Claiming the 5th annual TBS Just for Laughs comedy festival, in town from June 11-16, should be doing more to spotlight locally based performers, Laugh Factory Chicago honcho Jamie Masada has organized a showcase of his own for natives only.
June 11-16, the club will host a week of shows in its space at 3175 N. Broadway. Agents, managers, producers and network execs "who show affiliation" get in free and even can enjoy a drink on the house. For everyone else there's a suggested $10 donation, which goes to support Red Cross efforts in tornado-torn Oklahoma.
"A majority of the out-of-town comics listed for this 'festival' got their start in Chicago, for crying out loud," Masada said in a statement.
Harvey-born Laugh Factory Chicago investor Tom Dreesen, who got his start doing stand-up in town, was also critical. "The first time the comedy festival came to Chicago, we thought it would spotlight some of the brightest and [most] talented comedians in Chicago," he said. "Instead, it became a venue for big business to charge high prices by bringing in outside names" to take advantage of local money..."
This year's highest priced imports (top end: $69 plus fees) include Russell Brand, Seth Meyers, Bob Newhart (Chicago-born and bred), Bill Maher, David Cross and others. On the homegrown front, venues such as the Lincoln Lodge and Annoyance Theatre will host Just for Laughs talent at Stage 773 on W. Belmont instead of in their own spaces.