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Chicago Nerd Comedy Festival Delightfully Dorky

By Marielle Shaw in Arts & Entertainment on Mar 26, 2014 9:45PM

What were we expecting when headed to Stage 773 this past Saturday night to partake in the last night of the Chicago Nerd Comedy Festival? Well…we definitely expected laughs. We wanted it to be as much comedy as it was nerdery. To that point, we wanted nerdery of all flavors, from Trek to Who to Buffy. And we wanted a venue that created the right atmosphere for such things.

The Festival delivered. Stage 773 was a perfect venue for the event, with a great bar stocked with local craft beers and special drinks for the night like the Mudder’s Milk for the Browncoats and the Tardis for the Whovians. The place itself has an eclectic, fun and funky vibe, and there were a few tables around if you wanted to camp and play games like Zombie Fluxx.

We were a bit sad to see that Sunday night wasn't heavily attended, but we felt like those there were amiable and fun to be around. We hit the 10 p.m. show to see The Nerdologues, a Chicago sketch group that did not fail us. We weren’t sure where they were headed at any point in the show, but we had a harrowing, horrifying and hilarious romp in the Hundred Acre Woods with a very different Pooh, a chat with a hip Al Gore, and some Power Rangers debates to fuel our giggle fits. In between those things, one of the group members, Mary Beth Smith, surprised us with a heartfelt monologue about her “reboot” and her coming to accept herself as a nerd that we thought should have gone out to an even larger audience. She talked about her time at a science academy, how it changed her and shaped her from one of the weird kids to one of the kids, and how she came to embrace her individual identity as a nerd and as a person. It wasn’t funny, and it wasn’t meant to be, but for anyone who’s ever felt different, weird or ostracized, it resonated.

We stayed for further festivities after that show, and were glad we did. The final event of the evening was Dr. Horrible’s Drink-A-Long Blog. It was a riot for anyone who knows the show and for those seeing it for the first time alike. A list of rules was posted, intermissions were given between acts for refills, and the crowd was left to shout, sing, and whinny. There were also contests in between the acts like the evil laugh contest for the ladies, and the tight T-shirt contest for the men, which got hilariously out of hand. Winners were given prizes from Cards Against Humanity, and a certain level of notoriety in the group.

The whole event had a familial feel we didn’t expect. We can’t say for sure if it was the smaller crowd or the overall tone of the event, but if we had to venture a guess we’d pick the former, not the latter. When we previewed this event, we mentioned that we thought that the festival organizers really understood their nerd brethren, and weren't just angling to cash in on the popularity of shows like Big Bang Theory. We’re happy to say we were right, and will definitely look forward to next year.