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Feel the love at DePaul's queer comedy showcase

February 13, 2013|By Erin Vogel @eringejuice | For RedEye

Valentine's Day can be totally awesome, totally depressing or totally hilarious, depending on your relationship status and/or attitude.

Several of Chicago's best known queer comedians are choosing to laugh in the face of love in "Cupid's Queer Comedy Show" at DePaul University on Wednesday night.

The lineup includes Candy Lawrence, Ever Mainard, Joel Kim Booster and Bill Cruz and was handpicked by Caitlin Bergh, who will also be performing Wednesday. Bergh has received a lot of attention in the last week from publications like the Chicago Reader, AfterEllen.com and Gaper's Block for her new one woman show, Chunks, which she is performing every Sunday night in February at Studio Be.

The 26-year-old comedian and Lincoln Lodge cast member came up with the idea to host a queer comedy show at a Chicago college after performing at the Ohio Lesbian Festival, when a few queer college students told Bergh after her set how much the show had meant to them.

Bergh said that even though people in Chicago have more access and exposure to LGBTQ resources than students in Ohio, there is still a lot that can be done to connect the city's colleges to Chicago's queer comedy scene. She hopes the show can be a launching point that will lead to similar events at other city colleges.

"We have so much talent in this city, and it's a shame that college kids don't get to come to a lot of shows that are 21 and over, so it's like, 'Why don't we just go to them?' "

Wednesday's show, sponsored by DePaul's LGBTQ student organization Spectrum DePaul, is the first time the organization has ever put on a comedy show. 

"I'm glad that DePaul could bring this to an audience who really seems to want it," said Spectrum co-president Jessica McGlory.

The show is also a unique opportunity to shine a spotlight on Chicago's queer comedy scene, which 25-year-old Ever Mainard said is growing.

"At first there was only a few gay comedians here and there, and now there's a good handful of us," said Mainard, who co-hosts a comedy showcase in Ukrainian Village called "The Shit Show." "It's kind of like how for a while it was weird to see women at an open mic, and now -- the gays are the new women of the comedy scene."

Mainard said she hopes the showcase can be an example for students who want to perform but don't know where to begin.

"I always knew I wanted to do comedy, but when I was younger, I didn't think it was possible," said Mainard, who moved to Chicago several years ago from a small town in Texas to pursue comedy. "I didn't understand how these people got on TV, or how they got where they did. If [students] have something they want to do and they think it's not attainable, I hope [the show] shows them that it is. You just have to take small steps."

Bergh, a former English major at Columbia University in New York City, has her own advice for college students interested in comedy or other less-than-traditional career paths: don't let your ideas of what you should be doing--or what your parents think you should be doing--with your life interfere with what you want to do.

"Honestly, the more you do that, the more you waste your own time," Bergh said. "I wasted a lot of time applying to law school, taking the LSAT, stuff like that. None of that stuff ever made me happy, and I didn't even end up doing it, so--if I had just done my own thing, I think I would have gotten here faster."

See Bergh, Mainard, and other up-and-comers in Chicago's queer comedy scene at 7 p.m. Wednesday at DePaul University's Student Center at 2250 N. Sheffield in the Brownstones Annex. The show is free (with a $5 suggested donation).

Erin Vogel is a RedEye special contributor.

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