Wednesday is hump day for the American working stiff, but the Just For Laughs Chicago comedy festival is just getting into gear.
Here are my picks from tonight's busy slate of national and local acts:
Moshe Kasher, Stage 773 — The Pro, 7pm (also Thu 7pm). Some standups write unusual material; others are themselves unusual. Although he works as a writer on NBC's The New Normal, Mr. Kasher is anything but. His well-regarded memoir Kasher in the Rye, documenting his struggles with incarceration, mental illness and drug addiction, hints at the different path he's walked. More to the point of tonight's standup exercise, he's funny.
Second City Alumni, UP Comedy Club, 8pm. Improvisation in the hands of lesser talent carries a notoriously spotty success rate. But left to the professionals, it's at least as good as sketch: anything can happen and often does, and more thrillingly as it unfolds live. Few practitioners are as able as this fine quartet of alums from Chicago's venerable Second City comedy theater: Kevin Dorff (Conan), Scott Adsit (30 Rock), T.J. Jagodowski (those beloved Sonic commercials) and David Pasquesi (Boss).
The Todd Barry Podcast, Stage 773 — The Cabaret, 8:30pm. Todd Barry's sense of humor is so dry, you could moisten it in a sealed bag of rice and talcum powder. The seasoned veteran of high quality television (The Larry Sanders Show, Dr. Katz) brings a withering, world-weary sensibility that would be dispiriting if it didn't inform his first-rate material and patient, dead-on crowd work. Tonight's podcast features special guests John Hodgman, Brendon Walsh and Vanessa Fraction; Barry also performs standup Fri-Sat at 10pm, Stage 773.