Just For Laughs comedy fest charms Chicago
Published: Sunday, June 17, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 16:08
The TBS “Just For Laughs” comedy festival, the largest of its kind in the country, took place from June 12 – 17 in Chicago. The festival featured more than 100 well-known comedians including Patton Oswalt, Sarah Silverman, Aziz Anzari, and more.
The Nerd Show (Brian , Pete Holmes, Brent Weinbach, Dan Telfer, Hari Kondabolu, Mike Lawrence)
Hosted by Chicago-based comic Pete Holmes, The Nerd Show’s lineup consisted solely of obsessive, weird, or nerdy comedians. It was a show performed by nerds and for nerds, which was clear when the audience cheered during the discussion of comic books and booed at the mention of George Lucas.
Pete Holmes’s exuberant, happy-go-lucky energy on stage translated as the host for the night. Smiling continuously throughout his set, Holmes seemed to genuinely enjoy performing stand-up. Certainly all comics enjoy their craft, but positive personas are rare in the scene -- seeing one was a breath of fresh air.
One highlight of the show was Mike Lawrence. Recently seen on Conan, Lawrence hails from New York and has been doing stand-up for about six years. During his set he briefly touched upon superheroes and Game of Thrones, but also talked shared his experience of being bullied in school and working for seven years at McDonald’s. It seemed to be a cathartic for Lawrence to joke about the darker times in his life. Lawrence, like many comedians of the past, shed light on serious topics through his comedy.
Another standout comedian was Brent Weinbach, an unusual and weird with a performance to match. His rigid composure and monotone voice seemed like it would hinder his stand-up, but he was able to use self-awareness and his eccentricities to his favor. Weinbach performed odd comedic bits, like singing ingredients off Dorito bags as makeshift Latin and reading off fortune cookie slips, all of which were absolutely hilarious. Weinbach’s stand-up was innovative, strange, and warranted greater appreciation.
Janeane Garofalo & Kyle Kinane
Immediately following The Nerd Show was Janeane Garofalo and Kyle Kinane who duo-headlined their late show. Looking around, the beautiful Up Comedy Club venue seemed to be completely sold-out, filled with eager people of varied ages. The host was Adam Burke, a well-respected Chicago comic who recently recorded his first comedy album. His stand-up consisted of an extensive vocabulary, assisting the vivid descriptions of his act. All warmed up, the audience cheered loudly as Garofalo and Kinane walked out on stage together. The two decided who would go first by flipping a coin, an unusual approach that helped create a care-free feel to the show.
Despite having to perform immediately, Garofalo’s years of stand-up experience were clear when she slipped into her act with ease and subtlety. Though Garofalo was performing, it felt like a casual conversation with the audience. She tackled various social issues, like her gripes about Velour fashion magazine, to men’s unclipped toenails. It was enjoyable to watch Garofalo, a stand-up veteran and creditor to the formation of the alternative comedy scene.
Next was Chicago-based comic Kyle Kinane who is quickly rising to the forefronts of stand-up comedy. Kinane primarily told stories in his act. Kinane had an enormous amount of jokes in each story, helping the audience stay attentive to every word he said. His self-deprecation brought humor to the sadder parts of his life. At one point during his act, he said he should’ve already died, and it was met with a roar of laughter. Catch Kyle Kinane in the smaller clubs or venues while you still can because in a few years, there’s no doubt he’ll be selling out huge theaters.
Patton Oswalt – The Vic Theater
The first show of Thursday night was Patton Oswalt at the Vic Theater. The opener was Kyle Kinane, who did extremely well with the material he did from his previous night’s performance. After being introduced, Oswalt commended Kinane’s growing talent, jokingly saying he’ll have to find a worse opener because Kinane is “getting too good.”