Preview: Be a Good Nerd and Nerd Out for Good at the First Ever Digital Chicago Nerd Comedy Festival

Stage 773’s Chicago Nerd Comedy Festival is a staple in Chicago's nerd/pop culture scene. In fact I’ve been covering it since its inception in one form or another. It’s always a homebrewed, cozy gathering of nerds who love theater, improv, burlesque, standup comedy, and various other forms of performance art that incorporate all the wonderful nerdy things we love to celebrate, from Buffy and Star Wars to Trek and Firefly. It’s always a great time, and so we were psyched to hear it was still on this year--with a safer twist. This year’s Chicago Nerd Comedy Festival is taking to the internet with all the fun which is great news for everyone, as it means no one will have to miss out on all the Chicago nerd fun. The lineup is fantastic, and the fun begins today, with lots of Chicago’s best nerdy institutions making appearances, from Raks Geek and Improvised Jane Austen to I Play Games with amazing afterparties. As per usual for CNCF, the schedule’s jam packed and includes tons of great stuff. What to see? We do have a few recommendations for each night… Plan 9 Burlesque at Chicago Nerd Comedy Festival 2018. Photo by Marielle Shaw. Things kick off on Thursday, October 15th (that’s tonight!) The night begins at 7 pm with You Simply Must, the comedy podcast that compels its hosts and listeners to do something they haven’t before, often to hilarious results. It could be as simple as  a new food, but it could also turn into something..well, we’ll let you find out by tuning in... At 8 pm, check out Locked Into Vacancy Entertainment, an old timey styled radio show with live actors, foley artists and musicians--and a comedy edge. At 9 pm, get ready for the first of Chicago Nerd Comedy Festival’s standup showcases. This one features Mark Rosenthal, Lauren Harsh, Meegan Kelleher and Mike Hover. Rounding out the night is 10pm’s sexy, sultry nerdy show wth PS...Burlesque, and they’re ready to wow you with nerdy yet tantalizing performances from a ton of talented folks.  Dawn Xiana Moon of Raks Geek at Chicago Nerd Comedy Festival 2018. Photo by Marielle Shaw. Friday, October 16th will see another host of awesome nerdy things to see Start again at 7 pm with the insanely talented artists from Raks Geek. Raks Geek has done it all, and done it with swords, fire and amazing costumes to boot. They’re an incredible group of dancers and performers and whether you’ve had the privilege of seeing a twirling TARDIS or powerful Pyramid Head blow you away with bellydancing fusion or not, you are going to need to see it now. Then, pick up your jaw and head to see Anna Elizabeth at 9 pm. This comedian mixes up agricultural humor and gamer humor and...well, according to the folks at CNCF, is going to be a great time. We’re never one to turn away from some good laughs and CNCF has never let us down before with its choice of comedians night to night. Following that, it’s 10pm, and time for some Chicago nerd royalty when The Patti Vasquez Experience: Featuring Elliot Serrano takes to the airwaves. They’re fantastic podcasters well established in the Chicago scene and giant nerds--as well as allies, and Vasquez herself is also now running for office Cap off Friday night with 11pm’s bout with Insane Ian, the cosplay comedian. It’s exactly what it sounds like--standup comedy with a cosplay add, and this comedian, who’s run the gamut of comedy scenes from here to LA is likely to bring the laughs along side a great complement of opening comedians including Kyle Chrise and PJ Baio, Jean Cole, April Cowgur, and Jeff Hopkins. Patti Vasquez at Chicago Nerd Comedy Festival 2018. Photo by Marielle Shaw. Also on Friday (Well, technically Saturday, but only just)? At midnight, get into your nerdiest PJs and make sure you’re awake for the CNCF Digital Afterparty. It’s one of two afterparties during the festival and features an amazing 8-bit version of the theater at where you can hang out and hobknob with everyone. On Saturday, October 17th, kick it off at 7pm with Improvised Jane Austen/The Stuntmen a fantastic improv setup that’ll surprise you even if you’re not an Austen fan with its immersive, silly, true to the author comedy.  At 8pm it’s a double feature, with The comedic band Hardwood, who’s even snagged an NPR Tiny Desk feature, performs, alongside Clown Car, a fantastic group of comedians with a whole lot of heart. Performers to be featured in this show are Kara Maillie, Hannah Weidner, Patrick Crogan, Greg Gonzales, Ben Linville, Emma Luttrell, Meme Matteson and Willie Opper. Then at 9pm it’s time for another Standup Showcase, where you’ll get to be treated to the comedy of Derek Minto, Amanda Averell, Zach Funk and Vik Pandya Getting into the late night hours, 10pm will bring still more laughs with Dan & Ryan and some more cosplay comedy. It’s a thing and a thing you’ll want to get into, and this stand-up round will also feature openers Kyle Chrise and PJ Baio back for some more, as well as K Cheng, Jason Cole, April Cowgur and Jeff Hopkins. Something else to get on board for? Sexy nerdy stuff, with Plan 9 Burlesque at 11pm. It’ll feature a wide array of performers that are sure to delight you with any number of awesome numbers from your favorite nerdy IP. Get cozy and get ready to be seduced in the weirdest ways possible. It’s not the weekend OR the Chicago Nerd Comedy Festival without the afterparties, and they’re bringing it at midnight again with I Play Games hosting an awesome late night of craziness with Jackbox Games' newest, Jackbox Party Pack 7.  I Play Games never lets us down with perfectly organized, perfectly hosted parties full of great games so this is a collaboration that's gonna make for a great end to the night and the festival. Vik Pandya at Chicago Nerd Comedy Festival 2018. Photo by Marielle Shaw. One of the best things about this year’s Chicago Nerd Comedy Festival is that you can see the entire great lineup for free from start to finish, Thursday through Sunday (technically). Everyone who wants to nerd out can. That said, Stage 773 and the various wonderful performers scheduled to appear will be asking for your donations, with proceeds going to a very important local cause--the Brave Space Alliance. The Brave Space Alliance, if you’re not familiar, is the first black led, trans-led LGBTQ center on the South Side and it’s dedicated to providing resources as well as a safe space for LGBTQ individuals on the south and west sides of the city, including helping with problems of food insecurity, housing insecurity and economic insecurity. Have a great time and do good? We couldn’t recommend it more. We’ll be on our cozy couches in our best nerdy loungewear ready to join our fellow Chicago nerds for some together time, even if it’s socially distanced, and we can’t wait. Find out more about the Chicago Nerd Comedy Festival by clicking the link here. You can even register to save your own personalized schedule and get reminders for things you want to see! Click this link to get started and reserve your free tickets.  
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Marielle Bokor