“You guys, we’re all going to cry tonight, clap louder than that,” says Danielle Puterbaugh at a special “Entertaining Julia” at the Town Hall Pub on Sunday. She’s right. Tears will flow because we are all guests at a farewell show honoring Megan Gailey and Liza Treyger, two of the city’s best comedians who are both moving to New York this week.
But mostly we will cry tears of laughter because Chicago’s best stand-ups have assembled to rip these ladies to shreds. It’s an unadulterated night of comedy that’s not for the faint of heart.
The house is packed and the dais is impressive. Bill Cruz, Natalie Jose, Adam Burke, David Drake, Saurin Choksi and Matty Ryan (who arrives late) plus special guests Ricky Gonzalez, Marty DeRosa and Drew Michael file in.
The normally elastic smile on roast master Jeff Steinbrunner is curled into a villainous grin tonight. “We’re all of up here to say mean things and I don’t want to hear any groaning,” says Steinbrunner as he explains the rules. “If everyone groans we’re all going to think [comedian] Seth Davis is performing.” Steinbrunner pivots quickly to the dais. “Bill Cruz is fat, gay and Mexican. If you took that data and put it on a pie chart, he would eat the chart.” He similarly hits professorial-looking Adam Burke hard. “Adam, there’s an iPhone app that makes you look like a thousand-year-old Civil War soldier. For you it’s called a camera.” And lastly, “David Drake used to have a hippy vibe onstage. He’d wear a bandana, bike everywhere and he’d wear sandals that were more broken in than a Laugh Factory waitress.”
Cruz is next. “Matty Ryan is a great comic,” he says. “He’s done every room in Chicago. I’m sorry, I meant every mushroom in Chicago.” Nor does Cruz spare the women of the hour. “Liza Treyger has had to overcome a lot including prejudice, misogyny and color blindness. … I assume that’s why you dress that bad.” But on a serious note: “I love these two so much. It’s sad when we lose two great female comics who have to overcome all the stereotypes about being a female comic … except the one about not being funny.”
The gloves come off when Natalie Jose hits the stage. To our host: “Jeff loves [dating app] Tinder,” she says. “Sadly you can’t swipe right on your father’s love … The only thing lower to the ground than Jeff’s self worth is Saurin Choksi.” Her slams of Treyger earn a tsunami of laughter mixed with applause: “The only thing worse than Ricky Gonzalez’s beard is his face without a beard. Ricky, it looks like you have no chin. Oh never mind, you gave it to Liza Treyger.” And lest you think she’ll spare Gailey: “Megan looks like [Little Mermaid’s] Ariel until she takes her Spanx off and then she looks like Ursula.”
Jose receives her comeuppance when Burke hits the stage. “As many of you know, Natalie Jose does an amazing Patsy Cline impersonation. It’s uncanny. She’s exactly as unfunny as Patsy Cline. Natalie will have a great comeback for that just as soon as I write one for her.” It’s his putdown of the Puterbaughs and their long sets, however, that earns an applause. “If the Puterbaugh sisters were men, they would get everyone pregnant because they never know when to wrap it up.”
Saurin Choksi takes a few clever swipes and Gailey and then Treyger. “Let’s stop talking about Megan and move on to Liza, which is what most people in the comedy industry have decided to do.”
Drew Michael says to gay comedian Cruz: “Bill looks like the poster boy for the It Gets Worse campaign. Bill Cruz, when you go to a gay pride parade people start joining the Westboro Baptist Church.”
Marty DeRosa has something worth bragging about. He arrives at Town Hall Pub fresh from a gig opening for Comedy Central Roastmaster Jeff Ross. The icy barbs must’ve rubbed off. “Liza says if you take off your underwear at the end of the day and there’s sand in it, you had a good day. Megan says if you take your bra off and there is sprinkles on it you had a good day. I say if you wake up and either of their bras or underwear are on your floor you had a crappy night.”
Of course, the women of the hour get to hit back. “Matty Ryan is as honest with his girlfriends as Jeff Steinbrunner is with his sexuality,” says Treyger, and “It’s sad that Marty DeRosa’s dad hasn’t been to a single one of his standup shows, but this makes his dad the luckiest person alive.”
Adds Gailey, “This has been our favorite ‘Entertaining Julia’ because it’s only been once that the Puterbaughs have been onstage.” Also, “I really do love Bill Cruz. It’s sad to me that he’s one bad meal away from being in a motorized wheelchair.”
Impressively, the comics takes every putdown in stride. I’m less certain they’re dealing with the imminent loss of both Gailey and Treyger as well. Two of the city’s funniest stand ups are soon to be property of NYC. I don’t think they’ve even left Chicago just yet, but already we miss them.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun