OFFBEAT: Funny females take centerstage this weekend at Stage 773

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2014-06-06T00:00:00Z OFFBEAT: Funny females take centerstage this weekend at Stage 773By Philip Potempa, (219) 852-4327

Stage 773 director of operations Jill Valentine knows plenty about the business of being funny.

Valentine, along with co-producer Liz McArthur are the minds behind the third annual Chicago Women's Funny Festival, which started Thursday and continues through Sunday at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont.

The Chicago Women's Funny Festival features all forms of comedy, including stand-up, sketch, solo, vaudeville, improvisational, and musical with comediennes from across the globe. The event packs more than 70 shows, 400 performers into four funny-filled days. The full schedule is posted at

Highlights abound from around the country for the weekend line-up including "Saturday Night Live" writer Katie Rich (who originally hails from Chicago's South Side); Beth Stelling (as seen on Conan O'Brien's shows and "Chelsea Lately;" Holly Laurent (veteran of The Second City Mainstage); Turkish native Aliye AJ; Canadian sensation Danz Altvater (Toronto); Chicago Sketchfest veteran groups Off Off Broadzway, The Cupid Players, The Puterbaugh Sisters, Feminine Gentlemen; Improv veterans Susan Messing and Rachel Mason in The Boys; Improv by Sirens, Stacked: Musical Improv; Shannon DeVido (Penn.), Sri Lankan-Canadian artist Sandi Rankaduwa (Nova Scotia); Kasha Patel (DC); Kenice Mobley and Jamie Loftus of (Mass.) and Holly Lynnea (Ky).

"We like to offer something for everyone," said Valentine, who also hails from Chicago's South Side.

"Growing up, I had a funny family and I learned early on that there are so many different styles of humor and being funny. Lucille Ball was one of our household heroes."

Stage 773 will also offer workshops during the festival this year including "Sit-down with Stelling" with stand-up comic and actress Beth Stelling, and "Advanced LongForm" with "SNL" writer Rich, both on Saturday. For artists looking to break into the business, Paonessa Talent agent Marisa Paonessa is hosting "Getting Started in the Business"from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Sunday. For more information on the workshops or to purchase tickets, visit

Chicago Women's Funny Festival was founded in 2012 when producers Valentine and McArthur wanted to build a comedy festival where women could come together and celebrate all forms of comedy under one roof. The first festival boasted 66 shows and 400 performers in five days. Women's Fest also hosted events throughout the week where women from across the country could come together, network and more importantly, see each other's work.

Tickets range from $14-$15 at or (773) 327-5252, and in person at the Stage 773 box office.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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