Chicago comedy spotlight for Monday, September 16-Sunday, September 22, 2019

Visitors in town: The Capitol Steps, Rachel Bloom, Marc Maron, Norm Macdonald. Also check out the Waukegan Comedy Jam which includes local comedians and funny folks from out of town. Returning to his hometown: Jim Gaffigan as you’ve never seen him before.

At Zanies: Ralphie Roberts (Chicago), Dan LaMorte (Chicago), Stand-Up for Pits with Rachel Corry (Chicago), Pete Lee (Chicago), Louis CK (Rosemont), Tuesday Ten Showcase (Rosemont), “Generational Gap: Laughter Through the Ages” (Rosemont), Larry Reeb (St. Charles).

At The Improv: Pat Tomasulo, Gary Owen.

At Riddles: Damon Williams Comedy Series Special Event: Huggy Lowdown and Chris Paul from the Tom Joyner Morning Show.

Chicago comedians in the news: W. Kamau Bell and his writers, including Dwayne Kennedy, won their third consecutive Emmy Award, “Outstanding Unstructured Reality Program,” for United Shades of America. As Dateline reported, “he took the opportunity to call out the industry for falling short on inclusivity. ‘White people … I’m asking you to bring more diversity and inclusion on these shows.’” He pointed out that it’s about who gets to be onscreen, but also about who makes the decisions and puts a show together behind the scenes. 

Chris Redd is one of the roasters on Comedy Central’s Roast of Alec Baldwin on September 15.

Cameron Esposito is the voice of the New York TimesModern Love column this week.

John Mulaney will play Henry David Thoreau on the upcoming series Dickinson on Apple TV+. The show premieres on November 1.

Ticket alerts!

September 26: Ben Hollis, the multi-Emmy Award-winning host of Wild Chicago continues to reveal the intriguing stories behind Chicagoland personalities. On Thursday, September 26, he kicks off four new evenings of interactive storytelling with What’s it Like to Be You, Evanston? His celebrity interview that evening is Tim Kazurinsky. Tickets here.

October 12: Pop-Up Magazine at the Athenaeum Theatre. “Pop-Up Magazine presents a night of live storytelling, music, art, and performance devoted to escapes big and small, daring and mundane, physical and mental.” Follow the link  for tickets and to see the fabulous line-up of comedians, actors, and writers.

October 27: Julia Louis-Dreyfus at the Chicago Humanities Festival.

November 3: John Hodgman at the Chicago Humanities Festival.

November 3: Mobituaries with Mo Rocca at the Chicago Humanities Festival.

November 10: Sarah Vowell at the Chicago Humanities Festival.

Following is this week’s Spotlight. When I posted, I forgot to say “please confirm all details before leaving home.” I had to come back on Monday and add it. So please confirm all details before leaving home!


Louder Than a Mom at Martyr’s, 8:00 p.m. “ …because everyone has a depressing, shocking, miserable, vulgar, hilarious family story!”

Jim Gaffigan at The Music Box Theatre, 7:00 p.m. A screening of American Dreamer. This psychological thriller stars Jim Gaffigan, proving that he is an astute observer of every complex shade of the human spirit. Richard Roeper moderates a post-film Q&A with Jim Gaffigan, writer/director Derrick Borte, and producer Scott Lochmus.




An Evening with Groucho at Teatro ZinZanni, 8:00 p.m. An uncanny channeling of this legendary comedic force.



The Neopolitan Stand-Up Comedy Show at The Store, 8:00 p.m. Tien Cao hosts Aaron Klopfer, Rashad Clarke, Scott Meyer, Amy Young, Tok Moffat and headliner Shannon Noll. Ice cream party after the show. No cover, but donations appreciated.

Something Rotten at Marriott Theatre, Lincolnshire, 1:00 p.m., 7:30 p.m. What if you got a sneak peek into the future’s hit music and you got to write it first? That’s what happens to two brothers in Shakespeare’s time. Will they successfully pen the first hit musical and confirm their place in the pop culture stratosphere? Something Rotten was a hit on Broadway and New York Magazine called it “The Producers + Spamalot + The Book of Mormon. Squared!” Read Rick and Brenda McCain’s review in Let’s Play here. Through October 20. Most Wednesdays-Sundays. Follow link for all show times.

Comedians You Should Know at Timothy O’Toole’s, 9:30 p.m. Marty DeRosa invites you to celebrate his album release party with a special stand-up show featuring Matty Ryan, Michael Meyers, Jonah Jurkens, Marilee, Katie Meiners.



The Button Up at Celtic Crown Public House, 8:00 p.m. Comedy from Luke, Andrew and Johnathon and featuring Meg Indurti, Jon Torres, Carly Kane, John Mccombs, Cameron Gillete. Acoustic set by Blake Krantz. Free show.

Fake It Til You Die at Two Brothers Roundhouse, Aurora, 8:00 p.m. Mike Wiley’s live album recording with featured acts. Free show, but please follow link to reserve tickets.


Helltrap Nightmare: The Final Haunt at The Hideout, 9:00 p.m. Last show before the Helltrap folks leave for L.A. Music by Nnamdi Ogbonnaya. Comedy by Sarah Squirm The Shrimp Boys, Scott Egleston, Marilee Pheniece, Alex Grelle (Grelley Duvall, Ordinary Peepholes), Glam Hag. Chicago Magazine said Helltrap Nightmare is the “Best Underground Comedy Show in Chicago.”

Parlour Car at Sportsman’s Club, 8:30 p.m. The 2019 Autumn Patio Series. Always a super stellar lineup.

Freshman: A Show About Your Terrible Art at Transistor Chicago, 7:00 p.m. Check out this article in the Chicago Tribune about this very unique show. Free.

Capitol Steps at Genesee Theatre, Waukegan, 7:30 p.m. Created in 1981 by Senate staffers with a sense of humor, this group has gone on to tour nationally and make 35 hit records including Sixteen Scandals, Fiscal Shades of Gray, Obama Mia!, Make America Grin Again and I’m So Indicted.

Waukegan Comedy Jam at Three Brothers Theatre, Waukegan, 8:00 p.m. Jayson Acevedo hosts Peter Lipsey, Kat Herskovic, Justin Schaffer, Heather Morgan, Liz Greenwood, Jhovany Diaz, Larry Bloom, Kristin Carnes with closer Rob Brackenridge.


Norm Macdonald at The Vic, 7:30 p.m. Norm Macdonald started out as a stand-up and then became a writer for The Dennis Miller Show (1992) and then Roseanne. That was when Lorne Michaels noticed him and hired him on Saturday Night Live. Norm Macdonald became “Weekend Update” anchor where he presciently announced “… and now the fake news”. Since then, he has continued to do stand-up, acting and writing.



Back Room Comedy at aliveOne, 9:00 p.m. This free monthly showcase features Chicago’s best stand-ups. Each comic performs a 10-minute set beginning at 9:00 p.m. Tonight features Colleen Brennan (Zanies; Laugh Factory; Producer-Waves of Laughter; Producer-Momedians of Momedy), Blake Burkhart (Producer-Comedians You Should Know; Laugh Factory; Blake and Bobby go to the Movies Podcast), Alex Kumin (named a comic to watch by Timeout Chicago), Sandy Lee (One Liner Madness finalist at the Hideout) and Ed Towns (named in Chicago Red Eye as “6 must-see comedy shows of the week”). 

The evening kicks off with a half-off everything (except shots) happy hour from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Specials available all night will include $4 PBR bottles, and a shot of Old Grand-Dad with a Hamm’s for $8. Following the comedy, guests will be treated to a back room dance party as DJ Dan Maloney hits the decks until 2 a.m.

Tim Slagle at CG’s Comedy Club, Bolingbrook, 8:00 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. An evening with this comedian, political satirist and writer guarantees laughs for everyone no matter where you partisan. Tonight and tomorrow night.

She the People at Second City, 8:00 p.m. “The Resistance continues.”

Waukegan Comedy Jam at Three Brothers Theatre, Waukegan, 8:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. Big Drew hosts Tyson Purcell, Marz Timms, Sharup Karim, Netra Babin, Emily Schaefer, Bob Strawsma, Griffin Scriarra, John Egan, Kristin Carnes and closer Dana Ehrmann.


Marc Maron at The Vic, 7:30 p.m. The “Hey, There’s More” Tour. From despair to eternity. Marc Maron has risen from some desperate situations to become one of our times’ most brilliantly self-reflective, observant and relatable comics whose insights will live forever. Also, of  course, there’s the WTF podcast. He’s also known for starring roles in the television shows Glow and Maron and his recent film Sword of Trust.



Podslam 2019 at iO, Noon A 12-hour podcast marathon for Connor’s Cure. Follow link for lineup.

Waukegan Comedy Jam at Green Town Tavern, Waukegan, 8:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. Joe Tidd, Dean Jernigan, Craig Smith, Melissa Richelle, Lindsay Porter, Zaid Fouzi, Jack Baker, Netra Babin, Kristin Carnes with closer Shawn Vasquez.


Tim Slagle at CG’s Comedy Club, Bolingbrook, 8:00 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.

Pre-Sweetest Day Comedy Event at Hales Fraciscan, 7:00 p.m. Hosted by Baldhead, featuring Just Nesh, Correy B., and Comedian Stick.


Get Out with the Chicago Sinfonietta at the Auditorium Theater, 7:30 p.m. The Academy Award-winning film as a concert experience.

Rachel Bloom at The Chicago Theatre, 8:00 p.m. The “What am I going to do with my life now?” Fresh off her Emmy Award win this weekend, Rachel Bloom gave a press conference and dropped a clue about what she’s doing next.



Everyone But None: An Evening of Inclusive Improv at Second City, 6:00 p.m. Starring The Aspertypicals and from Ft. Wayne, Indiana: The Mirror Lake Players.

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