Category Archives: Event Review

One of Chicago’s Best Comedy Showcases: Jeff Hansen hosts Chicago Underground Comedy at the Beat Kitchen (November 17, 2015)

Tonight, Jeff Hansen is celebrating his 33rd birthday by hosting Chicago Underground Comedy. At the end of his set, he brings on the sponsors of the night: his parents. They sing “Summer Nights” to the crowd’s delight as Jeff struggles to flip the pages of lyrics. It’s a hilarious start to the night.

Soon after is “Farmer Travis” with a PSA that you should not have sex with your turkey. This is the ridiculous which is what alternative comedy is all about. Sticking with the theme, a turkey then takes the stage to plead for himself to be chosen for the presidential pardon. However, he fails to win the vote.  Just as he is about to be executed, Farmer Travis returns to save him!

Later in the night, Emily Galati is talking about the Hobby Lobby case about religion and birth control. “Not getting pregnant is the only thing I pray for!” She continues to crack up the audience and fits right in with this fantastic lineup. CHUC has become one of Chicago’s best comedy showcases. At $5 for a ticket, you are losing money if you don’t go!

Quinn Delaney

Review: Chicago Humanities Festival Presents Patton Oswalt at UIC Forum (November 7, 2015)

Patton Oswalt has an impressive resume. As an actor, he has worked on The King of Queens, Ratatouille, BoJack Horseman, and many many more projects. Even with this experience, he remains humble. “I think I’m excellent. I don’t think I’m transcendent.” He mentions Maria Bamford, Louis CK, and Chris Rock as comedians that are his idols. Tonight he is promoting his latest book, Silver Screen Fiend: Learning About Life from an Addiction to Film.

Later on, he describes his addiction to watching films. “It was pure quantity over quality.” He would pack lunches so that he remembered to eat during his marathon sessions at his local movie theatre. To relate this to his current profession he says “With films I was a junkie but with comedy I was a pusher”.  He has managed to use his love of films in his stand up comedy about pop culture. It was a joy to listen to him talk about the world of entertainment and it’s clear that even with his success, he is still primarily a big fan.

Quinn Delaney

The Chicago Humanities Festival Presents Jon Ronson at Northwestern University School of Law, Thorne Auditorium (October 31, 2015)

Jon Ronson tells the story about Justine Sacco who jokingly tweeted “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” While she was on an airplane, this tweet received an enormous amount of negative attention on Twitter without her being able to respond. Ronson points out that no one had empathy and took her side. Also, when some users tweeted about hoping she would be raped, no one turned on these offensive comments.  It’s very topical story and Ronson does an excellently entertaining job describing the full picture showing the tweets on the screen behind him.

During the Q&A, he says after writing this book, he can’t shame anyone online now. “I’m not some sort of shame imam.” Instead, he wants people to have empathy and not quickly jump on the shame bandwagon. Catch great talks like this at the Chicago Humanities Festival running through November 8th and get a copy of So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed.

Quinn Delaney

Review: The Chicago Humanities Festival Presents Aasif Mandvi at Northwestern Law School’s Thorne Auditorium (October 30, 2015)

When asked where he’s “from,” Aasif Mandvi might have a hard time answering. He was born in Mumbai and raised from early childhood to his teenage years in Bradford, England. His family then moved to Tampa, Florida, where he graduated high school and attended college as a theater major. After a stint working as a performer at Disney World in Orlando, he moved to New York City to develop his acting chops. There, he landed the job that would make him famous: correspondent for the Daily Show.

From that geographically diverse background comes the title of Mandvi’s new book, No Land’s Man. On Friday, he spoke at Northwestern Law School’s Thorne Auditorium in a conversation with comedian Brian Babylon as part of the Chicago Humanities Festival.

Although Mandvi insisted he’s an actor, not a comedian, his comedic talents were on display from the start, as he had a little fun messing with the lightning-quick stenographer providing subtitles on the screen behind him for his every word. “Woa woa woah! Zip-ity-do-da!”

He then shared two funny stories from No Land’s Man. The first, a recounting of the lead-up to his performance as Michael Jackson at his high school talent show, was revealed to be an only-in-America kind of story in which imitating the King of Pop served as a proxy for his desire for an American identity. His commitment to nailing every detail of the performance proved to be unsettling for certain members of his Indian, Muslim family but a hilarious part of Mandvi’s storytelling.

In the second story, Mandvi gave us an idea where some of his comedy genes came from. After describing his parents’ journey from India to England to America and showing his appreciation for the sacrifices they made, he revealed their practical-joker side in an anecdote involving their sharing a glass of yellow liquid with Aasif’s sister that may or may not have been urine.

In a conversation with Brian Babylon and subsequent Q & A with the audience, Mandvi delved into some serious issues, although infusing his thoughts with plenty of humor along the way. He discussed problems of diversity – or lack thereof – in Hollywood, the challenges of being typecast as the “brown” guy, and his ambivalence about being dubbed the Daily Show’s Senior Muslim Correspondent. It was also during this discussion that Mandvi showed a clip from his own current comedic project, a sitcom-parody web series called Halal in the Family. The show centers around a Muslim father who just wants his family to be as all-American as possible, while facing absurdly, darkly funny bits of Islamophobia along the way.

Aasif Mandvi made clear that his main passion is acting, both dramatic and comedic. But on this night he showed that his talents are wide-ranging, from funny, detail-rich storytelling to captivating a live audience with his intellect. His book, No Land’s Man is currently available everywhere, and his web series, Halal in the Family, can be seen on Funny or Die. The Chicago Humanities Festival continues through November 8.

John Palys