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New improv fest A Jangleheart Circus debuts Aug. 22-24

400 improv comics perform at the inaugural A Jangleheart Circus

  • All of Our Feelings at Once is one of the dozens of acts scheduled to perform at new improv comedy festival A Jangleheart Circus
All of Our Feelings at Once is one of the dozens of acts scheduled to perform…
August 19, 2013|By Julia Borcherts, @JuliaBorcherts | For RedEye

With summer's biggest three-day music fests, Lolla and Pitchfork, behind us, it's time to clear your calendar for a new three-day adventure.

Welcome to A Jangleheart Circus, which kicks off Thursday with 95 acts and more than 400 performers playing on three stages simultaneously, music festival-style. Its creators—Alex Honnet, Walt Delaney and Caitlin Stephan—have been producing small-scale shows in Upstairs Gallery, their Andersonville space, since 2010.

"We wanted to just take all those people who are so talented and so driven and so creative and put it on a bigger stage and give other people the chance to experience this and understand why it's so addictive," said Stephan.

In true music-festival style, a one-price pass grants admission to the entire night's entertainment so you can wander back and forth between shows. And although the vibe is relaxed, the organizers took a professional approach to lining up the entertainment.

"This is a curated festival versus just an 'anything goes' festival," said Honnet. Delaney agreed. "The strength of the festival is that we either have seen or know every team who's going up—even the out-of-town teams, we've watched their submission tapes," he said. "This schedule has really been crafted with care and intention. I could recommend every show in every slot on every night, just 'cause they're all great."

But try as you might, you can't see them all. To help you navigate, we asked each organizer to highlight acts that showcase different aspects of the festival's diversity.

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A Jangleheart Circus

Go: 7 p.m.-1 a.m. Thursday-Saturday at The Den Theatre, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave.

Tickets: $20 per day or $50 per three-day pass. 773-609-2336; jangleheartcircus.com
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THURSDAY

Alex: Ed and Kath, 7 p.m. "Katie Klein and Neil Jacobsen substitute the honesty typical in [a 'couples' improv] show with an eye to the fantastic and ridiculous. By the end, you've been completely transplanted into the world of the fictional couple, 'Ed and Kath.'"

Caitlin: Ladies Love Upstairs Gallery (LLUG), 8 p.m. "LLUG was my first foray into producing. I started it as a showcase of ladies in the comedy scene, but I didn't want it to be pretentious in any way. The show always has a silly theme that encourages dressing up. We're going with a circus theme this time around, of course."

Walt: Spend Some Time With Jamison Webb, 11:30 p.m. "Jamison [tries] to create the most self-indulgent one-man show possible. Past shows have included 'Edward Snowden: I've Seen the World But it Hasn't Seen Me!' unveiling his new pick-up artist persona and his failed attempt to crown himself the King of Social Media."


FRIDAY

Walt: Rainbow Deli, 8:30 p.m. "Rainbow Deli is a house team at Chemically Imbalanced Comedy and in my opinion the best improv team in Chicago. Every time I see them, I leave the theater feeling like I just witnessed something special."

Caitlin: The Great Show on Earth, 10 p.m. "This [Austin, Texas group] sticks out in my memory from the submission videos. We had gorged ourselves on pizza, were crowded into a hot room [and] had reached our breaking point [watching videos]. But then these idiots emerged singing goofy songs, totally schmoozing their audience and wearing all these different hats. I can't wait to see what they have planned for us."

Alex: The Living Room, 10 p.m. "[This is] the famous improv form devised at iO in the '90s that relies on casual conversation to inspire improvised scenes. I got to put together some of my favorite performers in the city for this one."


SATURDAY

Caitlin: Cook County Social Club, Eisbar and All of Our Feelings at Once, 8 p.m. "Eisbar and All of Our Feelings at Once are going up against Cook County Social Club, which is going to be tough. But both are so, so good. Eisbar always opens their set with some interpretive dance that immediately gets you hooked. All of Our Feelings at Once [is] a fun, off-the-wall variety show that will definitely have you singing during their lip-synched, synchronized dance party."

Alex: Hot Horny Bull[bleep] and Hunkz R Us, 9 p.m. "Hot Horny Bull[bleep] is the brainchild of L.A.-based comedian and [former Chicagoan] Wes Haney, [who brings] some of his favorite L.A. performers to Jangleheart. Hunkz R Us is an Upstairs Gallery house team composed of three of the most unique, hilarious comedic minds in the city (probably the country). This should be a blockbuster."

Walt: Sick Adventure, 11:59 p.m. "Sick Adventure is actually the first show the Upstairs Gallery ever put up. We pick improvisers who we love from around the city [who do not know each other] and make a mash-up/Frankenstein team with them."

Julia Borcherts is a RedEye special contributor. redeye@tribune.com | @redeyechicago

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