Comic Tim Barnes, 26, has made a name for himself in the city's stand-up community with his gently absurd humor ("The Cubs lost but the ball definitely won. Go, Ball go!"). He's also the host of the weekly interview/story podcast It's All True!, which serves as a peephole into Chicago's comedy, music, and performance scenes, complete with unfiltered greenroom banter and the anecdotal misadventures that eventually fuel live art (think Marc Maron's WTF meets The Moth). The show has moved from a basement to WBEZ to TouchVision TV in its two-year existence, and tonight, Barnes mounts his third live show at The Theater (1917 N. Elston Ave.), the 70- to 80–seat venue attached to the Cards Against Humanities' offices. Rapper ShowYouSuck, musician/writer Tim Kinsella, comedians the Puterbaugh sisters, and all-around web-celeb Felonious Munk will all appear tonight.
Pace-wise, the host expects something between a late-night show and variety hour (he cites W. Kamau Bell's lamented Totally Biased, a late-night comedy series that ran for one year on FX, as inspiration). As always, he will interview the guests before inviting them to spin personal, true stories with a pre-written "headline." Tickets are $10 and booze is BYO, and if you're lucky, your mug might end up on screen: Barnes will use the show to pilot a potential web series with TouchVision. Below, Barnes talks through what to expect from his guests and why he chose them.
"I've heard he can be kind of put off by formal interview situations," says Barnes of the musician who's released dozens of albums for groups such as Joan of Arc, Make Believe, Cap'n Jazz, Owls, and more. "His work with Cap'n Jazz is considered the Velvet Underground of emo, but he started that band in high school. He's a publisher now. So I want to talk about the evolution of his career." An added bonus: Today is Kinsella's birthday. "So we'll be talking about age."
The Puterbaugh Sisters
The comedy duo and sisters are on the cusp of a breakout (and a potential move out of Chicago), and Barnes has hounded them to do the show while he still can. "There are only three other sibling comedy acts I can think of," he says, "and that's super interesting to me. I think they're moving to New York or L.A. soon, so I'll talk with them about that. Also, just being females in comedy."
The Bellwood rapper is best known for his love of pizza (a frequent muse and the subject of five of his mixtapes)—an endlessly fascinating obsession to Barnes. "I've had him on the podcast before, and he has this niche focus… like, what? You're gonna write a whole song about pizza and nachos?" Of course, the host will get real with the rapper too. "I want to talk about creating music independently. I know Chance the Rapper makes a career of publishing songs on SoundCloud and not really selling his stuff. I want to know what that's like."
Fans can rarely keep up with this Stop it B! star, who at any given moment switches from comic to activist to TV personality to Nightly Show contributor. "Before I met him, I'd see him on Twitter," says Barnes. "I didn't necessarily know if he was a comedian or a social activist. That's something I want to talk to him about: Bridging activism with comedy. It's surreal and something I'm just starting to learn, but if you go to the South Side, he's a household name with people."
GO It's All True! tapes live at the theater at 1917 N. Elston Ave. at 7:30 p.m. $10