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Lakeview, Wrigleyville, Northalsted

World Comedy Expo Will Bring Comedians From Around The Globe To Chicago This Weekend

The World Comedy Expo will feature 27 shows at Laugh Factory, the Annoyance Theatre, The Den, UP Comedy Club and Donny's Skybox at the Second City.

The Laugh Factory
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CHICAGO — More than 170 comedians will converge on Chicago this weekend for the inaugural World Comedy Expo.

The three-day comedy festival runs Friday-Sunday, featuring 27 sketch, improv and stand-up comedy shows across five venues, said Kerry Sheehan, co-founder and business director of the expo. Venues are the Laugh Factory and Annoyance Theatre in Lakeview, the Den in Wicker Park and UP Comedy Club and Donny’s Skybox at the Second City in Old Town.

“Comedy in Chicago is so important, and I’m really excited that we’re setting the stage for the world to see that Chicago truly is a major center of comedy in the world,” Sheehan said. “We really want to show the world what Chicago comedy is all about, and then we’re also welcoming comedians from around the world to show us what they’ve got.”

Tickets cost $20 per show and are available on the World Comedy Expo’s website.

Credit: Provided
Kerry Sheehan, co-founder and business director of the World Comedy Expo.

The team behind the World Comedy Expo received more than 300 submissions from artists wanting to be featured, Sheehan said. That was whittled down to the 174 artists booked for the festival. They come from 18 countries, including China, Rwanda, India, Ecuador, Canada, Italy, Thailand, Japan and Mexico.

About half of the fest’s 27 shows will be stand-up shows featuring a host and short sets, Sheehan said. The other half will feature improv and sketch ensemble performances.

“It’s going to be super diverse as far as comedic styles, and the people that we have coming in are coming in from all over the U.S. and many international cities,” Sheehan said. “We have tons of different cultures and religions represented, and I think it’s going to make for some really interesting shows because everything will be so different from the show right before it.”

The expo will also feature a lineup of comedy-focused panels and workshops for artists to perfect their craft, Sheehan said.

The first panel is 5 p.m. Friday at the Den, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave. It will be led by Saku Yanagawa, festival co-founder and artistic director, and discuss the ins and outs of the international comedy circuit. Audience members will learn how and where to get booked, adjusting their material for audiences and how to handle visas.

The second panel, happening 2 p.m. Sunday at The Annoyance Theatre, 851 W. Belmont Ave., will focus on the history of comedy in Chicago. Hosted by long-time Second City creative executives Anne Libera and Kelly Leonard, the panel will discuss Chicago’s expansive comedy scene and share stories about icons, including Bob Newhart, Bernie Mac, Bill Murray, Joan Rivers, Tina Fey and Stephen Colbert, organizers said.

There will also be four comedy workshops Saturday and Sunday offering lessons on improv comedy, joke-writing, improv for stand-up comedians and professional headshots, organizers said.

Sheehan said the festival will be a great networking opportunity for comedians at various points in their careers.

“You’re going to see a real range of folks, so you’ll see some people for whom this might be their first festival, and we just really loved them and their submission,” Sheehan said. “And you might see people who do this all the time and are performing every single night. It’s going to be a great weekend.”

Jake Wittich is a Report for America corps member covering Lakeview, Lincoln Park and LGBTQ communities across the city for Block Club Chicago.

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