Only Kidding | Chicago Center for the Performing Arts | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader

Only Kidding Closing (Theater and Galleries) The Short List (Theater)

When: Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through July 10 2011

Jim Geoghan's portrait of desperate comedians is set in the 1980s, before Comedy Central and YouTube made it possible for stand-ups to bypass network TV gatekeepers on their way to stardom. Frank Nall's staging for Emergent Theatre hits the one-liners, but the emotional connections remain flat. Bobby Costanzo has plenty of vigor as old-school jokemeister Jackie, but A.J. Miller is unconvincing as Jerry, a would-be barracuda who abandons his partner and tries to do Jackie out of a coveted spot on a late-night show. The funniest and most grounded performance comes from Eustace Allen as straight-arrow comedy writer Sheldon. Allen moves from suppressed hysteria reminiscent of Gene Wilder in The Producers to gimlet-eyed disdain without a hiccup. --Kerry Reid

Price: $30-$35

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