Expectations were high when the fourth annual Oddball Comedy Festival rolled through Chicago, bringing a hilarious lineup of comedians to the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in Tinley Park. From the evening’s host, Jeff Ross (right) – who regularly roasted the crowd with his handy-dandy Roast Cam – to headliner John Mulaney, who grew up in Chicago and joked that The World Music Theatre had to change its name to the Hollywood Casino Amphitheater to be more “majestic,” the entire night was jam-packed with laughs. Among all the hilarity, Iliza Shlesinger and Cameron Esposito delivered two of the funniest sets of the night.
Esposito (above), who started out in Chicago, opened her set by reminiscing about the time she saw Destiny’s Child perform at the venue back when she was 16 years old – and Beyoncé was 16 years old – noting that that show was not the time she threw up on her shoes, “No, that was during the Counting Crows” concert. Last year, the comedian returned to Chicago to marry her partner in life and comedy, Rhea Butcher. The hilarious duo now star in the new Seeso series “Take My Wife,” and Esposito shared that the couple is weighing the pros and cons of having a baby.
“I believe our differences make us better,” Esposito said midway through her set before delivering a story that proved her theory perfectly. She went on to compliment the optimism and endurance of the people of Chicago saying, “It’s so hot in the summer, and so cold in the winter, and nobody leaves.”
Shlesinger was the only comedian daring enough to attempt long-form comedy during Chicago’s Oddball stop and she did so to perfection. After first introducing the audience to her “party goblin,” she quickly dived into her theory on why Las Vegas simply isn’t for women.
“The only thing Vegas is good for is that it gives us the right to dress like an absolute whore and nobody can say anything,” she joked. She went on to tell a hilarious tale of a pack of Bronx Bros hitting on a group of vacationing women that had a very different ending for ladies in their 20s vs. ladies in their 30s.
Shlesinger’s new stand-up special, “Iliza Shlesinger: Confirmed Kills,” which was filmed at The Vic Theatre, premieres on Netflix on Sept. 23. It is highly recommended that you mark your calendars for the occasion and experience her fearless, unique and physical brand of comedy for yourself.
Elsewhere at the Oddball Comedy Festival, Chicago’s-own Sebastian Maniscalco slayed the crowd with his disgust at everything from choreographed groomsmen dances to dinner parties, while “Chappelle’s Show” funnyman Donnell Rawlings proved to be an equal opportunity offender, hilariously skewering absolutely everyone with his take on topics including race, gender and sexual orientation. Tom Segura educated the ladies in the audience about the “Area 51” of a man, Tony Hinchcliffe explained how the movie offerings of 1994 prevented theater shootings, and Brian Regan confirmed that he is one of the best clean comedians in the business.
The Oddball Comedy Festival continues to travel across the country until it reaches its epic conclusion on Oct. 2 in Phoenix. Follow the festival on Twitter to stay up to date with all the hilarity.
All photos by Laurie Fanelli. Top: Cameron Esposito; Top Right: Jeff Ross; Bottom Right: Iliza Shlesinger.