Seven Acts to Catch at TBS Just For Laughs

The events this week are full of famous comedians, but there are some acts to laugh at before they hit the bigtime.

Photograph Courtesy of TBS Just For Laughs

You have until Sunday to go out and laugh your belly sore at Chicago-centric comedy fest Just For Laughs, in its fifth year running.

The show has a smattering of famous funny people, like Russell Brand (Chicago Theatre, June 12 at 7:30), Parks and Recreation and Portlandia writer Chelsea Peretti (Stage 773 The Pro, June 13-15), Saturday Night Live icon Seth Myers (Chicago Theatre, June 14 at 7:30), and the Tobias Fünke real-deal David Cross & His Super Duper Pals (Chicago Theatre, June 13 at 7:30).

While the big guns are generating a lot of buzz, there are also plenty of under-the-radar comedians who are just as fun. Here’s a few you should catch before they hit it big. 

iO Theater Presents TJ & Dave
Tonight at 7 p.m., Stage 773 The Box
Although TJ Jagodowski and David Pasquesi are improv heroes among Chicagoans, most tourists likely don’t know their names. The iO vets walk onto a stage without a script and proceed to build an entire social universe in a long-form improv show touted by The New York Times as “an impressive feat of mental athletics.”
 

The Annoyance Theater Presents Messing With a Friend
June 12 at 9:30 p.m., Stage 773 The Box
Longtime Chicagoan and improv master Susan Messing will bring a lucky guest on a sure-to-be-awkward ride. Messing With a Friend is in its fifth year. If you miss this show Messing also performs every Thursday at the Annoyance.
 

Anjelah Johnson
June 12 at 7:30 p.m., The Vic Theatre
Who would’ve guessed that an Oakland Raiders cheerleader could be capable of an Internet sensation like “Nail Salon?” Good thing she switched entertainment paths, because MADtv was impressed enough to cast her as Bon Qui Qui.
 

@dadboner and Friends, You Guys
June 12-13 at 10 p.m., Stage 773 The Thrust
With a Twitter handle like @dadboner, Mike Burns is destined for provocative stage banter. A sample tweet: “Starbucks acts like they’re so fancy. You sell hot black water and muffins. Calm down.”
 

Double Threat: Kumail Nanjiani & Friend
June 13-15 at 10 p.m., Stage 773 The Pro
Kumail Nanjiani’s stand-up docket includes Conan, Letterman, Fallon, Kimmel and even John Oliver’s New York Stand-Up Show. Look out for his voice as Dave the Demon in Hell & Back.
 

Knuckleheads
June 13 at 10:30 p.m., June 14 at 8 and 11 p.m., June 15 at 8 and 11 p.m., UP Comedy Club
A trio of the freshest SNL faces (Tim Robinson, Oak Park-raised Cecily Strong and Aidy Bryant) brings sketch and improv to the stage.
 

Bob Newhart Live
June 15 at 7 p.m., The Chicago Theatre
Chicago native Bob Newhart has been globe-trotting as a laugh factory for 52 years and counting. He’s an Emmy and Peabody winner for The Bob Newhart Variety Show, repeat host on The Tonight Show (try 87 times), and New York Times bestseller.

Tickets start at $15.
 

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