Nick Offerman enters center stage sneakily through the center curtains and approaches the mic. “Since tonight is about a book, there won’t be any singing or dancing [unlike his comedy special, American Ham. Or maybe a little dancing [followed by a few quick dance moves].” Just like that, he has won over the entire audience. The star of NBC’s Parks and Recreation then goes on to read a sample of his new book, Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America’s Gutsiest Troublemakers. He tells us the story about one interview that took place in a New York diner on a cold winter day with George Saunders. After only ordering coffee, the waiter was becoming insistent that they order food or move along. Nick slipped him a twenty and the slow paced interview was allowed to continue.
Next, Mark Bazer comes on the stage. Nick pulls out the seat for him and helps him get settled. Then, he stands next to his seat and looks over at Mark. Mark gets up and proceeds to help Nick get into his seat. It’s a funny little bit that has the whole audience chuckling. Bazer goes on to ask about the process of writing the book. Offerman replies that it was an excellent trick to be able to meet with many of his heroes! He was also able to stop putting off reading about them since now it was his job, getting paid to do what he would otherwise do for free! Afterward he took a few questions from the audience followed by a book signing. Overall, it was a humorous and thoughtful evening with an entertaining and charming author at the top of his game!
Belfast Girls is about Irish female outcasts being shipped off to Australia. However, the girls don’t realize this at first. They are under the impression they are sailing off to a sun soaked paradise where they will marry rich men and escape the cruel environment of their Ireland lives. The transformation from joyous journey to uncertain future is acted out excellently by all the actresses. The action goes from string female bonding and love all the way to hatred and violence. The history of the women is slowly revealed leading to an exciting climax. Will everyone survive the three month journey? See the Belfast Girls now and find out!
Running Time: Two hours and ten minutes with one intermission
Den Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee
Written by Jaki McCarrick
Directed by Julie Proudfoot
Thursdays, Fridays at 7:30pm
Saturdays at 3pm and 7:30pm
Sundays at 6pm
Thru June 14th
Stephen Kellogg has developed a great relationship with his fans. They will sell out the Hideout even when he will be mostly playing songs they have never heard before. For the first two thirds of the show, he previewed his new four part album: “South, West, North, East”. The crowd listened with undivided attention as he told the stories behind the songs before he played them. It was a true singer songwriter showcase.
For the second part of the show, he took requests. “This is the first time I have ever taken requests. It feels good!” He played My Favorite Place, 4th of July, Satisfied Man , and a few other hits.
For the encore, he unplugged his acoustic guitar and walked out into the center of the audience. “This is the perfect way to end this show.” He went on to play See You Later, See You Soon with the crowd singing along all around him. It was a fantastic moment with the fans and the artist celebrating the music together. He’ll be playing Lincoln Hall over the summer with a full band. Don’t miss it!
Stop right now and listen to this: https://open.spotify.com/track/3nqP8YOhxJPdUzXJWbdKyT. It’s “Don’t Stop” by Orgone. This song is a funky soul jam with a fantastic chorus that has everyone singing along with the lead singer, Adryon De Leon. It’s a great introduction to this Los Angeles funk band and one of the highlights of their set at Chop Shop. During the entire set, the guitar player, Sergio Rios, is very emotive and dancing to the music. The crowd can’t help but follow his lead as the music begs for movement. The horn section is a fantastic compliment to the guitar and they often draw full attention as they were the loudest instrument tonight. The whole experience draws you in and before you know it, it’s 1am and the show is over. You’ll be tired tomorrow, but it was worth it. A message to the band: Don’t don’t stop stop touring touring!
The house lights turn off and the band enters. They are wearing black hoodies and they all start playing drums or trumpets. This great intro launches their set of original songs and covers. The atmosphere is family friendly as the audience ranges from tweens to grandparents. The band’s cover of Pharrel William’s “Happy” pleases everyone. When the whole band circles around one guitar, the crowd responds by pushing closer to the stage. The band plays a medley of Someone I Used to Know mixed with Rude and a few other songs. This combination of songs is a tribute to the bands viral video, which currently has over 165 million views.
After the band leaves the stage, the crowd chants “Sing it all away, sing it all away my darlings!” The band had taught the audience this part of their song Sing It All Away earlier in the night. When the audience is singing on their own, it has the feeling of a church concert. The band returns to the stage and play a fantastic encore. The encore includes their most popular song, Red Hands and is accompanied by a bunch of large balloons being released from the back of the room. The whole experience is a joy for fans of all ages!
This show has potential, but a few changes are necessary. Firstly, the title should be shortened to Griffin’s Comedy Showcase. Secondly, the show should start on time, not 50 minutes late. The Comedy Laser Show performer consisted of a 2 lasers drawing images that would slowly fade on a large screen. This would go over very well at a jam band concert, but here the novelty wore off quickly as a comedy act. The set times would be better off at 5 minutes instead of 10 for the openers. With these changes and the price dropped to free, this could be a great new addition to Chicago’s comedy scene.
Brent Morin is best known for his leading role on NBC’s Undateable, but his stand up comedy is earning him a lot of fans too. Tonight, he tells the story about getting dumped for a magician. Brent exclaims “You could just say guy! No need to bring magic into this conversation!” Later that night, he decides to watch the British X factor and have a good cry before going to sleep. In this episode, there is an orphan that has no name. Brent cries out to the television, “You can give yourself a name! I’ll call you Brent! I’ll take a train to London to find you and we’ll be a pair of Brents!” The reference to the train to London was one of many callbacks perfectly executed this night that had the audience in stiches. As he is watching the show, his roommate walks in! The roommate immediately exits upon seeing Morin in tears.
The whole set is one long conversation with the audience. Whenever Brent fumbles over a word, he tells us that he pictures a foreman at a construction site yelling at his brain: “I need words! Words! Something!” On a side note, this concept is the basis for the new movie, Inside Out. All in all, the set is a solidly polished act. The audience was laughing the entire time and it is clear Brent Morin has a bright future ahead of him in the world of comedy.