LAKEVIEW — A burlesque show featuring Princess Leia? An improvised stage version of "Star Trek"?
Yes and yes — the nerdiest comics in town will be performing both at Stage 773's first annual Chicago Nerd Comedy Festival at the end of the month, including burlesque group Plan 9, who strip down from nerdy costumes like Princess Leia, and an improv group that focuses on "Star Trek."
Apparently, Chicago is filled with sketch groups, improv groups and stand-ups who love to talk nerdy, and festival organizer Katie Johnston-Smith wanted to rally them all up.
Johnston-Smith herself is performer and self-declared nerd who loves things like comic books and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" creator Joss Whedon. She was made fun of as a child, and other comics have often suffered in the same way, she said.
"To do comedy, you had to have some sort of tortured past to be good at it," Johnston-Smith said. "A lot of people were teased and stuff, like for watching 'Power Rangers' far into their teens like I was."
So what exactly is nerd comedy? It's a bit niche — like sketches with "Battlestar Galactica" references — but general enough for any Chicagoan to laugh at, Johnston-Smith said.
Sketch group The Nerdologues, for example, has performed a show that mimicked the journey in the fantasy story of "Lord of the Rings." But instead of a straight copy, performers journey from Wrigley Field to U.S. Cellular Field to keep Wrigleyville from taking over all of Chicago, she said.
"Even if you didn’t know a lot of 'Lord of the Rings', you would have found it funny because they were ripping on Wrigleyville and the Cubs versus the Sox," Johnston-Smith said.
The festival runs from May 30 to June 1 and features 16 different acts at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave. Tickets cost $10 and are already on sale for individual shows.
After the Friday shows, Stage 773 will host a free event where attendees play a drinking game along to "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog," and after the Saturday's shows, it will host a cosplay dance party, where people dress up as comic book characters.
Nerdiness and shared suffering brings comics together, Johnston-Smith said.
"We're cool now," she said. "We do comedy. And we're going to do it about the thing we love the most."