Three years ago, Rebecca O’Neal was a fresh face on the Chicago comedy scene looking for a new open mike. What she came across instead was a bookstore: Logan Square’s Uncharted Books, the owner of which was interested in hosting a show. So she called up some of her funniest friends, and the monthly stand-up showcase Congrats on Your Success was born.
For this week’s three-year anniversary event, O’Neal and the rest of the show’s producers (Bill Bullock, Justin Covington, Sonia Denis, Odinaka Ezeokoli, and Charlie Rohrer) perform. There will also be free beer from Powell Brew House, as well as untold surprises. During the first anniversary, regulars in the audience got cheap champagne; last year’s affair included an audience roast.
“Our first two years we were really antic heavy,” O’Neal says. “We had flying sharks and giveaways of funny thrift-store T-shirts, trivia games, and birthday potatoes. We just like to have a good time and for our show to feel like a party.”
Past lineups have included Brian Babylon, Candy Lawrence, and Liza Treyger, with a different producer serving as host each month. Congrats stands apart from the typical open mike due to its home base away from the club scene and the organizers’ willingness to bring comedy into other unusual spaces around town: the showcase did a ten-week run last year at the Wicker Park sushi restaurant Runa Japanese, and it also sporadically hosts a series of pop-up shows called Fun & Dones, one of which took place, for instance, at a Logan Square hair salon.
“It’s just been really fun to experiment with stand-up shoehorned into weird spaces,” O’Neal says.