Monthly stand-up comedy show makes Evanston debut

Margaret Corn, Reporter

Move over, Stephen Colbert — a new batch of comedians will set out to make names for themselves in Evanston.

The monthly Quipster Comedy show — a stand-up series open to audience members of all ages — debuted Sunday night at The Celtic Knot, 626 Church St., and will take place the first Sunday of every month moving forward.

Chicago comedian Elaine Phillips said she created the show to fill a void in the stand-up comedy scene in Evanston. Although Northwestern’s student-run stand-up shows create a comedic hub on the campus itself, Phillips said she wanted to establish a scene in downtown Evanston for student comics to establish new connections.

“One of the things that’s helped me a lot as a comedian is meeting more people,” Phillips said. “This is a good way to meet some people that are working on comedy.”

Phillips said although Chicago is known for its improv comedy through Second City and the iO Theater, it has pushed stand-up into the shadows.

“The stand-up scene plays second fiddle to improv,” she said.

Phillips also said the broader Chicago comedy scene has a gender imbalance, with more women performers gravitating toward improv than stand-up.

“Women who are attracted to comedy seem to go more for improv than comedic acting,” she said. “Stand-up is a tradition that … has a reputation that to do it, you have to be tough to do it.”

With these ideas in mind, Phillips said she hopes to promote diversity in both the show’s content and its performers.

Elaine Kemna-Irish, executive director of the Evanston Chamber of Commerce, said this will likely be the first stand-up show in Evanston.

“We have a strong community with fine arts and painting,” she said. “There’s just such a strong emphasis on music and the fine arts that the idea of having a stand-up comedian has probably never come up.”

Connor King, one of the comedians in the inaugural show, said the show can give NU students an academic break and a chance for them to explore comedy beyond the confines of the campus.

“It’s a great opportunity for NU students to see a stand-up opportunity for free,” he said.

Prateek Srivastava, who also performed Sunday, said the show will serve to expose Evanston to the Chicago comedy scene.

“Some of those people might not be aware of the scene, and by it being near Northwestern, you’re exposing more people to that scene,” he said.

Srivastava said he fell in love with comedy after making a personal connection at a show and hopes NU students can discover their love for comedy in a similar way.

“Maybe they will be interested in comedy afterward the same way (I was after) somebody spoke with me,” he said.

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