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  • Angela Allyn

The Tragicomedy of Parenthood

Suburbanites no longer have to venture into Chicago for high quality comedy if the Laughing Academy’s latest offering is any indication: tucked into a strip mall in Glenview, the classy intimate BYOB space is fielding funny and poignant work as evidenced by the Father’s Day weekend offering by Chicago treasure Jimmy Carrane. Carrane revived his sold out one man show World’s Greatest Dad(?) for one weekend only and if you were lucky enough to score a ticket it was a beautiful night.

You know Carrane’s work, either because you have seen him at Annoyance or the IO, heard him on WBEZ or his podcast Improv Nerd or because you have been lucky enough to study improv with him. He is the deepest kind of clown: drawing laughs from the tragedies and foibles of deeply human urges, for love, for validation, for belonging. Here he juxtaposes becoming a first time dad at 52 with the death of his father, in a way that life never gives you just one thing to cope with. Carrane’s complex relationship with his dad and the dysfunctional way that his family dealt with the funeral (not to spoil anything, but cops were called) is hilarious and tragic. But he learned things (he refers often to his therapist) and has done the kind of deep work that allows his inner clown to evolve into a better parent than the one he was born with. It is a rich show full of deep laughs, and the kind of specificity that allows the story to intersect with an audience’s self recognition. He brings it all home in a strikingly resonant finale that is loving and sad and true. Carrane is a gifted storyteller, and this show is a life lesson for any age, and it is a marvelous evening of entertainment.

Opening for Carrane was Second City’s talented open mic emcee Laura Hugg who delighted with some new material that hit and warmed up the crowd with solid jokes about family and being vegan and recovery. Difficult childhoods can make good comedic material.

Check out Laughing Academy at, see Laura Hugg at one of her many regular gigs . And for all things Jimmy Carrane go to . Hopefully this show will come around again– don’t miss it when it does!

For more reviews go to

Photo by Jerry Shulman

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