It’s Halloween month and the Comedy Calendar is a monster. I'm publishing it in smaller weekly installments because I don't want to be known as the blogger who turned scrolling into an endurance sport. But I also don't want you to miss the extraordinary line-ups still ahead. Please check out “Twelve Shows you don’t want to miss … but will if you don’t get tickets now!"
It would be a trick to make it to all the treats. On top of the great Chicago comedians and showcases, the list of folks who’ll be here in October include Lewis Black, Nate Bargatze, Roseanne Barr, Jay Leno, Kristen Wiig, Greg Fitzsimmons, Margaret Cho, Dave Attell, Sinbad, Russell Peters, Janeane Garofalo, Dennis Miller, Adam Carolla, Brian Posehn, Dan Telfer, Norman Lear, John Cleese, Jen Lancaster, Bill Burr, Aasif Mandvi, Sarah Vowell and David Sedaris.
Also, all the guys from the original Blue Collar Comedy Tour (except Craig Hawksley) are coming through. Most are solo. Jeff Foxworthy and Larry the Cable Guy are teaming up.
Peter-john Byrnes is recording his album Ghost Story at ComedySportz on October 19. His unique brand of energetic, quick, cerebral, very funny comedy is always a great and memorable time.
Please confirm all details in case anything changes or in case I wasn’t aware of the point when my equilibrium capsized and I wrote Waukegan when I meant Wauconda.
Tip: discount tickets are often available on Groupon and Goldstar. I had a disappointing experience with Goldstar’s “Red Velvet” refund service, so I wanted to mention it. Once Goldstar sends its list of ticketholders to the theater (hard to know when that is) you cannot obtain a refund. Long story short-ish: Goldstar's refund policy is not as straightforward as it sounds. But the site does offer worthwhile discounts.
If you have a comedy event you would like me to include now or in the future, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you to the Chicago comedy community. There's not another city in the world where all this is possible.
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 1
“Congrats on Your Success” at Uncharted Books, 2620 N. Milwaukee, 7:00 p.m. I love when Chicago bookstores host free comedy events. What better combination? Free craft beer from Powell’s Brew House, too. Line up TBA. Monthly event.
“Funnyman” at the Northlight Theatre, North Shore Center for Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie, 7:30 p.m. Starring Tim Kazurinsky and George Wendt. The story is about “fading vaudeville comic Chick Sherman” working to revive his career in an avant-garde off-Broadway production. Playwright Bruce Graham (White Guy on the Bus, The Outgoing Tide) says Chick Sherman “is part Buster Keaton, Bert Lahr, Ed Wynn, Milton Berle, Jackie Gleason, Lou Costello, Oliver Hardy, Phil Silvers, and (although he wasn’t a comic) even a dash of Charles Laughton.” Graham says he admired all of these comics except “Milton Berle … I absolutely loathed.” This is the play’s world premiere. Through October 18.
Joe List at The Improv, 5 Woodfield Rd., Mall Store K1 20B, Schaumburg, 7:30 p.m. Joe List was a favorite of the audience and judges and a semi-finalist on this summer’s Last Comic Standing.
“The Kates on Broadway” at The Laugh Factory, 3175 N. Broadway, 8:00 p.m. Chicago’s all-female comedy troupe. Tonight’s cast: Hope Rehak, Amy Sumpter, Natalie Jose, Rebecca O’Neal, Denise Ramsden, Erica Clark, Ashley Huck, Kat Herskovic. Hosted by Kelsie Huff. FOR FREE TICKETS, call box office at (773) 327-3175 with promo code “KATES.”
Nate Bargatze at UP Comedy Club, 230 W. North Ave., 8:00 p.m. Interesting fact: Nate Bargatze’s dad is a former clown turned magician. Nate has done so many late night shows, shows for the troops, comedy specials and Marc Maron WTF podcasts and has been featured in so many “best comedian” lists that you’d have to scroll through infinity if I listed them all.
The Second City 104th Revue at Second City, 1616 N. Wells, 8:00 p.m. Check out this classic of Chicago comedy. Many performance each week. Book tickets early if you want to go to the 8:00 p.m. show on Friday and Saturday. They sell out fast. Directed by Jeff Award winning director Ryan Bernier. Ensemble: Chelsea Devantez, Paul Jurewicz, Daniel Strauss, Rashawn Nadine Scott, Sarah Shook, Jamison Webb.
Ricarlo Flanagan at the Comedy Bar, 500 N. LaSalle, 8:00 p.m. Ricarlo Flanagan appeared on Last Comic Standing this summer. He is from Ohio and has been described as putting “a maniacal spin” on life.
Chicago! I'll be there this Thursday-Sat headlining the Comedy Bar! Come thru! I got a lot to get off my chest.
— Ricarlo Flanagan (@FatherFlanagn) September 27, 2015
"Just Dickin' Around" All Ladies Showcaseat Hydrate, 3458 N. Halsted, 8:30 p.m. The JDA showcase has top-of-the-line Chicago comics and is "a women-run, queer-friendly showcase that provides a safe, supportive space with a positive energy for our performers and guests." Enough reason to go, but also: free pizza!
Tom Wilson at Zanies, 1548 N. Wells, 8:30 p.m. Tom Wilson is Biff from Back to the Future, but so much more. Tom Wilson has appeared in thirty films and on television shows such as Sponge Bob, Franklin & Bash, Big Love and more. He says of all the things he has done, he loves stand-up comedy the most. He has been a stand-up comedian since high school.
Stand Up Stand Up at The Crocodile, 1540 N. Milwaukee Ave., 9:00 p.m. Weekly comedy showcase acclaimed by Splitsider.com and The Chicago Tribune.
Parlour Car at Bar DeVille, 701 N. Damen, 9:00 p.m. Chicago’s talented comedians plus unexpected guests from around the country. Check site or Twitter for line-up.
“Whose Rhyme is it Anyway?” at @North Bar, 1637 W. North, 10:00 p.m. A night of freestyle hip hop comedy. Hosted by Dirty MF. Music by Freddy Phatz.
Messing With a Friend at The Annoyance Theatre, 851 W. Belmont, 10:30 p.m. Improv with Susan Messing and a friend. Tonight’s performance is with Rob White who is a cast member at iO.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 2
Joe List Interview on Chicago's Comedy Scene Radio. Tony Carr and Steve Touhy speak with Joe List. Tune in between 7:30 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. at http://www.chicagoscomedyscene.com/ or download the station's excellent app and listen anywhere.
Comedy Night at The Crazy Pour, 105 E. North Ave., Villa Park, 7:00 p.m. Chicago's Comedy Scene Radio presents dinner and a show. Headliner: Vince Carone. Featuring Kristen Toomey and Josh Schumacher. Hosted by Kevin Wood. The show will be recorded and will air on Chicago's Comedy Scene Radio.
Drew Frees at Access Chicago Realty’s House of Laughs, 2256 W. North Ave., 7:00 p.m. This real estate agency’s monthly comedy night always has a great line-up. Drew Frees is an Indiana native who started his comedy career in sketch at iO, Second City and The Annoyance before becoming a stand-up. He’s now an in-demand national headliner. Featuring Reena Calm and Ross Kelly.
“Dan and Kate’s Book Club” at The Annoyance Theatre, 851 W. Belmont, 7:00 p.m. Two clashing bibliophiles re-enact literary scenes and may or may not kill each other. A different group opens for Dan and Kate each week. Fridays through Oct. 16 only!
The Defiant Thomas Brothers at Second City, 1616 N. Wells, 7:30 p.m. One of the most anticipated shows of the year NOW IN ITS LAST MONTH! “The Defiant Thomas Brothers are Seth Thomas and Paul Thomas. Known for their commanding stage presence, commitment to character and timing, and ability to mine laughs all along the sensitivity spectrum, the Defiant Thomas Brothers roamed the Chicago comedy stages in the pre-YouTube era when political correctness was only a child.
Just over two years after they began running their sketch show once a week in a black box theater in Chicago’s Uptown, they were invited to HBO’s prestigious U.S. Comedy Arts Festival, where they won the award for best sketch group alongside best alternative act Flight of the Conchords. A year later, they were gone. Now they’re back.” Fridays through October 23.
DTB interview here.
Greg Fitzsimmons at SPACE, 1245 Chicago Ave., Evanston, 7:30 p.m. Greg Fitzsimmons won The Jury Award for Best Stand Up Comedian at the prestigious HBO Aspen Comedy Arts Festival. He appeared on Chelsea Lately, The Adam Carolla Show, The Howard Stern Show and was a panelist for five seasons on VH1’s Best Week Ever. He is also an Emmy award winning writer for his work on the Ellen show and the author of the critically acclaimed memoir, Dear Mrs. Fitzsimmons. Presented by the Lincoln Lodge.
Cholesterock at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont, 7:30 p.m. Last show of this “comedic musical journey through 60 years of Rock and Roll.”
Funnyman at the Northlight Theatre, North Shore Center for Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie, 8:00 p.m.
The Lincoln Lodge Showcase at Subterranean, 2011 W. North Ave., 8:00 p.m. The Lincoln Lodge is the nation’s longest running independent comedy showcase. Amy Schumer, Marc Maron and Kristen Schaal have performed here. Cameron Esposito, Hannibal Buress, TJ Miller started here “The show’s mission is to showcase Chicago’s finest up-and-coming and touring comedians.”
VHS with Zach Peterson at @North Bar, 1637 W. North Ave., 8:00 p.m. Stand up comedy with weird VHS tapes.
Ricarlo Flanagan at the Comedy Bar, 500 N. LaSalle, 8:00 p.m., 10:00 p.m.
Joe List at The Improv, 5 Woodfield Rd., Mall Store K1 20B, Schaumburg, 8:00 p.m., 10:15
Nate Bargatze at UP Comedy Club, 230 W. North Ave., 8:00 p.m., 10:30 p.m.
Chastity Washington at Jokes and Notes, 4641 S. King Dr., 8:30 p.m., 10:30 p.m. Chastity Washington is a 20-year comedy veteran and the winner of HBO’s 2015 American Black Film Festival’s Comedy Wings Competition. She has also appeared on BET’s Comic View and HBO’s Def Jam.
Mike Speirs at Zanies, 1548 N. Wells, 8:30 p.m., 10:30 p.m. Known for his comic storytelling which covers body image, reluctant adulthood and “the joy and pain that was his career as a public school teacher.”
“Haunted” at Under the Gun Theater, 956 W. Newport, 9:00 p.m. In honor of Halloween, horror movies will be improvised on the spot. Fridays in October. Different every week.
“The Boys” at Second City, 1608 N. Wells, 9:00 p.m. Night of improv stars: Susan Messing and Rachael Mason joined by Norm Holly, Ryan Archibald and Craig Uhlir.
“Cutthroat Improv” at Under the Gun Theater, 956 W. Newport, 10:30 p.m. A competition between Chicago improv teams to see who performs best under fire from the other. First week: Under the Gun vs. Playground vs. iO vs. TBA. A celebrity improv judge crowns the winner. Weekly. Check site for show times and competitors.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 3
Dave Schwensen Comedy Workshop at The Improv, 5 Woodfield Rd., Woodfield Mall Store K120B, Schaumburg, 12:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m., October 3, 10, 17, 21 (Graduation) An opportunity to get on stage at The Improv, one of the most famous clubs in the country, with training from Dave Schwensen. Dave was the talent coordinator for A&E’s An Evening at the Improv and for the Improv Clubs in L.A. and New York. This class will cover writing, performance and the business of “show business.” Graduation is an opportunity to perform at an actual Improv show.
“Funnyman” at the Northlight Theatre, North Shore Center for Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie, 2:30 p.m., 8:00 p.m.
Paper Machete at Green Mill Jazz Club, 4802 N. Broadway, 3:00 p.m. This fabulous weekly spoken word showcase features comedians, actors and writers. Line-up usually announced the week before. Lots of famous names, but you don’t have to be famous to participate. If you would like to audition, be on the look-out for your opportunity at “The Mash.”
Comedy Sportz at Comedy Sportz Theatre, 929 W. Belmont, 6:00 p.m., 8:00 p.m., 10:00 p.m. Classic Chicago improv show. Two teams compete based on audience suggestions to create the best comedy scenes, songs and games. For all ages. Check schedule for many shows throughout the week.
Joe List at The Improv, 5 Woodfield Rd., Mall Store K1 20B, Schaumburg, 7:00 p.m., 9:15 p.m.
Mike Speirs at Zanies, 1548 N. Wells, 7:00 p.m., 9:00 p.m., 11:15 p.m.
“Awakenings: Putting the Spotlight on Local Artists” at the Genesee Theatre, 203 N. Genesee St., Waukegan, 7:30 p.m. Featuring Sean Flannery, Kelsie Huff, Arianna Freeman and Rob Paravonian. Sean is the creator of Never Been to Paris, The Blackout Diaries and Drunk Science. Kelsie Huff is the leader of The Kates, the producer of her nationally touring one-woman show, a popular stand-up and a writing instructor. Arianna is newer to the Chicago comedy scene. She is a stand-up and a travel writer. Rob is a Waukegan musician-comedian who performs internationally. Check out his "Pachelbel Rant" which has 12 million views.
Nate Bargatze at UP Comedy Club, 230 W. North Ave., 8:00 p.m., 10:30 p.m.
Ricarlo Flanagan at the Comedy Bar, 500 N. LaSalle, 8:00 p.m., 10:00 p.m.
“Blackout Diaries” at High Hat Club, 1920 W. Irving Park Rd., 8:00 p.m.
Created by Sean Flannery, this evening features comedians and regular folk telling their own legendary drinking stories. The audience will have a chance to ask questions. Featured on NPR, Comedy Central and in all the major Chicago papers as one of the city’s most recommended events. Saturdays throughout the month. Get tickets soon – sells out fast!
Margaret Cho’s “PsyCHO” Tour at The Chicago Theater, 175 N. State, 8:00 p.m. This tour features all new material including tributes to the people Margaret Cho considers her comedy parents, Robin Williams and Joan Rivers. Margaret says this tour is “about insanity and about the anger I feel about everything happening in the world right now.”
If you follow Margaret Cho, you know this Grammy and Emmy-nominated comedian and bestselling author has won awards for her activism fighting for LGBT rights and against racism and bullying. Her recent episode of Wife Swap is worth viewing – for real! -- and confirms that the big-hearted person you see on stage is the real deal. Interesting fact: her current tour poster was painted in her own blood.
Bill Engvall at Braden Auditorium, University St. & College Ave., Normal, IL, 8:00 p.m. This Texas native originally planned to become a teacher. Then one time at a nightclub he tried stand-up and found his calling. He became a member of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour and the star of The Bill Engvall Show, the co-star of The Jeff Foxworthy Show and has made many other television appearances, albums and specials. He is also the author of Just A Guy: Notes from a Blue Collar Life.
Chastity Washington at Jokes and Notes, 4641 S. King Dr., 8:30 p.m., 10:30 p.m.
HilariTea at Madame Zuzu’s Tea Shop, 582 Roger Williams Highland Park, 8:30 p.m. Comedians Krista Atkinson, Elizabeth Gomez and Denise Medina host a showcase of comedians featured at Zanies, The Laugh Factory, Second City and more. Billy Corgan’s place at its funniest.
Dear James Franco at Under the Gun Theater, 956 W. Newport, 9:00 p.m. “Comedy inspired by letters written to or by famous people, not necessarily James Franco.”
“Vampyre Hunter High” at Under the Gun Theater, 956 W. Newport, 10:30 p.m. In celebration of Halloween, this improvised comedy will feature a new undead every Saturday in October.
BEEF at The Laugh Factory, 3175 N. Broadway, 11:59 p.m. Chicago’s insult comedy game show. You’ll have a chance to decide whether you want to stand in the line of fire or remain at a safe distance. Featuring Sean White.
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 4
“Funnyman” at Northlight Theatre, North Shore Center for Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie, 2:30 p.m.
“Arguments and Grievances” at Schuba’s Tavern, 3159 N. Southport, 7:00 p.m. “Chicago’s funniest debate show.” This month: Marty Derosa vs Cameron Gillette (Mad Max vs Mad Men), Meredeth Kachel vs Kristin Clifford (Tonya Harding vs Nancy Kerrigan), Cleveland Anderson vs Kaitlyn Grissom (Break shit vs build shit).
Improv Nerd at Second City’s de Maat Studio Theatre, 1616 N. Wells, 7:00 p.m. Improv master Jimmy Carrane and a guest interview, then improvise. His profound honesty inspires the same and then there’s the fun and awe of seeing what happens during the improv. Can’t see this anywhere else unless you tune in to the podcast, but it’s really a treat to attend in person. This week Jimmy interviews Second City’s John Hildreth.
Joe List at The Improv, 5 Woodfield Rd., Mall Store K1 20B, Schaumburg, 7:00 p.m.
“Last Comic Standing” Tour at the Peoria Civic Center, 201 SW Jefferson Ave., Peoria, 7:30 p.m. Featuring finalists Michael Palascak, Andy Erikson, Dominique, Ian Bagg and winner Clayton English. VIP package available. The tour comes to Skokie in December.
Patrick O’Hara at Chicago’s Comedy Scene Radio “Solo Sunday” at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont, 8:00 p.m. ChicagoNow blogger and comedian Patrick O’Hara and Mark Johnson, Kate Meiners, Nancy Key with host Tamale Rocks. Comedians will compete in two seven-minute rounds with the option of doing a set, interacting with the audience or roasting their rivals. Tamale Rocks was September’s winner.
Team StarKid presents, “YES, I AM Afraid of the Dark” at iO, 1501 N. Kingsbury, 8:00 p.m. Improvised musical parody inspired by Nickelodeon’s spookiest programming. The Chicago Tribune said, “Very funny.”
Comedy of Chicago Showcase at Henry’s, 18 W. Hubbard, 8:00 p.m. A showcase curated by the excellent comedyofchicago.com
Mike Speirs at Zanies, 1548 N. Wells, 8:30 p.m.