On the Road

Thank You, Chicago!

As you may have been able to figure out if you know anything about what I do for a living, this week and a half since returning to Knoxville has basically crushed me. So, updating a comedy page that I think a grand total of 4 bookers (which is being generous) have looked at since I registered it in 2013 isn’t my top priority. But, I didn’t want to let it get away from me, so here is a 1AM, why am I still in my office, Pinback keeping me sane, don’t give a shit about that fight tonight, the Caps lost though, what am I doing with my life, update.

I don’t really play the game of favorites, but Chicago is probably my favorite comedy town. I’ve managed to get onstage at least once every time I’ve visited the city (save for a guest spot my buddy Mark Nabong hooked me up in Cheap Trickton Rockport during my cross-country train journey in 2013, WHICH I COUNT), and it gets more exciting every time.

Here are a couple of photo-highlights.

Branding.

Branding.

Thanks to my friend Justin Golak, I had a spot booked at a special Saturday show at some venue called the Shithole. I’m never one to judge a book by it’s cover, so I was looking forward to it from the moment I got into town. On Tuesday night, Tim Myers, another friend I’ve made through the Columbus comedy circle, dropped me off at the El station in Wicker Park after we shared a good time seeing the band Pile light up the Beat Kitchen. The city energized me so fucking much that I decided to go for a walk up and down Milwaukee Avenue, catching the second overtime period of the Blackhawks/Predators game (a team I kinda like from a city I love versus the team of my current homestate! Where does my allegiance lie??) before heading back to the station. I stood under the space heaters waiting for the blue line train and, glancing to my left, saw some cleverly placed sharpie graffiti (sharpffiti) for the venue. I don’t know if it was the hypothermia setting in or something, but seeing it scrawled there gave me a jolt. Guerrilla comedy promotion is the wave we are currently riding, at least in terms of the stuff that matters.

The following night, I was booked for a showcase at Entertainment Chicago Live’s weekly show at the Underground Lounge. It was fun getting there in time to catch a handful of open micers (many of whom hung out for the showcase show…impressive). It was nice to run into, and catch up with, Prateek Srivastava, who I hadn’t seen in person for four years, which is a long-ass time in comedy-years. He was hilarious, too.

Prateek Srivastava at the Underground Lounge in Wrigleyville, one of the epicenters of Chicagmedy.

Prateek Srivastava at the Underground Lounge in Wrigleyville, one of the epicenters of Chicagmedy.

The show itself was SO MUCH FUN. I was possessed, for some reason, in a room filled with mostly people who I hadn’t met more than an hour prior, to riff for a solid five minutes to start my set, and it was a blast. The headliner Joel Boyd did a joke about manifest destiny (yes) that I’ll be telling my kids one day. Okay, maybe not, but it was really good. Special thanks to Myers and to my old DC friend Melissa for coming to support.

Thursday, I got to support Mel as she and her improv troupe Cold Feet performed in the Chicago Improv Festival. It was at a wonderful little venue called the Public House Theater. After their set, I headed across town to see an emo show. It was Joie de Vivre, from Rockport, according to their bandcamp page. Fun fact: Joie de Vivre may have set the record for shortest band breakup ever (8 months, back in 2011).

Imagine what the band in this picture sounds like, and that's how they sound. Which is lovely.

Imagine what the band in this picture sounds like, and that’s how they sound. Which is lovely.

Friday night I had a spot on Proxy Morons, a long-running showcase in Wrigleyville at the Blokes and Birds pub. The crowd was small, but they were having a good time. The DJ played me off to “This is How We Do It” to supplement I joke I had done. I got to see my friend Carmen Morales and Golak came out to support. This is how we do it, indeed.

Saturday night, my friend Matt and I made our way up to a nondescript neighborhood in Northwest Chicago, not far from the freeway. I had loose directions to the Shithole; they keep that on relative lockdown for good reasons. But, we got to the house. It really is a shithole, and the dudes who live there even have Ahnuld-emblazoned sweatshirts that say so. Once you make it up to the attic, though, all the shitty elements of the house coalesce into one of the finest DIY venues I’ve seen. The show was a blast. We had a pianist who accompanied our sets, and I goofed around and bounced off of him to the point where it was becoming so much fun, I felt like I was getting away with something.

Toby McMullen kicks off the show, getting going with the talented pianist whose name I forgot because I'm just the worst.

Toby McMullen kicks off the show, getting going with the talented pianist whose name I forgot because I’m just the worst.

Cleveland Anderson, perhaps addressing Justin Golak, perhaps not. Either way, they are both in this photo.

Cleveland Anderson, perhaps addressing Justin Golak, perhaps not. Either way, they are both in this photo.

Thanks to Myers (again) and Jeff Brain (dude’s real name) for coming through to enjoy the proceedings! Regretfully, we had to split before the end of the Shithole show to hop in an Uber to get up to the WIP Theater farther out northwest. The WIP is a venue on the opposite end of the ‘environs’ spectrum from the Shithole – clean, somewhat elegant, professional- and somehow felt just the same in vibe and character. Standup has some seriously surreal democratizing effects on space. Anyway, I did a feature spot before Lara Beitz, who riffed like a master. The crowd at WIP was small, but everyone there was having a fantastic time. I also got to catch up with my old friend Timmy Whitzell, one of the theater’s founders. He’s always been a big advocate of mine in the Windy City, and I appreciate all he’s been doing for comedy there for well over five years now.

Did anything I just write make sense? I hope so. I’ll wrap this post up with the cliched yet sincere phrase I wrapped my sets up with last week: Chicago, I love you. Don’t ever change.

At any rate, I’m back in Knoxville for a few (for the most part; I don’t sit still much these days), and you should come see me and Jay Kendrick open for Chris Trew on Monday night! Don’t be a stranger.

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