All stories by Zach Freeman on BroadwayStars

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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Thursday, July 13, 2017

'Kyle Mooney Live' at Thalia Hall: Funny, but with a piece missing by Zach Freeman

Before comedian Kyle Mooney made the leap to "Saturday Night Live" in 2013, he was a member of the iconic sketch comedy troupe Good Neighbor, along with childhood friends Beck Bennett, Dave …

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Saturday, July 8, 2017

Gabriel Iglesias at Horseshoe Casino, master of his own brand management by Zach Freeman

“The show ended a long time ago,” comedian Gabriel Iglesias said suddenly Friday night from centerstage of The Venue at Horseshoe Casino, wearing jean shorts, white tennis shoes and one …

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Saturday, June 24, 2017

Trae Crowder and WellRED Comedy should be more than curiosities by Zach Freeman

"Ya'll been to the internet lately?" As drawled Friday night to a sold-out Thalia Hall audience by comedian and Facebook/YouTube sensation Trae Crowder — better known to many as "The Liber…

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Saturday, June 17, 2017

W. Kamau Bell does political humor — with an emphasis on the political by Zach Freeman

“It’s important for those of us who have a voice to speak out,” comedian, podcaster, author and CNN host W. Kamau Bell said Friday night, partway through his conversational and frequen…

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Saturday, June 3, 2017

Laughing and crying in a devastating set from Patton Oswalt by Zach Freeman

"Just over a year ago, I became a widower …" Deep breath. This isn't a bit. It's not the set-up for a joke. This is comedian Patton Oswalt about halfway through an hourlong stand-up set, d…

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Thursday, May 25, 2017
Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The comedy fests are coming: Who to see at Break Out and 26th Annual by Zach Freeman

Among the many things that Chicago is known for, comedy remains one of our most cherished and proudly exported. Whether you prefer chuckling at locally-sourced, artisan jokes at open mics an…

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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Review: Nikki Glaser is long on the racy stories, short on jokes by Zach Freeman

Imagine the most embarrassing moment in your sexual history. Got it? Now imagine recounting that moment to a stranger. Now imagine recounting that moment to a room full of strangers while ho…

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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Neil Hamburger show at Lincoln Hall was a comedy disaster. A perfect comedy disaster. by Zach Freeman

Grease-slicked hair stripes across his forehead in a blatant comb-over. He spills half of his drink setting it on a music stand and pours the rest on his head a few minutes later. He loudly …

Linked From Chicago Tribune Subscription at 11:19AM
Sunday, May 7, 2017

Maher needed to put away his notebook and be present at Chicago Theatre by Zach Freeman

What a missed opportunity. A little over 100 days into the presidency of Donald J. Trump and political satirists are riding high on the fact that so many of their viewers are feeling very lo…

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Jay Leno's stale set at Rosemont Theatre still has Bill Clinton jokes by Zach Freeman

At the end of last year I saw Jerry Seinfeld perform an unfortunately unimpressive and dated set at the Chicago Theatre. I was especially struck not just by how lackluster Seinfeld's presenc…

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Sunday, April 16, 2017

Norm Macdonald knows how this comedy thing is supposed to work by Zach Freeman

A standing ovation is typically reserved for the end of a truly impressive performance. But on Saturday night at The Vic, as comedian Norm Macdonald took the stage for the first of two sold-…

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