James Allen Kamp is the founder and managing editor of ComedyofChicago.com. James cut his teeth in the comedy scene at the ground breaking Lakeshore Theater. In 2010, after the theater closed he started a Chicago comedy site - his girlfriend would have much rather he got a real job.
10 great open mics for aspiring comedians
Want to get good at stand-up? You've gotta hit open mics. That's it. That's the science of it in a nutshell. Hit as many as possible. Not just your buddy's mic and not just the mic at that dive bar near your apartment. Get out of your comfort zone. Chicago has so many quality open mics right now, there's just no excuse not to be working at this craft every night. But with more than 50 rooms in the city alone, it can be a bit daunting to the uninitiated. Here's a list of ten great Chicago mics for the aspiring comedian. Open Mic @ Jokes and Notes This is the best open mic in Chicago, hands down. You want stage time at a real club? Want a pro DJ, an authentic crowd and a veteran host? J&N is the real deal. Audiences pay a cover with a two drink minimum to get in this legendary Urban comedy club. So you better bring your "A" game, or you might get booed off the stage a la the Apollo Theater. But in terms of real world experience it gets no better. Wednesdays. Sign up 8pm sign up, show 9pm. Chicago Laugh Factory Open Mic If you want to perform stand-up for the most famous comedy brand in the world, then be sure to sign up at LF. Sure, you'll have to wait in line, you can only sign up for next week's show, and the crowd is mostly other comics—but it's worth it. It's a beautiful space and has all the trimmings of a professional theater. Plus it's one of the few mics watched by real bookers. Getting "passed" at the Laugh Factory has immediate benefits and opens the door for opportun
10 stand-up comedy shows to check out in Chicago this fall
It's officially autumn, and you can feel the warmth slowly drain out of the air—and your soul. It really was a sweet summer and no one in their right mind is looking forward to another long Chicago winter. The weather might be starting to get worse, but the local comedy scene does not. In fact, it only gets better. One of the best-kept secrets about Chicago is that as the weather gets colder, more people actually go out for shows. A lot of Chicago club managers will tell you summer is the slow season. That, coupled with the fact that a lot of Chicago's more famous comedians come back to town for the fall and holiday seasons, makes it almost a perfect time for the scene. Here are 10 hot stand-up comedy shows that should definitely be on your radar this fall. Russ Williamson at Zanies: Russ Williamson is a big Chicago favorite with a personality to match. He's been touring all over the country with some of the biggest names in the game. He'll be in town to headline at the legendary Zanies all week long. If you haven't caught Russ yet, this is a great opportunity. (Zanies, 1548 N Wells St, through October 11. $25 plus two-drink minimum.)Epic Comedy Fest 7: More than 40 local and nationally touring comedians will headline and feature at this DIY comedy festival in Edison Park. Highlights include local comedy monsters like Marty Derosa, Natalie Jose, Jeanie Doogan, Tim Barnes, Junior Stopka, Sean White and Dwayne Kennedy. (Various venues, Edison Park, October 13-18. $15–$25.) Bria
Chicago native Joe Kilgallon celebrating debut comedy album tonight
Chicago native Joe Kilgallon, who has been living and working in LA for well over a year now, is returning to town tonight to celebrate the release of his debut comedy album, Pay Attention, now on iTunes. Kilgallon will host a handpicked lineup of some of his favorite Chicago comedians and is expected perform a ton of new material himself. The special show is being produced by his own showcase collective, the wildly popular Comedians You Should Know (CYSK), a stand-up comedy powerhouse made up of some of Chicago's and Los Angeles's funniest comedians. Kilgallon was born and raised in Chicago and cut his teeth in the local comedy scene. He's performed at clubs all over the country, opened for mega acts like as Hannibal Buress and Steve Byrne, and was one of the quickest comedians to get passed at the Hollywood Laugh Factory. In short, this guy's the real deal, and his release party is expected to be bananas. The show and party will take place at Timothy O'Toole's in Streeterville. Doors will open at 8pm, and the show starts at 9. Buy tickets online for $10, or at the door for $15.
Aziz Ansari, other big names headline Oddball Comedy fest
Aziz Ansari, one of comedy's biggest names, will headline this year's much anticipated Oddball Comedy & Curiosity Festival, also featuring big names Jay Pharoah, Nick Kroll and T.J. Miller, among others. In preparation for Oddball, Ansari performed a surprise show at Zanie's last Thursday, much to the delight of Chicago comedy fans. Very Special Guest at Oddball, Amy Schumer, also performed a secret, surprise show at Constellation, most likely prompting more fans to attend the nationally touring fest, only in its third year. The rich lineup for this year's festival brings together some of the best established and up-and-coming comics alike, making for a stacked night of great comedy. Big Jay Oakerson is set to host the Redd's Apple Ale Festival Stage, which is rumored to feature special guests of the highest caliber from Chicago's comedy scene. If you want to see the summer's best lineup of big name comics, head out to Tinley Park this weekend. You won't be disappointed.
Aziz Ansari is doing 3 surprise shows at Zanies tonight
Parks and Recreation star Aziz Ansari is performing three surprise shows tonight at Zanies. Ansari's unexpected Thursday appearance, announced late Wednesday on Twitter and other social media platforms, definitely has the feel of a exclusive pop-up show. This last-minute booking is, most probably, Ansari's crafty way of working out new show material for the upcoming and highly anticipated Oddball Comedy and Curiosity Festival, which starts its tour next week in Missouri with Ansari and Amy Schumer headlining. Big comedy stars choosing smaller venues to tighten material is not uncommon, and Zanies is a great venue for such. The legendary yet intimate comedy club is finely tuned for a big stars like Ansari to hone their craft. Tonight's shows will be at 7pm, 9pm and 11pm and have already sold out.
6 shows to see at The Comedy Exposition this weekend
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 Southpor
How to support the Chicago comedy scene
Being involved in the Chicago comedy scene is a little like sticking your head in a goldfish bowl. Once you're in, it's pretty much all you're gonna be able to deal with; anything outside this strange new world gets drowned out rather quickly. When aspiring comedians in Chicago get bitten by the comedy bug, they get it bad. But it's also a very insular world. "Regular folks" who love comedy are usually completely ignorant about the dynamic Chicago scene and don't know that stand-up comedy happens seven days a week in this town. I'm always a little surprised when I come across "comedy fans" who love the art form but have never been to a show in Chicago. With that in mind, here some tips on how you can support the Chicago comedy scene. Do a little research: I sometimes get a little reluctant to inform someone brand new to Chicago that there are over 50 open mics in this town—it can be a bit overwhelming. What I usually do is tell folks to go online. Six years ago there were few online resources that supported this scene. Now there's a ton. Google "Chicago comedy" and you'll find a plethora of resources to point you in the right direction. Do a little research and you can find the perfect fit, like a comedy club near you, a show on a specific night or even a themed showcase. Check out the clubs: In theory, a decent comedy club has done all the quality control work (hopefully), and all you have to do is show up to watch a great lineup of professional comics. Just be aware that so
Why Chicago needs its own late-night talk show
It's well known that Chicago has a world class comedy scene and that some of the best comedians in the country got their start here. What Chicago does not have is any industry for comedy. Comedians can get to a certain level in Chicago, but then have no choice but to move on and chase their dreams elsewhere. When you think of Saturday Night Live, you immediately think of New York City. But where is Chicago's SNL? Our Daily Show? Our Tonight Show? I argue that the production of a major network late-night comedy show would drastically change the future of Chicago. Not just for a handful of comics, but also for thousands of professionals and businesses that would benefit from the jobs and tourism dollars that would flow into the city. Here are five reasons Chicago need its own late-night talk show. 1. Chicago has world-class talent: Chicago's recent comedy growth has been phenomenal, and a big reason is stage time. Not only are there major clubs but now there is a colossal comedy scene with a ton of open mics and independent showcases. Just six years ago years ago, there were only three or four open mic nights in the city. Today there are well over 50. Sure, that means there are a lot of novices in the mix, but it also means the vets are getting so good it's scary. 2. The fan base is spectacular: America is in the midst of a comedy boom. A big part of that is due to the advent of the Internet and the comedy super-fans that curate and support their favorite artists. Nowhere is th
5 great stand-up comedy spots for a date
With warmer weather fast approaching, single folks are scrambling around to pair up faster then a thumb swipe on Tinder. Looking for the perfect date night? How about a night of comedy for you and that special someone? Sure, dinner and a movie will always have it's place as a standard date option, but it's definitely not the most original idea. Consider taking your date to a local comedy show, because nothing can kindle a little romance better than laughing your ass off together. The Chicago stand-up scene is perfect compliment for those looking to try something a bit different with dozens of clubs and shows for every budget and taste. Parlour Car at Bar Deville: Not only is Parlour Car one of the strongest showcases in town, it's situated at a great date night spot. All the seating is on super plush couches, which immediately sets the scene with a perfect excuse to snuggle up. Low lighting and specialty cocktails complete the mood. The comics are top notch and the price is definitely right. Thursdays. Free. Comedians You Should Know at Timothy O'Toole's Pub: CYSK has set the standard for independent showcases in Chicago. The lineups are impressive and the venue is fancy, but you won't break the bank. Your date will think you splurged, but you can get tickets online for just $5. Wednesdays at 9pm. The Laugh Factory: This is a beautiful venue with a great staff, top comedy and a famous pedigree. If you want to impress a date, Laugh Factory is a good bet. It's a bit pricier wit
10 shows to see at Chicago Improv Fest
The Chicago Improv Festival (which kicked off this week) is in its 18th year, making it it the oldest and longest running improv festival in the world. With over 70 shows at 14 venues, it's a massive undertaking with a stacked schedule that attracts some of the best improv talent in the world. Running from April 20 to 26, it's a definitely a don't-miss happening. Here's are 10 shows that you should seek out at this week's festival. CIF18 PRIDE Night This show will feature several improv groups highlighting the great things about equal rights and sexual diversity. The event is curated by Jacob Welch, who is the art director of the Laugh Out Proud Chicago Comedy Festival. Playground Theater, 3209 N Halsted St. April 21, 7:30pm. $10. CIF18 One World, One Stage Catch some improv from around the world with performers from Poland, Romania, Mexico, Switzerland and Brazil. Comedy Sportz Theatre, 929 W Belmont Ave. April 22, 7pm. $10. Los Improviachis This improvised mariachi band performs traditional music and songs mixed with modern day improvisation and a lot of audience feedback. Comedy Sportz Theatre, 929 W Belmont Ave. April 22, 9pm. $15. Jason Chin Night featuring 3033, Dinner for Six, Whirled News Tonight Late great improv performer Jason Chin will be honored at this year's festival with a posthumous CIF Lifetime Achievement Award. The ceremony will be followed by performances from improv groups Dinner for Six, Whirled News Tonight and 3033. iO Theater, 1501 N Kingsbury St.
Stand Up Stand Up celebrates its 3 year anniversary
The number of independent comedy showcases that can stand the test of time in this town are a very hearty and rare breed. One such showcases is Stand Up Stand Up, which goes down every Thursday in Wicker Park at at the Crocodile lounge. SUSU has became a influential force in the scene and has consistently put up some of the best comedians in the city, including some superstar performers like Hannibal Buress. Three years ago no one had really been able to pull off a successful showcase in Wicker Park. Now there are several shows in this area, but SUSU was the first to pull it off. This week they are celebrating their three-year anniversary. It should be a real bananas show with some incredible Chicago comedians. The lineup includes: -Dave Helem-Marlena Rodriguez-Corey Calvert-Marvin D Phipps-Lara Beitz-Jake McKenzie-Mikey Manker-Keith Paesel-Todd Massey-Sean White Doors are at 8:30pm. Tickets are $3 online and $5 at the door.
The Lincoln Lodge hosts new show in Evanston
The Lincoln Lodge is going to SPACE—in Evanston, that is. Tonight at 8pm the longest running independent showcase in the country will launch its debut show at the North Shore venue with super comedian Ben Kronberg performing for the first time in the Chicago area. The Lincoln Lodge has been an absolute breeding ground for some of the best comedians in Chicago and the country. T.J. Miller, Hannibal Buress, Kyle Kinane, Matt Braunger, Pete Holmes, Kumail Nanjiani and Cameron Esposito have all cut their teeth there. Last year, the showcase lost its home of 14 years, amid much freaking out among fans and comics alike, but eventually moved to the Subterranean in Wicker Park where it's been packing houses. Now the show takes another big endeavor by producing a monthly show in Evanston. Lincoln Lodge producer Ricky Gonzalez said that Todd Barry will be performing at next month's Evanston show on May 22. "I grew up in Evanston and I have always wanted to produce and perform comedy in my hometown," Gonzalez says. "With the help of SPACE, we feel this is something Evanston and Chicago comedy fans will be super-excited about. Even though the show is technically in Evanston, we hope our Chicago fans realize it is not a far venture at all." The inaugural Evanston show starts at 8pm on Wednesday, April 8. Tickets cost $15 for general admission and $22 for a seat in the main table section. You can purchase tickets at Lincoln Lodge's website.