TBS announces inaugural Just For Laughs Chicago lineup

TBS and Just For Laughs unveiled the first look at the lineup for their inaugural "Very Funny" Festival in Chicago this June 17-21, and it looks like a hybrid of what Just For Laughs does in Montreal, TBS does in Las Vegas and what the Chicago comedy scene does.

Tickets will go on sale Monday.

Are you ready? Here's the quick overview. TBS will tape three specials: Ellen's Bigger Longer and Wider Show (aka the third Ellen DeGeneres variety show for the basic cable network), Comedy You Can Believe in with David Alan Grier (Grier hosts an all-star lineup TBA), and a third yet-to-be announced special. It'll also see upcoming late-night competitors George Lopez and Jimmy Fallon headlining their own shows, as well as performances by Bill Engvall, Lisa Lampanelli, Russell Peters, Louis CK, Jim Jefferies, Bob Odenkirk and Andy Dick. Shows will take place throughout the Windy City, from the Chicago Theatre to the Rosemont, Lakeshore, The Vic, iO, The Lincoln Lodge, The Playground and Annoyance, plus four nights of films at the Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

“While our festival in Montreal made its humble beginning as a three-night local comedy showcase 27 years ago, Chicago has a rich history in comedy that needs no introduction,” said Gilbert Rozon, president of Just For Laughs.  “We are confident that the elite roster of talent at our inaugural event this summer will secure our status as the premier comedy festival in the United States.  So it seems our plan for world domination is coming along rather nicely.”

The full lineup, straight from the press release, is after the jump!




Ellen’s Bigger Longer and Wider Show – Wednesday, June 17

DeGeneres will blow the roof off The Chicago Theatre with the third edition of her variety show, which features live music, dancers and unique specialty acts.  The show, which will air on TBS, will be produced by Telepictures Productions, with Mary Connelly, Ed Glavin and Andy Lassner, whose credits include DeGeneres’ Emmy®-winning talk show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, serving as executive producers.


An All-Star Comedy Show hosted by Russell Peters – Friday, June 19

The Canadian comedian, whose rise to fame has been unprecedented, will host an all-star lineup of comedians ready to take Chicago by storm.


Lisa Lampanelli – Saturday, June 20

Coming off her smash hit and first-ever HBO Special, Long Live the Queen, Lampanelli will bring her abrasively funny stand-up to the Festival for a special, one-night appearance.




The Nasty Show starring Louis CK and featuring Nick Di Paolo, Patrice O’Neal and Jim Jefferies  – Thursday, June 18, and Friday, June 19

This favorite from Montreal’s annual Just For Laughs Festival will feature some of the funniest (and filthiest) comics around.


Comedy You Can Believe In with David Alan Grier – Friday, June 19

This TBS special being filmed at The Vic Theatre will feature host Grier and an exciting group of all-star comedians.


Bill Engvall: Aged and Confused – Saturday, June 20

The star of TBS’s popular The Bill Engvall Show will regale fans with his brand of highly relatable comedy.


Jimmy Fallon: Live in Concert – Saturday, June 20

This event will give fans an opportunity to check out the new Late Night star in the flesh when he performs live.




George Lopez: Tall, Dark and Chicano – Just added Thursday, June 18

Friday, June 19, and Saturday, June 20 tickets already on sale

Lopez, one of the country’s most popular standup comedians and host of his own late-night series on TBS this fall, adds a third show, extending his run at the Rosemont Theatre. 


LAKESHORE THEATRE (additional performances and dates to be announced)


Jim Jefferies: Hammered – The foul-mouthed Aussie comedian shows that no topic is sacred, joining the Lakeshore line-up with a special presentation of his solo show, following his upcoming HBO special.


Bob Odenkirk and Friends – This event features the Mr. Show icon and a hand-picked group of his favorite Chicago comedians and friends.


Andy Dick – The famed comedian will bring his frenetic style to the Lakeshore.


Patrice O’Neal: Positivity – From private parts to politics, Positivity is a funny, righteous look at O’Neal’s incident-crowded life.




TBS PRESENTS A “VERY FUNNY” FESTIVAL: JUST FOR LAUGHS and the Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago are partnering on four nights of the best independent comedic shorts and feature films from around the world.  This event will take place within Indie Comedy – The Christopher Wetzel Award for Independent Film Comedy, which was created at the Gene Siskel Film Center to support independent filmmakers.  More details to be announced.




Some of comedy’s biggest stars cut their chops on Chicago’s stages.  One of the pillars of the Festival will be an extensive grassroots programming line-up that will showcase the next generation of Chicago talent.  Just For Laughs has joined forces with not only some of Chicago’s most respected comedy ensembles (like Schadenfreude and Chicagoland) but also theaters that feature their groundbreaking work.  The Festival will work with the historic iO Theater, the annual mainstay Chicago Sketchfest, the prolific Annoyance Theatre, the experimental Playground Theater and the trailblazing standup venue The Lincoln Lodge.


iO Theater


Thursday, June 18

Best of Sketchfest will feature the six top sketch groups picked from Chicago’s January Sketch Festival.  (Repeat performance Friday, June 19)


Bob Odenkirk’s Best Of… will feature Sketchfest comics teaming up with Odenkirk for a night of marvelously twisted comedy.  (Repeat performance Friday, June 19)


Saturday, June 20

Improvised Shakespeare Company brings the bard’s language to life through improv in one of Chicago’s must-see shows.


Whirled News Tonight features an ensemble of iO improvisers ripping their scenic inspiration from the latest headlines.  It’s a treat for comedy and news junkies alike.


The Late Night Late Show marks the return of a Chicago favorite, an improvised midnight talk show featuring celebrity guests.


The Lincoln Lodge


Wednesday, June 17

Homecoming will feature Chica
go’s brightest comedy alums reuniting for a special show.  (Repeat performance Thursday, June 18)


Friday, June 19

Chicago Stand-Up Run-Down will bring a who’s who of top local talent to The Lincoln Lodge.  (Repeat performance Saturday, June 20)


Annoyance Theater


Thursday, June 18

Messing with a Friend features Susan Messing, one of Chicago’s finest improvisers, co-starring with a guest celebrity.  She takes her guest partner to hilariously uncomfortable places.


Friday, June 19

Paul Provenza’s Green Room will feature the executive producer/director of The Aristocrats moderating casual, heady discussions about comedy with some of the top names from the Festival.  (Repeat performance Saturday, June 20)


Saturday, June 20

Chicagoland is an all-star show with comedy veterans coming together for a special night of improv.


Schadenfreude Rent Party is a multimedia, high-energy comedy show marking the return of one of Chicago’s most venerated sketch comedy ensembles.  It also features shorts by popular filmmaker Steve Delahoyde.


Sunday, June 21

The Best Church of God, a mock, sermon-based sketch show, offers an opportunity to purge the overindulgence of comedy from everyone’s system.


The Playground Theater


Friday, June 19

Alone: Chicago’s Best Solo Acts, a collection of outstanding standup solo artists, comes to The Playground Theater.


Saturday, June 20

Don’t Spit the Water, Chicago’s popular live game show, returns from hiatus for back-to-back outings at the Playground, its former home.


Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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2 thoughts on “TBS announces inaugural Just For Laughs Chicago lineup

  1. Ellen’s bigger and longer show? Lol, oook…don’t get me wrong, I love Ellen as much as the next person, but that’s pretty silly.

  2. I would like an e-mail to any one who can help me with theatres that i can introduce an independent film to.
    program directors etc…..
    I am helping a friend with a wonderful gift!
    THANK YOU diAnne

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