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6 shows to see at The Comedy Exposition this weekend

Written by
James Kamp

When the behemoth comedy festival brand "Just for Laughs" decided to pull up its stakes and leave Chicago, it left the local comedy scene in the lurch, wondering what the future would hold. Local comics debated whether this was the end of big festivals in the city or whether some other corporate entity would fill the void. But then a group of comedians and producers decided to DIY their own damn festival, and The Comedy Exposition was born.

Billing itself as an independent comedy festival that celebrates the best in local and national stand-up, The Comedy Exposition had an amazing debut in 2014 that went beyond expectations.

Co-founder and producer Matt Byrne is looking forward to the festival's second year. "I'm so excited that my co-producers and I have been able to create something we're all truly proud of," he said. "Taking what we've learned from the success of last year's festival, we've organized what I think is the best weekend of stand-up comedy you'll see in Chicago all year."

That said, here are six can't-miss shows to see at this year's Comedy Exposition.

42 x 42: This special kickoff show features 42 comedians doing 42-second sets, plus four extended sets from special guests. If you're on a budget, this free show is your best bet. (Cole's, 2338 N Milwaukee Ave, July 9, 8pm. Free) 

Arguments & Grievances: Arguments & Grievances is a comedy debate show surrounding truly foolish topics. It was a big crowd favorite at the festival last year. (Schubas, 3159 N Southport Ave, July 10, 6pm. $5)

Megan Gailey and Friends: Former Chicago stand-up comic Megan Gailey is headlining the night at Schubas along with a handful of other current and former Chicago funny people. Other comics will include Bill Cruz, Kenny DeForest, Tommy McNamara and Rebecca O'Neal. (Schubas, 3159 N Southport Ave, July 10, 8pm, $20) 

The Blackout Diaries: Founded by Sean Flannery, this show's premise is to get comedians (and sometimes audience members) on stage to tell true and hilarious drinking stories in front of a live audience. (The Playground, 3209 N Halsted St, July 10, 10pm. $5) 

Stand Up Stand Up: This iteration of Stand Up Stand Up at Crocodile features three great showcases with three monster headliners, all of whom got their start in Chicago. SUSU has morphed into one of the best comedy showcases in the city in the last few years. (Crocodile, 1540 N Milwaukee, July 11, 6:30pm. $5)

Closing Ceremony with Todd Glass & friends: Comedy giant Todd Glass headlines at the swanky Up Comedy Club and will be joined by a surprise lineup of the biggest and best names from the festival. This show should be bananas. (Up Comedy Club, 230 W North Ave, July 12, 8pm. $20)

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