Piffcast: Summer Goals, Second City and Martin Morrow

Standup Comedian, writer, and Second City actor Martin Morrow (Why? with Hannibal Buress, Last Comic Standing) joins the show. Martin talks about his journey in the Chicago comedy scene, how he applies his improv training to standup, writing sketches and jokes for sensitive audiences, and the effect social media has had on the industry. He also names his Second City “Mount Rushmore” and gives some advice for future professional comedians. (12:10 mark, if you want to jump ahead)

Meanwhile, Michael and TJ go through their goals for Summer. Plus what’s on TJ’s Spotify playlist, things Mike rationally and irrationally dislikes, and much more. It’s a good bit of fun.

Don’t forget to use Promo Code “Piffcast” for great deals when getting a ride with our new friends at Lyft

Follow for more on Facebook or Twitter. You can subscribe to The Piffcast on iTunes too.

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Piffcast: Chris Petlak and Jim Kozyra Kick Out ‘THE JAMZ’ on Netflix

The creators/writers/co-executive producers/stars of The Jamz, Chris Petlak and Jim Kozyra, join the show! We discuss how the workplace comedy came together, the New York Television Festival and Indie TV, influences for the show and characters, plus filming in and identifying with Chicago. Jim, Chris, TJ and I also hold a “Favorite Chicago-based Films and TV shows Draft”. You can let us know who won and also watch the show on Netflix, iTunes, Google Play, Amazon and XBOX. (23:17 mark, if you want to jump ahead)

Meanwhile, a congratulations is in order for TJ, spoiler-less reaction to Game of Thrones, superhero show rankings, and a preview of the upcoming Summer TV that we’re looking forward to.

Follow for more on Facebook or Twitter. You can subscribe to The Piffcast on iTunes too.

TV Character Madness: The Final Four

<< Previously on TV Madness

And then there were 4…

Swanson Don't Care

UPDATE: You chose who is heading to the Championship.

Matchup #61 (Comedy & Sidekicks)

(4) Ron Swanson – Parks and Recreation

vs.

(6) Daryl Dixon – The Walking Dead

 

Matchup #62 (Antiheroes & Heroes)

(2) Walter White – Breaking Bad

vs.

(1) Tyrion Lannister – Game of Thrones

 

Championship Voting begins Thursday, March 24th. 

Follow along for more on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Next on TV Madness >>

First Full Trailer For New ‘Ghostbusters’ is a Good Time

After a nice nod to the original four scientists who “saved New York” 30 years ago, we finally meet the new Ghostbusters.

At last, we have footage of Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones kicking ass in the jumpsuits…and ghosts doing nasty slimy things to them.

Your first thought may be, “who fits which roles from the original?” That seems easy with Abby Yates (McCarthy) filling in as Dan Aykroyd’s “Ray”, as he was considered the glue of the group. The rest seem to be their own characters though, with traits of the original Ghostbusters. Erin Gilbert (Wiig) is a physicist with Egon’s demeanor and some of Venkman’s humor. Jillian Holtzman (McKinnon) is the engineer, like Egon was, but also seems a bit quieter with a mix of Venkman’s and even Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy’s personality…meaning she’ll land some solid punchlines.

You can try to peg Patty Tolan (Jones) as Winston, but really it’s Leslie Jones being “Badass MF’n” Leslie Jones…slapping the silly out of everyone.

Also hey, Chris Hemsworth…

Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 10.19.14 AM

…who plays their secretary, Kevin. Kevin may be possessed in his scene. Also listed in the cast are Cecily Strong (Saturday Night Live), Michael Kenneth Williams (The Wire, Boardwalk Empire), Andy Garcia (The Untouchables, Ocean’s 11), Matt Walsh (Veep, Upright Citizens Brigade), Elizabeth Perkins (Big), and possibly some surprise cameos from the original cast.

The new Ghostbusters, directed by Paul Feig (Spy, Bridesmaids) will be in theaters July 15th, 2016.

For more, follow along on Facebook and Twitter!

NFL Bad Lip Reading 2016: Part I

“We’ll fight y’all on Tiger Mountain!”

The “Bad Lip Reading” guys are back in time for Super Bowl 50 and haven’t lost a step.

 

I wouldn’t be surprised if Jim Tomsula was actually saying those things…like most of the things said in the entire video.

Stay tuned to see when “Part II” is released, which will likely be as funny.

For more, follow along on Facebook or Twitter

December in Chicago: Things To Do To Make Winter Suck Less

Consider this a cognitive therapy session to help you feel better about the season that several of your friends and family have moved away from. If you still live here after the past two winters, congratulations…you’re a midwesterner. You grew up with 4 seasons, strapped on your snow pants, found creative ways to de-ice your windshield because you forgot your scraper, and you haven’t been stomped by AT-ATs on State Street…yet.

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I personally like snow and I know I’m not alone. I also don’t mind a trip somewhere warm in order to endure it with a tan, but I take pride in where I’m from and love that I can appreciate the other 3 seasons because of Winters here. You also get an awesome and natural excuse to stay in and binge watch Netflix shows with a glass of some-something.

So before posting your super cliche “ugh, Chicago Winter. Get me out of here” Facebook status, turn up 93.9 on your radio for 24/7 holiday tunes and consider some proactive options that you can’t get most places.

Lincoln Park Zoo Lights

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Lions, Tigers, and beers…oh my!

You read that right. Along with a whole calendar of events, you can peruse the zoo with beers (and maybe Bears) or other adult beverages as the whole place gets lit up like you’ve never seen before. It’s free to enter, as always, and there’s a number of activities to partake in including rides, crafts, and seeing Santa. There are a few dates to mark on the calendar as well.

12/2 BrewLights

12/10 Adults Night Out

12/14, 12/21, 12/28 Family Nights

1/3 Last Day

 

Comedy Shows

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Want to know a great way to stay warm in Chicago? Laughing. Where better to do that than in a tiny cramped venue, brushing shoulders with the table next to you, sipping on a rum and something, and then forgetting it all with belly laugh after belly laugh.

Dave Chappelle is in the middle of a 6 day residency at Thalia Hall, Dec. 1 – 6, but good luck getting tickets for that. All 12 shows were sold out, but MAYBE a ticket or 2 will show up on StubHub. Meanwhile, you and your rowdy friends can check out any of the following clubs for standup shows:

Chicago Improv (in Schaumburg)

Laugh Factory (on Broadway)

Zanies (Chicago, St. Charles and Rosemont)

Beat Kitchen (on Belmont)

Or you can get literally spontaneous comedy at any of the improv institutions that helped put Chicago on the map in show business like Second City, iO or Comedy Sportz.

Last, but not least, John Oliver is performing at the Chicago Theater December 30th and 31st. Maybe don’t miss that.

Christkindlmarket

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I’m sure you’ve heard of it but in case you’ve never been, head over to Daley Plaza at Clark and Washington to see for yourself. The tradition began in Nuremberg, Germany in 1545 and was brought to Chicago in 1996. It’s considered the largest open-air Christmas festival in the city, but my favorite part is the mug of hot wine that I can mosey about with.

It’s open till Dec. 24th, so get over as soon as you can.

 

Marshall Fields

(Nobody wants to call it Macy’s this time of year)

Screen Shot 2015-12-02 at 10.48.19 AM

This is Christmas nostalgia at it’s finest for most of us who grew up around Chicago. Winter break from school, Mom and Dad have some last minute shopping and your family from New York is in town…where do you head to? State Street, that great street, to see the windows at Marshall Fields.

Every year there’s a different story being told around the building, and people of all ages can’t wait to see what’s next. Inside, on the 7th floor is another sight to behold. The Walnut Room has been a Chicago tradition since 1907.

Walnut Room

 

Star Wars (Chicago Style)

If the pre-sale numbers and the marketing haven’t already told you, people are excited for Star Wars. So how can you best celebrate the release of Episode 7?

The Whistler in Logan Square will be transforming their bar into the Mos Eisley Cantina on December 16th. There will be local musicians on hand as the house band from A New Hope and the cocktail menu will be overhauled with galactic themed beverages.

Mos Eisley

Then there’s Adler After Dark the next evening, December 17th, as the Adler Planetarium will be hosting a Force Awakens party unlike any.

  • Star Wars Trivia
  • A screening of Space Balls 
  • Star Wars-inspired beer from Empirical Brewing
  • Lightsaber Combat Workshop!
  • human-robot interactives from the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

The Force is strong, yes?

 

Sauced Night Market

Sauced Night Emporium

It’s a roving night market, self-described as being “dedicated to emerging culinarians, artists and that guy from high school who’s a DJ now – an evening of food, art and debauchery set to the tune of “Hypnotize”. Intrigued? Sure you are.

December 15th, SAUCED will be at Emporium Arcade Bar in Logan Square for your not-yet-last-minute holiday shopping, great food from Chicago vendors, and craft beer. It sounds way too interesting to pass up.

 

One Of A Kind Show

Screen Shot 2015-12-02 at 12.11.08 PM

Love art or just any alternative to retail? This is for you. From December 3rd – 6th, 600 artists from across North America will be at the Merchandise Mart on Orleans with every kind of handmade creation you can think of.

Accessories, ceramics, sculptures, furniture, photography, paintings, glass, jewelry, fashion, etc. And here’s the show schedule:

Thursday, December 3    11am-8pm
Friday, December 4         11am-8pm
Saturday, December 5     10am-7pm
Sunday, December 6       10am-5pm

All the One Of A Kind Show info is here.

 

Topgolf

Nighttime Tee Line Golfer

(Naperville & Wood Dale)

 

I find it funny that there are still people around Chicago who haven’t caught on to Topgolf. It’s the grownup version of Chuck E. Cheese, Enchanted Castle, Leaps & Bounds, or whatever kids amusement place you used to frequent when you were younger.

It’s golf meets bowling, where each individual ball you hit has a chip inside and you aim for targets to score points against your friends. Full bar, great food, multiple monitors to watch sports, parties every night…and you it’s open year round with plenty of heat.

I actually went with my dad on the coldest of year and it was an absolute blast. Here’s proof.

FullSizeRender

If you have anymore recommendations to make December better, please pass them along on Facebook or Twitter

I Think I Have To Break Up With Saturday Night Live

My relationship with Saturday Night Live is at the point where I need to delete their number, block them on all forms of social media, and cringe whenever their name comes up in conversation.

I loved SNL. Not L-U-V. Not loosely. I had genuine affection for a sketch show that I could bond over with my dad, laugh about with my friends, and break the ice with strangers by referencing classic characters and lines. When have you been able to do that with this current cast? Kate McKinnon’s “Hillary Clinton” maybe, and then what? Another sour-faced Taran Killam creation?

Rather than develop memorable characters or be funny anymore, this current brand of SNL is all about what’s trendy and what might be viral the next day. Social media practically wrote last Saturday’s “Larry David as Bernie Sanders” cold open on the night of the Democratic Debate.

Then host Tracy Morgan was reunited with his 30 Rock cast mates for his monologue. That was terrific! Understanding how far Morgan has come since his near fatal bus accident over a year ago, it was a special moment for him and his fans. What was note-worthy after the monologue though? I changed the channel two sketches later when the writers were resorting to poop jokes and more cutaways to awkward Keenan Thompson reactions.

It’s not the Saturday Night Live I grew up with. Being a kid in the 90’s, I had Wayne’s World, Operaman, Matt Foley, and yes, Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer. Characters like that made me so interested in the past and all the superstars that were produced from the show like John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy and Gilda Radner. That all made me romanticize about Second City in Chicago and how I could eventually see performers there show up on NBC every Saturday nights.

Outside of McKinnon and maybe Pete Davidson, there’s nobody in the current cast that makes me excited for what they can do after Saturday Night Live. There isn’t a Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Bill Hader or Kristen Wiig. You couldn’t pay me to suffer through another Kyle Mooney “I’m a nervous kid giving a high school presentation” bit. I’m sure Cecily Strong, Aidy Bryant, and Vanessa Bayer will do fine in complimentary roles in the future, but I’m not tuning in or buying a movie ticket because of them. And Jay Pharoah’s impressions have gone from “wow, that’s dead on,” to “oh look, it’s Jay Pharoah as Jay Pharoah trying to be someone else.”

You also know it’s not your kind of show anymore when saying something critical about SNL on Twitter turns into having to block every One-Directioner, Belieber, and Demi Lovato fan that lives-and-dies by things like that, and wants you to know it. That’s right. SNL is the Justin Bieber of television. They make headlines over quality for ratings. Choosing Miley Cyrus to host your season premiere and to give Donald Trump an entire episode is more than enough proof of that. I certainly don’t plan on watching the Trump episode, but I would find some comfort in reading the next morning that musical guest Sia went Sinead O’Connor on a photo of him.

The 40th Anniversary Special last winter was everything. I hadn’t laughed that hard in years, thanks to the Celebrity Jeopardy reprisal, Bill Murray singing, and Wayne Campbell telling Kanye to sit down. They played the hits, just like you’d want to hear at classic rock band’s concert. There were clips of sketches that have lasted over four decades, and hardly anything from the current cast. It was great. It also reminded me that any of the better moments on the show recently had to do with a former cast member making a surprise appearance or hosting…and that Colin Jost still sucks.

Rather than waste more time on a Saturday evening or DVR space, I have to let SNL go. The fact I felt compelled to write over 700 words on the topic is probably a pretty good reason to (and probably get some help as well). Maybe SNL will change for the better. Maybe it will be funny again. The healthier thing for me, and perhaps you, to do is to not wait and see.

Can you relate? Want to talk me off the ledge? Let me know on Twitter and Facebook.