Day: June 18, 2009

Blogging about Chicago comedy

What happens when a major comedy festival such as Just For Laughs comes to town, only to find the town's major comedy blog is no more? Well, all is not lost for Chicago comedy fans who no have The Bastion to guide them. In fact, the former Bastion editors are still keeping track of, and shining a spotlight on, the Windy City's up-and-coming comedic talents. Kristy Mangel is monitoring the goings-on via her blog, five drink minimum, while Elizabeth McQuern is producing Chicago Underground Comedy shows and blogging here and there as Bella Rossa. Stand-up comedian Cameron Esposito (who's performing in one of the homegrown shows at Lincoln Lodge, I believe) has started blogging on Chilarious, a new blog from ChicagoNow (owned by The Tribune). Also keeping tabs on the Chicago comedy scene from the mainstream to alternative media: The Chicago Reader,  Time Out Chicago and The Onion's Chicago edition of Decider, and Chicagoist. So if this weekend's ha-ha-hullaballoo has you hankering for more funny in Chicago, you'll have some places to start your search when I'm not around to...

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JFL Chicago: Robert Smigel on creating SNL’s Super Fans, “Da Bears”

Robert Smigel began his comedy career in Chicago, and during the 1988 writers strike, Smigel returned to the Windy City and, with fellow SNL striking writers Conan O'Brien and Bob Odenkirk, wrote and produced a revue called Happy Happy Good Show. One of Smigel's sketches portrayed Chicago's super sports fans, which later famously became a recurring sketch on SNL called Bill Swerski's Super Fans, and people across America began emphasizing "Da Bears" and "Da Bulls." Smigel is back in Chicago this week for Just For Laughs Chicago, showing the unaired Bozo pilot he wrote with Dino Stamatopoulos, as well as the original pilot for their animated "TV Funhouse." I spoke with them after last night's show — they'll also be performing tonight at the Lakeshore Theater. Here is the portion of our backstage chat focusing on the Super Fans (I'll upload the full interview separately): And here is perhaps the most well-known of the SNL "Super Fans" appearances from 1991, when Michael Jordan hosted. Smigel sits with Jordan, George Wendt, Mike Myers and Chris Farley, who has a heart attack and performs a luau dance for Jordan....

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JFL Chicago: Behind the scenes of Ellen’s Bigger Longer & Wider Show (TBS)

Ellen DeGeneres taped her third TBS variety special last night as part of the inaugural Just For Laughs Chicago comedy festival — Ellen's Bigger Longer & Wider Show will air at 9 p.m. Saturday, June 27, on TBS, but I can share some insight with you already. During a post-show question-and-answer session with the audience, Ellen's wife, Portia de Rossi, emerged from the wings to wave hello when a fan asked, "Where's Portia?!" Here is a backstage pic of Ellen and Portia with Chicago's own Kanye West, who performed his hits "Stronger" and "Heartless" to end the show. On the best part of being married, Ellen quipped: "Well, I'm finally off the pill!" And on a more serious note, when a gay man from the audience couldn't contain himself demonstrating his support for Ellen and wondering what the gay and lesbian community could do in the wake of California's Prop 8, DeGeneres offered that "we shouldn't be separate" in terms of the law. "Just remember the Golden Rule: Do unto others." Everyone really does love Ellen these days. Gay men, lesbians, young women, middle-aged women, and other straights went crazy for her last night in Chicago. After a 40-minute warmup session (did it have to be that long?) of dance contests and karaoke contests that hyped up the crowd in a mini version of America's Got Talent, it only made sense...

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