Barack All Night (Saturdays at midnight at iO) He glad-hands! He dances to Al Green! He even does callbacks! In a bid for reelection, President Obama has taken to hosting a talk show. That’s the premise of this sweet, late-night gab fest hosted by Patrick Rowland as number 44 and offering the same combination of guests both real and fake (comedians, celebs, musical guests, etc.) as previous iO talk-show offerings like El Show and the Late Night Late Show. Despite the Siberian time slot, Rowland superbly nails Obama in tonality, inflection and gesticulations and even captures the President’s charming nerdiness while using the show’s format to take frequent swipes at Mitt Romney and the GOP. He seriously impresses.
One Nation Under 1% (Weekly at the UP Comedy Club) Billy Bungeroth (the visionary director behind recent Second City hits like The Absolute Best Friggin’ Time of Your Life and South Side of Heaven) takes the helm for this election-season shootout that mixes archival material (something we’re never crazy about) with original scenes. Our reason to be hopeful is that folks like Mainstage vets Katie Rich and Edgar Blackmon contributed their writing talents, and cast members like Ryan Archibald, Ross Bryant and Claudia Michelle Wallace are no slouches. Best of all, this show is no partisan hack. Expect satirical arrows to fly in both directions.
SATURDAY/Saturday (Saturdays at 10:30pm at iO) There was a moment during a recent visit to this weekly variety show that was more frightening than funny. iO vet Jason Chin (co-creator of the overtly political iO staple Whirled News Tonight) was hosting a quiz show in which he grilled three audience members about their knowledge of the United States using actual questions from the U.S. Citizenship Test. When he asked one contestant how many members of Congress there were, she answered 14 (there are 438). Shocking though her ignorance was, there’s a lot to like about this hybrid sketch, improv and game show. Although it’s only partially political (maybe 30–40 percent), in addition to the citizenship quiz it also included an improvised debate between Romney and Obama and a game in which a contestant was given trivia related to two famous cheese-heads—Jeffrey Dahmer and Paul Ryan—and tasked with determining who said or did it (disturbingly, the game was harder than you’d think).
Bill Maher (October 14 at Genesee Theatre, Waukegan) Have you been watching Real Time lately? Maher’s been delightfully self-righteous and vicious as he’s sharpened his talons on VP pick Paul Ryan, nut job Todd Akin and even the hapless indecisions and lack of ideas within the Democratic leadership. His live shows are much like his Real Time monologues so expect rapid-fire political zingers coupled with rants about religion (during which a half dozen audience members will walk out).
The Kinsey Sicks (October 19 at Mayne Stage) They’re a drag “beauty-shop” quartet that advocates for social and political change through outrageous a cappella numbers. They’re also hysterical. Their current tour, Electile Dysfunction: The Kinsey Sicks for President, takes on our political system with catchy numbers and bitchy charm, and there’s no question which side of the aisle these “ladies” from San Francisco sit on. Sing it, sisters!
Jamie Kilstein (November 14 at Mayne Stage) You may not recognize the name of this comedian and raconteur. That’s because he’s so far to the left that many U.S. audiences find his humor too polarizing and off-putting (he’s big overseas). All we can say is, thank God (not that atheist Kilstein believes in an almighty) for his fearless and righteous voice, whether he’s taking on a woman’s right to choose or marriage equality. Kilstein appears a week after the November elections, so expect him to be fired up (regardless of the winner).