The Comedy Evening at The Ace Bar | Comedy Review
Forget for a moment that Emily Lake's material is as solid as its ever been or that Drew Michael is so good that he kills whenever he hits the stage or that L.A. comedian Nick Thune swung by for a surprise headlining set. The comedians will change from week to week, but lineup be damned there are still so many reasons why you should check out the The Comedy Evening, a near-perfectly produced night of stand-up comedy at Lincoln Park's Ace Bar. The Comedy Evening, formerly Chi-Town Comedy and also Enron Presents: The Montogmery Ward and Friends Comedy Evening, works not because its comics are great (although some are), but because the room (like the Lincoln Lodge and the Comedians You Should Know) inspires great work.
Unlike most stand-up nights, The Comedy Evening has a consistent presence in producer and weekly host Dan Friesen and sidekick and DJ Nate Burrows and this is a good thing. Friesen dons a suit (a nice touch) as he warms up the crowd with a few jokes and most importantly, keeps the show moving. We'll miss him in November, when he will start swapping in guest hosts. But Friesen's ace in the hole is Burrows, a constant presence onstage who cranks out musical intros for each performer via laptop while also serving as a de facto sidekick. There was something downright infectious about seeing Burrows crack up every time a comic nailed it with a zinger, almost like a mirror was being held up for the audience.
The space itself is handsome. The stage is stacked from floor to ceiling with vintage speakers, and flickering candles give the room a cabaret glow. The Comedy Evening felt tucked away, even though Ace Bar is near the conspicuous intersection of Ashland and Fullerton. Monday is mostly a dead zone for Chicago theater, and it felt like the Comedy Evening has already cultivated a following that is in the know.
Meanwhile, the comics themselves mostly killed. I hadn't seen Andrew Halter in a while, and he amused with a joke about the holocaust. Drew Michael, meanwhile, took a few punches at our political system while trying to imagine the world through the eyes of a pedophile. The Comedy Evening keeps an artist-in-residence, a comic who's given a slot each week for an entire month, and in this case it was an animated Mikey Manker who threw out a few barbs at his born-again Christian mother while trying to understand why his elderly dad has eight cock rings. A few visitors included St. Louis comedian Frankie Chubb, L.A. comic Nicholas Rutherford—and Thune, who has long been a favorite of mine and is in town shooting a film.
When it rains it pours. In 2012 Chicagoland gained several new permanent homes for stand-up including the UP Comedy Club, the Laugh Factory and Zanies in Rosemont. Hopefully, we can add The Comedy Evening at Ace Bar to that list.