Robert Smigel and Dino Stamatopoulos Opening (Theater and Galleries) The Short List (Theater)

When: Wed., June 17, 8:30 p.m. and Thu., June 18, 8:30 p.m. 2009

After years of hosting two of America's best improv-and-sketch festivals, Chicago has finally attracted a stellar stand-up showcase. Montreal's influential comedy event packager Just for Laughs is making its first United States foray here with a TBS coproduction called A Very Funny Festival. Running June 17-21 at multiple venues, the fest kicks off Wednesday with this pairing of Chicago-connected boys made good. Robert Smigel trained at Chicago's Actors Workshop in the early 1980s before launching SNL's "Saturday TV Funhouse" cartoons (X Presidents, the Ambiguously Gay Duo), which are usually more entertaining than the show's live sketches. In the 90s he teamed up with Norridge native Dino Stamatopoulos (creator of the claymation Morel Orel show) for a parody of WGN's legendary Bozo's Circus featuring clowns called Prozo, Looky, and Wizzy. Smigel and Stamatopoulos's fest appearance features a screening of this never-aired "original 'TV Funhouse' pilot," followed by "several controversial clips from their careers." But the funniest moments of the evening are likely to come from Smigel's brilliant creation Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. Originally a recurring character on Late Night With Conan O'Brien, the cigar-puffing hand puppet has viciously mocked people at political conventions, award shows, movie premieres (including hilariously heckling Star Wars fans), and other public events--demonstrating that there's a level of truth-telling only comedians can get away with. --Ryan Hubbard

Price: $20

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