Local Comedian: A Show About a Comedian Doing a Show About A comedian Doing a Show | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Local Comedian: A Show About a Comedian Doing a Show About A comedian Doing a Show

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Local Comedian: A Show About a Comedian Doing a Show About A comedian Doing a Show, at WNEP Theater. Brad Steuernagel's solo effort is yet another example of a grossly underprepared improv-school graduate renting a space and stringing together an hour's worth of lame, disconnected gags with a smidgen of material that has actual comic potential. In this case, Steuernagel wobbles in and out of character as a comedy student trying to win his audience over with skits and tricks derived from various comedy textbooks and writing sessions at Starbucks. He launches many bits with a rambling introduction explaining why his shtick should work, according to the textbook, then stops most of them short, mumbling apologies for their stupidity.

Steuernagel demonstrates a modest flair for pantomime and physical comedy--not when he slips on a banana peel during a make-believe Saturday Night Live audition, but definitely when he poses as a drummer waiting out the world's longest guitar solo. But it's not enough to compensate for the aimless blather. Trying out one's wings is admirable and necessary, but even novices owe their audiences a polished best effort. Ironically, toward the end of the evening Steuernagel rails against wannabe comics who consider themselves performance-ready just because they've passed all their improv classes, accusing them of "clogging the system." Someone should have given him that speech before he took the stage.

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