For the third year running, the show where I'm a producer and castmember, Chicago Underground Comedy, hosted the festival's opening show, "Chicago Underground Comedy's Secret Big-Time Local Comedy Showcase." This year's show was pretty great, hosted by our pal Mike Lebovitz, and featuring local superstars Dave Stinton, Mike Stanley, Dan Telfer, and Ever Mainard. And, if you can believe it, our list of mega superstar drop-ins included Jeff Garlin (Curb Your Enthusiasm!), Eddie Pepitone, Kyle Kinane, Pete Holmes, and Hannibal Buress! All for our usual $5, which is insane.
The show was absolutely stellar, well-received and praised in the media. Our usual Tuesday night showcase is ninety minutes, but this one clocked in at three hours, and I'm proud to say that a very full audience, mostly standing room only, and quite steamy in the summer heat, stayed put and maintained their enthusiasm for the whole show.
Partway through the show we screened four comedy shorts made specifically for the show. Filmmakers included Paul Thomas, Daniel Kibblesmith, Sam Mechling/Sean Flannery, and Elizabeth McQuern. (Hey, that's me!)
My contribution was called "The Boobs Are Awesome Foundation: Take Back Our Breasts," which was my excuse to cram as many of Chicago's funny ladies into one video as possible. How many did that end up being? Forty-seven! I had to do this in about three weeks, by the way. I made it easy on myself by reaching out to Chicago comedy ladies on social media, putting a spreadsheet on Google, and letting them sign themselves up for half-hour slots on shooting nights. I scheduled shooting for evenings when my boyfriend Bryan would be teaching at Second City, allowing me to shoot the whole thing in my home studio with minimal disruption to the usual household schedule.
Anyway, here's the final product, starring Chaya Carey, Thea Lux, Renée Schultz, Jennifer Baird, Kristen Toomey, Cynthia Levin, Kris Simmons, Kristin Clifford, Meredith Kachel, Kelsey Gruebnau, Alicia Sowisdral, Lisa Laureta, Sarah Gallagher, Dana Norris, Caryn Ruby, Amy Sumpter, Sital Shah, Erica Reid, Samantha Irby, Chloe Ditzel, Maggie Ednie, Annie Taylor, April Kaprelian, Jeanie Doogan, Alyson Lyon, Andrea Wallace, Patty Vaccarella, Chevy Debbie, Angela Vela, Monique Madrid, Emily Lake, Stephanie Hoerner, Kendra Stevens, Jessica Antes, Ever Mainard, Katey Selix, Mary Hollis Inboden, Clare Kelly, Liz Bell, Julie Hardesty, Katie McVay, Mollie Merkel, Larissa Zageris, Kelsie Huff, Leah Eva, Rebecca O'Neal and Sonia Denis.
This is a lovely, fantastic, funny group of women - and yet a list of women I wanted in the video but who couldn't participate because of scheduling would also be at least forty-seven people long. It was a lot of work but ten times as much fun, including making new friends, as I'd never met some of the ladies until they came in my front door. Chicago comedy is funny that way, you can see people in shows and connect with them on social media and "know" each other a little bit before you meet. (See? All that tweeting wasn't a waste of time after all!)
Since the video was screened at the show and then shared online, I've been cracking up hearing various participants tell me about people's reactions. One girl had a lady on the street recognize her and compliment her performance, the video, and her boobs.
Another friend who was in the video told me a friend said "Hey, I saw Kris Simmons do stand-up, she's so funny!" She said "Oh yeah? I don't think I've met her yet." The friend said "But you were in that boobs video with her," which leads me to picture all forty-seven of my actresses crammed into my studio apartment at one time (which I'm pretty sure is impossible), forty-six of them silently waiting for their turn in front of the camera. Wait - I think I just got an idea for a fun photography project! (Just kidding. Too busy.)
Right now I'm editing a new short comedy film I shot a few weekends ago at Foster Beach. It's a birth control commercial parody, featuring a product that, whenever you experience cramps or mood swings, knocks you unconscious. Voilà, no more cramps! Once again, I wanted to use as many people as possible without it being ridiculous, but in the end, with schedules and other considerations, my stars were Katey Selix, Erica Reid, Sonia Denis, Sarah Gallagher, Caitlin Bergh, Kristin Clifford, and Kelsie Huff.
Below is a still of Caitlin Bergh, demonstrating her emotional state before using the new birth control. (The unlucky man had the misfortune of gesturing for her to go ahead at an intersection when they both stopped their bikes at the same time.)
Other photos from the shoot can be found here. Unfortunately there aren't photos of everyone, because once the last few people arrived, I stopped shooting photos and started shooting video. Stay tuned for the final product, coming soon.