Sure, there are plenty of star acts at the fourth annual TBS Just for Laughs Chicago festival, which runs through Sunday this week at 18 venues around the city. But sometimes, the biggest laughs come with the smallest ticket prices, as in these local shows, which feature both established and emerging comedians in intimate settings—including Scott Adsit (“30 Rock”), TJ Miller (“Cloverfield,” ABC-TV’s “Carpoolers”) and John Glaser and Kevin Dorff (“Delocated”) plus local favorites Lil Rel, Susan Messing, Brian Babylon, Sean Flannery, Jet Eveleth and more—at half the price of the big-venue shows.
To get the most bang for your bargain bucks, we’ve created a day-by-day itinerary of our top local picks. So grab your running shoes and get ready to head from one end of town to the other—sometimes on the same night--for some top-notch laughs.
Baseball, Hot Dogs and Schadenfreude
Comedy troupe Schadenfreude turns down the sound on classic Cubs and Sox games and invites some of Chicago’s top jokesters to turn themselves into cranky, unruly sports fans by shouting at the TV in the style of the old “Mystery Science Theater 3000” shows where commentators made fun of bad movies.
Go: 7 p.m. at Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln Ave.
The Blackout Diaries
In this interactive blend of standup, improv, multimedia and bad decisions, Chicago funnyman Sean Flannery hosts an actual rocket scientist plus three local comedians—the list is top-secret because all have competing headlining shows at other venues during the fest—all of whom tell drinking stories and submit to an audience Q&A about their experiences.
Go: 8:30 p.m. at The Playground Theater, 3209 N. Halsted St.
Scott Adsit, John Glaser and Kevin Dorff
Adsit (“30 Rock”), Glaser (“Delocated”) and Dorff (“Delocated,” “Conan”) go back to their iO and The Second City roots to create some fast and furious improv scenes with local favorites TJ Jagodowski and Dave Pasquesi.
Go: 8 p.m. at iO, 3541 N. Clark St.
Pet Project Series: Brian Babylon
The Bronzeville native—who’s the producer and host of vocalo.org’s “Morning Amp” radio show, a panelist on NPR’s “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!” radio program, a contributor to BBC Radio and the host of The Moth StorySlam at Martyrs’—performs his new solo show, “Magnificent Magni**acents,” which also features music by comedy-rap duo Chox n Brizz.
Go: 9:30 p.m. at The Playground Theater, 3209 N. Halsted St.
Messing with a Friend
Annoyance founding member Susan Messing—a past recipient of the Chicago Improv Festival’s Improviser of the Year award who’s appeared on Comedy Central’s “Premium Blend” pairs up for an improv show with Greg Hess, who’s a member of improv ensembles Baby Wants Candy, Cook County Social Club and The Improvised Shakespeare Company.
Go: 10:30 p.m. at The Annoyance Theatre, 4830 N. Broadway
TBS LOL Lounge
Julian McCullough from TBS’ “Very Funny News” hosts sets by local funnyman Lil Rel—who’s just been cast in the “In Living Color” reboot—plus “Last Comic Standing” finalist James Adomian, Upright Citizens Brigade regulars Hari Kondabolu and Brent Weinbach and L.A. comedian Lauri Roggenkamp.
Go: 7:30 p.m. at the Comedy Bar, 157 W. Ontario St.
See the newest wave of up-and-coming Chicago stand-ups including Jesnaira Baez, Brandon “Hot Sauce” Glover, Cody Wilkins, Corey Calvert, Davey Boy, T. Murph and Rion Evans, plus musical comedian Ben Hamilton and popular host Marlon Mitchell.
Go: 8:30 p.m. at Jokes and Notes, 4641 S. King Drive
Adsit & Eveleth
Want even more of Scott Adsit? Tonight he performs with former Chicago Improv Festival artistic director Jet Eveleth, who’s also a regular at iO with The Reckoning.
Go: 11:59 p.m. at iO, 3541 N. Clark St.
Best of the Fest
Andy Kindler—best known as the voice of Mort on Fox-TV’s animated series “Bob’s Burgers” and as a frequent guest and correspondent for “The Late Show with David Letterman”—hosts “greatest hits” sets and scenes from the festival and surprise walk-on guest stars.
Go: 7 p.m. UP Comedy Club, 230 W. North Ave.
The pressure’s on at the Lodge as they host Troy Conrad’s cult favorite touring show. Tonight, top local comedians get handed a “set list” of topics they’ve never seen—as they walk to the mic—and must improvise a stand-up set on the spot.
Go: 9:30 p.m. at Lincoln Lodge, 4008 N. Lincoln Ave.
TJ Miller Performance Anxiety
The hometown comedian—as seen in the film “Cloverfield,” ABC-TV’s “Carpoolers” and more—hosts the Chicago version of his L.A. showcase, which blends promising newbies with top-notch established local comics.
Go: 11 p.m. at UP Comedy Club, 230 W. North Ave.
Bronzeville gets down and dirty—literally—in this adults-only showcase featuring J. Deep—as seen on HBO’s “Bad Boys of Comedy” and eight seasons of BET’s “Comic View”—plus Mike Samp, Tara Terry, Brian “Da Wildcat” Smith, D. Banks, Marvin Phipps, Roy Johnson, Shane Stay, Tyson and Schmitty B.
Go: 8 p.m. at Jokes and Notes, 4641 S. King Drive
GET TICKETS: $10-$25 at justforlaughschicago.com or venue websitesCopyright © 2015, RedEye