Four Star Comedy Fest Features Free Workshops and an All Chicago Lineup- Oct 6 at Navy Pier

The team behind Improv Nerd are introducing a new festival to the Chicago landscape next week.

Saturday October 6th will be the inaugural “Four Star Comedy Fest.” The name is accurate. A bit more of a fest than a festival, the event intends to focus on Chicago improv and Chicago performers while giving a downtown audience a chance to experience improv and improv training.

The most unique element of the event will be the set of 4 FREE workshops hosted by the fest and featuring teachers and curriculum from iO, Annoyance, Comedysportz and ACT (which will be doing improv for kids).  Workshops are 1p-4p on the 6th and you can reserve your spot by emailing or calling 312-595-5022. Each class has only 20 spots, so if you are interested contact them ASAP. For full details on it, check here.

At 5p Carrane will be doing a special free Improv Nerd show with Charna Halpern, owner of iO Theater.

The meat of the fest’s performances start at 7p (doors open at 6p). Hosting the evening will be Chicago native and SNL alum Tim Kazurinsky. The lineup is as follows:

A ticket gets you in for four hours of improv in the Navy Pier Grand Ballroom. Carrane and his team will be building a secondary stage on the dance floor to recreate the intimate cabaret space that improv is best known for.

Tickets aren’t cheap but it is four hours and it is in a pretty magnificent space. The two upper tiers of tickets also come with a free drink ticket.

Tickets (including handling charges):

  • Standing Room on Balcony (No drink ticket) $48
  • Main Floor Seating $81
  • Cabaret Table Seating $112

There will be a total of about 400 seats on the main floor.

Carrane also has two sessions of “The Art of Slow Comedy” running this Fall.

Sat 1-3p 10/13 – 11/17 at Stage 773

Mon 6:30p-8:30p 10/15 – 11/15 at Green Shirt Studio


Mention Inside Joke Chicago and get $30 off.

Register at



TBS Just for Laughs Improv Lineup

The TBS Just for Laughs Festival is kicking off today!

The festival is certainly more standup than improv focused, but there are some great shows to see.

You can see my picks by date below. If you want to say hello, I’ll be at The Playground Tuesday and Wednesday night and then at the Annoyance late Wednesday.

Tuesday 6/13

Stuffed and Unstrung by Henson Alternative

WHERE: Bank of America Theater

WHEN: 7:30p

$: 40-60

Part of Broadway in Chicago, this is like Felt on steroids. Probably with  better puppetry. Don’t worry, giant screens magnify the tiny puppet stage action so everyone can see.

(You can see these guys around 7p every night of the festival. Cause they are basically just remarketing their normal tickets to the festival crowd….)


Wednesday 6/13

Hotdogs, Baseball and Schadenfreude

WHERE: Lincoln Hall

WHEN: 7:00p

$: 10

WHAT: Basically they will be MSTK3000 style watching a cubs game. I’m guessing if you want to buy a ticket to this, you probably still can. Alternatively you can sit at home and do this yourself with a few friends.


Pet Project Series

WHERE: The Playground

WHEN: 7:30p, 10:30p

$: 5

WHAT: These shows are all Chicago groups and performers given an hour to do what they want….

7:30p: WiseSnatch> Rachel Farmer, Jo Scott, Meg Johns.

Chicago Based Improv Trio!

Check them out on Facebook here.

10:30p: My Manns> Mark Raterman, Tim Robinson, Andy Miara

Two of the Cook County Social Club boys and longtime collaborator Andy Miara.


Scott Adsit and Kevin Dorff (with various guests)

WHERE: iO Theater

WHEN: 8p (with Dave Pasquesi and TJ Jagadowski), 10:30p


I’m seriously jealous of people attending the TJ and Dave Show.


Thursday 6/14

Pet Project Series (Night 2)

WHERE: The Playground

WHEN: 7:30p, 10:30p

$: 5

WHAT: These shows are all Chicago groups and performers given an hour to do what they want….

7:30p: NICE> Brooke Breit, Nancy Friedrich, Barry Hite and Hans Holsen

Longtime players from iO, Second City and Annoyance, I know literally nothing about this group. Google isn’t helping.

8:30p: Hovdees> Matt Hovdee, Megan Hovdee

Second City Artistic Director and his Tourco sister. You can get a sense of their level of artist skill and integrity from the above picture.


Scott Adsit, Kevin Dorff, Jon Glaser, Dave Pasquesi, TJ Jagadowski

WHERE: iO Theater

WHEN: 8p, 10:30p


Again. Jealous.

Messing with a Friend with Greg Hess

WHERE: Annoyance Theater

WHEN: 10:30p


I’m psyched to see Greg and Susan play together.


Friday 6/15

 Scott Adsit and Jet Eveleth

WHERE: iO Theater

WHEN: Midnight

$: 15

I have run out of quippy show comments.


That’s it!
It’s great to see improv highlighted in such a high profile festival and I hope next year features even more.
See you at the shows!



5/28 Chicago Improv Comedy Training and Events Update

There are a whole ton of one-off workshops coming up. So if you only have a little cash and want a pick me up, check out these short and cheap workshops!

Sat 6/2  12p – 3p

iO Theater 3541 North Clark St.  $30

Physical Improv with Jet Eveleth


Sat 6/9  12p – 3p

iO Theater 3541 North Clark St.  $30

Loving the Harold with Jet Eveleth


Sat 6/16  12p – 3p

iO Theater 3541 North Clark St.  $40

Personal Growth with Jet Eveleth


Sun 6/17 3p – 6p

iO Theater 3541 North Clark St.  $20

Self Publishing and Blogging for Comedians with Bryan Cohen

Cinematic Premier of “Close Quarters” at Landmark Cinemas

Tues 6/5 6p


Landmark’s Century Centre Cinema 2828 N. Clark

Cast includes David PasquesiT.J. JagadowskiSusan MessingGreg Hollimon and Tim Kazurinskyto name a few.

I’ll be there!


Second City Offering Awesome Electives this Summer…

I usually let them tout their own stuff since they have the resources to do so far better than I do, but I thought there were worth highlighting.

The below is cut right from the Training Center Email….

ALSO! SC Students get free access to the new e.t.c revue!
On Thursday, May 31, TC students are cordially invited to The Second City e.t.c. 36th Revue directed by Ryan Bernier featuring all new material created by Aidy Bryant, Mike Kosinski, Michael Lehrer, Tawny Newsome, Andel Sudik and Chris Witaske with Musical Direction by Jesse Case. TC students can reserve up to two tickets for this performance by calling The Second City Box Office at             312-337-3992       and showing their current TC ID card when picking up tickets on the night of the performance. Click here for more information about the show.

3/17 Chicago Improv Comedy A/V and Web Update

Dummy – Jason Schotts and Colleen Doyle- Podcast Up on Improv Nerd


Mike Wylde on “Why Improv?”

Really happy to see that Micah is updating again!


Del Close Profile from 1986

This apparently was done by Brian Stack for Cable Access, way back in the day.

Here about the Harold in Del’s words.

Also the narrator may or may not be Dave Pasquesi.



Discussion on Solo Sketch on IRC

If you have any advice or book tips on how to write Solo Sketch, join the discussion at IRC.


2/12 Chicago Improv Comedy A/V and Web Update

Kate Duffy and Katie Rich Writeup in Time out Chicago

An article about Chicago improv Kate’s that doesn’t involve the Katydids!

Just kidding, they are in paragraph three.


Holly Laurent in Lana Del Rey “Hunger Games” Music Video

I still haven’t figured out who Lana Del Rey is. But I do know she’s somebody other people know about.


Cook County Social Club: Pitch Meeting

Like most of their scenes, this ends with kissing.

Also, its up on iO’s site, but clearly filmed in a Second City conference room.


Jimmy Carrane with 10 Way’s to Successfully Improvise for On Camera Auditions

This stuff is super useful. Came from a recent Chicago Film Actor’s Meetup. Contact me for details.


Mick Napier and the Playboys Podcast up on Improv Nerd


Nancy Fast interviews Judy Fabjance of Second City

Lots of great info about her current show: “Are you there, Judy? It’s me. Cancer.”


Improvised New York Interview with Michael Gellman

This is literally the only picture of Michael Gellman you can find on the internet.

Unless you want to scavenge wedding pictures from his facebook account. Which seems disrespectful.


John Gemberling of Death by Roo Roo on Beginnings with Wrestling Team

John is an NYC improviser and also does a number of voices for Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim.


Second City Alums The Vacationeers Need Your Help!

You may remember them from their “Google Maps” Video a few years ago.


Playground 15th Anniversary Celebrations Kicking Off

Check out the details on their Facebook page!


Successful Marriage Proposal on the Comedysportz Chicago Stage


Submit your team to the Chicago Improv Teams Database

This site is run by a NYC improviser who maintains one for NYC as well.



1/16 Chicago Comedy Improv Training and Events Update

Stupid Nerd Podcast synthesizes the epic game of Assassin that took place between Comedysportz and iO Chicago

If you were a part of this, you know how fun it was.

Check it out!

1/15 Chicago Improv Comedy A/V and Web Update

Entry is $50
Suggestions given: Friday March 23rd
Films Due: 11:59p Saturday March 24th
Finalists will be screened at iO Chicago March 25th. Winner’s will be chosen by audience choice at the Chicago Comedy Film Festival in November.
Improv Obsession Podcast Interview with Colton Dunn 
Colton talks about BOOM Chicago, the early days of UCB NY and more.
New Episode of We Wrongly Assume with Kate Duffy and Rachael Mason
What’s wrong with America and why the world will end in 2012.
New Webseries from Hallie Jordan

AWKWARD INTERACTIONS from Omar Haro on Vimeo.


Comedy Central Short Pilot Competition

Entries Accepted through 1/27/12

Free to enter.

Submit your 8 – 15 minute pilot along with the shooting script.

Finalists will receive designation as 2012 NYTVF Official Artists and be invited to the New York Television Festival, held in NYC in the Fall of 2012.

Finalists will give development rights to Comedy Central for a period of 3 months.

Rules and submission form here.


New Improv Nerd Podcasts Up: TJ Jagadowski and Dave Pasquesi

Should probably note that these are separate interviews. You can hear quite a bit about what makes TJ and Dave tick as well as the personal motivation and frustration of a life of improv.

You can also check out my digest from attending this past week’s live Improv Nerd Show featuring Middle Age Comeback.


Poor Choices with Mary Sohn and Tyler Smith

I hope to someday be as regular in my work or my bowel movements as Mark Colomb is at recording interviews. He is a work-aholic. Then again, its hard to call something this much fun work.

Two episodes: Mary Sohn and Tyler Smith

Also, turns out Mark is in Wikipedia!


Beginnings Field Guide with Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobsen


Ilana and Abbi are NY based performers and writers and their web series is being optioned by FX at the moment. So their interview is a nice window into that process.

You can see their series “Broad City” below:


1/7 Chicago Improv Comedy A/V and Web Update

Vidiocy is back at iO! 30 day movie making contest!

Tues 1/10/12 7p – 9p until Fri 2/10/12 at midnight


Screening and awards: Thur 2/16/12 at 7p

You will be assigned a random title for a short (6 minutes or less) and have 30 days to make it. Producers narrow the field. Night of Judges will cut more, until audience votes on final four.

You can register and pick up your title in person Tues night or register online starting tomorrow (1/9) by emailing and paying thru paypal.


Michael Patrick Thornton interview and show up on Improv Nerd

Not up on his website, but if you subscribe to the podcast thru itunes you can find it.

Thornton is on ABC’s Private Practice.


Jason Schotts and Year End Round Up on Poor Choices

Wrap up recorded live at the Upstairs Gallery


Live Sketchfest feed on
Watch live video from chicagosketchfest on


Rainbow Cat Get’s Maced

Nyndynyn Cat, a comedy video from the Second City Network

You surprised me with this one, Second City Network. How the fuck are you guys sourcing your material?


Jet Eveleth Does Fantastic Character Work

You Should Be Famous from martydooginarts on Vimeo.

Excited to see more of this.

9/5 Training and Events Update

Colin Quinn Q&A at Second City
Thur 9/8 1p-2p
Second City  1616 North Wells
Skybox Theater
Free for SC Students
Colin Quinn will do a Q&A. That’s pretty much it.

Chicago Ladies in Comedy Panel Discussion on Women in Comedy
Sat 9/10 3:30p
Comedy Sports 929 W. Belmont
Tara Difrancisco, Cameron Esposito, Jet Eveleth, Anne Libera, Rachael
Mason, Susan Messing and Katie Rich discuss women in Chicago Comedy.
Moderated by Deanna Moffit. All lady show to follow at 6p.

Early Registration Discount for Annoyance ends 9/11/11
If you are planning on signing up, do it now and save $20.

Jason Chin teaches Page2Stage Sketch Writing
Tues 9/13-10/11 7p-10p as well as Thurs 10/11-11/10 7p-10p
Performances Wed 11/16-12/14 at 8p
Gorilla Tango Theate1919 N. Milwaukee
No cost specified
Jason Chin teaches a 9 week writing process that culminates in a four
week show.
Email Katie Johnston-Smith at

Cook County Workshop at iO
Sat 9/17 6p-10p
iO Theater 3541 North Clark St.
Max 24 students in two groups
Another workshop on their use of the game in scene. Recommended.

Commercial Auditions Workshop at iO
Sun 9/18-10/9 6p-9p
iO Theater 3541 North Clark St.
Max 15 students
Brooke Shoemaker of Grey Talent and Actor/Teacher Janet Ulrich Brooks
will cover a variety of types of commercial auditions.