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Sean L. McCarthy

Sean L. McCarthy

Posted: June 19, 2009 12:49 PM

Seeing Stars in Chicago, Just For Laughs


What would happen if TBS, the cable network that claims to be "Very Funny," put on a comedy festival with the Canadians responsible for "Just For Laughs" (a long-running annual celebration of funny in Montreal, but also a Candid Camera style prank show on TV), and held it in Chicago this week?

That's what I went to Chicago to find out.

The Just For Laughs Chicago fest began on Wednesday and runs through Sunday. Here are a few of the things I have learned so far.

1) Women of all ages, shapes, sizes, colors and sexual preferences love them some Ellen DeGeneres. Ellen taped her third variety special for TBS on Wednesday night (it'll air June 27) -- take that, Rosie! (her one-and-done variety show for NBC tanked) -- and over the course of a 40-minute audience warmup series of dancing and karaoke contests and an apparent willingness to jump up and down for a T-shirt, plus close to two hours of screaming adoration seemed to prove that Ellen really is America's favorite lesbian since...

2) Did you see what I did there?

3) Robert Smigel still enjoys sticking his hand into a dog puppet and insulting famous people, particularly now that famous people are on Twitter. Such as Oprah. Yes. He pooped on Oprah. Triumph strikes again!

4) Smigel also is in awe that a little sketch he created about Chicago sports fans became a national treasure on Saturday Night Live and had people across America saying, "Da Bears."
(See a video here)

5) Andy Dick may be just as crazy sober as he was when he was drinking, so when will we get to see a co-headlining tour with Tracy Morgan?

6) Martin Short is not afraid of much, and you'll see it in his TBS special on June 26. Almost 60 (read: 59 years old), Short is willing to zing Adam Lambert for being "a fruit" and make timely jokes about Chastity Bono, when he's not completely disguised in character as Jiminy Glick, taking his pants off as Ed Grimley, or trying stand-up as Lawrence Orbach. Lawrence Orbach? Would it jog your memory if I said that was the name of the SNL character who attempted to be a synchronized swimmer, despite the fact that he could not swim? (Read all about that here)

7) Chicagoans are just as likely to not be able to hold their liquor as other Americans, judging by their proclivity for heckling.

8) Chicago turned the river green for us, even though St. Patrick's Day was three months ago. Is that green as in eco-friendly? We're not dipping our toes in to find out!

9) The Windy City's FOX station held an "American Idol" contest the other night at the House of Blues. Irony or serendipity?

10) Comedians in Chicago so far have tended to make jokes either about a) the weather being so cold (despite the fact that it's hot and thunderstormy out this weekend), b) Oprah, c) all of the fattening food, and d) jokes that somehow combine all three of those things in one punchline. Oprah is a deep dish!

Did you see what I did there? Hopefully I learn some more things about Chicago and comedy in the next few days. Stay tuned.

Or just read my blog, The Comic's Comic, for continued updates on comedy and the fest.

Follow Sean L. McCarthy on Twitter: www.twitter.com/thecomicscomic