September 6, 2009 § Leave a comment

SketchFest logo big

The Chicago Sketchfest is incredible.

Officially titled the Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival, Lukaba Productions’ annual celebration of the art of sketch is the most tightly-packed, intense whirlwind of comedy and theatergoers I have ever witnessed.

It is my great pleasure to once again be serving as PR Czar for this fantastic event as it enters its 9th year. I’ll certainly be web-logging the latest news right here before, during, and after Sketchfest 2010. I’ll start with the current big news that I’m in the midst of spreading around:

Applications are now being accepted! Submission deadline is October 15!
Download your application form now @ ChicagoSketchfest.com!

The Chicago Sketchfest featuring The Comic ThreadSketchfest’s producers are seeking local, national and international performers of all kinds for the world’s largest festival exclusively dedicated to the art of sketch comedy.

The festival provides an opportunity for sketch comedy performers to perform in front of large, appreciative audiences at no cost to the participating groups. The producers of Sketchfest pay for all costs – rent, marketing, advertising, technical staff and equipment. This gives performers a valuable opportunity to reach new audiences, hone performance skills and network with peers and industry professionals.

Applications will be accepted through October 15, 2009. Participants will be selected by an adjudicating panel of industry experts. Details and application forms are available at ChicagoSketchfest.com.

SketchfestThe Chicago Tribune calls Sketchfest, “a raging Lakeview comedic beast….a well-organized and immensely likeable event…a rollicking good time.” Last year’s festival welcomed over 10,000 audience members over the course of 2 weekends of performances. More than 800 artists participated in the festival.

The 2010 Chicago Sketchfest is scheduled for January 7th – 17th and will showcase 100 sketch comedy groups performing 125 shows in 8 days. In addition to performances by the groups, the festival will feature workshops, networking opportunities, children’s programming and other special events.

If you are a sketch comedian, don’t wait until the last minute! APPLY NOW!

If you are someone who loves comedy, just try to keep yourself occupied until January. Sketchfest gets bigger and badder every year and 2010 is going to be the most mind-blowing yet.

Oh yeah, and Sketchfest is now ON TWITTER! YESSSS!! Twitter.com/ChgoSketchfest



March 30, 2010 § Leave a comment

Arise, my creation! Arise!

Unfortunately, I’ve badly neglected my Wickepedia over the last several months. (Can someone, anyone tell me how people have the TIME to blog?)

Much has happened, but a few highlights are…


GayCo’s Audacity of Nope

I had the honor of working with GayCo Productions to promote the premiere of their latest revue, The Audacity of Nope or How I Fell for a Pansy Scheme at the Strawdog Theatre.  I succeeded in wrangling 8 reviewers to attend this hilarious and subversive show, resulting in descriptions such as “extremely entertainingbrilliantly subversiveimpressive wit, contagious camp and explosive humor,” (Chicago Stage Review) “surprisingly fresh and funny…an endearing evening of comedy,” (Centerstage Chicago) and “the music is fun, the comedy is fresh and the writing doesn’t pander…it’s like a gay SNL. Except that it’s actually funny, really funny. (Chicagoist). It was a pleasure to work with this talented group and help their 15th original revue make an impact.



Instant Musical @ LOL

Back in October, I announced Laugh Out Loud Theater‘s debut of Instant Musical, the latest addition to their popular new Thursday night lineup.  The cast of some of the top improvisers in Chicago, with live piano accompaniment, creates songs on the spot based on audience suggestions, ranging from love ballads to blues numbers and rap. Then, they unite in the second half of the show to create a completely improvised Broadway-style musical.  This show has done so well that it’s still running every Thursday!  LOL is blowing suburbanites’ minds with fully-improvised musical hilarity!

This terrific production has earned some great reviews on Goldstar Events, where members can snag some discount tickets.  Here’s one I thought was notable:

A hilarious retreat into absurdity, talent, and audience fun. We had a blast.

If you [don’t live] very close to Chicago’s Second City, this is your next best bet, and in many regards this comedy troupe is superior.” – Jake Lawrence, Goldstar Member

There you have it.  Laugh Out Loud is superior to Second City, or in some ways a very close runner-up.  Not too shabby.

Experience this night of improv set to music for yourself!

Every Thursday @ 8:00pm
Laugh Out Loud Theater, The Streets of Woodfield, 601 N. Martingale Road, Schaumburg
$15 tickets can be purchased by calling 847.240.0386
Directions and more information can be found at LOLtheater.com



Chicago SketchFest 2010

Then of course, the Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival completely took over my life.  This January’s 9th annual SketchFest was a huge success and brought some incredible talent in massive quantities to Theatre Building Chicago for 2 whirlwind weekends of performances and fun.

Now and then I was able to sneak away from my media check-in table to see some absolutely amazing shows:
FUCT from NYC had to be seen to be believed, offering the most violence, nudity and curtain dancing (is that what it’s called?) of any show in the Festival. Absolutely outrageous, absolutely fearless, and possibly deranged, these guys know how to put on a hell of a show.
NYC’s New Exc!tement blew everyone’s minds with their insanely physical and wonderfully messy explosion of a performance.  Their lone female cast member, former-Chicagoan Mary Grill, was bold and hilarious in the midst of their no-holds-barred approach to slapstick.
I loved Chicago’s own Aemilia & Ed in their latest revue, Common Problems and Recurrent Foibles, a comedy time machine to 1961. My kind of stuff. Damn smart and damn funny.
The videos made by NYC’s BriTANick are exemplary and their live performance was no disappointment. A terrific show was topped off with a sneak preview of their new short film, “Eagles are Turning People into Horses,” which was an absurd masterstroke.
I only caught the end of their show, but Last Call Cleveland killed me with their Cleveland tourism videos.  The 2nd of which has a line about their fair city looking “like a Scooby Doo ghost town” that had me in tears.
Chicago’s The Cool Table was one of my favorites.  Dark, dark sketch comedy with live blues guitar covering the transitions.  Kyle More’s solo sketch “A Man Deciding Whether to Eat a Bowl of Cereal or Blow His Goddamn Brains Out” was one of the best things I have ever seen.

On the media front, my second year as SketchFest PR Czar was definitely an exciting improvement and we achieved a ton of coverage.  Many press passes were given.  Much was written and recorded for posterity.  More on that later if/when I have time.



the tim&micah project: CONTINUE

Following SketchFest, I took a nap for 3 weeks.  Afterward, I was thrilled to once again work with my friends the tim&micah project as they returned to Donny’s Skybox for their third revue (which had just debuted at SketchFest).  Far beyond a typical sketch comedy show, the tim&micah project: CONTINUE took you on a roller coaster of emotions and immersed you in a mind-bending non-stop theatrical experience.  Writer/performer duo Tim Soszko and Micah Philbrook once again demonstrated their “unbridled comic genius” (Centerstage Chicago) with an intelligent, original and meticulously-planned revue full of silliness, physical feats of wonder, and surprisingly real moments.  Doing away with the structural conventions of sketch comedy, their scenes morph into each other through dance and performance art transitions, weaving “a web of scenes straight out of a David Lynch fantasy” (Time Out Chicago). You never quite know what’s real, or what to expect as the tim&micah project continues to defy convention and push the boundaries of sketch comedy.

Or as Nina Metz of the Chicago Tribune put it in her 3 Star review…

It’s a nice change of pace when sketch comedians actually treat their audience members like smart human beings.”

Or as Jason Heidemann of Time Out Chicago put it in his Critic’s Pick review…
Exciting and strange in all the right places, it’s a joy to both watch and take part in.”
Or as Flavorpill put it…
Brilliant…a roller-coaster combination of physical, intellectual, and just plain absurd comedy.”
the project never ceases to amaze and I already can’t wait for their next show. “FURTHERMORE?”  “NEXT?” We shall see…



Hey You Millionaires in Hollywood

Most recently, I had the pleasure of working with critcially-acclaimed sketch trio Hey You Millionaires as they gathered in LA for a couple shows. Comprised of a nationally-produced playwright (James Asmus), a published humor author (Jim Fath), and a high school English teacher (John Bohan), HYM has been voted “Best Sketch Group in Chicago” in the Chicago Reader for two consecutive years and have taken their cerebral black humor all over the country.  This time they were in Hollywood to compete in the 2010 International Sketch Comedy Championship (hosted by Carlos Alazraqui!), and do a rare performance at iO West.  And HYM won the Championship!  Then didn’t!  After being crowned the winner, and as the host was saying goodnight, the producer jumped on stage to admit he had added wrong and then awkwardly announced a different winner!   I still think they were robbed and I have my lawyers looking into it.

Comedy trivia:  The name Hey You Millionaires was taken from the first sketch of the first episode of the HBO show “Kids in the Hall.”  A couple of years ago, HYM actually got to meet and hang out with the cast of Kids in the Hall, thanks to the brilliance of journalist Steve Heisler.  They played Whirlyball.  Steve’s Time Out Chicago article about the encounter can be read here.  One of my favorite Chicago comedy stories.



More writing in my web log to come soon…

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