Sarah Terez Rosenblum (@SarahTerez) is an MFA-holding writer, teacher and Spinning instructor. She's also the Theater Listings Editor for Centerstage Chicago. Look for her posts every Tuesday and Thursday.
If Chicago is known for anything it’s comedy (well, that and exorbitant parking meter fees). This weekend local comedian Shakir Standley aims to reinforce the city’s reputation by hosting a comedy bash at Lido’s in Oak Park.
I know. You’re thinking the last time you braved the suburbs was that ill-fated trip to IKEA when you nearly got crushed to death by a stampede of blondes in sweatpants and stilettos fighting for the last plate of meatballs. But that happened in Schaumburg and anyway it was five years ago, plus your therapist wants you to explore new things, so why not give the suburbs another try?
Shakir, a former Second City student, says his show “mixes improv with stand-up comedy (to) keep things interesting. It can get stale to have just one person on stage.” Instead, the showcase will feature The Concordia Improv Group as well as comedians like David Drake and Cameron Esposito.
“Smart, charming and seasoned,” Esposito, according to Standley, “is someone who knows her way around a microphone.” Churning out new material since the recent release of her first comedy album, Esposito has equally positive words for her fellow performers. “You can count on strong sets from Mo Welch and Dara Katz,” she says, “two comics who really broke out in the Chicago scene this past year.”
Also on hand, freelance writer and comedy novice Alicia Eler, a surprising edition to the comedy circuit. “For most of my life,” she says, “I have been a very serious person. But when I was unexpectedly laid off, I found myself laughing at my misfortune. I finally got up the courage to go to Cole's open mic, hosted by Cameron Esposito, (and) pretty much bombed my first set.” Still, she says, Esposito and other local comedians encouraged her. “Both the stand-up and improv comedy scenes in Chicago foster strong community and are very welcoming and encouraging to newcomers.”
Standley and Eler particularly boast a unique bond. “Alicia and I met after I had just finished doing stand-up shirtless in front of an audience at Cole's, so I was on a shirtless high,” Standley says. “She was up on stage trying to rap about hummus.”
“I panicked in the middle of the rap,” says Eler.
Standley: “I was like oh Lord, this chick is dying! So I thought, what the hell, and jumped up on-stage to beatbox for her.”
Eler: “He saved my ass.”
The two have since formed Shakalicia. “It's a delicious combination of our two names,” says Eler. “We rap about food we like.”
The showcase is free and starts at 9 p.m. on Saturday. Just nobody mention meatballs.