Archive for the tag “comedy club toronto improvisation”

The Paper Machete

WHAT: The Paper Machete (Variety Show)
WHEN: Every Saturday from 3pm
WHERE: The Green Mill (4802 N. Broadway Ave.)

OUR RATING:
Do It!–Our experience
Chance It!–Possible future performances

(thepapermacheteshow.com)

(thepapermacheteshow.com)

The Paper Machete is a town crier for the modern age, providing audiences with amusing, serious and diverse entertainment covering pop culture, current events and a good dose of musical interlude. Originally launched in 2010, and created and hosted by writer Christopher Piatt, The Paper Machete tickles nearly every fancy, and allows one to experience the iconic cocktail lounge The Green Mill (of Prohibition fame) in the same manner as generations past: with a complete variety show.

Creator and Host Christopher Priatt (thepapermacheteshow.com)

Christopher Priatt (thepapermacheteshow.com)

Every Saturday afternoon at 3pm, this “live magazine” offers patrons a chance to connect with stars from the likes of iO, The Second City, the Neo-Futurists and beyond. Named best comedy variety show of 2011 by the Chicago Reader, the show encompasses an array of performances that are sure not to disappoint regulars and newcomers alike.

(greenmilljazz.com)

(greenmilljazz.com)

This past Saturday, Storefront City had a chance to visit this historic location and listen along to this rapid-fire magazine of popular thought. Our afternoon began with a rather serious interlude into environmental protection by Rachael Mason of iO. What appeared at first to be a paean for environmental action, soon showed its true colours as an amusing reflection on her childhood poetry for Earth Day, that brought up important and pertinent issues related to the recent Hurricane Sandy and its effects on her family. Masterfully blending humor and reality, Mason kept our attention and made us appreciate the awesome destructive power of nature, and man’s influence on it.

The Green Mill (courtesy of Tom Gill)

The Green Mill (courtesy of Tom Gill)

In keeping with this serious nature, Lisa Buscani of the Neo-Futurists’ investigation into the sordid world of Sandusky, from the perspective of another inmate at the same prison, provided a reflective moment to appreciate the situation of those who are behind bars and the circumstances that lead society to imprison.

Ike Holter

Ike Holter

But, let’s be honest, a magazine is never all about it’s newsworthy material, and we were treated to an inventive series of laughs as well. Ike Holter, popular playwright of Hit the Wall (first performed by The Inconvenience at Steppenwolf last year, and now moving to Off-Broadway), gave us an op-ed monologue musing on this year’s selection for the Academy Awards. Featuring quotes from “that owner of 7 Eleven who shouts at hipsters” to acceptances speeches themselves, Holter was full of ingenuity and verve.

(reformedwhores.com)

NYC’s Reformed Whores (reformedwhores.com)

And what variety show would be complete without music? We giggled with NYC musical comedy duo Reformed Whores, and swung along to the dulcet tones of Bethany Thomas (of Porgy and Bess fame), who created an atmosphere entirely appropriate to such a venerated establishment as The Green Mill.

Chad the Bird (wbez.org)

Chad the Bird (wbez.org)

A well-rounded current events publication needs a sports section, this one provided by resident puppet Chad the Bird (a Josh Zagoren creation). Staging in the venue was divided between the main stage towards the back, and the bar area, where Chad gave us his weekly sports roundup.

Matt Braunger (thepapermachete.com)

Matt Braunger (thepapermacheteshow.com)

Finally, Matt Braunger (love your website!) provided the capstone to the afternoon, also performing from the bar area. With topics covering Chicago staples such as certain kinds of people on the #22 bus, to tripped out nights dressed as clowns downtown, Braunger tapped into the audience and hit all the right notes. We highly recommend you see him if you can in the future.

Bethany Thomas (courtesy of Jeremy Rill)

Bethany Thomas (courtesy of Jeremy Rill)

Busy on Saturday afternoons? Not to worry! Every week The Paper Machete and host WBEZ create a podcast, also known as “The Paper Machete Radio Magazine,” with selections from the latest show.

The Paper Machete comes highly recommended from Storefront City. Best enjoyed with a couple of friends (the space is crowded) and a relaxed attitude, performances may vary week to week, but if the quality remains the same as last time, you will not be disappointed.

The 12th Annual Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival

WHAT: The 12th Annual Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival (SketchFest) (Comedy)
WHEN: January 3-13, 2013 (see schedule here for specific start times)
WHERE: Stage 773 (1225 W. Belmont Ave.)
HOST: Stage 773

OUR RATING: Do It!

(chicagosketchfest.com)

(chicagosketchfest.com)

Chicago is famous for its comedy, and especially its sketch comedy. Since the birth of Second City, the nation’s second city has become a magnet for all comedic types, from the guy performing at the bar right down to Jeff Garlin of Curb Your Enthusiasm fame. However, rarely does all this great talent coalesce in one place. The (12th Annual) Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival (aka SketchFest) at Stage 773 is one such rare place where troupes from around the country (and globe) perform to audience after audience in an excited, electric atmosphere that only a theatre of Stage 773’s calibre could muster. Over just two weeks of performances, Stage 773 will probably be visited by over 10,000 patrons watching 169 performances featuring over 1000 artists. The nation’s largest sketch comedy festival. Astounding.

Stage 773 Lobby (stupidtimemachine.wordpress.com)

Stage 773 (stupidtimemachine.wordpress.com)

When you enter SketchFest, you might be a little confused. There are people everywhere you look, some dressed as lobsters, another as a very demonic looking Winnie the Pooh. Beer is flowing from the bar, a woman stands atop an ice chest selling $4 PBR Tall Boys, as laughter is escaping from the theatres into the lobby. The awesomely-decorated space is pulsing with energy.

But don’t be fooled. This is organized chaos. After you pick up your ticket from the desk to the left of where you enter, you can mill around and have fun until your show is called. There is a really fun raffle going on, where you can win anything from some fun trinkets to a Guinness, and even free tickets, for only a buck. And once the hour comes around, every single theater in the space opens, and guests are ushered into their respective shows.

Once your show is done, you are led out of the theatre via an alternative route than those coming in, providing a constant flow of comedy-goers that prevents traffic jams and speeds transitions. And if you’re up for the challenge, you can go right back into the throng of enthusiastic lobby-dwellers and await the next show.

Stage 773 has four distinct theatres (proscenium, thrust, black box and cabaret), each featuring different comedians and troupes every hour. We didn’t manage to get into all four spaces last weekend, but we’re going to try to this weekend when the Fest continues.

 (cupidplayers.com)

The Cupid Players (cupidplayers.com)

Our night started off with The Cupid Players, who actually perform outside of SketchFest every Saturday night at Stage 773. If you’ve never seen Chicago sketch comedy before, this is where you should start. It’s better than any Second City show we’ve seen. Ensemble-driven, The Cupid Players create original and intelligent musical sketch comedies, rooted in social and political satire. They sing, they dance (well, sorta), they play musical instruments and, more importantly, boy do they entertain. It’s a wild and hysterical roller coaster, and when you get off the ride you’ll be high on laughter and your cheeks will hurt from smiling so hard.

Boat (boatcomedy.com)

Boat (boatcomedy.com)

Next up was Boat, a Brooklyn (NY) based trio with a hyper-satirical and rather surreal go at sketch comedy. These three boys are not afraid of the dark-side of comedy. If you aren’t into jokes about pedophilia, death and homosexuality, this may not be for you. But if you’re a little more open, Boat is definitely a unique and risk-taking bunch.

Missing Earl (missingearl.com)

Missing Earl (missingearl.com)

As with any comedy festival, each show you will see is different, and has a chance of being excellent or not to your liking. Such is the nature of comedy, after all. One show that we would not recommend was by Missing Earl from New York City. While a wide array of themes and ideas were put forward, none made these reviewers laugh in the way one would want. Overwhelmingly dark themes that didn’t seem to be derived from much more than grotesque or toilet humor (fancy eating a pilot’s privates after a serious plane crash?), we believe this group needs to focus on more accessible laugh, rather than fringe material whose goal is to shock rather than entertain.

Uncalled For (weareuncalledfor.com)

Uncalled For (weareuncalledfor.com)

However, apart from this slight blemish, the other shows we saw were timely and amazing. Canadian group Uncalled For produced a work reminiscent of the Monty Python good old days, complete with BBC news reports, time travel, CERN, the theory of evolution and free birthday cake. We would describe it as stream of consciousness humor that is hilarious in its absurdity, yet thoughtful in its content and delivery. A sensitive, side-splitting experience!

(chicagosketchfest.com)

(chicagosketchfest.com)

We suggest the best way to experience SketchFest is to go with a few friends and purchase a one-night pass this Saturday, and go from show-to-show (and make sure to see Cupid Players at 8PM on The Pro Stage). Buy a few raffle tickets and you’re practically guaranteed a lovely Guinness or two to accompany you throughout the night (a drink tends to make everything funnier, obviously). If this review isn’t quite enough to convince you to take part in this amazing experience, we think the promo image does the rest of the talking for us.

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