Midwestern MeFites: I want to laugh in public! Difficulty: feminist.
January 29, 2014 10:30 AM   Subscribe

I'm a huge fan of standup comedy, comedy podcasts, and so on, but I'm starting to get tired of what feels like an endless stream of life-in-LA anecdotes. I don't live in LA, and I don't really care about LA. Surely there are funny people who want to say funny things in Chicago, Madison, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Kansas City, St. Louis....right? Nationally famous comedians are great, but I'm looking more for regional folks that I can see often, locally, and preferably not for $50 a seat...

I'm a little familiar with the Chicago standup scene*, and I love, in theory, going to underground shows just to see what's going on. But honestly, I have had a hard time filtering out the horrible rapey douchenozzles. Oh and also said douchenozzles are not funny.

I'm no shrinking violet; I love Louis CK and Marc Maron and Sarah Silverman. Shocking and gross things can be super-hilarious. But most comedians, especially new young ones, aren't Louis CK, and when they try to be, it mostly comes across as pure unfiltered misogyny. (And sometimes straight up street harassment, only from a guy on a stage.)

I'm not telling comedy fans anything they don't already know--comedy is still fairly unfriendly for women, a lot of the time. But I also know that a LOT of people are working to make this better--I just want to find them and give them my time and moneys!

So please, if you know someone who's doing standup, podcasting, sketch comedy, comedy writing, etc., in the Midwest, who is actually funny and doesn't hate women, please tell me of them!

*I already know and love and follow Ever Mainard! More like Mainard, please!
posted by like_a_friend to Society & Culture (8 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Check out Wits radio. They are a APM public show out of St. Paul that has some great guests ( including some of the national folks you mention)
posted by cnanderson at 10:55 AM on January 29, 2014

The Mayor's Aide is a funny series of sketches from Second City. I learned about it on MeFi.
posted by Sock Ray Blue at 11:07 AM on January 29, 2014

Where are you? The Comedy Attic, in Bloomington Indiana, has a pretty solid track record of bringing in regional and national level performers who are fantastic and also not misogynists. Even at the open mic local level that stuff is pretty rare and not particularly tolerated. Maybe check out their calendar? I don't think I ever spent more than $20 on a ticket there, either.

And even if it's too far to visit regularly, the Limestone Comedy Festival is worth a trip. Last year's lineup was amazing, and got an extra gold star for having a remarkable representation of women among the headliners.
posted by amelioration at 11:10 AM on January 29, 2014

Chicago is pretty much the American comedy mecca.

In fact, I'd say that inasmuch as you're finding comedy to be too LA-centric, it's because of all the fish-out-of-water midwestern boy in Hollywood type material out there. Which is probably the "what's up with airplane peanuts" of our time.

Re feminism, rape jokes, etc. Man, I don't know. It's tough.

I would say that making an effort to go out and support female comedians is probably a good start. At least you're going to get a little bit less casual misogyny and outright rape jokes. Just maybe avoid Lisa Lampanelli?

In terms of TV, Parks And Recreation is exactly what you're looking for.
posted by Sara C. at 11:17 AM on January 29, 2014

I was just in Chicago last week, and yeah, I saw some terrible comedy - as offensive as it was totally unfunny. The first show that comes to mind is Comedy Secrets, which is monthly at the Hungry Brain, and run by a female-male pair. When I've had the time to stick around, they've been pretty classy.
posted by wotsac at 12:29 PM on January 29, 2014

My Brother My Brother and Me is a podcast from some fabulous funny brothers in the Midwest. it gets raunchy, but in a relatively respectful way.

You didn't mention New York City, but there's plenty of great comedy from the olllld big apple too.
Some of my favorite podcasts with comics of all kinds is on the Creek and The Cave podcast network from Queens NY.

And finally my buddy friend from Chicago/DC has a talk show podcast You Me Them Everybody that he does in Chicago/DC where he interviews stand-ups and other performers as well as has standups on doing jokes. Some are awesome, some are not, but it's 99% LA-free!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:26 PM on January 29, 2014

I have not been, but a friend of mine sometimes does stand up at Chicago Underground Comedy. I don't know if this is one of the underground venues that had misogynistic routines, but the link above has video of some of their cast, so you can preview before going.
posted by nightwood at 1:31 PM on January 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

You're a friend of Brandon too Potomac Avenue? I used to haunt the bar he tended when we were both in Chicago. He's much more of a DC guy these days, but he introduced me to a hell of a lot of great comedians. Since the bar was otherwise dead early in the week he had a whole raft of shows that he'd rotate through. Some brilliant, some dire.

YMTE's 8 by 8 show at the Hungry Brain (monthly, on the 6th and 25th next month) is usually fun. It's a mix of standup, improv and music. The acts are quite variable in quality, but with 8 acts at 8 minutes apiece, when there's a bad one, it will be done quickly.

I also get a kick out of Stiff Investigations (something like monthly at the Brain), a live, rather cheesy old time radio play - that's always a popular night as well.

VHS tapesters Everything Is Terrible also pop up occasionally, and are quite funny if you dig surreal 80s nostalgia bizarreness.

If you happen to stop in for either 8x8 or Comedy Secrets, ask if 'Merle is around - she may have some suggestions for you. Shows at the Hungry Brain are always free, the drinks are reasonably priced, and the bar tenders are friendly.
posted by wotsac at 3:37 PM on January 29, 2014

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