A Very Funny Festival: Just for Laughs | Stand-Up | Chicago Reader

A Very Funny Festival: Just for Laughs The Short List (Theater) Recommended Critics' Picks

When: June 17-21 2009

TBS and Montreal-based Just for Laughs have teamed up for the largest, most diverse, and biggest-name stand-up showcase to hit Chicago in recent memory, running June 17-21 at several theaters and comedy clubs. Most of the jokesters are men--from up-and-coming twentysomethings to 59-year-old Martin Short--but the few women on the roster are among the best around, including Ellen DeGeneres and Lisa Lampanelli. While stand-up is the focus, the fest umbrella also covers some musicals, improv and sketch comedy, solo theater, live interviews, and screenings of short films. The performers are mostly American pros and come from all over, but a few shows spotlight amateur locals. For a complete schedule and admission pricing, check out justforlaughschicago.com. Here are some highlights.

Wednesday 6/17:
Ellen DeGeneres A spectacular stand-up before finding success as a talk-show host, DeGeneres headlines Ellen's Bigger Longer & Wider Show, a variety revue with live music and dancers. 7 PM, Chicago Theatre, $53-$113.

Thursday 6/18:
Martin Short The incomparable Short hosts Let Freedom Hum, a mini showcase featuring Greg Giraldo, John Pinette, Kathleen Madigan, Tom Papa, and one of my favorite stand-ups, Jeremy Hotz, who brilliantly plays up dorkiness. The show will later air on TBS. 7 PM, the Vic, $55.

Best of Sketchfest Revue of several of the top local sketch teams from the recent Sketchfest. Thu-Fri, 8-11 PM, iO, $15.

Andy Dick The reputedly sober, iO-trained comedian and Joliet native presents his new one-man show. 10:30 PM, Lakeshore Theater, $20-$25.

Friday 6/19:
Comedy You Can Believe In David Alan Grier was only mediocre on Dancing With the Stars, but his stand-up is still superb. He hosts a mini showcase featuring Jo Koy, Mark Curry, Ralph Harris, Chicago native Marina Franklin, the hilariously blunt Bruce Bruce (possibly the best comic to emerge from BET's Comic View), and talented MADtv alum Aries Spears, whose versatility suggests the young Jamie Foxx. 7 PM, the Vic, $35.

Bob Odenkirk & David Cross The brains behind Mr. Show reunite with some friends for, well, I don't know--but whatever they come up with, it's probably going to be really funny. Fri-Sat 8:30 PM, Lakeshore Theater, $20.

Saturday 6/20:
Jimmy Fallon: Live in Concert The new late-night host returns to the stand-up stage, where he's been quietly honing his act over the past few years. 9:30 PM, the Vic, $35.

Lisa Lampanelli She's the most creatively and indiscriminately mean comic since Don Rickles. 7 and 9:30 PM, Chicago Theatre, $48.50-$58.50.

Sunday 6/21:
Best Church of God Local sketch outfit satirizes Christianity. 1 PM, Annoyance Theater, $10.

Michael Showalter The Stella cofounder and cowriter of Wet Hot American Summer returns to the Lakeshore after a terrific, self-effacing set there last year. 7 PM, Lakeshore Theater, $20-$25. --Ryan Hubbard

Price: various prices

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