Archive for the ‘Entertainment’ Category

Bye Bye Bastion

Wise Fools Open MicAmazing Chicago comedy blog The Bastion is shutting down after two years of dedicated service to the Chicago comedy community. This is sad for a couple of reasons, one is that I know of no other web site that wants my photos of Chicago comedy, and two the bastion has been a great source of information about the vibrant Chicago comedy scene.

I will try my best to post comedy goings ons here on metblogs. You can also go to the blogs of the Bastions main writers Elizabeth McQuern and Kristy Mangel for their super-fan’s-eye view of the Chicago comedy world.

MST3K in the CHI

Technically it’s not Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K for the uninitiated), but, rather, Cinematic Titanic which is just as awesome.

Cinematic Titanic comes from the creator and star of MST3K, Joel Hodgson, and has MST3Ks cast and crew of Trace Beaulieu, J. Elvis Weinstein, Frank Conniff, and Mary Jo Pehl. They continue their amazing talent (and it is a talent) of hilariously talking over really bad movies. So far they have done three films as Cinematic Titanic, BUT they will not be doing those three movies. These guys will be riffing over three completely NEW unreleased movies when they come to Chicago in December!

You probably need to know the where and when. This will all be happening at The Lakeshore Theater on December 18th – 20th. Five shows, three movies, and lifetime of regret for any MST3K fan that does not attend at least one of these. I’m saving up my $35 per show so I can see all three. In the meantime, I’ll have to just watch this Cinematic Titanic preview over and over again:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=reldl89Y9XQ[/youtube]

Ted Butterman’s Cubs Dixieland Band

I was at the Cubs game yesterday doing video work for a project, and I grabbed a few moments of Ted Butterman’s Cubs Dixieland Band, who nearly brought a tear to my eye.

My late Uncle Jim Snyder, who lived and worked in Chicago for all of his adult life, was widely regarded as the best Dixieland trombonist in the world. He began playing as a teenager, joined the now legendary Salty Dogs at Purdue University in the 1950’s, toured the world for decades, and recorded dozens of albums. He was a very sweet man who passed away shortly before I moved to Chicago.

At his funeral, his fellow musicians testified that his love for his art was so powerful that simply playing with him made them all better musicians. At that time I was still struggling with a long-delayed desire to finally move from my hometown to Chicago pursue writing and comedy, and witnessing the effect that my uncle’s love for his music had on his life and those of others was very inspiring to me.

But I digress. Here’s a bit of Ted Butterman’s Cubs Dixieland Band:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j4qORNrMQxc[/youtube]

As an added bonus, I’m going to include this 1991 clip of Uncle Jimmy performing at Fitzgerald’s in Berwyn, Illinois, with the Chicago Salty Dogs. As the videographer admits, the picture quality isn’t great, but I defy you to listen to this tune and not find your toes tapping a happy little rhythm:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1u2PhvxuCrg[/youtube]

Two Chances to Laugh and Raise Money for Charity

What could be an easier way to contribute to charity then watch a comedy show? How about if that show has some of Chicago’s best stand-up comedians in it. Boom! I’m sold.

This Friday at 9 PM, amazing Chicago comedian Carrie Callahan will be hosting a benefit comedy show called “Easier Then Running a Marathon”. It takes place at the Lincoln Restaurant (home of the famous comedy showcase The Lincoln Lodge) at 4008 N. Lincoln. The cost is only $10 and all proceeds go to AIDS research.

Then, Saturday is “Angel’s Farewell Show”. This is a send off to much beloved Chicago comedy super-fan Angel Busque. The show will feature her favorite Chicago comedians which means for only $10 you can see Jason Fever [The Mockumentals], Brian Potrafka [Doug Stanhope’s The Unbookables, author of “Small & Wrong”], Dan Kaufman (The Bob & Tom Show), Sean Flannery (producer and co-host of the Internet radio talk show the Visitors Locker Room), David Kovac (Performed at the request of Mayor Richard M. Daley for the 73rd Annual U.S. Conference of Mayors), Ricky Carmona (HBO Latino), Brendan McGowan (Chicago Underground Comedy), CJ Sullivan (Visitors Locker Room, Chicago Tribune’s Red Eye), Renee Gauthier (Victoria Beckham: Coming to America), Cayne Collier (producer of Chicago’s longest running stand-up showcase, the Elevated), hosted by local favorite Bradley Fojas (NBC’s Stand Up for Diversity). Plus, all the money goes toward Lupus Foundation of America, Illinois Chapter. Doors for this show open at 7:30 and the show starts at 8 PM.

Want to see "Sexy Jesus"?

Sure. Why not?

Then head over to Stage Left Theater on Saturday at 12:30am to see comedy group pH Productions show pHRENZY pHUCKED which will be hosted by Sexy Jesus from the new movie Hamlet 2.

Tonight, the talented cast of pH will begin their Hamlet 2 theme by doing their hit comedy show pHamily The Musical as the West Mesa High School Drama Department from the movie. The Friday show starts at 11pm at Stage Left Theater (3408 N Sheffield Ave), and both shows are $10.

Private Karaoke

Lincoln Karaoke

I’ve been hearing for years about private room karaoke – establishments where instead of singing your favorite AM hits in front of a group of drunken strangers, you have a small room all to yourself, so you’re singing in front of five or six drunken friends. But it was only just a few weeks ago that I was finally dragged into one by a friend’s birthday.

I’ve never been a big fan of regular karaoke. I mean, I’ve been cajoled into getting up and singing before, but it’s not an activity I’d choose for an outing. But somehow when I was in a tiny room at Lincoln Karaoke (5526 N Lincoln), I was punching songs into the karaoke controller with wild abandon.

That’s one factor to the appeal of the karaoke room, I think. Instead of being at the mercy of a karaoke DJ and waiting for hours to sing a song, you’re programming in a set list yourself. And with just six people in the room, you’re singing every fifteen minutes or so. And with no dull stares from strangers, even the worst introvert can be persuaded to get up and sing a Britney song or two.

Lincoln Karaoke has small, medium, and large rooms. We were in a medium, which meant we had a couch and two love seats, a big screen TV with a Korean karaoke computer attached, and a party-lights ball near the ceiling. The songbooks featured a large selection of Korean songs, a modest section of English-language tracks, and then a hefty J-Pop section, which included another random six to ten English songs on each page. There’s a full bar (try the Soju!) and a selection of Korean foods from the kitchen. I had an order of kalbi (Korean short ribs) which were tasty, but slightly over-priced for the amount, I thought. On Fridays and Saturdays, renting a medium or large room comes with a minimum bar tab, but they’re willing to negotiate — we were there earlyish on a slow Friday night and they waived the minimum.

Bernie Mac, 1957-2008

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RviYo3WsqjU[/youtube]

Chicago comedian Bernie Mac died this morning of complications from pneumonia. He was 50 years old.

The comic born Bernard Jeffrey McCullough could cut an imposing figure. He stood 6-foot-3, was built like a fullback and carried himself with a bouncer’s reticence. But perhaps the strongest weapon in the Chicago comedian’s arsenal was that voice, that amalgam of thought and a delivery that could rise like a tidal wave, outpace a Gatling gun and remained, to his last days, loud and unapologetic.

He wasn’t scared, he told us time and again, to tell anyone what he thought, to say what others were afraid to say. That fearlessness wasn’t always welcome, considering Mac didn’t get his big break until his 30s. But when he did, the comic skyrocketed to success in stand-up, television and the big screen. [Chicago Tribune]

(Video via Maximum Fun)

Chicago Comedy Festival

Back in February of this year, I heard some rumblings about a Chicago Comedy Festival taking place on Navy Pier during the autumn of this year. It’s supposed to have 100 performers, three stages, and a partridge in a pear tree. I know it’s still summer, but we’re not too far from autumn, and I have yet to hear anything more about this Chicago Comedy Festival (the website is just a placeholder with no information). I’m intrigued, but it’s easier to find information on the Just for Laughs festival coming to Chicago in summer of 2009. I was starting to loose hope that this Chicago Comedy Festival thing was going to happen.

Then today I found this youtube channel labeled Chicago comedy festival. This channel has been uploading segments of a documentary hosted by comedy legend Bob Zmuda about the Chicago Comedy Festival from 2001 over the past two days. If you have 30 minutes (or eight chunks of about five minutes) and you have an interest in comedy, then check out these videos. The documentary is filled with comedy treats, but one of the biggest treats for me was seeing one of my favorite rooms in Chicago, The Lincoln Lodge, pop up around the 2:30 mark in this segment. During that segment you also get to see alternative comics like Neil Hamburger, and SNL’s Fred Armisen playing his character Fericito. Of course, Chicago comedy stalwart, Zanies, is there with a whole mess of amazing comedians to numerous to list. To start you off, I’ll put the first part of the documentary here:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4XnZwGFNZfY[/youtube]

Obama, the comic book

As reported on the LA Times blog, Hero Complex, both presidential candidates are getting their own comic books. I am digging the cheesy super hero pose on the front cover. I wonder what bad guys they will have to fight. I’m guessing Obama will have to face off against his enemy Smear, while McCain has to fight off old age in order to gain the attention of his love interest Ms. Media. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait till October 8th to find out. Drat!

(photo from Beth Rankin)

Puppet Bike!!!

I know, I know. I’m breaking absolutely no new ground here. There are three previous entries on the awesomeness of the puppet bike. But I had never seen it other then in pictures, and the tons of youtube videos of it. And just hearing about it was like someone telling you about a dream they had, just kind of odd and bemusing.

Then, yesterday, I saw it. Even better, I got to see the effect it had on the people watching it. In fact, while I was watching kitten hand puppets twirling to a swing song, two Chicago police officers on bikes stopped, watched the puppets dance, and then laughed and went on their way.

And that is the power of the puppet bike. Do yourself a favor and stop and watch the puppet bike when you run into it. It’s worth it.
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddWaWs9vgA4[/youtube]

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