The regular: James Fritz at Resi's Bierstube
Resi’s Bierstube 2034 W Irving Park Rd, 773-472-1749
As the lights come up at the Lincoln Lodge stand-up showcase one wintry Friday night, comedian James Fritz slowly dons a hoodie, scarf and coat. It’s a short walk, but he’ll have a cigarette along the way. The other comics in attendance—performers or supporters, like Fritz—hang back until he moseys over and nods, stroking his beard. “You goin’ out?” he asks. No further explanation is needed. He’s headed to Resi’s Bierstube.
Aside from its proximity to the Lodge, this venerable German spot, with its impressive garden and imported brew selection, is the perfect comedian hangout. There’s the $2 mystery beer (“You pray it’s not Stroh’s,” comic Mike Lebovitz says) and the bartenders who play good indie tunes and are quick to dispense the “funny juice,” as comics call it. Even in summer, the comedians take over the indoor red-leather booths, shouting comedic bits back and forth. “Some don’t know how to turn it off,” our bartender shares with a smile. “Or they play the Ghostbusters theme on the jukebox 19 times in a row.” Fritz loses it in a fit of laughter. Oh, he remembers.
Tonight’s not out of control—those evenings are reserved for out-of-towners’ visits—but the few comics here, standing at the bar, are a rambunctious bunch. Fritz, a scene staple for five years, carries on the proud tradition of cracking his friends up with spontaneous takedowns of Jay Leno (“Even fuckin’ Ellen is edgier than him”), Jimmy Fallon (“He’s fuckin’ amazed by paint drying”) and a heavily mascaraed girl at the bar (“It must be like fucking JonBenét Ramsey’s corpse”). Lebovitz recalls the time the police showed up to question him about his stolen car; he’d reported it missing, though it was parked outside his apartment. Here, the laughter always flows like mystery beer.