By Matt Byrne. Byrne is a freelance writer based in Chicago, IL. He runs The Steamroller, a blog about the alt/not shitty comedy scene.
Yes Hello! Funny Human time! This week: four humans for price of one! Let’s get one thing straight: my blog and a performance space called The Upstairs Gallery that’s based here in Chicago collaborate on a monthly show at The Den Theatre, a different venue in a different part of Chicago.
At this past weekend’s show, we featured four young men who are a part of the Wham City collective, a gang of Baltimore-based artists, musicians, and comedians: Alan Resnick, Ben O’Brien, Robby Rackleff, and Mickey Freedland. They’re currently touring the U.S. and Canada, and you should make a point to see them, as they’re super funny and doing DIY comedy like few others.
Wham City Comedy honcho Ben O’Brien hosted the performance, held down all things tech, and closed out the night with a polished standup set. He also happens to be a filmmaker, and his most recent work is a music video for Wye Oak’s new single “The Tower” from their very, very good new record Shriek. RIYL: old Hollywood musicals, facepaint, and synthpop.
Ben also posts screenshots of cell phone screens in movies and TV to a Tumblr called Reading Palms. I promise it’s way more interesting than I just made it sound!
Mickey Freeland, the first featured performer, is a standup comic with a laid-back, charming perspective that helps ease the audience into the weird waters of Wham City comedy. Here’s a clip from a set he performed with the collective last year!
Robby Rackleoff read a horrifying Simpsons spec script that I’m not going to tell you anything about because you should see/hear it for yourself (and you should definitely see these guys is what I’m saying). Robby’s also a very talented video artist, and he’s got a real knack for conjuring Lynchian unease with little more than a green screen and endless eye contact with the camera.
One of my favorite parts of the show, hands down, was a one-man-play performed by Alan Resnick entitled A Life Online, wherein he discussed his many experiences with his best friend, the human personification of the internet. It was insane in this sort of self-consciously high concept way, reminding me of the straightfaced absurdity that I loved about the wildly underappreciated Eagleheart.
I’ll leave you with this excellent short infomercial starring a similarly confident, unhinged Alan, Live Forever As You Are Now, which aired a few months ago on Adult Swim and explores the horrific world of transhumanism!
Wham City Comedy will stop through New York on Wednesday, April 30th, and D.C. on Saturday, May 3rd. You should go if you live around there!