5 Solo Shows to see Tonight!

It's no secret that Chicago's a hotbed for up-and-coming solo sketch performers: on any given night you'll find several comedians taking the stage at various venues across town, offering up an hour or so of this performance style that blends storytelling, sketch, and standup.

Tonight (Wednesday, July 23rd) is one such night, with several equally intriguing concepts being presented by some of the city's most interesting and creative minds. We've narrowed down our top 5 picks to catch, the rest is up to you!

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The Steamkend approaches!

This weekend, The Steamroller is presenting a pair of very exciting events: A semi-formal fundraiser for The Comedy Exposition and A Jangleheart Circus at Goofballs United on Friday, and the second and final (for a while) edition of Seven Minutes in Purgatory, a science experiment of a comedy show hosted by Ian Abramson.

This confluence of two extremely high quality comedy shows in one weekend will be known from now on as The first annual STEAMKEND.

More info on both shows below!

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What I Learned From Samantha Irby by It's All True's Tim Barnes

It's All True is an excellent podcast hosted by Chicago-based writer and comedian Tim Barnes. The show is produced by local comedy news site The Whiskey Journal and is now an officially sanctioned WBEZ podcast. Each week, Tim will be checking in with his thoughts on his most recent show. This week's guest was Chicago-based author Samantha Irby. Here's what Tim learned from his talk with Samantha!

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7 Reasons to check out Seven Minutes In Purgatory by Ian Abramson

7 Minutes in Purgatory is a show produced by me, Ian Abramson, in conjunction with The Steamroller, where comedians perform to a camera, and the audience watches live from another room.

We're doing it again, ONCE MORE, on Saturday, June 21st, then not again for quite a while, so you're going to want to check this one out.

Not sold? You can watch the entirety of the first show in a series of Youtube videos embedded below, accompanied by an explanation of why you should watch each set.

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Obsession: The Animotion Story! by Dan Ronan

Shortly after Dan moved to Los Angeles with us, he sent out a work compilation/summary to a management company that was interested in him. (For the record, they snatched him up immediately.) This included things like his bio, resume, headshot, a list of monologue jokes, his original pilot script, a clip of a stand-up set, and the Skunky Funkybuns video.

I was already intimately aware of all of this material, except for one other thing he included. It was a very funny and highly personal comedic article about his obsessive compulsive disorder. I had completely forgotten about it until now, and then it occurred to me that almost no one had ever read it. I honestly believe Dan wanted people to read this, but just had no place to put it. I'm excited to share this with everyone, both for people who knew and loved him and for people who never got the chance.

-Joe Kwaczala

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Interview: Irene Marquette, director and creator of The Raven and The Messenger

Thank god for The Annoyance. There is nowhere else in Chicago that would but such immense support behind an original comedy/drama/musical about Jim Jones that isn't about Jonestown. In addition to the really, really great new Mick Napier-directed sketch show Invisible World, the brand new Annoyance Theatre is staging the world premiere of The Raven and The Messenger a new play created and directed by friend of The Steamroller, Curio Show curator, and Super Human Irene Marquette, and written by The Reckoning's Charlie McCrackin.

The Raven and The Messenger explores the relationship forged between 1960s spiritual leader Father Devine and Peoples Temple leader Jim Jones, who would eventually absorb Devine's followers into the Peoples Temple. The cast features Paul Jurewicz, Greg Hollimon, Sarah Ashley, Laurel Krabacher, and Michael Brunlieb, with original music by Lisa McQueen. The show opens tonight, (Friday, June 6th) at The Annoyance at 8pm and runs every Friday through July 25th.

In anticipation of tonight's premiere, I spoke with Irene about the show and got her thoughts on why media based around New Religious Movement is so engaging.

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