They come from far-off lands like New York, LA, and Toronto, singly and in groups, a surprisingly large number of them wearing thin, gold nose rings. And since the groups are either all or pretty much all made up of women they have names like Clam Bake (Wed 6/6, 10 PM), Ladystache (Fri 6/8, 9 PM), Wisesnatch (Wed 6/6, 9 PM), and Stacked (Sat 6/9, 7 PM). In what may be a canny move or a big mistake, Stage 773 has picked the week before the vast, flashy TBS Just for Laughs comedy extravaganza to put on the first Chicago Women's Funny Festival—a five-day convocation of 400 stand-ups, improvisers, and sketch troupe members presenting 66 shows. It all happens under one roof, in the three performance spaces at Stage 773.
There's a long list of hometown favorites participating. Among them: Chicago improv mainstay Jet Eveleth (Fri 6/8, 10 PM), doing stand-up; the musical comedy team of Gretchen and Regina (Sat 6/9, 11 PM); and Carrie Bain (Sat 6/9, 6 PM), whose "implacable wit" has been noted by Reader contributor Keith Griffith.
Chicago-based sketch trio Brouhaha (Sun 6/10, 5 PM) mixes puppets and music with a touch of melancholy. But you'll have to choose between them and Kristen Studard (Sun 6/10, 5 PM), whose solo show, Small Victories, won praise from the Reader's Marissa Oberlander for its "wacky, often hilarious characters." Another Reader-recommended show is A Woman's Path (Thu 6/7, 9 PM), a comedy about middle-aged women at a therapeutic retreat. Matter Dance Company (Fri 6/8, 8 PM) wiggled into the festival with comedic dances and the promise of an "interactive audience experience." They share their bill with go-go dance troupe the Revelettes. And if the Ladies of the Cupid Players (Sat 6/9, 8 PM) are half as good as the whole troupe, then, well, you've got something.
The out-of-towners? I'll be curious to see the Hollywood Second City troupe performing Second City This Week (Sat 6/9, 7 PM). Jenifer Bloodsworth (Sat 6/9, 8 PM) is only five months out of her stand-up class at the Laugh Lounge in New York, but video of her low-key graduation set is disarming. Finally, New Yorker Lauren Vino (Fri 6/8, 9 PM) has a funny case of relationship Tourette's, offering lines like, "I'm not a slut. I'm a flirt. But sometimes you flirt your way into a corner and gotta fuck your way out."