All stories by Zach Freeman on BroadwayStars

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Michael Che at the Vic: 'Uncle Grumpy' gives a blunt, funny toast to Chicago by Zach Freeman

In a neon green hoodie, jeans and white tennis shoes, comedian Michael Che, a stand-up comic best known for his “Weekend Update” co-hosting gig on “Saturday Night Live,” took the sta…

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Friday, June 29, 2018

Kathy Griffin goes for 3 funny hours at the Chicago Theatre without an opener or even a breath by Zach Freeman

Walking through a metal detector and watching purses and backpacks get thoroughly searched — not that half-hearted open/shut that you often see at music festivals and sports venues but a r…

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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Kathy Griffin leans in: 'Laugh Your Head Off' is coming to Chicago Theatre by Zach Freeman

“Are you kidding? Nobody will give me a platform. It’s hilarious,” Kathy Griffin says, in a way that makes it clear that it’s both hilarious and decidedly not hilarious at the same t…

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Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Onion Comedy Fest opens in Chicago: Satire from the folks who invented it by Zach Freeman

With public trust in the media taking a hit amid constant accusations of “fake news,” many news outlets find themselves on the defensive on a daily basis. But there is one publication th…

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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

In the 'Chicago renaissance' of standup, 'Dope Comedy' at North Bar is a show to know by Zach Freeman

“If y’all ready for ‘A Dope Comedy Show,’ let me hear you say, ‘Hell yeah!’” The voice booms over the sound system as comedian Dave Helem — a Chicago native now living in Los…

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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Zanies Chicago packs in the good, the bad and a lot of history in '40 Comics in 1 Night' by Zach Freeman

One of the many questions answered on the Zanies website FAQ page is whether any of the locations host an open-mic night. Though there is some information about a showcase at the Rosemont lo…

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Sunday, April 8, 2018

'Weird Al' Yankovic at the Vic: Accordion solos, deep cuts and 'Velvet Elvis,' dare we say genius? by Zach Freeman

Five songs into musical comedy legend “Weird Al” Yankovic’s second sold-out night at the Vic for his “Ridiculously Self-Indulgent, Ill-Advised Vanity Tour,” I scanned the crowd and…

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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Calvin Evans at Zanies: You're looking for the next hot comic? Here he is. by Zach Freeman

“I wanna leave y’all with a good joke, but it’s hard for me to choose,” says comedian Calvin Evans as he closes out a 45-minute set Tuesday night at Zanies. “Because all of my joke…

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Saturday, March 3, 2018

Comedian Sebastian Maniscalco, he's here and got a problem all week by Zach Freeman

“Problem is … I got a problem with everything.” So says comedian and Arlington Heights native Sebastian Maniscalco early on in his wide-ranging (but primarily problem-focused) set Frid…

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Sunday, February 18, 2018

Katt Williams at Wintrust Arena: '11:11' is a blend of funny new stuff and funny recycled stuff by Zach Freeman

It’s 11 o’clock on a Saturday night inside the Wintrust Arena — the stadium and event center that opened in the fall next to McCormick Place and is the home court for the DePaul Blue D…

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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

What did I just see? Sarah Squirm tops a long, strange, funny night at Empty Bottle by Zach Freeman

Walking out the side door of the Empty Bottle onto Western Avenue at 12:30 in the morning, I looked past a group of smokers huddled around a sign decidedly not at the corner instructing them…

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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Some just-for-Chicago stories from John Mulaney at the Chicago Theatre by Zach Freeman

Watching John Mulaney do stand-up is like watching a pitch meeting for a multicamera, multicharacter sketch show, where an overworked but energetic and eager young writer is running through …

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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Female comics and an Instagram star pay tribute to Dick Gregory by Zach Freeman

“God bless, this is Dick Gregory.” Those were the first words that legendary comedian Dick Gregory — who 58 years ago changed comedy history as a black stand-up comic performing for a …

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Saturday, January 13, 2018

Comedian Felipe Esparza goes to some dark places with a smile by Zach Freeman

Once he takes the stage, comedian Felipe Esparza — who released the hourlong stand-up special “Translate This” on HBO last year but is perhaps still best known for winning “Last Comi…

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Thursday, December 28, 2017

Comedian Felonious Munk embodies Chicago on stage and screen by Zach Freeman

Both in his act and in his life, Chicago-based comedian Felonious Munk embodies the Chicago ethos of hard work, determination and self-aware levity. And in 2017 he brought them all together …

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Saturday, December 9, 2017

Mike Birbiglia at the Chicago Theatre is a man with stories to tell by Zach Freeman

“I’m gonna tell you a story tonight,” says comedian-storyteller-filmmaker Mike Birbiglia as he takes the stage at the Chicago Theater on Friday night. “But first I’m gonna tell you…

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Sunday, November 12, 2017

Joel Kim Booster at Schubas: You never see the laughs coming by Zach Freeman

Joel Kim Booster doesn’t want to get political. As a person who gladly and openly identifies as “dumb,” the Plainfield-raised comedian feels like in these starkly divided times we’re…

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Tuesday, November 7, 2017

'Yaaas!' For Ilana Glazer and Phoebe Robinson at Thalia Hall, the excitement is contagious by Zach Freeman

It may have been chilly in Chicago on Monday night, but inside Thalia Hall, Pilsen’s hipster-centric performance space that has been picking up more and more big-name comedy shows over the…

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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Comic couple Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher laugh and bicker together at the Vic by Zach Freeman

In December 2015, comedian and Chicago-area native Cameron Esposito recorded her first comedy special (“Marriage Material”) at Chicago’s Thalia Hall just two days before marrying fello…

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Saturday, October 14, 2017

He'll say otherwise, but Jim Gaffigan at the Chicago Theatre is always in control by Zach Freeman

Waiting for the opening applause to die down after he’s taken the stage for the first of two shows on Friday night at the Chicago Theatre, comedian Jim Gaffigan — currently making the ro…

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Monday, October 9, 2017

Demetri Martin is most himself with his one-liners at The Vic by Zach Freeman

“The human head is least scary when attached.”Demetri Martin is a person. He is a person who tells jokes, which makes him a comedian. As evidence of these two claims he has recorded stan…

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Friday, September 8, 2017

He's still Chris Rock, but the 'Total Blackout' laughs come few and far between by Zach Freeman

“That was a great show," one audience member said hopefully to another as they walked out of the Chicago Theatre on Thursday night after the first of a sold out, four-night run of legendar…

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Thursday, September 7, 2017

Fall Comedy Top 10: Our pick of legends, from Steve Martin to Cameron Esposito by Zach Freeman

From local legends (Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher) to legend-legends (Steve Martin and Lily Tomlin), here are our top 10 comedy shows not to miss this fall. Jo Koy Jo Koy had been workin…

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Fall Comedy: Good things are coming Just Nesh's way by Zach Freeman

Last year Just Nesh — a Chicago comic whose given name is Taneshia Rice — appeared on Kevin Hart’s “Hart of the City,” a show where Hart — a comedy juggernaut — checks out the …

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Friday, September 1, 2017

Laurie Kilmartin at Zanies: Life is a temporary condition by Zach Freeman

Leaning comfortably on the mic stand with her right hip stuck out and her left knee bent, comedian Laurie Kilmartin surveyed the Thursday night crowd at Zanies, sizing the audience up anew a…

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

At Zanies, a still hysterical Emo Philips shows why he's Emo Philips by Zach Freeman

“I was pretty much the first comic to play this club,” comedian Emo Philips said early on in his playful and loose hourlong set Wednesday night at Zanies in Chicago. That’s no joke. Ph…

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Monday, August 7, 2017

Moshe Kasher and Natasha Leggero give relationship advice on 'The Endless Honeymoon Tour' by Zach Freeman

A comedy show might not seem like the ideal place to solicit relationship advice, but Sunday night at Park West — which is the most romantically inclined of Chicago’s comedy venues, if a…

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Thursday, August 3, 2017

What's real diversity in comedy? Welcome to 'Woke Up, Stand Up' by Zach Freeman

Seven months after stepping off a plane at Midway after relocating from Denver, comedian Basil Faraj took the stage on a Thursday night in front of a sold-out crowd in the backroom of Cole's…

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Monday, July 31, 2017

Dwayne Kennedy begins week at Zanies with a little comedy philosophy by Zach Freeman

“That’s the beauty of stand-up,” comedian Dwayne Kennedy says casually, his glasses, goatee and all-black outfit mixing with his contemplative tone to give him the vibe of a philosophy…

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Saturday, July 22, 2017

'Tim and Eric Awesome Tour': They're not afraid to go beyond funny by Zach Freeman

I don't think it's a spoiler to tell you that Tim Heidecker — the Tim half of alt-comedy duo "Tim and Eric" — ends the "Tim and Eric 10th Anniversary Awesome Tour" parading across the st…

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Saturday, July 15, 2017

Comedy Get Down finally arrives in Chicago: These guys are pros by Zach Freeman

"I'm gonna tell you right now my … ticket said 8 p.m.!" said a suit-clad George Lopez, taking the stage at the United Center to kick off the Comedy Get Down tour. At 8:45 p.m. He had a few…

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