Shine Box Comedy in Logan Square | Comedy Review

Shine Box Comedy is a group of five local comedians who set out to book standup shows exclusively in Logan Square, offering an alternative to the many, many Northside and Loop-based rooms. The bars are darker, the drinks are cheaper, and the crowds are hipper at the three venues Shine Box currently produces shows- The Burlington, Crown Tap Room, and The Owl.

The thought process behind compiling a Logan Square-based collective was simple: All five comics live in the northwest Chicago neighborhood and noticed a lack of comedy shows nearby, which was strange, as the area has become an integral part of the city's underground arts scene in recent years. Many of their comedic peers also live in or around the square, which makes booking the show a breeze. Since the producers aren't lacking for options when booking a standup showcase in such a neighborhood, other regulations had to be put into place. "We try to book at least one weirdo on each show," says Stephanie Hasz, one of the producers, "or maybe two half-weirdos." Extra care is taken to give stage time to women as a means of fomenting the ever-growing battalion of female comics in the city.

I checked out a recent Shine Box-produced show at The Owl, dubbed TBD Comedy. It featured sets from producers Anthony McBrien and Stephanie Hasz, as well as a pair of the requisite half-weirdos (Ken Witzgall and Mike Sheehan) and two comics who have both been cited by local press as the best in Chicago, James Fritz and Sherman Edwards. To an intimate crowd of roughly 15, Hasz went on a tear of sexual frustration with a fury and vulnerability rarely seen from female comics, before relinquishing the stage to the evening's offbeat acts. Another highlight came while Sheehan was mime-caressing an invisible butt for nearly a minute straight (don't ask). The absurdly repetitive act drove one audience member to fervently cry out "stop it!" over the rising and falling giggles throughout the room, only adding to the ridiculousness of the whole thing. Moments like this embody the divey, DIY feel of Shine Box shows, evoking the thrilling feeling that the performers are somehow getting away with something on stage.

Upcoming Shine Box shows include Shine Box Classic every first Monday at 9pm at The Burlington, Crown Comedy at 9pm every second Monday at the Crown Tap and TBD Comedy at 10pm every third Monday at The Owl. See Listings.

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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)