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Funny Ladies

These young, up-and-coming female comedians are shaping Chicago's underground scene.
Wednesday Apr 09, 2008.     By Alicia Eler
Centerstage Chicago Nightlife City Guide Arts

photo: courtesy of Sarah King
Chicago has no shortage of talented, funny ladies, but you gotta know where to find 'em in the male-dominated comedy scene. Clubs like Zanies or The Improv in Schaumburg are more likely to book well-known national acts, so many female comedians have taken it upon themselves to establish an underground scene of sorts. You'll find these young, up-and-coming comedians performing one-woman shows at venues like the Apollo Studio Theater or Playground Theater, as well as bars like Town Hall Pub or in the backroom of the Lincoln Restaurant. Sometimes, they'll even crash an open mic night. Because aside from being hilarious, these ladies have another thing in common: They're not afraid to pave their own paths.

Sarah King
Perhaps you see a shrink or take lots of drugs (prescription or otherwise) to figure out if you're crazy; that's one way to go about it. The other way would be to visit King's new show, which asks audience members to help decide if the characters she explores are "good crazy" or "bad crazy." You'll probably leave wondering which type of crazy you are. Comprised of sketches with characters like her signature supastar Mama Truth, an in-your-face pansexual nightmare of an open-mic poet (with terrible rhymes to prove it), King's Texan parents and many others, this comedian's high-energy whirlwind of a show will leave you wondering about how many crazies are actually lurking out there. Scary thought, no?

Jena Friedman
Jena Friedman co-hosts "Entertaining Julia," an experimental variety comedy/music showcase at Town Hall Pub, with Sarah King. At a recent show, Friedman dove into scary territory with jokes about HPV, the sexually transmitted disease that apparently everyone has. But that's part of her dark, dry humor, which both offends and pleases. A stand-up comedian to the core, Friedman can take the stage and keep the audience captive. This might be partly because she's a very innocent-looking lady, but also because you're never sure what she's going to hit you with next. Check out her myspace page for more show info.

Puterbaugh Sisterz
Whether they're onstage at a variety show or creating a wacky character-based video, these two sisters are usually doing it together. In their recent spoof of a rug store infomercial at "Entertaining Julia," the two dressed up as a rug salespeople, chanting "rugs, rugs, rugs" and dramatizing the monotone speak of a low-budget cable TV ad. And their outrageous videosólike the one about an insane woman trying to find a miracle weight-loss drugólet's just say the nauseatingly funny humor (both literally and otherwise) isn't good to consume after eating dinner. For upcoming shows, check out their myspace page.

Cameron Esposito
When Cameron Esposito left Boston for Chicago, the improv capitol of the U.S., she assumed she would end up doing even more improv. But when she got here things changed: She realized she didn't want to share the stage with male comics whose jokes usually turned sexual, which she just couldn't support. She's since converted to doing stand-up in the underground scene, especially at the Lincoln Lodgeóin the backroom of the Lincoln Restaurant, which her and friends discovered and transformed into a sometimes-comedy-venue. When the openly lesbian comic takes to the stage, she wants to get to know her audience members a bit before she starts telling her slow-burn jokes. See her at the next Lincoln Lodge show, "Dwight Night," on May 15, 16 and 17 at 9 p.m.

Fay Canale
Stand-up comedian Fay Canale, a member of the Chicago-based female collective SpitFire Comedy, jokes about everything, but especially about the ridiculousness of life. Another performer at Lincoln Lodge, she'll make observational jokes about an experience she had being out in the worldólike entering into a squabble over "for here" or "to-go" orders at a fried chicken jointóor the inequalities that smokers experience in everyday life. And then there are the jokes about jobsóbecause, really, if we couldn't laugh about paying the bills, we'd probably just be crying.


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