Happy New Year, folks!
The beginning of the year means one thing and one thing only to the Chicago comedy scene and that’s Chicago Sketchfest, which is going on right now at Stage773 on Belmont. If you’ve been wondering what I’ve been doing with myself for the past month and a half, well, that. I might have overdone it a little bit this year; I’ve been involved with three shows, two of which were last weekend. If you’re friends with me on Facebook, you probably hate me for all of the plugging.
On a completely unrelated note, plug plug, my final sketchfest show is Friday night 1/11 at 11:00 pm. We’re called Crassus and we will take your socks from you and then rock them and then return your rocked off socks to you, freshly rocked.
Anyway, the nice thing about being at the theater all the time is that I’ve been able to catch more shows than normal. None of the following is going to help you out in the short term since these shows happened already, but I thought I'd pick a show for each night that was worth seeing. Keep a look out for these people. If you see their upcoming shows advertised anywhere, pay attention. They're great.
I didn't get to see anything due to my own rehearsal. I’ll bet Paul Thomas: Comedogenic was great though, since he’s a very funny dude. Check his stuff out here.
Uncalled For – One of my favorite things to do at Sketchfest is just to walk into a theatre without any knowledge of who’s performing and to see what happens. Sometimes you get lucky, as was the case with Uncalled For. This three-man show from Montreal - the group apparently consists of six but only three could make the trek down from the wild northlands of Canada – was incredibly well written, very smart and very funny. They had one particular admirable bit that was so incredibly simple and so great: a hypnotherapist managed to hypnotize his patient to where a clap induced unconsciousness. Unfortunately, he had accidentally done the same to himself. When the audience clapped at the end of the scene, the two characters would go in and out of consciousness. It was the kind of bit that makes an already jealous comedian even more jealous.
*Honorary Degree* - another group I knew nothing about but who have apparently been around for a while years, so shows what I know. Their experience came through in some memorable sketches about the comedy scene itself. I particularly liked their ‘mad-libs stand-up’ sketch, which skewered the more iconic styles and subject matter of the stand-up world. Their willingness to be self-deprecating made for a fun and loose performance. I’d plug a website for them, but I can’t seem to find them so, like, look for them on Facebook or something.
Matt Griffo – I know Matt from doing showcases with him. He’s a phenomenally talented musician and a great writer, and normally puts on a good show with nothing more than a piano. I will say, though, that the addition of a backup band really made his songs pop. I particularly loved the cello, which really added gravity to the music and put the ridiculousness of the lyrics into even starker contrast with the beauty of his compositions. The banter with both the band and the audience fit suitably with the more intimate cabaret space. All in all, it doubled as a great comedy show and a great concert.
Sketchfest starts back up again on Thursday night. For a full festival schedule, visit their website: chicagosketchfest.com