I've lived in Chicago for almost 4 years. For most of that time, I've known Conor Sullivan, my good friend who is leaving for Los Angeles next month. For a lil while I'd had plans to eulogize Conor here on the Steamroller, but I don't think that would be fair to him because Conor leaving Chicago to bigger and better things is nothing but a positive thing. He is moving on to do things he's always wanted to do, and I am sincerely proud of him.Read More
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!
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
The Shock T's
are probably the most loved musical comedy act currently working in
Chicago, and for good reason; their cheerful tone and openhearted smiles mask a dark, sarcastic wit and an eye for detail that can cut to the
Two of the finest sketch teams in the city, Oh Theodora and Drew's Tumbler, have teamed up to produce a new monthly show at The Public House Theatre, an exciting new theater space catered towards sketch comedy. The show is called Finish Your Dinner and the show's seven producers sent over this exclusive look behind the scenes at their most reverential preshow ritual. The first Finish Your Dinner is tonight, April 4th, at 8pm; each ticket comes with a free can of PBR and can be purchased here.Read More
Oh Theodora's Trevor Martin is a five year veteran of the annual Chicago SketchFest, which just wrapped up it's 12th edition this past weekend. The city's independent sketch scene is small (but growing), so a festival boasting over 150 sketch shows in eight days is obviously going to be a big to-do amongst all involved. Some sketch folks sit it out entirely (like Brian from the Mike's Hard Festivade), and others fully embrace it. Trevor's sent over some thoughts about the festival and how his relationship with it has changed.Read More
With Christmas less than a week away (and our big Christmas Show tonight!), myself and the rest of Oh Theodora understand you’re probably getting sick of all the same old songs playing in every store/car/car store you’ve been in the last two months. So, in order to keep you in the Christmas Spirit, here’s a playlist I’ve created of some lesser known Christmas gems to play while wrapping your brother’s Gift Card to Kenny Roger’s Roasters.Read More