All stories by Zach Freeman on BroadwayStars

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

The jokes must go on by Zach Freeman

One of the city’s most iconic open-mike nights finds a virtual home. Last June the comedy open mike at Cole’s Bar in Logan Square—widely considered to be t…

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Thursday, March 19, 2020

From Catholicism to comedy by Zach Freeman

Cameron Esposito looks back on her defining moments in the memoir Save Yourself. Comedian Cameron Esposito has never shied away from talking about her personal l…

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Monday, August 19, 2019

Wasted on the Young: A Review of This Is Our Youth at The Quarry Theatre Company by Zach Freeman

The cast shows they both have the interest and the talent to delve into the lives of these complex, confused characters and reveal the humor, horror and humanity within each of them.

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Monday, June 17, 2019

Hannah Gadsby at the Chicago Theatre: Different from 'Nanette' but she still likes to 'rummage' with your head by Zach Freeman

“Alright, come on,” comedian Hannah Gadsby said to the uproarious applause that greeted her when she walked abruptly out onto the stage of the Chicago Theatre Sunday night, eschewing an …

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Saturday, June 1, 2019

Very Chicago comic Pat McGann is very funny at Zanies by Zach Freeman

There are a number of checklist items that allow a comedian to claim Chicago roots. A comic could be born here (luck), live here currently (choice), or develop their comedic voice in the clu…

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Thursday, May 30, 2019

10 reasons why Cole's is the best comedy open mic in Chicago by Zach Freeman

It’s 9:45 p.m. on a drizzly Wednesday night in early May and I’m making my way through a crowded dive bar in Logan Square. A comedy open mic — some might say the comedy open mic — st…

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Tuesday, May 28, 2019

5 reasons you need to check out Young Hustle Comedy by Zach Freeman

In 2016 a group of four young unknown comedians kicked off a monthly comedy show in a Puerto Rican restaurant in Humboldt Park in front of an audience of 30 people (mostly family members). L…

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Sunday, April 14, 2019

Tom Segura at Chicago Theatre: He's genuinely interested in your offense by Zach Freeman

Comedian Tom Segura has a message for anyone offended by his jokes (or, as he put it Saturday night during the second of two sold-out shows at the Chicago Theatre, anyone who tells him, “I…

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Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Den Theatre does comedy big — adding a full cabaret and full calendar. Next up, Beth Stelling. by Zach Freeman

“I thought to myself, ‘Oh, wouldn’t this be a great place to shoot an album?’” comedian Maria Bamford said Saturday night of the elegant new comedy space at the Den Theatre, where …

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Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Aziz Ansari at Chicago Theatre: Are we jerks? Reformed jerks? Ansari hashes it out, and eventually gets around to himself by Zach Freeman

“I just kept waiting for him to talk about it,” the guy next to me said after comedian Aziz Ansari’s show Tuesday night at the Chicago Theatre — the first of a three-night, four-show…

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Sunday, March 3, 2019

Part music, part funny, 'Comedy for Musicians' at Metro is all deadpan Fred Armisen by Zach Freeman

Usually before a comedian takes the stage, the music quiets, the lights dim and — especially if they’re a headliner — someone announces them onto the stage. If the comedian has an open…

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Sunday, February 24, 2019

Kathleen Madigan at the Chicago Theatre: Her jokes are about prescription drugs instead of politics — if we're talking age, she's an old pro by Zach Freeman

“I started here in Chicago at Zanies 30 years ago,” said stand-up comedian and St. Louis native Kathleen Madigan proudly from the Chicago Theatre stage Saturday night in jeans and a blac…

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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

It's a funny thing, divorce: Michele Traina and a cast of comics riff on relationships in 'Divorce Diaries' at Zanies by Zach Freeman

Most people don’t particularly relish delving into the failures they’ve experienced in life, especially not in front of a group of strangers. But most people aren’t stand-up comics. On…

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Tuesday, January 22, 2019

You don't know what comedians or where they'll play, you just show up: Shhh, Don't Tell Comedy by Zach Freeman

It’s seven o’clock on a Friday night and the WinTrust Bank on Damen and Melrose is closed. The doors are locked and the lights are mostly off. Inside the bank there’s movement. In the …

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Sunday, January 20, 2019

Michelle Wolf on a frozen night at Thalia Hall: You know her from that White House dinner, but she doesn't take sides by Zach Freeman

“Thanks for coming,” comedian Michelle Wolf said, taking the stage for the first of two sold-out shows at Pilsen’s Thalia Hall on an especially cold and snowy Saturday night. “I almo…

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Monday, January 14, 2019

Saving the Day and the American Theater: A Review of PAW Patrol Live! at The Chicago Theatre by Zach Freeman

Can the anthropomorphic heroes of Nickelodeon's staggeringly successful "PAW Patrol" rescue the American theater by turning a legion of device-addicted toddlers into future theater patrons? …

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Sunday, December 30, 2018

DeRay Davis' night of comedy at Arie Crown is stuck in a sexist time by Zach Freeman

“I ain’t saying [stuff that’s] bad onstage now,” comedian, actor and Chicago native DeRay Davis said early on in his 20-minute opening set Saturday night at the 4,250-seat Arie Crown…

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Friday, December 21, 2018

Amy Schumer transitions seamlessly from hapless party girl to married mom-to-be at the Chicago Theatre by Zach Freeman

Amy Schumer is five months pregnant and wants to make sure everyone in the audience knows it. At the top of her show at the Chicago Theatre Thursday night — the second of two sold out nigh…

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Thursday, December 13, 2018

Comedy is big on New Year's Eve: 9 comics in the city and suburbs by Zach Freeman

There’s never a bad time for a good laugh and the right comedian can help you close out 2018 in happy tears. Great stand-up comedy is a nightly occurrence across Chicago, and this New Year…

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Saturday, October 20, 2018

Gad Elmaleh at the Vic: He's the 'French Seinfeld' and he's making strides in America by Zach Freeman

With many comedians embracing increasingly restrictive cell phone policies in recent years, it was a bit refreshing Friday night at The Vic to see French-Moroccan superstar Gad Elmaleh settl…

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Sunday, September 30, 2018

Hasan Minhaj at Chicago Theatre: Politics and 'Patriot Act' are his comfort zone by Zach Freeman

The paranoia of comedians is growing. Taking your phone out of commission and emptying your pockets to step through a metal detector is becoming the new norm for attending a big-name comedy …

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Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Chicago comic T. Murph is about to see what this success thing looks like by Zach Freeman

Ever gotten your hair cut by a barber who you wished would just stop talking and focus on your hair? Comedian — and professional barber since age 13 — T. Murph is the opposite of that gu…

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Top 10 comics not to miss in Chicago this fall by Zach Freeman

Russell Peters: This Canadian comic has been working for decades and has a book (“Call Me Russell”), a TV show (“The Indian Detective”) and several specials under his belt, including…

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Friday, August 3, 2018

Decolonizing Comedy Show at BET: Chicago talents put on a whirlwind show — plus a shout-out to Wakanda by Zach Freeman

If a comedy club were to exist in the technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda — the fictional homeland of Marvel’s “Black Panther” — the lineup of comedians put together…

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Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Marc Maron at Thalia Hall: Hecklers, tangents ... he wants this comedy thing to be more of a conversation by Zach Freeman

“Are you filming me?” comedian-podcaster (or podcaster-comedian, depending on who you ask) Marc Maron asked an audience member with a mix of annoyance and genuine curiosity early in his …

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Sunday, July 15, 2018

Michael Che at the Vic: 'Uncle Grumpy' gives a blunt, funny toast to Chicago by Zach Freeman

In a neon green hoodie, jeans and white tennis shoes, comedian Michael Che, a stand-up comic best known for his “Weekend Update” co-hosting gig on “Saturday Night Live,” took the sta…

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Friday, June 29, 2018

Kathy Griffin goes for 3 funny hours at the Chicago Theatre without an opener or even a breath by Zach Freeman

Walking through a metal detector and watching purses and backpacks get thoroughly searched — not that half-hearted open/shut that you often see at music festivals and sports venues but a r…

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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Kathy Griffin leans in: 'Laugh Your Head Off' is coming to Chicago Theatre by Zach Freeman

“Are you kidding? Nobody will give me a platform. It’s hilarious,” Kathy Griffin says, in a way that makes it clear that it’s both hilarious and decidedly not hilarious at the same t…

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Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Onion Comedy Fest opens in Chicago: Satire from the folks who invented it by Zach Freeman

With public trust in the media taking a hit amid constant accusations of “fake news,” many news outlets find themselves on the defensive on a daily basis. But there is one publication th…

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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

In the 'Chicago renaissance' of standup, 'Dope Comedy' at North Bar is a show to know by Zach Freeman

“If y’all ready for ‘A Dope Comedy Show,’ let me hear you say, ‘Hell yeah!’” The voice booms over the sound system as comedian Dave Helem — a Chicago native now living in Los…

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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Zanies Chicago packs in the good, the bad and a lot of history in '40 Comics in 1 Night' by Zach Freeman

One of the many questions answered on the Zanies website FAQ page is whether any of the locations host an open-mic night. Though there is some information about a showcase at the Rosemont lo…

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All that Chat

Oct 06, 2019: Slave Play
Oct 17, 2019: The Sound Inside - Studio 54
Feb 01, 2020: The Minutes
Mar 31, 2020: Diana - Longacre Theatre
Apr 19, 2020: Sing Street - Lyceum Theatre
Dec 16, 2021: Diana - Longacre Theatre