New Kill All Comedy mixtape!

Steph Cook and the Kill All Comedy gang are back with a new pilot-length video sketch mixtape that showcases some familiar faces from the Steamroller and elsewhere around Chicago comedy scene. Highlights include a bathroom cleaning tutorial from our friend Annie Donley and Jeff Murdoch as a man helping a baby pick up babes at a nightclub. 

The KAC collective continues to produce tons of bizarre, conceptual comedy, and these mixtapes are a great intro to the many styles and perspectives present in the group. Check out volume 4 below!

The Steamroller's best of 2013

My favorite part of doing this website is getting to spotlight the work being done by the most talented people in the hugely exciting and talented Chicago comedy community. I reached out to a bunch of these people and other friends of The Steamroller to share their top five favorite people, places, and things from Chicago comedy 2013. Check out a huge list of top fives, as well as my personal list, below!

Matt Byrne

Favorite thing: The Late Live Show

This shouldn't be a shock to anyone familiar with The Steamroller. The Late Live Show was the best comedy show of any kind in Chicago, and now it lives in L.A., where Real Actual Famous People are guests (like Mad Men's Rich Sommer and Freaks and Geeks' Samm Levine). The final run of shows earlier this year at iO were some of the funniest, most well-executed nights of comedy I've ever seen; it was so exciting to see a collective with such a strong, specific comedic voice come into their own in front of packed houses week after week. They're coming back next month for a handful of shows at iO and SketchFest, and I couldn't be more excited.

Favorite festival: A Jangleheart Circus

I can't believe how perfect A Jangleheart Circus was. On paper, a three day festival of improv and sketch from over 100 (mostly local) independent teams and performers might sound well intentioned but ultimately unrealistic. In real life, it was electrifying proof of the power of Chicago's underground improv comedy scene. Endless congratulations are due to the festivals' organizers, Alex, Walt, and Caitlin, the folks responsible for making the Upstairs Gallery the palace of comedy it is. Jangleheart packed an unbelievable number of friendly, clued-in comedy people (performers and fans alike) into one venue, filling out shows on three separate stages, distilling everything that's cool and energizing about SketchFest into one no bullshit Summer weekend.

Favorite one-off/concept show: Henry Soapfloats' Funeral/HIJINKS November (tie)

I've written a whole bunch about both Hijinks (the monthly show produced by Two Bunnies Eating Flowers and Sovereign at the Public House Theater) and Henry Soapfloats' funeral (organized by local standup Ian Abramson) on here, so, again, this should come as no surprise. Ian Abramson's Funeral For A Prop Comic was a delightfully absurd, fully realized vision put on in a death trap of a basement, featuring some of the funniest, strangest up-and-coming standups in the city flexing their solo sketch muscles.

I posted a breathless wrapup of The HIJINKS Trolley Show earlier this month, and want to reiterate one last time that it was one of the most delightful things I'd ever seen, made all the more special considering of the pitch-black darkness the two teams behind HIJINKS are generally known for. It felt like one of those shows that, in 15 years, 300 people will talk about as if they were there. They weren't.

Favorite internet thing: Garfbert

Yes Yes Garfbert Yes!

Favorite audience member: Fard Muhammad/Katie McVay (tie)

Fard and Katie are two of the biggest assets to any audience in Chicago. The effect of Fard's tremendous, purely delighted laugh, which can be heard soundtracking most, if not all footage from the Late Live Show (normally punctuated by Andrew Smreker's shrieks of joy), is amplified tenfold by his unwavering proclivity for grabbing a seat in the (normally vacant) front row at every comedy show.

It goes without saying that Katie's one of my favorite comics working in Chicago right now, with perspective that perfectly vacillates between crippling self-consciousness and a total lack thereof. As an audience member, she's often struck by fits of boisterous laughter so ridiculous and sincere, that fellow audience members are enabled to comfortably indulge in their own unhinged enjoyment, which is an incredible thing to watch happen.

First Annual Steamroller Honorary Lifetime Achievement Award: The Lincoln Lodge

Had the window for best of submissions not closed a few days before it was announced that The Lincoln Restaurant was closing and thus The Lincoln Lodge was suddenly cast out into the void, in search of a new home base, most of the lists below would look a lot different.

I'm working on a longer thing about The Lodge's enduring influence and continued greatness, but for now, I'm going to have to speak for all those on this list and beyond: The Lincoln Lodge was (and is, it's not dead) an incredibly important, reliably awesome home for weird, interesting comedy in Chicago throughout the 21st century. Lodge Papa Mark Geary, along with his myriad cast members, worked to create something wholly unique and good. I'm confident that they will find a new home and continue to support and create great comedy well into the future.

Read More

Annie Donley's Teake it or Leave it advise

Though The Steamroller has existed for over a year at this point, the site has operated thus far without any sort of recurring source of advice, which is both surprising and unacceptable. Thankfully, Annie Donley, of Super Human/Kill All Comedy fame, has agreed to contribute a weekly advice column, which begins today and will run every Wednesday!

Read More

Photos from last weekend's Kill All Comedy house show/party by Anthony Oberbeck

While I was unable to make it to most of the second edition of the Kill All Comedy house show/party last Friday, KAC member Anthony Oberbeck was nice enough to document the night on behalf of The Steamroller with some pictures of the show and the ensuing after party. Check them out below!

Also, if you have friends on the West coast, or if for some reason you live on the West coast and have found yourself on this web site, KAC kick off their tour of the left side of the country today, with a show in San Francisco at the Vacation Vintage!

Read More

A Jangleheart Circus in review

A Jangleheart Circus: The Upstairs Gallery Goes Galactic took over The Den Theatre this past weekend, putting up three days' worth of sketch and improv shows from very talented and eclectic teams.

As the weekend progressed, I started thinking of Jangleheart as Chicago sketch/improv comedy's Pitchfork Fest. It's a more niche-oriented, community-driven event that provides a much-needed counterpoint to Sketchfest's populist, unwieldy Lollapalooza. Granted, Pitchfork is as gross and corporate as Lolla at this point but you know what I'm getting at, right?

Jangleheart was a great way to see a bunch of team's I'd heard of but not yet seen (Sand, Dead $$$, who had two of the best sets I saw at this weekend) as well as some familiar faces going extra hard and extra silly (like Tim Baltz, Superhuman, and Cook County Social Club, all of whom totally destroyed in front of packed audiences).

I'm not one to speak in big, sweeping language, or to point out generation defining moments, so I'll just say that in 10 years, a bunch of nerds are going to look at the lineup of this festival and be super jealous that they weren't there.

Check out a bunch of pictures from podcaster, filmmaker, and all-around multimedia expert Mark Colomb below.

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

Neil Young shot Steph Cook in the face

Check out this new video from the Kill All Comedy folks! Steph Cook plays a woman who has to deal with life after becoming the subject of a Neil Young song.

You can catch Steph and the rest of the KAC family band on Monday, January 28 at Kill All Comedy West, a twice monthly show that hosts sketch and standup performers at Quenchers.

Kill All Comedy: Brains

Kill All Comedy, a ridiculously hardworking collective of sketch and improv performers, produces shows at The Upstairs GalleryChemically Imbalanced Comedy, The Annoyance, and Quenchers. Their next showcase, also called Kill All Comedy, is tomorrow, Wednesday December 5, at the Upstairs Gallery.

KAC's founder Steph Cook and Joey Dundale, (known together as TV Screams) sent over this short video to plug tomorrow's show, as well as an upcoming date Kill All Comedy West, the Logan Square branch of the collective that adds standup to the lineup each month at Quenchers. Check out the lineup info for both shows after the video.

Kill All Comedy @ The Upstairs Gallery
December 5th 8pm

TV Screams
Aarón Alonso
Be Good Boys
Anthony Oberbeck 
The Dirty Shame 
Devin Bockrath 
AJ Conover

Kill All Comedy West @ Quenchers
December 17th 8pm
Natalie Jose
Candy Lawrence
Drennen Quinn
Mike Klasek
& more TBA