Chicago comedy spotlight for Monday, June 4-Sunday, June 10, 2018

Visitors in town: Neal Brennan, Joe Rogan, and The Bodega Boys. The Lit AF Tour is here with Martin Lawrence, Bruce Bruce, Rick Smiley and two Chicagoans returning to their hometown, Adele Givens and DeRay Davis.

There are many unique comedy-related events at the Printers Row Lit Fest this weekend. Details below.

At Zanies: Dr. Bill Miller (Chicago), Dobie Maxwell (Rosemont), Fortune Feimster (Rosemont), and Ralphie Roberts (St. Charles).

At The Improv: Finnish comedian and sitcom star Ismo Leikola.


Tuesday, June 5: Steven Springer offers his free comedy writing class from 5-7 Zanies in Rosemont. Contact Steven in advance to reserve a space at or Facebook.

High Fiber Comedy Class enrollment is open! Classes begin Saturday, June 16. No one under 55 admitted. Details here.

Ticket alerts:

Saturday, June 16: Science Friday comes to the Harris Theater as part of WBEZ’s Passport Series. Host Ira Flatow brings Chicago-based science spectacularly alive with Second City comedians and leaders of the city’s arts and science scenes.

September 8: Donald Glover a/k/a Childish Gambino at the United Center.

September 21: Maz Jobrani at the North Shore Center for Performing Arts.

Chicagoans in the news:

Hannibal Buress will be on Jimmy Kimmel Live on Friday, June 8.

Jeff Arcuri will be on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Monday, June 4. More Chicagoans follow: Nick Offerman on June 7 and David Koechner on June 8.

Mickey Housley has a newly published book, Chronicles of a Stand-up Guy: A Peek into the Daily Grind of a Comedian. Available on Amazon.

Look for Svengoolie in the newly re-launched Mad Magazine Issue #2. On newsstands now.

Samantha Irby was a guest on Sam Sanders’ NPR podcast It’s Been A Minute. Available here as of June 1!

Cameron Esposito‘s new stand-up special Rape Jokes will premier on Vulture on June 11. She worked on the material earlier this year at Chicago’s Den Theatre and at the UCB Theatre in Hollywood in what The Daily Beast called “the first great stand-up set of the #MeToo era.”

Emmy Award winner W. Kamau Bell releases his new comedy special Private School Negro on Netflix on June 26. His series United Shades of America is currently in its third season on CNN and is one of the best shows on television.

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



Stories from the Beat Lounge at Second City’s Judy’s Beat Lounge, 230 W. North, 8:30 p.m. Comedy, adventure, sadness and most of all, the truth.



Comedy Cocktail 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 9:00 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. Joey Villagomez hosts Kahlil Wilson, Chris Trani, and closer Mickey Housley.

9:00 p.m. Chris Trani hosts Carly Kane, Rodescu Hopkins, and closer Joey Villagomez.



Comedians You Should Know at Timothy O’Toole’s, 622 Fairbanks Ct., 9:30 p.m. Marty DeRosa hosts Geoffrey Asmus, Blake Burkhart, Kevin Bozeman, Matt Riggs, Sarah Perry, and Sarah Sherman.



Neal Brennan at Thalia Hall, 1807 S. Allport, 7:30 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. Neal Brennan is an Emmy nominated writer, director, producer, and stand-up. He is a writer and on-air correspondent on the Daily Show, executive produced Chris Rock’s special Tamborine and directed Michelle Wolf’s Nice Lady. You can see Neal’s innovative 2017 stand-up special 3 Mics on Netflix where he covered topics from managing depression to his fraught relationship with his dad.

Breakout Comedy Festival at UP Comedy Club, 230 W. North Ave., 7:30 p.m. Second City and NBCUniversal showcase “some of the hottest, emerging and seasoned comedic acts in stand-up, sketch and improv.” Through Saturday.




The Kates at The Book Cellar, 4736 N. Lincoln Ave., 7:00 p.m.  Chicago’s all-women stand-up showcase created and produced by Kelsie Huff. Always a memorable evening of top comic voices and diverse viewpoints. Arrive early-seats go fast! Tonight, Alexandra Tsarpalas hosts Alexes Elizabeth, Adrienne Gunn, Elizabeth Gomez,  Jill Hopkins-Olewnik, Mary Zee, and Laura Hugg.

Blanket Fort at Second City’s Blackout Cabaret, 230 W. North Ave., 7:00 p.m. This comedy variety show usually happens in an actual blanket fort, but tonight’s special Second City performance will instead feature pillows, blankets, PJs and most importantly, memorable and original comedy. Hosted and produced by Elsie How, Brad Rickert, and Max Shanker. Performances by Tracie Kunz on tuba, improv by Thick Meat Boy and the Bone Daddy, stand-up from Alice Whatley.

Breakout Comedy Festival at UP Comedy Club, 230 W. North Ave., 7:30 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. Second City and NBCUniversal showcase “some of the hottest, emerging and seasoned comedic acts in stand-up, sketch and improv.” Through Saturday.

Lit AF Tour at UIC Pavilion, 525 S. Racine, 7:30 p.m. Martin Lawrence hosts Rick Smiley, Bruce Bruce, DeRay Davis, and Adele Givens.


Joe Rogan at The Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State St., 7:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Joe Rogan is a stand-up comedian also known for his in-depth podcast interviews on The Joe Rogan Experience. Roseanne Barr had been scheduled to appear on the 6/1 episode, but then decided she just couldn’t do it.

Chalo Haso Comedy Showcase at Seven Bar and Restaurant, 400 E. Randolph, 8:00 p.m. “The best only pure Desi comedy show in the city of Chicago.” Maya May hosts Hari Rao, Raghu Adibhatla, and headliner Sonal Aggarwal.

Just Nesh at Astoria Lounge, 3208 N. Kostner, 6:00 p.m. Taneshia (“Just Nesh) Rice toured with Dick Gregory and has been featured on Kevin Hart’s Hart of the City and The Next Level.

Squeaky Wheels at iO, 1501 N. Kingsbury, 10:30 p.m. Catherine McDonnell’s and Catharine Savage’s new sketch show will resonate: “the world is not a perfect place, and sometimes being nice and easygoing means you get walked all over. Because after all, Squeaky Wheels get the grease. But what if you don’t like being squeaky? What if you don’t know how to be squeaky?” This show finds the funny while exploring “what it means to speak up for yourself in a world that tells us to be quiet.” Fridays in June.



Boomer Babes Still Rockin’ at The Skokie Theatre, 7924 N. Lincoln Ave., 8:00 p.m. “The Boomer Babes celebrate and spoof their generation with zany wit and musical flair. Vocal duo Pam Peterson and Jan Slavin sing and schmooze about the ’60’s, friendship, love, and facing their age with gut-busting humor. Their YouTube parodies have topped 6.9 million views.” Please check out my interview with Jan Slavin here.


The Bodega Boys at The Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State St., 8:00 p.m. Viceland and podcast stars Desus and Mero are known for their hilarious take on pop culture, sports and hip hop.

Breakout Comedy Festival at UP Comedy Club, 230 W. North Ave., 7:30 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. Second City and NBCUniversal showcase “some of the hottest, emerging and seasoned comedic acts in stand-up, sketch and improv.” Through Saturday.

Looking for something during the day? The Printers Row Lit Fest is June 9-10. On Saturday, comedy fans will enjoy:

10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. The Lil’ Lit Park Stage hosted by award-winning comedy writer and storyteller par excellence, Nili Yelin a/k/a “The Storybook Mom”.

11:00 a.m.-11:45 a.m. Dave Itzkoff, New York Times reporter and author of the new Robin Williams biography Robin.

11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Jennifer Keishin Armstrong, author of three books about classic television: Seinfeldia, Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted, and Sex and the City and Us.

12:00 p.m.-12:45 p.m. Nicole Hollander, author and groundbreaking syndicated cartoonist (Sylvia). Her most recent book is the illustrated memoir We Ate Wonderbread: A Memoir of Growing Up on the West Side of Chicago.

1:15-1:45 p.m. at the Lil’ Lit Park Stage. Humor writer and award-winning illustrator DJ Corchin.

2:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m. Chris Nashawaty, author of Caddyshack: The Making of a Hollywood Cinderella Story in conversation with Michael Phillips.

3:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m. Violet Ramis Stiel, author of the new memoir Ghostbuster’s Daughter: Life with my dad Harold Ramis.



Stand Up NBC Showcase at The Laugh Factory, 3175 N. Broadway, 7:00 p.m. Tonight is part of a nationwide search for comedians of diverse backgrounds. Finalists receive an NBC Talent Holding Deal and auditions and meetings with NBC Universal casting and development executives. Featuring Langston Kerman and more TBA.

Sunday at the Printers Row Lit Fest:

10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. Lil’ Lit Park Stage hosted by award-winning comedy writer and storyteller par excellence, Nili Yelin a/k/a “The Storybook Mom.”

11:30 a.m. -12:30 p.m. Sloane Crosley (humor writer) and Marina Squerciati (Chicago P.D. TV series); introduced by Elizabeth Taylor.

1:30 p.m.-2:15 p.m. A conversation about graphic novels with artists and authors Adrian Tomine, Chris Ware, Hillary Chute, and Nick Drnaso.


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