Mike’s Hard’s Hard Laughs Festivade: Your Best Bets

Tomorrow night at the Upstairs Gallery is the second annual Mike's Hard's Hard Laughs Festivade sketch festival, and is definitely the only sketch comedy festival happening this weekend in Chicago. Producer/founder of the festivade, Brian McGovern is here with a guide to some of the best of the fest, hitting the stage tomorrow at 10:30pm. Mike's Hard's Hard Laughs Festivade is a totally free, BYOB affair.

With so many sketch groups coming in from out of town for Chicago’s only Sketch Comedy Festival sponsored by Mike’s Hard Lemonade, it can be a little overwhelming to know which acts to check out.

Well this year The Steamroller and the fest’s curator, Brian McGovern, have made a list of the hardest acts guaranteed to get the hardest laughs. We’ve compiled this list using the most accurate and foolproof methods available to modern journalists to determine who is the funniest: by looking at performer-submitted bios and press photos.

Just a reminder: these are just some of the fantastic acts performing at the Festivade. You should also be on the lookout for some other exciting out of town acts that bear a striking resemblance to Chicago’s finest sketch comedians including Andrew Tisher, Michael Brunlieb, Tim Baltz, John Reynolds and a whole lot more all within the time frame of 10:30 to about midnight.

Read More

Pizza Party presents The Perfect Show, in three acts

I interviewed Pizza Party, a three man improv troupe made up of Walt Delaney, Alex Honnet, and Brian McGovern, for Chicagoist a few weeks ago, and recently checked out one of their Tuesday night shows alongside Where Da Party At? in the Del Close Theater at iO. After these two fun as heck experiences, I can safely say that they're one of my favorite teams going right now.

The boys were nice enough to craft this trio of perfect improv scenes, so as to give readers a taste of what to expect from an ideal Pizza Party set. Check it out below, and be sure to catch them at iO, Tuesday nights at 10:30 through August 6th.

Read More

Brian McGovern's top five Cheers teasers!

DRUGSEX Incorporated is a monthly sketch show at the Public House Theatre, a recently opened written comedy oasis. Each month’s show tackles an insanely high concept in the goofiest way possible; tomorrow night’s show, The Cheers Show, consists entirely of original scenes written in the style of the classic cold open scenes that kick off every episode of Cheers. Brian McGovern, the producer of DRUGSEX, is here with a list of classic Cheers cold opens to prime you for tomorrow night’s show. The Cheers Show is at 11pm tomorrow night (Saturday, May 11th) at the Public House Theatre.

Read More

Interview: Facemelt

Every Thursday this month, two two-person sketch teams from the Kill All Comedy collective, TV Screams and Dumbface, will perform their new conjoined sketch show, Facemelt at iO. All four performers involved with the show, Steph Cook and Joey Dundale from TV Screams, and Devin Bockrath and Brian McGovern from Dumbface, were nice enough to talk to me about their background and the process behind putting up Facemelt.

Read More

Interview: Brian McGovern of the Mike's Hard's Hard Laughs Festivade Sketch Comedy Festival

Brian McGovern, formerly of the popular local sketch team The Other Other Guys, is one of the curators behind the Mike's Hard's Hard Laughs Festivade Sketch Comedy Festival, which takes over the Upstairs Gallery tomorrow, (Saturday 1/12). The lineup features performances from Sovereign, TV Screams, Morgan Lord & Anthony Oberbeck, Claire Mulaney, Gary Richardson, and John Reynolds, plus drink specials from mixologist Carmen Christopher.

The Steamroller: What's your relationship with the Chicago comedy scene (and the sketch scene in particular)?
Brian McGovern: I love the sketch scene in the city. It's a deceptively small group of super hard-working people. When you see 10,000 performers from 2,000 groups are performing at Chicago Sketchfest it makes it seem like sketch is this booming, over-saturated thing. But then you look at the lineup, and see the people and groups that are out there hustling for the 50 other weeks in the year, maybe like a dozen stick out from that list. I want the sketch scene to be more vibrant and be populated by 10,000 people, but it seems like a lot of performers need a big festival, or a contest, or an audition to feel motivated to write anything.
 
That's the real scene to me. And admittedly I'm excluding what might be just as awesome of a community by not including whatever is happening in the minor leagues of Second City, but I'm most interested in people who are at it all the time, pushing past singing about relationship clichés, or performing sketches called "Crazy Blind Date" and "The Third Thing I'm Going to Say Is Going to Be the Funniest, I Promise You." Not that those can't work. I mean guys, blind dates ARE crazy... and the third thing is ALWAYS the funniest.
 
TS: You were a member of The Other Other Guys, a team that a lot of folks were fans of, what was the reasoning behind your dissolution last year?
BM: Two founding members, Eric Roth and Eric Siegel, moved to L.A. I think it was good timing though. We had been developing a style and voice since we started working together and we really hit our stride while doing The Other Other Show at iO. Every month was new and the shows became less about making sketches and more about trying to pull off these absurd, sprawling narratives. I loved it, but it felt appropriate to retire that before it destroyed us or got stale.
 
TS: What are you working on these days?
BM: I am working on a show with Devin Bockrath (also from The Other Other Guys) that will run at iO in February. It will be crazy. I'm also directing a show by the sketch duo Sovereign that starts on Jan. 18 at CIC. There will be nudity.
 
I am also the least funny and confident cast member at Holy Fuck Comedy Hour at Annoyance and I run a weekly sketch variety show at CIC called All of It All the Time with Mike Klasek. I haven't really contributed much to this site, but you can see my headshot at http://killallcomedy.com/
 
TS: You work for Jellyvision writing for You Don't Know Jack, what's an average day for you like over there?
BM: Sorry, I just got distracted thinking about how crazy blind dates are. Think of all the personality quirks that person might have! And you wouldn't know until you get to the restaurant! Not only that, but there could be a waiter that is both unrealistically sassy AND attentive!
 
Anyways, an average day at Jellyvision consists of reminding people they can play YOU DON'T KNOW JACK on Facebook and their Apple Devices!!! Lately though I've mostly been working on this new game that everyone will love.
 
TS: What was the inspiration for Mike's Hard's Hard Laughs Festivade Sketch Comedy Festival? Is there a common thread connecting the various performers on the lineup?
BM: I brought up Sketchfest earlier and the only reason I'm bringing it up again is because the common thread of this show is that nearly all of it's performers had to politely decline the opportunity to perform at Sketchfest. We would have paid the $50 it costs to apply. We would have bugged our friends to pay $14 to see us play. We would have sold out shows for multiple years in the past only to be denied from performing at this year's festival. We would have done all of that, but then I got a call from Mike's Hard Lemonade.
 
TS: How did you come to work with Mike's Hard?
BM: Mike's Hard Lemonade is a great company. Mike's Hard is really dedicated to supporting local artists who exhibit the same HARD EDGE and BITING ATTITUDE that is consistent with their brand. All of the performers at the Festivade (including John Reynolds, TV Screams, Sovereign, Gary Richardson, and Morgan Lord & Anthony Oberbeck) all perform refreshing and thirst-quenching sketch comedy that leaves you feeling as good as you would feel after taking a shot of grain alcohol filtered through a stack of tangy Airheads.
 
So when their head of alternative-marketing, Margaret Demonvessel, called me up I was honestly surprised at being surprised. It really is the perfect fit for a perfect night of comedy. So they graciously gave us the funds to put up the show at Upstairs Gallery ($10,000) and the rest is Hard-story (which is Mike's Hard Lemonade's edgy-revisionist view of history).
 
Anthony Oberbeck said it best when I approached him about performing, "If life gives you hard things, make hard lemonade." And let me tell you, this Festivade is going to be standing at attention, ready to chip a tooth.
 
TS: What can an audience member expect when coming out to the show this weekend?
BM: Because of Mike's Hard Lemonade's generous ($10,000) donation, people can expect to see FREE comedy at Upstairs Gallery starting at 8 p.m. They can also expect a couple of folks from the Mike's Hard Lemonade company popping in to talk about the product and why it's always been the most important part of the alternative comedy scene, even if no one has known it.
 
The head of mixology from Mike's Hard Lemonade, Carmen Christopher, will be there teaching everyone how dope mixed drinks can be once they get hard, Mike's-style. Also the P.R. extraordinaire, Margaret Demonvessel (who looks an awful like local comedian/improviser Claire Mulaney) will also be there. Basically it will be the best night of sketch comedy this two week period in January has ever seen. And that's a hard promise.