Just For Laughs Chicago to host All-Star “Da Bears” Charity Tribute with Mike Ditka, Super Fans & more

At last year's inaugural Just For Laughs Chicago festival, I sat down with Robert Smigel and asked him about the legacy of his "Da Bears" SNL Super Fans sketch.

This year, JFL Chicago is bringing Smigel back for a "Da Bears" charity tribute Super Fans extravaganza, featuring Smigel, former Bears coach Mike Ditka, George Wendt, Joe Mantegna, Bob Odenkirk and the Sun-Times' Richard Roeper. They'll be performing a live reading of Da Bears Movie Dat Wasn't, a never-produced screenplay, as well as show Super Fan sketches, welcome surprise guests, and do a Q&A with Ditka. It's all happening June 19 to benefit Have Dreams: Helping Autistic Voices Emerge and the Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund.

Wow. Here's part of my chat with Smigel to refresh your memories.

But that's not all. Just For Laughs Chicago also unveiled a big ol' slate of additional shows for next month's festival, as well as adding shows for Aziz Ansari, putting John Mulaney and Kyle Kinane on the "ALT" show that already boasted Patton Oswalt, Maria Bamford and Chris Hardwick, and put Jim Belushi along with the planned Second City class of 1979 reunion show.

Allow me to cut-and-paste-and-edit the new shows for your enjoyment…I'll see you there?

My Boys ‚Äì Thursday, June 17, at 7 p.m. at Mayne StageMy Boys cast members Reid ScottMike Bunin and Jamie Kaler perform live to usher in the fourth season of their TBS sitcom.

Double Threat ‚Äì Thursday, June 17, at 9 and 11 p.m.; Friday, June 18, and Saturday, June 19, at 7 and 9 p.m. at Mayne Stage: Two comics with complementing styles team up for a super-sized stand-up bill, with Kristen Schaal and John Mulaney on Friday and a special guest on Thursday, as well as Patrice O‚ÄôNeal with Hannibal Buress on Saturday.

Best of the Fest ‚Äì Friday, June 18, and Saturday, June 19, at 11 p.m. at Mayne Stage 

Sketch-travaganza: The Best of Sketchfest ‚Äì Friday, June 18, 6 p.m.-1 a.m. at Studio BE: Showcasing local talent. Three to four groups perform each hour, with sketches grouped by themes. The roster includes My MansFamily Tree House Boat AccidentBlaxploitationStir Friday Night!Urban IndigenousBri-KoGermansOneTwoThree ComedypH ProductionsKerpatty!Long PorkSad On VacationDominizuelanMountain DawnJablonski!,KevINdaJet and Holly and more. 

TBS LOL Lounge:  Hosted by Jamie Kaler ‚Äì Friday, June 18, and Saturday, June 19, at 7 and 9:30 p.m. at The Red Bar Comedy Club: 20 rising comedians take center stage in four shows to be recorded and made available online at justforlaughschicago.com.  Each show will open with performances by one of the top four finalists in RooftopComedy.com‚Äôs National College Comedy Competition, followed by a roster of comedy‚Äôs next big breakout stars. 

Just For Laughs Films 

Winnebago Man ‚Äì Sneak Preview on Wednesday, June 16, at 8 p.m. at the Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago: Winnebago Man reveals the story of Jack Rebney, who has delighted and fascinated millions of viewers with his hilariously foul-mouthed outtakes from a 1989 Winnebago RV sales video that were circulated on dubbed VHS tapes before becoming a full-blown Internet phenomenon on YouTube.

I Am Comic ‚Äì Friday, June 18, at 8:45 p.m. at the Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago: Through candid interviews and unprecedented backstage access, Jordan Brady‚Äôs fascinating documentary explores the world of the working comedian and provides a funny and revealing psychological profile of its practitioners. Director Jordan Brady will be on-hand following the screening for a Q&A session with the audience.

iO Theater

Beer Shark Mice ‚Äì Wednesday, June 16, and Thursday, June 17, at 8 and 10:30 p.m. – This improv group includes David KoechnerMike ColemanNeil Flynn,Pat FinnPaul Vaillancourt and Peter Hulne.  Each show will be opened by one of four venerable improv teams, including 3033,Deep SchwaMiddle Age Comeback and The Reckoning.

The Improvised Shakespeare Co. ‚Äì Friday, June 18, at 8 and 10:30 p.m. – Inspired Shakespearean lunacy for their hometown Chicago crowd.

Memoirs of a Manchild ‚Äì Friday, June 18, at midnight — Thomas Middleditch and Jordan Vogt-Roberts share their short films with the help of hilarious stand-up special guests in an hour of greatness and self-deprecation.

The Annoyance Theatre & Bar

Comedy Death-Ray Podcast ‚Äì Wednesday, June 16, at 10 p.m. – Comedy Death-Ray Radio, hosted by Scott Aukerman, is one of iTunes' top comedy podcasts.

Messing with a Friend ‚Äì Thursday, June 17, at 10:30 p.m. — Venerable Chicago improviser Susan Messing takes a guest on a special journey for a night of un
comfortable, weird, filthy, off-the-cuff comedy. 

40 Whacks ‚Äì Friday, June 18, at 8 p.m. – On Aug. 4, 1892, the town of Fall River, Mass., was scandalized by the brutal double homicide of two of their most prominent citizens.  Their daughter, the infamous Lizzie Borden, was arrested for the crime.  It‚Äôs just the sort of thing to sing and dance about.  40 Whacksis a dark musical comedy that examines the Bordens‚Äô family life before the tragedy and murder trial, as seen from Lizzie's perspective.

Playground Theater

The Tweet Life ‚Äì Thursday, June 17, at 8 p.m. – This interactive show‚Äôs performers find inspiration in Twitter, selecting actual posts from Festival comedians as source material.  These performers will create a 100% unscripted live theater piece based on the Tweets. 

Cook County Social Club ‚Äì Friday, June 18, and Saturday, June 19, at 8 p.m. – Cook
County Social Club makes its debut appearance at Just For Laughs.  This unique show is an upbeat and off-kilter combination of improvisation, live music and sketch comedy.

Alone: Chicago‚Äôs Best Solo Acts ‚Äì Friday, June 18, and Saturday, June 19, at 10:30 p.m. – The lineup includes Chris WitaskeJim FathKate DuffyKatie RichPrescott TolkSeth WeitbergKristen Studard and more. 

Lincoln Lodge

The Andy Kaufman Funhouse: Featuring Andy Kaufman Award Winners and Finalists ‚Äì Friday, June 18, and Saturday, June 19, at 8 p.m. for the first time ever, past Kaufman winners and finalists from the East Coast unite with hometown Kaufman alums to showcase their out-of-the-ordinary work.  Hosted by Sasha & The Noob, the lineup includes comedians Blaine KneeceChad BriggsChris CondrenHarrisson GreenbaumJet EvelethMichael LehrerMike AmatoKen Barnard and more.

Lights, Camera, Action, CUT: Comedic Short Films ‚Äì Thursday, June 17, at 9 p.m.

The Beat Kitchen

Chicago Underground Comedy presents: Secret Big-Time Local Comedy Showcase ‚Äì Tuesday, June 15, at 8 p.m. — Mike Bridenstine hosts performances by Adam BurkeBeth Stelling,Brendan McGowanCameron EspositoDan TelferJunior StopkaHey You MillionairesSean Flannery and more.  The show will be closed out with a performance by the band Maybenauts


Schadenfreude Rent Party: The City that Works ‚Äì Thursday, June 17, at 8 p.m. Schadenfreude teams up with the red-hot soul/hip-hop band The Jordan Years and special guests for a new comedy show all about Chi-town.  Also featured will be Brian BabylonJoe Bill, special guests Rhymefest,Eddie & Jobo and more.

Jokes & Notes

Breakout Performers ‚Äì Friday, June 18, at 8:30 p.m. – This collection of rising stars not only push the envelope, but tear it apart, rip it to shreds and stomp it into the ground. Lil Rel hosts as they take the stage.

Leading Ladies of Laughter ‚Äì Friday, June 18, at 10:30 p.m – Some of the funniest ladies in Chicago come together in this one-time-only showcase hosted by Vanessa Fraction.

Bad Boys of Comedy ‚Äì Saturday, June 19, at 8:30 p.m. — Leon Rogers hosts.

Best of the Midwest ‚Äì Saturday, June 19, at 10:30 p.m. — Damon Williams serves as host.

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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