has selected the finalists in its StandUp competition. Among the nine competing on November 29 for a talent holding deal are two Chicagoans: T Murph and DeWayne Perkins.

(Thank you to Sean McCarthy of I first saw these news items on his site.)

Following is this week’s spotlight. Please confirm all details!


The Cast of Superior Donuts at Zanies, 1548 N. Wells, 8:30 p.m. Quite a line-up for one night! Jermaine Fowler, David Koechner, Maz Jobrani and Rell Battle, the stars of CBS’s Superior Donuts, will all be here for a very memorable evening of stand-up.



Cocktail Comedy at House of Blues’ Foundation Room, 329 N. Dearborn, 6:00 p.m. Produced by James Allen Kamp, creator of the most excellent DJ Tone-Knee kicks off the evening at 6:00 p.m. Stand-up showcases at 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. RSVP for free admission. Early arrival recommended. Seats go fast! Always a great, diverse line-up of Chicago’s top comedians and surprise drop-ins.

7:30 p.m. Mickey Housley, Chris Trani, Abi Sanchez, and Danny Kallas

9:30 p.m. Jonah Jukens, Chris Trani, Derek Smith, and Matt Drufke

Monster Mash-Up at iO, 1501 N. Kingsbury, 8:00 p.m. Improv teams undergo a mash-up.

Dream Freaks Fall From Space at Second City, 1616 N. Wells, 8:00 p.m. The new 106th Mainstage revue! Written and performed by Ryan Asher, Tyler Davis, Kelsey Kinney, Jeffrey Murdoch, Tien Tran and Nate Varrone. Four stars from The Chicago Tribune’s Chris Jones.

Chicago Underground Comedy at Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont, 9:00 p.m. One of comedy’s most groundbreaking showcases where Cameron Esposito, Beth Stelling, TJ Miller, Dan Telfer, Kumail Nanjiani, just to name a few, got their start. Produced by Meredith Kachel.

Super-Human: Halloween Show at The Annoyance Theatre, 851 W. Belmont Ave., 10:00 p.m. “Seasoned pros take the stage for a night of extreme comedy.”



All The President’s Men at The Revival, 1160 E 55th St., 4:00 p.m. This University of Chicago event is free and open to the public. A screening of the film (which is based on Woodward and Bernstein’s book) followed by an in-person discussion with Carl Bernstein moderated by David Axelrod. Registration required. Follow link for details. (I know … not comedy … but it’s at a comedy venue. And kind of the roots of lots of comedy material these days. What the heck, this event looked so interesting I had to put it in here.)

David Sedaris at The Auditorium Theater, 50 E. Congress Parkway, 8:00 p.m. Possibly the best storyteller in the known and unknown universe. He is a graduate of the Art Institute of Chicago.


Denis Leary at North Central College, 171 E. Chicago Ave., Naperville, 7:00 p.m. Sponsored by Anderson’s Bookshops. Denis Leary will discuss and hold a Q&A about his new book, Why We Don’t Suck!, about all the divisions that plague us. No signing or photo line. Books will be pre-signed.

John DaCosse at Zanies, MB Financial Park, Rosemont, 8:00 p.m. John DaCosse is a Zanies’ favorite. You can also hear him on WGN’s Steve Cohran Show.

Zainab Johnson at Zanies, 1548 N. Wells, 8:30 p.m. Through Friday. Zainab Johnson’s career began as a math teacher. Her point-of-view comes from growing up in Harlem as one of thirteen siblings in a Muslim family. Her comedy has been featured on HBO’s All Def Comedy, Arsenio, Last Comic Standing, BET’s WOKE AF, MTV’s Acting Out and AXSTV’s Gotham Comedy Live.

Comedians You Should Know at Timothy O’Toole’s, 622 N. Fairbanks Ct., 9:30 p.m. Blake Burkhart hosts Marty DeRosa, Danny Kallas, Joe Kilgallon, Xavier Lamont, Jason Melton, and Taneshia Rice.



Rent Due Comedy Show at Harold Washington Cultural Center, 4701 S. Martin Luther King Dr., 7:30 p.m. Starring Toya Turn Up (BET, 50 Central), Blameitonkway, Darren Fleet (Rick Smiley Show), and Taneshia Rice (Kevin Hart’s Hart of the City and The Next Level). Hosted by Radio Personality Zana’P.

Nick Swardson at The Improv, Woodfield Mall, Schaumburg, 7:30 p.m. Through Sunday. Follow link for all show times.


EbonyEssenceJet at MCL Chicago Comedy Theater, 3110 N. Sheffield, 7:30 p.m. Tonight’s show celebrates the group’s third anniversary.

Stand Up Stand Up at The Laugh Factory, 3175 N. Broadway, 8:00 p.m. With Felonious Munk – see him now! He’s about to move to New York! – with Kristen Toomey, Michael Robinson, Ed Towns, Jake McKenzie and more TBA. Check out the Laugh Factory schedule for more Felonious Munk appearances this week.


Dana Gould at Zanies, MB Financial Park, Rosemont, 8:00 p.m. Dana Gould is here through Saturday. On Saturday afternoon, he’s recording an episode of his podcast, The Dana Gould Hour. Follow link for all show times.


Michael Palascak at Zanies, 4051 E. Main St., St. Charles, 8:00 p.m. Through Saturday. Follow link for all show times. Michael Palascak was a finalist on Season 9 of Last Comic Standing. His comedy has also been featured on The Late Show, Conan, and The Tonight Show and he has his own half-hour special on Comedy Central.


Group Improvised Comedy at Comedy Clubhouse, 1462 N. Ashland, 8:00 p.m. Long form improv (20-25 minutes) by three teams of up to 10 improvisers, each based on an audience suggestion. Thursdays through Sundays. Follow link for details, show times and a great explanation of what makes improv an art form like no other.

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. This week’s friend is Ali Barthwell.



Just Nesh at Red Nightclub, 5415 Irving Park, 7:30 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. Tonight and tomorrow night. Follow link for all show times. Taneshia Rice has appeared on Kevin Hart’s Next Level and Hart of the City, Windy City Live, and toured the country with Dick Gregory.


Michael Issac: Making It Happen In Chicago at The Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph, 8:00 p.m. Michael Issac films his first comedy special. He is a Zanies regular and has also appeared on Windy City Live, Chicago’s One Night Stand-Up, Chicago Fire, and Empire. He is also one half of Issac & Evans, the first all black stand-up comedy duo. Calvin Evans will open the show.

VHS Comedy at @North Bar, 1637 W. North Ave., 8:00 p.m. Top comic commentary and stand-up based on the most absurd videotapes in existence. Everything from action-adventure to infomercials to work-outs to cartoons and scary kids’ shows. Here’s a chance to see these treasure as you never have before. Tonight Tom Wisdom and Ian Erickson host Allison Dunne (Ladylike), Carly Ballerini (Hoo Ha Comedy), Mark James Heath (Just For Laughs), and Deanna Ortiz (Lincoln Lodge).

The Lincoln Lodge at Under the Gun Theatre, 956 W. Newport, 8:00 p.m. This famed stand-up showcase is now headquartered at Under the Gun with shows on Friday and Saturday nights.

Edgar Allan Poeprov at The Cornservatory, 4210 N. Lincoln Ave., 11:00 p.m. “Edgar Allan Poeprov is a fully poeduced, poefessionally impoevised play based on the life and works of Edgar Allan Poe.”



Wishin’ Control at The Comedy Clubhouse, 1462 N. Ashland, 7:00 p.m. Premiere night! The new Main Stage theatrical. This 90-minute comedy uses long form improv to move from scene to scene and includes one hundred different characters and beautiful, surprising transitions. Saturdays beginning in November.

Paula Poundstone at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., 8:00 p.m. No two shows are the same. Paula Poundstone has one of the quickest, wittiest minds in comedy and always surprises in the best possible way. Her new book The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness rose quickly in the charts and the CD hit #1 in Amazon humor CDs.



Alan Alda at the Chicago Humanities Festival at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, 5850 S. Woodlawn, 2:00 p.m. Alan Alda (M*A*S*H, Scientific American Frontiers) and biologist Edward O. Wilson discuss the origins of creativity. They each have new books about the human mind’s agility. You can order copies by following the link. A book signing follows the discussion.


She The People at Second City, 1616 N. Wells, 7:00 p.m. “Girlfriends’ guide to sisters doing it for themselves.”

House Party: Sunday Night Improv at ComedySportz, 929 W. Belmont, 7:00 p.m. Three house teams perform “scenes, songs, and games.”

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