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A Daily Guide to Chicago Comedy Shows in March

No preamble this month, let's just talk about comedy.

March 1: Meechie Hall Live Album Recording at Laugh Factory

Chicagoan Meechie Hall - who performs, hosts and headlines all over town (and has for over a decade) - is recording his first comedy album at Laugh Factory. Produced and hosted by weekly comedy showcase Stand Up Stand Up, this live recording event will feature opening acts Michael Robinson, Ed Towns and Jake McKenzie. And just to prove that he really is one of Chicago's hardest comedians working, Hall will be back at Laugh Factory later the same night for BYOB Podcast Live with some seriously excellent stand-up comic guests.

March 2: Sebastian Maniscalco: Stay Hungry Tour at Chicago Theatre

Last year Arlington Heights native Sebastian Maniscalco made the Forbes list of the world's highest-paid comedians for the first time, and accepted the accomplishment with humility and honest concern for the future: "I know things are good, but I'd hate to make the Forbes list this year and be off it next year," he said. He definitely hasn't slowed down and he's stopping in the Chicago area for two consecutive weekends starting March 2 & 3 at The Chicago Theatre (near where he filmed his 2015 special "Aren't You Embarrassed") and following up at Rosemont Theatre on March 9 & 10.

March 3: Lincoln Lodge Presents Matteo Lane at Under the Gun Theater

Chicago's Lincoln Lodge - the nation's longest running independent comedy showcase - not only hosts their own ongoing (and consistently excellent) showcase but also regularly produces shows highlighting comics from out of town (e.g. Aparna Nancherla, former Chicagoan Megan Gailey) for headlining shows. This month they're bringing in New Yorker Matteo Lane (who has a forthcoming quarter-hour special for Netflix) for two nights of shows (March 2 & 3) at the Under the Gun Theater.

March 4: Brad Williams at City Winery

Comedian Brad Williams already has two comedy specials under his belt (2015's "Fun Size" and 2016's "Daddy Issues") and with his steady touring schedule - seriously, he's already scheduled nearly every day through the end of the year! - he's sure to have a third one out soon. He's stopping by the swanky City Winery for one night this month to drop his signature brand of high-energy comedy.

March 5: Hell Yeah Comedy Variety Hour at The Hideout 

The Hideout is making a push to house as much consistently solid - but decidedly alternative - comedy content as the venue can stand and it's definitely working. This comedy hour is sure to have some insane gems.

March 6: Comedy Cocktail at House of Blues

This weekly showcase in what is otherwise a music venue offers up some of Chicago's best comedians for two solid shows - one at 7:30pm and one at 9:00pm. Like most weeks, this week's show has topnotch headliners for both performances: Kellye Howard for the early show and Marty DeRosa for the later one.

March 7: The Sean Flannery Show at The Comedy Bar

Catch Chicago comics at this weekly comedy showcase downtown at The Comedy Bar hosted by Sean Flannery - creator and host of Blackout Diaries.

March 8: Have Fun with Rebecca O'Neal at Cole's 

Chicagoan-turned-New Yorker Rebecca O'Neal is in town and headlining a free show at Cole's in Logan Square, where she used to host Cole's Open Mic on Wednesday nights. Featuring Ashley Ray and hosted by Skyler Higley (along with "drop ins" from an undisclosed list of "Rebecca's favorite Chicago comics"), this show gives comedy fans a reason to head to Cole's on a night other than Wednesday.

March 9: Helltrap Nightmare at The Hideout

Along with every other disgusting and discerning comedy fan in town I've recommended Helltrap Nightmare before - and recently reviewed Sarah Sherman at The Empty Bottle - but this Helltrap is especially recommended given that the Chicago show marks the kick-off of a "mini tour" through four cities with a trio of killer (not literally, I mean, as far as anyone knows) comics - Mitra Jouhari, Jamie Loftus and, of course, Chicago's own nightmare, Sarah Sherman.

March 10: C.R.E.A.M. presents Straight Up Comedy with Em Brown at The Revival

Head to Hyde Park on a Saturday night to catch Chicago comic Em Brown hosting this monthly comedy showcase that promises "the best comedians from Chicago and beyond."

March 11: Louie Anderson at North Shore Center for the Performing Arts

This one may be slightly out of Chicago - c'mon Skokie is nearby - but Louie Anderson - who I saw at City Winery last year - is worth the trip. He's a living legend who has been going strong for decades but whose career got a boost from his inimitable work on the tv show "Baskets." He has an incredibly friendly and relaxed demeanor onstage, somehow turning crowd work into a conversation more than a reverse heckle from stage. An absolute must see.

March 12: Camp: A Comedy Show at Village Tap

Recently featured in Voyage Chicago, the creators of Camp (hosting and producing duo Samantha Berkman and Tessa Orzech), offer up a killer line-up every Monday night at Village Tap in Roscoe Village for their summer camp themed stand-up show. This week they've got Reena Calm, Chris Higgins, Carly Ballerini, Rebecca O'Neal (if you missed her last week at Cole's) and Antonio Aguilar.

March 13: Thirst Trap at Laugh Factory

I'm not trying to recommend EVERY show Rebecca O'Neal is doing while she's in Chicago but here she's teaming up with Chicagoan Lainie Lenertz for a night at The Laugh Factory that should be hilarious.

March 14: Marcus Combs at Zanies 

Comedian Marcus Combs may currently live in Georgia but the native Chicagoan is headlining Zanies in his home town this week. It's Zanies' 40th birthday and a perfect time to catch all the best current and former Chicagoans onstage reminding us why Chicago is THE comedy scene.

March 15: RAD. a spring show at Graham Crackers Comics

Every first and third Thursday of the month, Graham Crackers Comics in Lakeview (billed as "Illinois' #1 comic book store") plays home to "RAD. a fun show." This spring edition promises a line-up of 10 comedians (including headliner David Zoe Leon and host Jacob Kain Pierce) as well as a musical guest (Megan Hosack). BAM! POW! LOL! That's a lot of live action for a comic book store!

March 16: Dave's Dope Birthday Show at North Bar

This monthly showcase at North Bar - A Dope Ass Comedy Show - is never one to miss, but this month's is especially noteworthy as the show mark's host and producer Dave Helem's birthday. He calls it his "favorite show in the entire world" and he's got Kellye Howard, Russell Williamson, Chelsea Hood, Christopher Bader, Quincy Jones, M'Reld Green and Cleveland Anderson lined up to deliver laughs and birthday wishes.

March 17: Late Late Breakfast: Tournament of Champions! at The Hideout 

What's that you say? One or two (or even ten) comedians isn't enough for you? You want to wake up in the afternoon on a Saturday in your beautiful city, walk down to your local bar, get some pizza and a beer and take in a full 32-course comedian meal? Well then this full afternoon of comedy competition at The Hideout is the show for you!

March 18: Josh Alton at Chicago Improv

Former Chicagoan - and current stay-at-home dad in Iowa - Josh Alton comes back into town for a show at the Improv.

March 19: Comedy Bingo Open Mic at The Den Theatre

"Watch comedy and win free drinks & prizes!" This show is exactly what it sounds like: you can sit in the audience at the venerable Den Theatre in Wicker Park while there's some stand-up of the open mic variety (which you can sign up for or just watch), and then you can win prizes playing bingo!

March 20: Calvin Evans at Zanies

Chicago has a lot of amazing comedians, but there are amazing comedians and then there are next-level amazing comedians. Calvin Evans is in the latter group. He headlines all over town but check him out headlining Zanies during their 40th anniversary for the ultimate Chicago experience.

March 21: Pilsen Stand Up Comedy Show  at Simone's

This stand-up showcase at Simone's bar in Pilsen offers up "the most diverse and talented lineup of Chicagoland comedians." The line-up for this month's show includes Allison Dunne, Leonardo Luciano, and Ben Noble.

March 22: Laugh Therapy Thursdays at The Atrium

Chicago comedian Just Nesh (HBO's "All Def Comedy") is always moving forward and starting this month she has a new weekly stand-up show at The Atrium, just southwest of the city.  Is it worth it to head out of the city for comedy? With a host like Just Nesh it is - and for this show she's got Da Wildcat (aka Brian Smith) and Shawn Morgan putting up sets.

March 23: An Evening with a King of Comedy: Cedric the Entertainer at The Chicago Theatre 

Last year Cedric the Entertainer played The United Center as a stop on the The Comedy Get Down tour at The United Center (closing out the show after sets by George Lopez, D.L. Hughley and Eddie Griffin). He killed it then and there's no doubt he'll kill it again here in this one-night only event. As the title of the show makes clear, he's a king of comedy (or a King of Comedy, I guess we should say). For a man who plays arenas this should be a relatively intimate crowd.

March 24: Adam Burke at The Comedy Bar

Adam Burke is a Chicago stalwart who headlines all over town and has opened for too many touring stand-ups to name (I mean, obviously they could all be named, but it would just take too long because there are a lot of them). He gave some background on how he landed some of those gigs in this Chicago Tribune article: "How do Chicago stand-up comedians land high-profile opening gigs?"

March 25: Everyone's a Lawyer at Laugh Factory

Comedian (and lawyer) Paul Farahvar created this show that capitalizes on his two extensive training in two different worlds. Each show three different comics attempt to present a real-life case, with the audience serving as the judge. This show features Derek Smith, Calvin Evans and Terence Hartnett.

March 26: Badass Women of Chicago History at The Den Theatre

This is technically story-telling more than stand-up, but since phenomenal Chicago comic Ashley Ray Harris is a part of it it makes the list. Check out four presenters giving details on under-celebrated women from Chicago's past - and the show promises that "true to Chicago Detours ethos of bringing people to explore stories and places locals don’t even know" it won't just be a recounting of familiar names.

March 27: Montreal Just For Laughs Audition Showcase at Laugh Factory

You can always catch great Chicago comedians on stage at Laugh Factory, but with the two shows scheduled for tonight you can catch their tightest set as they work to earn a spot at Montreal Just For Laughs.

March 28: PBR Presents Comedians Power Hour at North Bar

"Part comedy show part drinking contest." So promises (warns?) the promotional material for this touring comedy show making its Chicago debut at North Bar. Two comedians - Mike O'Keefe and Molly Kearney, in the Chicago show - face off, telling jokes and taking shots of beer in an attempt to be declared champion. Throughout, hosts Genevieve Mueller and Sarah Mowrey provide different challenges for the comics.

March 29: Montreal Just For Laughs Showcase at The Revival

If you didn't get enough talent on display at the audition showcase up north on Tuesday, head to The Revival on Thursday for more top-notch Chicago talent putting forth their best sets. The list of 12 comics included here - most of which have been recommended in previous posts - is a testament to Chicago's incredible scene.

March 30: Cameron Esposito's Top Secret Public Experiment at The Den Theatre

Yes, I'm recommending something that was sold out the minute it was announced. But here's the thing: Esposito is holding a number of tickets for each night that are available on a first come/first serve basis. So get in line and check out this show. I've seen her twice (at Thalia Hall and at The Vic, both times with Rhea Butcher) and she's not to be missed! This show promises to be especially memorable (also it runs through 4/1).

March 31: Faded by T. Murph at The Revival

This show is sold out too, but don't let that stop you from trying to get in - or at least making a note to catch it next month. T. Murph performs all over Chicago and created, hosts and stars in this monthly show that showcases his fellow Chicagoans and drop-ins.


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