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Comedy Exposition of 2014 brings laughs back to Chicago

By Emily Brown, @emily_brown88

RedEye

12:00 AM CDT, April 15, 2014

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There would be no big-time comedy festival in Chicago in 2014, it seemed, until four Chicago comics and a journalist decided to create their own. The Just For Laughs Chicago comedy festival, sponsored by TBS, had been hosted in Chicago for five straight years until it was canceled this year. To replace it, local comedians put their heads together to establish the Comedy Exposition of 2014, set for July 11-13. 

Four Chicago comedians—Katie McVay, Stephanie Hasz, Zach Peterson and Goodrich Gevaart—as well as comedy writer Matt Byrne have banded together to create the once-a-year comedy festival featuring national headliners and local comedians.

“We’re really excited,” McVay said. “We started planning from the time we found out about [Just For Laugh Chicago's] indefinite hiatus. The more people we get on board, the more excitement within the comedy community.”

The Comedy Exposition will serve as a stage for local comedians as well as national headliners each night. 

“We want to bring performers from outside Chicago, too,” McVay said. “The stand-up scene is amazing here, but it’s the red-headed stepchild compared to the improv scene.”

The festival will span Lakeview, Wicker Park and Logan Square across three days. The comics are still in talks with different venues, and one of their main focuses when choosing a location is the travel time. Their goal is to keep the venues within walking distance of one another.

The comics created a Kickstarter campaign to fundraise. Within 24 hours of the start of the promotion, they reached their goal of $3,000. Due to their instant success, they decided to double the fundraising goal to $6,000, which they hit on April 14, just 17 days later.

So how did the comedic quartet come up with the name for their festival? They wanted the name to relate to their city, but they also didn’t want a name that’s been overused.

“We thought a long time about what to name the festival. Chicago has a few nicknames, but most of them are already established. We came up with the Comedy Exposition because of the World’s Fair. People would bring a big tent to show off a lot of different stuff and show their inventions.”

The comedians involved in the Comedy Exposition won’t be showcasing any new inventions, but they will bring their individual comedy to the stage every night.