The Steamroller's new podcast!

Very exciting news: The Steamroller is podcasting! Chicago-based writer/improviser/golden boy Harrison George has been recording a series of interviews over the last few months with performers from the Chicago comedy scene, and we're going to release these recordings biweekly, starting today!

Our first episode is a chat with Lee and Matt Barats, who recently moved from Chicago to LA and NYC, respectively. We've got a lot of fun things planned for the coming weeks, and I'm excited for you to hear it!

To hear the show, you can subscribe on iTunes or stream over the internet on the show's dedicated page here on The Steamroller!

Two Bunnies Eating Flowers and their director, Mike Klasek talk process

Earlier this week, Chicago-based writer/performer/director Mike Klasek posted some insight into the rehearsal and idea generation practices he uses when directing sketch group Two Bunnies Eating Flowers on a Facebook thread about experimental comedy. Since my life is one of an audience member, I rarely get to engage with the behind-the-scenes practices of groups like Two Bunnies.

I reached out to Mike about fleshing out this post into something a bit more structured. He wrote up a list of some ideas he's tried out since coming on as the groups director, and had each of the three members of Two Bunnies offer annotations on this list, giving their take on the experiences and experiments. I found the glimpse into the processes of one of the most unique sketch groups going super interesting and I hope you do too!

Two Bunnies Eating Flowers are at Sketchfest tomorrow night, Saturday January 17th at 11pm. Tickets are available now!

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Seven Minutes in Purgatory returns to Chicago November 18th!

Ian Abramson and The Steamroller's standup comedy science experiment Seven Minutes in Purgatory returns to Chicago with a special one night only event on Tuesday, November 18th at 7pm!

Standup comedians perform their material directly to a camera alone in a soundproof room while the audience watches live onscreen at the beautiful and historic Music Box Theater.

Guests include Danny Kallas, Mike Lebovitz, Rebecca O'Neal, Candy Lawrence, Jeff Steinbrunner, Trey Brown, and John Eisenrich.

This show doubles as the tour kickoff event for Thanksgiving in Purgatory: Ian Abramson on Tour, which will take Ian and Seven Minutes in Purgatory all over the Midwest in the following two weeks. Comics in Denver, Omaha, and Kansas City will have the chance to participate in their own pop-up edition of 7MiP before Ian moves to Los Angeles in December.

Poster design by Tim Giuliani

Poster design by Tim Giuliani

Interview: Harrison George of Seance: An Exploration Of The Metaphysical Hosted By Ms. Ella Rothschild

 Chicago-based improvisors Harrison George and Libby Schreiner have concocted an impressively ambitious new horror show, which takes audiences of 10 through a series of sporadically interactive scenes, full of detailed props and dark characters. CIC is converted into a Victorian mansion owned by Ms. Ella Rothschild, we meet a spiritual medium whose seances have unsettling and unexpected results.

Going beyond the typical "guy in a mask with a chainsaw" manipulations, Harrison and Libby have opted for more challenging scares with their take on a haunted house, using their experience as comedic performers to explore darker topics. Following a successful opening weekend, I spoke with Harrison about the show's creation and his motivations behind crafting an experience like this one.

A few tickets remain for this weekend's shows, which happen every hour, on the hour, from 1pm-5pm this Saturday and Sunday, October 25th and 26th. Reserve those by emailing cic.seance@gmail.com now!

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Freak Happening: The Real Story

Today is the 2nd anniversary of The Steamroller.

If you've ever written, read, or re-posted something from the site in these last two years, thank you!

If you've ever performed on or came out to an event produced by The Steamroller, thank you!

I rarely appear onstage or screen, that sort of thing is not really for me. That said, when I found out the a documentary team was hoping to get an inside look at the history of the monthly comedy show I help produce, Freak Happening, which also recently celebrated an anniversary, I was happy to take a seat in front of the camera and share my experiences.

Happy Birthday Steamroller. Happy Birthday Freak Happening. Happy Birthday everyone.

Harrison George On The Closing of The Upstairs Gallery

In 1964 Isaac Asimov was asked to speculate on what life in the year 2014 would look like. Some of his predictions were spot on (cordless appliances), while others were way off (flying cars). The goal of this piece is something similar, to attempt in some small way to predict what Chicago might look like in the next 1-5 years.

Last month we saw the closing of The Upstairs Gallery, an ambitious 3 year experiment in alternative-theater spacework. Now that the theater’s closed, I’m wondering what comes next, if we’ll see new spaces inspired by Upstairs; an UG 2.0 if you will.

There are lots of ways things will be affected by UG’s closing. Here are my guesses.

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The Steamroller presents: Manchilds on Film with Daniel Kibblesmith and Cullen Crawford!

Tonight at The Hideout, The Steamroller will present a special one night only engagement featuring Onion/Clickhole writers Cullen Crawford and Daniel Kibblesmith doing goofs on/about/inspired by the 2007 action/fantasy film 300. Manchilds on Film will feature sketch, film commentary, and the potential for audience participation if we're not all too shy!

Things kick off at 8pm and tickets cost $5.