Theater, Dance, Comedy and Performance in Chicago

No Joke: Lakeshore Theater to call it quits

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Less than two weeks before what would have been a marquee show featuring two all-time legends of stand-up comedy, Mort Sahl and Dick Gregory, Lakeshore Theater surprised the arts community by announcing its imminent closure this evening.

Here’s the text of the press release: we’re assuming it’s not an April Fool’s joke, though we wish it was.

CHICAGO, IL | April 1, 2010 – The Lakeshore Theater announced today that operations at the venue will cease on April 10th.

Lakeshore co-owner and Executive Producer Chris Ritter said “It saddens me deeply to announce the closing of the Lakeshore. While revenues have continued to grow over the last three years and the Lakeshore brand of comedy, music and good times has successfully taken hold, current revenues are simply insufficient to fund ongoing operations as well as much needed plant repairs and improvements needed to take the company to the next level of success.” Read the rest of this entry »

What Time Is It?: It’s time for the King of Pot Comedy

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superhighWhat better way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon than with a bunch of potheads listening to a pothead make jokes about pot. Today at 4:20pm, during a special single-matinee performance, a giggling crowd actually has something to laugh at. Upon entering the lobby, smoke-machine fog billows out of the theater doors.

Doug Benson may be best known for his appearances on NBC’s “Last Comic Standing” and various pop-culture commentary shows like “Best Week Ever” on VH1, but to a different audience, he is the proclaimed King of Pot Comedy. Besides his spoof on the feminist spoken-word series “The Vagina Monologues,” appropriately titled “The Marijuana Logs,” Benson has parodied the documentary about eating nothing but McDonalds for thirty days, making “Super High Me.” Benson did nothing but smoke pot for thirty days straight and functioned just as good if not better than usual.

Benson recently received the opportunity any “stoner comedian” would trade his best bong for, getting to share the stage with cannabis culture icon Tommy Chong during a tour of the “Marijuana Logs” shortly after Chong was released from jail. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Aqua Teen Hunger Force Live/Lakeshore Theater

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HUNGER FORCEHere’s a surprising fact: we’re coming up on the nine-year anniversary of Aqua Teen Hunger Force’s first episode (which, appropriately, was shown unannounced at 5am). That’s nine years of a series comprised of three talking fast-food items, their hairy, masturbation-loving neighbor, a bizarre cast of supervillians and a lot of nonsensical yelling. I’m not sure how any sober person can watch more than one fifteen-minute episode at a time of ATHF’s unrestricted insanity and often plotless shenanigans, but I’ll admit that the show (and this goes for anything on Adult Swim) can be pretty damn hilarious when in you’re in certain moods, especially any kind of stupor. The live show, featuring show co-creators Dave Willis and Dana Snyder, promises to include unseen clips from the show, script readings, and live music (?), so hardcore fans of the show and anyone who can handle at least an hour of unmitigated absurdity should feel right at home. (Andy Seifert)

November 13 and 14 at Lakeshore Theater, 3175 N. Broadway, (773)472-3492. $15.

Preview: Dave Attell/Lakeshore Theater

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The always-caustic Dave Attell brings his ubiquitous cigarette and smooth, soothing baritone to Lakeshore Theater, where his scathing wit and bizarrely contentious comments will take center stage. While many will remember Attell for his late-night Comedy Central series “Insomniac with Dave Attell,” which consisted of Attell roaming around the nightlife of a city, engaging in what most of us do during a night on the town (drinking incessantly while teasing those more intoxicated than ourselves), he appears to thrive best in a stand-up role. Hardly a drunken buffoon who blathers sex jokes all set long, Attell has developed a set rife with non sequiturs, curveball punchlines and just plain silliness. Like his take on global warming: “The ice caps are melting. But maybe there’s some pretty cool shit under those ice caps, like treasure, or even better, a talking dinosaur, who we can all have adventures with. Me first, I thought it up.” (Andy Seifert)

November 6 and 7 at Lakeshore Theater, 3175 N. Broadway, (773)472-3492. $34.50.

Preview: Jim Jefferies/Lakeshore Theater

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jim jefferiesRECOMMENDED

Drunken, obscene and kind of a jerk, Australian comedian Jim Jefferies offers the three most enduring qualities of a successful stand-up (along the fourth-most: funny accents!). While part of his current popularity stems from a well-reported incident at a Manchester gig in which he was punched in the face by an apparently not-amused spectator, we’ll assume he’s stayed near the top of the stand-up ladder with consistently funny sets. Whether he’s defending the double standard of men called “studs” for having sex a lot while women are called “sluts,” or casually discussing the lump on his penis (or as he calls it, “dick cancer”), Jefferies is the kind of guy who’s just looking to stir up a little trouble, get in people’s faces, maybe even provoke someone to jump on stage and start beating on him. And honestly, don’t you want to watch someone who elicits reactions like that? (Andy Seifert)

October 16 and 17 at Lakeshore Theater, 3175 N. Broadway, (773)472-3492. $15.

Preview: Ted Alexandro/Lakeshore Theater

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ted alexandroRECOMMENDED

Unassuming, low-key and sharply intelligent, comedian Ted Alexandro is the perfect embodiment of the comedian who relies not on persona, theatrics or profanity-laced shouting matches, but on pure, unadulterated content. The New York comic possesses a sort of Ray Romano “common man” likability while riffing on good old-fashioned everyday observances, like his observance that the crucifix from most churches display Jesus with stone-hard abs: “That’s what you want from a savior. You want him to be in shape. Have you seen Buddha? Sloppy. A few crunches, Buddha, just clean it up. The Last Supper should not last forever, big fella.” Without any showy tactics or attention-grabbing gimmicks, Alexandro may never become a household name (unless there’s an “Everybody Loves Alexandro” CBS series on the horizon), but regardless—he’s as polished a stand-up as the best of them. (Andy Seifert)

August 28 and 29 at Lakeshore Theater, 3175 N. Broadway, (773)472-3492. $15.

Preview: John Oliver/Lakeshore Theater

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It’s not easy being British, or so says John Oliver, the “Daily Show”’s senior English correspondent, who grew up in Liverpool but has crafted his act around the tortures of being an Englishman in America. Poor John Oliver can’t walk into a history museum without feeling a deep, eternal guilt within five seconds for the centuries of brutal domination that his country exerted, his only consolation that “one day all this shame will be yours, my American friends, for you have taken the baton of imperialism from us and you are running with it quite impressively.” If it’s not guilt, it’s the opposite: the indignation that Americans don’t adequately recognize that his country was the scourge of the world, that some would consider the British Empire’s innovative torture and murder methods to be less tyrannical than Obama’s three-percent tax hike. Oliver’s smart, biting wit and clever satire don’t go wasted—with nearly a decade of stand-up work (and television) under his belt, Oliver’s just as much a charismatic performer as a goofy satirist. (Andy Seifert)

August 22 at Lakeshore Theater, 3175 N. Broadway, (773)472-3492. $20.

Preview: Rich Vos/Lakeshore Theater

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One of the few actually entertaining comedians to come out of season one of the classic “Last Comic Standing, ” New Jersey quipster Rich Vos has carved a niche out of acting like a doofus under the guise of that Colin Quinn-esque pseudo-tough guy attitude. Sure, self-deprecation is a common theme in a Rich Vos routine (“I stink” seems to be one of his most beloved phrases), but Vos mostly basks in buffoonery through his rampant mispronunciation of words—“Guanamo Bay” instead of “Guantanamo Bay,” “wookapedia” instead of “Wikipedia” and “paux fas” instead of “faux pas.” Dude’s even mispronounced his own name (“Rick Vos”). As an easy target for unrelenting ridicule, Vos has comfortably fit into the role of whipping boy in the “Tough Guy” posse (including Quinn, Jim Norton, Patrice O’Neal and company), but he pulls it off—his stupidity is endearing, and his simplistic comedy comes across as lovable rather than intellectually incompetent. (Andy Seifert)

August 14-15 at Lakeshore Theater, 3175 N. Broadway, (773)472-3492. $20.

Preview: Maria Bamford/Lakeshore Theater

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This may not be the analogy she was looking for, but Maria Bamford has effortlessly become the Dana Carvey of this decade. Nah, she doesn’t have a killer George H. W. Bush impersonation, but like the self-proclaimed “Master of Disguise,” she has in her comedic arsenal a myriad of characters, each with eccentric characteristics and distinct tones of voice, whether it be her mentally off and mumbling father, her superficial mother, or her arch enemy from high school, who says of her successful comedy career, “It’s just like in high school: you’re not funny, you’re just weird.” The former “Comedian of Comedy” star has crafted her routine with nonsensical ramblings and a self-deprecating biography, but it’s her incredible vocal work that truly sets her apart from her contemporaries. Oh, and she may not have a take on George H. W. Bush, but her impersonation of George W. Bush—as possessing the vocal attributes and motor skills of her pug dog—is pretty amusing. (Andy Seifert)

August 7-8 at Lakeshore Theater, 3175 N. Broadway, (773)472-3492. $20.

Preview: Sklar Brothers/Lakeshore Theater

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Two is better than one, right? It seems like Randy and Jason Sklar understand this, because they’ve constructed a comedy routine that–like the old Abbott and Costello routines of the thirties–refuses to pause, one that uses their power in numbers to create a breathless, never-ending assault of dialogue. The St. Louis-born comedy duo are not just brothers, they’re also identical twins, a sight that lends itself remarkably well to the stage (it’ll also make you realize just how lucky we are Andrew Dice Clay never had a twin). As opposed to other comedy duos that featuring contrasting personas, the Sklar brothers are virtually the same, both in personality and appearance. Both come across as witty, intelligent and pop-culture savvy, but it’s their performance style that has carved a niche apart from other duos: where one stops, the other begins; when one asks a question, the other answers. Their indistinguishable voices create the sensation that you’re not watching two comedians work together; you’re witnessing some multi-voiced super-human comedian. (Andy Seifert)

July 24-25 at Lakeshore Theater, 3175 N. Broadway, (773)472-3492. $20.