Arts & Culture » Comedy Critic's Choice

Wake up for The Blackout Diaries

Sean Flannery's boozy showcase began a weekly open run at Lincoln Lodge earlier this year. It's worth stumbling in for.



A holiday hangout in your grandparents' basement in the wee hours, with inebriated uncles and cousins telling tales of woe and failure (they were drunk then too)—it's a little like that. Comedian Sean Flannery's The Blackout Diaries returned to the 70s-style Lincoln Lodge this past January, having begun there with a short run two years ago before moving to a monthly gig at the Beat Kitchen. It's weekly now, with a Malort sponsorship to boot (and a podcast launching May 1). No qualms about it, the show is about drinking (and occasionally smoking) yourself into enough of a stupor that a great yarn comes from it—and hopefully some shocking photo and/or video documentation, as well. It finds humor in the bleakness of the bender.

Each week's stories come from a mix of comics—I was fortunate to catch both Chris Condren and Brian Babylon during a recent visit—and everyday Chicagoans, many of whom Flannery probably met while hugging a mug of Old Style at a bar, and many of whom probably have stories to outshine the pros. Example: The amiable postal worker and former speakeasy owner, known simply as "Floyd," who once had a time in Malta that consisted of the attempted liberation of a sex slave and the maniacal bare-fisted bashing in of a small automobile. And that's just the CliffsNotes version.

Flannery is a sharp, expert host—benefiting, no doubt, from the show's increased frequency—who keeps the flow of guests steady without appearing hurried. He supplements the Q&A portion with clever inquiries if the audience isn't speaking up. Regardless of the heavy content—drinking until you climb on top of something and then fall off that something isn't actually always a blast—the mood is unceasingly light, and you're probably drinking anyway. So go make a memory.

The Blackout Diaries has moved its operations to the High-Hat Club (1920 W. Irving Park), which occupies the former space of the jazz club Katerina's.

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