We’ve been covering the AV Club’s 26th Annual Comedy Festival in Chicago since its inception just a few years ago, and it’s always been a terrific festival with an intentionally absurd title. This year the festival will shed its silly name in favor of adopting the moniker of the AV Club’s satirical partner, The Onion. This year’s festival coincides with the 30th Anniversary of The Onion (founded as a print publication in 1988 in Madison Wisconsin).
As alwys the festival will bring some outstanding comedians to the Windy City’s phenomenal venues, with this years headliners David Cross, Bob Odenkirk & Friends, and How Did This Get Made? Live along with a great list of other performers and shows. Bitch Sesh Live with hosts Casey Wilson and Danielle Schneider, a live taping of Judge John Hodgman, and shows with comedians Chris Gethard, Jo Firestone, Scott Thompson, are just the beginning. This year’s line-up will also include special events from The Onion’s editors, friends, and alumni to mark the publication’s 30th Anniversary.
In a rare peek behind the scenes of America’s Finest News Source, current and former staff from The Onion will gather on Wednesday, May 30 to celebrate and discuss three decades as the world’s most popular satirical news outlet with Tom Scharpling, from the comedy duo Scharpling & Wurster and host of The Best Show. In addition, the writers and editors of ClickHole.com, The Onion’s sister publication, will deliver a fast-paced carousel of performances and presentations from some of the world’s most inspiring, loud, and tragic figures on Thursday, May 31.
The Onion Comedy & Arts Festival, formerly known as the 26th Annual Comedy Festival, marks the fifth year The Onion has hosted a festival in Chicago. The festival runs from May 30 through June 3rd. Tickets for individual shows will go on sale Friday, March 2 at 10AM CT. More information and ticket links can be found at OnionComedyFest.com.
8pm at Thalia Hall: I Only Listen To The Mountain Goats Live with Joseph Fink and John Darnielle on Wednesday, May 30, 8pm at Thalia Hall. A collaboration between Night Vale Presents, the Mountain Goats, and Merge Records, I Only Listen To The Mountain Goats is a podcast about what it means to be an artist, what it means to be a fan, and what it means to be, as many people are, both at once. The show finds Joseph Fink, creator of Welcome To Night Vale and Alice Isn’t Dead, in conversation with one of his artistic heroes, John Darnielle, singer and songwriter of the Mountain Goats. Season One explores the stories behind the Mountain Goats’ album All Hail West Texas, one song at a time. In each episode, John, Joseph, and special guests discuss songwriting, storytelling, current events, and the art and artists that inspire them.
8pm at Annoyance Theater: Après Le Déluge: The Buddy Cole Monologues starring Scott Thompson. Lounge lizard Buddy Cole from The Kids In The Hall makes a return to the limelight in an evening of humorous monologues from the period the show went off the air in 1995 to the present day. Well known to fans as a member of the sketch comedy troupe The Kids In The Hall, Scott Thompson is anything but your average comedic talent. Thompson appeared as a regular for three years on Garry Shandling’s revolutionary comedy series The Larry Sanders Show as Brian, the assistant to Hank Kingsley. He has appeared in such feature films as Ron Ronnie Run, The Pacifier, and Mickey Blue Eyes and such television series as Hannibal, Reno 911!, Tim And Eric Awesome Show, Carpoolers, The Odd Squad, Man Seeking Woman, Touched By An Angel, and Degrassi High. He has also worked on various animation projects, as the titular character in the popular children’s television series Roboroach, and in Aqua Teen Hunger Force, The Simpsons, and American Dad.
8pm at Lincoln Hall: A Conversation with The Onion and Tom Scharpling. Since its founding in 1988, The Onion has attracted millions of loyal fans drawn to its fearless reporting and scathing commentary on world events, human behavior, and journalistic convention. In a rare peek behind the scenes of America’s Finest News Source, current and former staff from The Onion will gather to celebrate and discuss 30 years as the world’s most popular satirical news outlet with Tom Scharpling, from the comedy duo Scharpling & Wurster and host of The Best Show. We will also make some time to field questions from any of the slobbering dopes in attendance.
7pm at Up! Comedy Club: Hollywood Handbook. The wildly popular Earwolf podcast Hollywood Handbook makes its Chicago debut during The Onion Comedy & Arts Festival this year! An insider’s guide to achieving your showbiz dreams from two A-List it-boys who are living theirs. Hayes and Sean provide an exclusive VIP backstage pass into Tinseltown politics, answer questions from unsuccessful listeners, and bring in famous guests to discuss their craft and how they became what they are (famous).
8pm at Annoyance Theater: Après Le Déluge: The Buddy Cole Monologues starring Scott Thompson
9pm at Lincoln Hall: ClickHole Live The writers and editors of ClickHole.com, the internet’s leader in viral spew, are here to deliver a fast-paced carousel of performances and presentations from some of the world’s most inspiring, loud, and tragic figures.
8pm at The Chicago Theater: David Cross. Emmy winner and Grammy nominee David Cross is an inventive performer, writer, and producer on stage and screens both big and small. Named one of the Top 100 Stand-Up Comedians of All Time by Comedy Central, Cross last toured the world with “Make America Great Again!,” which took him across the United States, Canada, and Europe. The tour spawned a Netflix special which premiered in August 2016, and a Grammy-nominated CD of the same name.
7pm at the Athenaeum Theater: Bitch Sesh Live! Casey Wilson (Happy Endings) and Danielle Schneider (The Hotwives Of Orlando) bring you a live version of their hilarious podcast Bitch Sesh. They’ll deep dive into all things Real Housewives, unpack pertinent pop culture goings-on, and continue to process and hopefully come to accept Julia Roberts’ wig in Mother’s Day. One day at a time. Join them for dramatic reenactments, audience questions, clips, and more. You won’t want to miss this very important, nay life-altering, evening.
10pm at Annoyance Theater: Après Le Déluge: The Buddy Cole Monologues starring Scott Thompson
9pm at Up! Comedy Club: Bob Odenkirk & Friends. The Comedy Resistance comes to Chicago! Join Bob Odenkirk and special guests for an amazing night of laughs and activism. You never know who will show up! All proceeds from the event will go toward The Comedy Resistance’s mission of to create a comedy platform that transforms a passive political audience to activate voters and activists for a wave of electoral change in 2018 and beyond.
7pm and 10pm at Athenaeum Theater: How Did This Get Made? Have you ever seen a movie so bad that it’s good? Paul Scheer (The League & Veep), Jason Mantzoukas (The League & The House), and June Diane Raphael (Grace & Frankie, New Girl) are experts in the best of the worst of cinema. On each episode of their award-winning podcast, How Did This Get Made?, they gather with their funniest friends and subject themselves to a cinematic nightmare and report back to you with the results. With over 160 episodes, past guests have included Adam Scott, Amy Schumer, Nick Kroll, Patton Oswalt, Whitney Cummings, Ilana Glazer, Abbi Jacobson, Gillian Jacobs, Vanilla Ice, Chris Hardwick, Chelsea Peretti, Pete Davidson, Kumail Nanjiani, Scott Aukerman, and many more. Every episode features the deconstruction and mockery of one particular film such as Surf Ninjas, XXX: Return Of Xander Cage, The Room, and the entire Fast And Furious franchise. With sold-out shows across the country, each live episode is truly unique as the audience gets to play a part in the show by asking questions, coming up with impromptu songs for segments of the show, and seeing one-of-a kind clips.
7pm at Thalia Hall Judge John Hodgman. Judge John Hodgman and Bailiff Jesse Thorn are riding the circuit to bring LIVE JUSTICE to a stage near you. Direct from the Judge John Hodgman podcast (named FIFTEENTH in Rolling Stone’s top 20 comedy podcasts!), Judge Hodgman and Bailiff Thorn are bringing their mix of non-swearing comedy, pop-culture obsession, and sheer, unadulterated FAKE LEGAL WISDOM to the stage. Along with surprises, special guests, and live justice lightning rounds, each show will feature a number of live hearings between people in YOUR TOWN. Judge Hodgman will listen to both sides and then tell them WHO IS RIGHT and WHO IS WRONG.
7pm at The Hideout: Jo Firestone Jo Firestone is a New York-based comedian, actress, and writer. She has been hailed as one of the most unique voices in American comedy, hosting over 40 different formats of live performances including her popular Punderdome 3000, NYC’s Inner Beauty Pageant, and her touring show Friends of Single People. A current writer on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon and a former writer for The Chris Gethard Show, Jo can be seen in HBO’s High Maintenance and was featured in the Jake And Amir pilot for TBS. Her half-hour special Comedy Central Presents: Jo Firestone premiered in September 2017.
10pm at Annoyance Theater: Après Le Déluge: The Buddy Cole Monologues starring Scott Thompson
10pm at The Hideout: Helltrap Nightmare. Helltrap Nightmare, hosted by Sarah Sherman, is a night of comedy horror and noise music terror that has garnered a cult following as well as critical acclaim for its unique(ly debased) format that allows experimental musicians and alt stand-up comics to share the stage in order to perform their wildest and most radical material.
8pm Annoyance Theater: Après Le Déluge: The Buddy Cole Monologues starring Scott Thompson
7pm and 9:30pm at UP! Comedy Club. Chris Gethard. Chris Gethard is the host and star of Funny or Die’s The Chris Gethard Show on TruTV and the host of the popular Earwolf podcast Beautiful Stories From Anonymous People. Chris recently starred in the Mike Birbiglia film Don’t Think Twice and can be seen as “Todd” on Comedy Central’s Broad City. Other credits include Comedy Central’s Inside Amy Schumer, NBC’s Parks And Recreation, The Office, and the film The Heat. Chris is the author of the book A Bad Idea I’m About To Do and his first stand-up album, My Comedy Album, debuted at #2 on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart in 2014. Chris’ one-man show, Career Suicide (produced by Judd Apatow), just premiered on HBO after completing a successful off-Broadway run at The Lynn Redgrave Theatre in NYC.