It’s been a pretty epic April and May for anyone who belongs to the “nerd” tribe. We had a great (if overstuffed at times) C2E2, Star Wars Celebration at McCormick Place to open May, and on the big screen, have enjoyed Captain Marvel, Shazam and of course, Avengers: Endgame, as well as celebrating the beginning of the final season of Game of Thrones. If you were worried that things weren’t going to keep being nerdy enough though, fear not. Chicago’s got you on this one. Beginning tonight, May 8, Stage 773’s Chicago Nerd Comedy Festival has a deliciously dorky lineup for anyone who wants to indulge in more nerdy pursuits, and this nerdy festival keeps it going straight on through Saturday. We’ve discovered many a great thing at this festival in past years, and continue to find it a favorite. Whether you’ve been before and want to know what’s to come or haven’t made it to the festival yet, we encourage you to check out our preview of the festival lineup here and then get in on the geeky fun. The festival provides attendees with a great familial feel where you can really find friends during pickup tabletop games at the bar, as well as introducing you to local comedy, theater and burlesque acts that can get nerdy with it. Here’s what you can expect (and when to see it, via the convenient schedule here):
Wednesday, May 8
Wednesday begins the mayhem, and kicks off with local podcasters Lex Lutz and Matt Peters as they put on the first live show for their podcast Lex + Matt’s Excellent Adventure. This podcast features a pair of friends who chat about “pop culture, life, movies, TV, comics and everything in between,” and the duo recently did a great interview with the producers of the Chicago Nerd Comedy Festival on their Facebook page. If you’re interested in checking them out it seems like it should be a great time, so make sure you’re in a good seat at 6:30pm tonight.
After which, surf the radio waves with the L.I.V.E. Radio Show. Locked Into Vacancy Entertainment produces monthly radio shows that are modeled after 1940s radio dramas. This locally created show is very much in the style of things like the Thrilling Adventure Hour and it couldn’t hurt to check them out live and perhaps add them to your “subscribed” list.
Rounding out the opening night will be a yearly favorite of the fest, with Improvised Dungeons and Dragons, sure to be a fun addition to your schedule if you’re already into tabletop RPGs, ever have been, and, surprisingly, even if you’re not someone who’s even rolled a d20 before. The show features a guest Dungeon Master and an audience-selected cast of adventurers and takes off from there for a 90-minute foray into DnD that should bring plenty of laughs.
Thursday, May 9
Thursday’s lineup kicks off with Home Entertainment, an improvised musical designed around a”forgotten film straight from your local thrift store’s VHS bin.” Audience members choose from three different selections and the fun begins from there.
Improvised Jane Austen is a favorite from last year’s festival, and manages to be true to the material enough that fans of Austen’s work can get inside jokes at the same time they’re irreverent enough that people who are not fans of Jane Austen or perhaps haven’t read her at all will still be able to follow and laugh along.
After that, Mass St. Productions takes the stage, bringing their sketch comedy to festivalgoers. Their style leans towards satirical and observational and, as they say themselves, “pushes the boundary of what is funny and what is real.”
Each year, part of the fun of the Nerd Comedy Festival lies in the fantastic nerdy burlesque and this year will be no exception, with PS…Burlesque performing as the night’s closer.
Friday, May 10
Friday, the Chicago Nerd Comedy Festival goes into high gear, with nine acts on the bill to explore. A few we specifically recommend include some of the hilarious artists we’ve seen at prior festivals like Mark Rosenthal, Tague Zachary and Insane Ian as well as Cosplay Comedy, which sees performers doing a standup routine as whatever superhero, villain or Disney princess they’ve come dressed as. All the standup has been a joy in years past, so also don’t miss out on sets by Zach Funk, Lam Guluka and the slapstick silliness of The Stuntmen, who bring action movies to a comedy place. There’s plenty more to see and do so make sure to check out the schedule, too.
Saturday, May 11
There’s more podcast goodness packed into Saturday, beginning with a live episode of Chicago-based comedy podcast You Simply Must, which finds hosts Landree Fleming and Drew Johnson facing the challenge of trying something new each episode, and since the podcast has been releasing weekly since 2016, you can be sure these two are both old pros at new challenges and getting pretty creative with what challenges to pursue next.
Then, get ready for some circus with your comedy with The Carpathian Brothers, who run the gamut from silly to touching stories and pair it with music and physical prowess.
Comedian Ross Childs brings a little music in the mix for the final evening while addressing such issues as depression and social anxiety, and the show closes with another favorite of ours from festivals past, the sketch group known as Clown Car to Sicily, who possess both great comedic and musical chops and will have you leaving on a high note.
Keep in mind that if you aren’t available for all four days, there are daily passes available, too, and even individual show passes. Also keep in mind that our list is pretty comprehensive but there may be a few acts we didn’t cover, so keep the Nerd Comedy Festival schedule at the ready, too. We feel like this festival is a great, intimate way to get acquainted with fellow nerds in Chicago, whether they’re in the audience or on the stage, and if you haven’t been, that you might gain more than a few laughs and end up with new friends and new shows to be fans of right here in your own backyard if you attend. We’ll hope to see you there!