Just for laughs
Your kick-ass guide to this year's funniest festival.
You won’t see it all, so don’t even try. But if you plan your week carefully, there’s comic gold to be mined at this year’s Just for Laughs festival—the second annual Chicago installment of the Montreal yukfest which brings 40-plus shows and hundreds of comics to town for five days of funny. We’ve laid out our picks including alternate plans for finicky festival goers.
JFL kicks off with Chicago Underground Comedy Presents: Secret Big-Time Local Comedy Showcase (8pm, Beat Kitchen)—basically an amped-up version of what ChUC does weekly but crammed with top local jokers such as Adam Burke, Cameron Esposito, James Fritz, Junior Stopka and Hey You Millionaires.
Since tickets to both Ellen DeGeneres and Aziz Ansari have sold out (damn!), tonight’s game plan just got easier. Start off with the fast-paced, whip-smart improv of L.A.-based supergroup Beer Shark Mice (8pm, iO). Next, dash to Uptown for Comedy Death-Ray Podcast (10pm, Annoyance Theatre) and see which celebs pop in for the live recording of Scott Aukerman’s insanely popular weekly comedy show.
Game changer A hometown hero returns in Drinking Buddies with T.J. Miller (9pm, Lincoln Lodge). At this night of jokes and beer, Miller will knock back a few with fellow comics Kyle Kinane, Mike Bridenstine and James Fritz.
You’ll need running shoes to make it to all of tonight’s lineup. The Second City bowed out of last year’s fest to focus on its 50th, but this year it presents The Second City Alumni Reunion Show Class of ’79 (8pm, Second City), which reunites George Wendt, Jim Belushi, Danny Breen, Tim Kazurinsky and Bernadette Birkett, among others. Afterward, run like hell a few blocks north to catch a live presentation of Rob Corddry’s offensive, but-gusting new Adult Swim series Childrens’ Hospital (9:30pm, Park West), with Corddry, David Wain, Erinn Hayes and Jonathan Stern. Then hoof it up to Rogers Park for the late-night Double Threat (11pm, Mayne Stage), an evening of alt comedy with the amazing Kristen Schaal and a second TBA comic. Saturday’s version of Double Threat should be equally impressive; it boasts Patrice O’Neal and Hannibal Buress.
Game changer Since Childrens’ Hospital hits the airwaves in July anyway, you can skip it in favor of Team Coco Presents the Conan Writers Live (7pm, Bank of America Theatre), an L.A.-based show featuring Andy Richter and Reggie Watts.
First, ingest some filth at ,,ste The Nasty Show(7pm, Vic Theatre), a night of F-bombs hosted by perennial roaster Greg Giraldo and featuring Jim Norton and Mike Wilmot. Next, go local with Alone: Chicago’s Best Solo Acts (10pm, Playground Theater), whose dynamite lineup of Chicago artists includes Kate Duffy, Seth Weitberg and Chris Witaske. Cap off your evening with An Evening with Leon Black and Friends (midnight, Park West). Comic JB Smoove originated character/alter-ego Leon Black for Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Game changer If gross-out sex jokes aren’t your bag, ditch The Nasty Show and instead hit up The Andy Kaufman Funhouse (8pm, Lincoln Lodge), a night of cutting-edge comedy with local and national acts like Mike Amato, Ken Barnard, Chris Condren, Jet Eveleth, Blaine Kneece and Michael Lehrer.
It’s the homestretch, but we’re not done laughing yet. Lakeshore regulars Patton Oswalt, Chris Hardwick and the incomparable Maria Bamford headline a night of stand-up, Alt Comedy (7pm, Vic Theatre). Catch the once-in-a-lifetime event Da Bears Movie Dat Wasn’t (10pm, Park West), a staged reading of the never-made flick based on SNL’s popular Super Fans sketch, with Joe Mantegna, George Wendt, Robert Smigel, Bob Odenkirk and Richard Roeper. This year’s Sketchfest rocked, so cap off JFL by heading down the street for the late-night Sketch-travaganza: The Best of Sketchfest (midnight, Studio BE).
Game changer In Bronzeville, comedy club Jokes and Notes hosts a smorgasbord of South Side comics with back-to-back shows Bad Boys of Comedy (8:30pm), a night of foul-mouthed zingers, and Best of the Midwest (10:30pm), featuring B. Cole, Howard G., Jerome Parks and Ray Lipowski.
TBS Presents Just for Laughs Chicago happens Tuesday 15–June 19. For daily updates from the fest, visit timeoutchicago.com/blog.