Just for you
Follow our guide to the best of the Just for Laughs fest.
After agonizing over schedule conflicts, tough travel times between venues and not enough cash on hand, we’ve concluded it’s plain impossible to see everything at this year’s TBS Just for Laughs (JFL) festival. But we have come up with an itinerary that allows us to have our cake and eat (most of) it too.
Start your weekend of funny with Internet wunderkind Jon Lajoie (7pm, Lakeshore Theater). The Montreal-based comic uses rap to parody both contemporary culture and the underachieving douche bag in us all.
Grab another beer and bucket of popcorn, and settle back in for The Unaired Bozo Circus Parody (8:30pm, Lakeshore), featuring Chicago alums Robert Smigel (SNL, Late Night with Conan O’Brien) and Dino Stamatopoulos (Mr. Show, MADtv). In 2001, the duo teamed up for Comedy Central’s short-lived TV Funhouse (a spin-off of the SNL sketch); at the fest, they’ll screen their never-before-aired pilot, a spoof of Chicago’s beloved Bozo show. Crass and crude canine Triumph the Insult Comic Dog might make a cameo.
Next, dash to Uptown for Messing with a Friend (10:30pm, Annoyance Theatre). Yep, you can see Susan Messing perform this two-person improvised show anytime, but when the house is full, she amps it up to 11.
If you have the cojones to keep going, Red Line it back to Addison for Best of Sketchfest (midnight, iO), where Bob Odenkirk (Mr. Show, SNL) will introduce homegrown and national sketch-comedy greats.
Game changer Skip Smigel and his rude pooch, and instead ride the Brown Line to North Center for Homecoming (9pm, Lincoln Lodge), featuring a smorgasbord of excellent former Chicago stand-ups.
There are a couple of worthy competitors right out of the gate: the Rusell Peters Hosts an All-Star Comedy Show (7pm, the Chicago Theatre), boasts a night of top-notch talent, and David Alan Grier’s Comedy You Can Believe In (7pm, Vic Theatre), but we’re beelining it to Lakeview for Double Threat (7pm, Lakeshore) starring Scotland’s Danny Bhoy and impressionist Jim Breuer.
Afterward, Odenkirk and David Cross (Arrested Development), the geniuses behind Mr. Show, reunite for Bob, David and Friends (8:30pm, Lakeshore), an evening of twisted comedy with surprise guests.
Stroll over to Belmont and Halsted for the After Hours Reunion (10:30pm, Playground Theater), a stellar, homegrown doubleheader that reunites boundary-breaking sketch-improv troupe American Dream and brainy bunch Chuckle Sandwich. Big Yellow Bus opens.
Then cab it to the Annoyance for Green Room with Paul Provenza (midnight, Annoyance), in which comic impresario Provenza (The Aristocrats) chats with fellow comics.
Game changer Rewrite your night to include Louis CK, Jim Jeffries, Nick DiPaolo and Patrice O’Neal live and raw in The Nasty Show (9:30pm, Vic).
Skip some of the high-profile fare and start the night with Chicagoan and ex-SNLer Tim Meadows at The Very Funny Show (7:30pm, Zanies), a stand-up showcase to be taped for a new TBS series. Next, hit the only JFL appearance of Jimmy Fallon: Live in Concert (9:30pm, Vic). We’ve always got our eye on funny guy Fallon, especially now that he’s acclimating himself to Conan’s old slot.
Take in some local fare with the reprise of the much-ballyhooed Don’t Spit the Water (10:30pm, Playground), the live game show in which contestants fill their mouths with H2O while comics try and tickle their funny bone.
Finally, drag your tired ass over to iO for the return of the culty Late Night Late Show (midnight, iO), an improvised talk-show parody.
Game changer Skip Spit and hit Positivity (10:30pm, Lakeshore), African-American comic Patrice O’Neal’s unabashed and uncensored take on relationships, politics and other matters in need of comic relief.
For the fest’s final day, go to church: Best Church of God (1pm, Annoyance) kicks our fundamentalist friends right in the crotch with a no-holds-barred parody of religious-based bigotry and evangelical zeal.
Game changer Damn, we’re tired. But we’re also curious to check out Michael Showalter of Stella, The State and Wet Hot American Summer (7pm, Lakeshore) in a show with musical comic Owen Benjamin.
TBS Presents Just for Laughs Chicago happens all weekend. For daily updates from the fest, visit timeoutchicago.com/blog.