CHICAGO TBS returned to Chicago last week to present Just for Laughs, a comedy festival that originated in Canada and expanded to the States last year. Over the course of five days, more than 100 comedians performed in 17 venues throughout the city and suburbs—and finding those venues kept planners on their toes.
After the event's inaugural run, “there wasn't much that we wanted to change this year,” said Christine Melko Ross, the festival's vice president of operations and business affairs. “If anything, we wanted to expand, which we did,” by adding five venues and several more shows to the lineup. Then, in the final stages of the planning process, two of the selected venues shut down.
“The Lakeshore and Mercury theaters closing brought some challenges to bear, but we sorted through it,” said Dennis Adamovich, senior vice president of brand and digital activation and general manager of festivals for TBS. “Chicago has a lot of great performance venues.”
Planners ultimately booked two new spots—Mayne Stage and the Red Bar Comedy Club—to replace the shuttered rooms. “They're beautiful spaces, and they worked really well for us,” Melko Ross said. “And hopefully, the festival helped bring them a little bit of buzz.”
On Friday, a severe thunderstorm broke out. Though all the performances were scheduled to take place indoors, the weather still presented a logistical hurdle. “We had artists who were coming in on planes,” Melko Ross said. “Jerry Seinfeld's plane got grounded in South Bend, Indiana, and Greg Giraldo, who was slated to perform at the Park West that night, got stuck in New York.” Organizers shuffled the programming around, and all scheduled performances eventually took place.