For the fourth night in a row the Just For Laughs festival carried huge waves of positivity through Chicago. Powerhouse Aziz Ansari performed for a sold out crowd at the prestigious Chicago Theatre as Kelly Carlin told stories about her father at UP Comedy Club. At the TBS LOL Lounge Julian McCullough hosted the very funny lineup of new up and coming comedians.
JOHN OLIVER AT THE VIC THEATRE
John Oliver was welcomed to an energetic crowd thanks to the tight, terrific, ten minutes of comedy delivered by Mike Lawrence. Mike had the crowd roaring at his modern day references of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as well as his story about the one time he felt a sense of power… working at McDonalds and telling patrons they no longer served the McRib!
Once Oliver occupied the stage at the Vic Theatre, he had a captivated and responsive audience for a strong 60 minute set. He pushed the limits of the audience beliefs as he dabbled in taboo topics such as politics, religion, and world views of the United States.
I was curious how fans would respond to his polarizing bits; I was pleasantly surprised they l laughed harder and harder throughout the show. John rocked the sold out show as fans left the venue smiling, laughing and retelling his jokes as they strolled along the sidewalk.
JEFF ROSS ROASTS CHICAGO AT PARK WEST THEATRE
The roast master general Jeff Ross was in Chi-town as he pulled out many unexpected bombshells for his eager fans. After a couple of fun opening acts including Kyle Dunnigan, the automated voice over announced that one of Jeff’s favorite friends is here… Sarah Silverman!
In petite jean shorts and tall stockings, Sarah experimented with new material on a crowd that soaked it all in. Sprinkling in a few of her classic jokes, Sarah provided the spark that set fire for the roast of Chicago.
After Sarah’s fifteen minutes Jeff came out. As the two met for a hug on stage, a glass of scotch fell out of his hands and spilled everywhere. It wouldn’t have been a big deal yet there were electrical wires for the guitars, keyboards and drums on stage. Ross’ first instincts were to avoid getting electrocuted, which he successfully did.
Jumping right in, Jeff began ripping Chicago apart and the crowd loved it! From making fun of the Cubs baseball organization to south side stereotypes, fans enjoyed the witty lines Ross so confidently delivered. But the roast didn’t stop at the windy city.
After walking down stage he brought up an old electric guitar which he explained was from his high school days. He played the Deliverance theme song as he started roasting high profile figures that have passed. Audience members either laughed or moaned when he made fun of the late Whitney Houston and Steve Jobs.
Unforeseen twists continued to surprise the audience as the funny Jeff Garlin strolled out on stage. Both Jeff’s wore matching white blazers as Garlin sat down behind the lonely snare drum and cymbal. As Ross read one liners about hot topics such as abortion and marijuana, Garlin provided comedic relief by playing rim shots after each joke.
Garlin was first to admit this was his first time playing drums and it was apparent, yet his loose style and impromptu beats provided fresh comedy during the set.
First attempted in last year’s Just For Laughs and back by popular demand, Jeff speed roasted random members of the audience. The volunteers had to know what they were getting into as they rushed the stage to be roasted by the master himself. Another trick up his sleeve was to pull Sarah Silverman back on stage to assist with the bashings. I feel no pity for these folks as Ross and Silverman flexed their roasting muscles by ripping on each individual until all ideas were exhausted.
This powerhouse lineup straight up rocked the Park West Theatre! The Just For Laughs festival is filled with great comedians and awesome acts as the power of laughter is vibrant and alive in my sweet home, Chicago.