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Four Chicago Comedians Who Are About to Make It Big

These funny locals are all on the rise. And you can see them before they get huge at stand-up sets in Chicago this July.

Brian Babylon, Drew Michael, Megan Gailey, and Kellye Howard

Photography: (Babylon) Tim Klein; (Michael) Glenn Kaupert; (Gailey) Welsh Photography;
(Howard) Confessions Photography

From left: Brian Babylon, Drew Michael, Megan Gailey, and Kellye Howard

The Provocateur: Brian Babylon, 39

Bronzeville

A South Side comic with indie cred, Babylon is the rare standup who brings his ridiculous takes on Barack Obama and workplace race relations to all corners of the city.

Early warnings: He knew he was funny when his family would request his Captain Kirk impression and crack up every time.

London calling: At a gig in England, Babylon bombed bigtime when someone yelled, “You’re rubbish,” just six minutes into his set.

See him: July 17 at Netup Cafe in Bronzeville. Free. brianbabylon.com

 

The Tightrope Walker: Drew Michael, 28

Roscoe Village

The Deerfield native channels comedy legends such as Louis C.K. and Doug Stanhope by toeing the line between perversity and comedy. No topic—porn, rape—is off-limits.

Style of comedy: “Funny? Honest? I don’t fucking know. I talk about Hitler sometimes.”

On pushing envelopes: “I get some blowback when I try and humanize a pedophile, but then I advocate the legalization of bestiality and nobody cares.”

See him: Wednesdays at Timothy O’Toole’s in Streeterville in the showcase Comedians You Should Know. $10. comediansyoushouldknow.com

 

The Flirt: Megan Gailey, 27

Lake View

Gailey regales crowds with her sardonic take on being single in the city. Comedy Central recently named her a Chicago comic to watch.

Humble beginnings: “I had two brothers who were hilarious. The day they didn’t punch me when I came into the room, I thought I might have something good to offer.”

On heckling: One time Gailey lost it at a show and went “full-blown Carrie at the prom” on a loudmouth. She paid the price. “Once you get too mean, the audience is no longer on your side.”

See her: July 30 to August 4 at Zanies Comedy Club. $25. chicago.zanies.com

 

The Survivor: Kellye Howard, 31

Harvey, Illinois

This mother of two charms crowds by spinning tales of abuse and dysfunction into sidesplitting comedy. Recently Howard starred on the OWN reality series My Life Is a Joke.

Why she’ll crack you up: If comedy comes from tragedy, Howard’s got plenty of it. In her best bit she explores the complex nature of domestic violence in a heartbreakingly funny way.

Slogan: “Laughter takes the pain away.”

See her: July 20 at Jokes and Notes in Bronzeville. $15 to $20. jokesandnotes.com

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