AfterEllen brings the women together for a meet-up and comedy show in Chicago

AfterEllen brings the women together for a meet-up and comedy show this FridayBy Trish Bendix, Managing Editor at

The National Lesbian and Gay Journalist Association Convention is hitting Chicago this week, and, the largest site for lesbian, bisexual and queer women in pop culture, is hoping you’ll come to their party. The site is hosting a meet-up and comedy show this Friday, August 22 at Berlin Nightclub, with cocktails and conversation starting at 7 p.m., and an hour-long show at 8. There will be readings from AfterEllen editor Trish Bendix and writer Sarah Terez Rosenblum, as well as from Sarah Toce of The Seattle Lesbian, also a frequent Windy City Times contributor.

But the stars of the show are three comics who AfterEllen thinks are smart and funny, and comment on the queer experience in the best way: By being out on stage, and hilarious while doing so.

Rebecca O’Neal has been doing comedy for two and a half years and currently runs a monthly show at Logan Square’s Uncharted Books. Rebecca says her favorite moment in comedy thus far has involved AfterEllen, when she “accidentally [came] out to [her] mom” in an interview.

“AfterEllen wrote about me going to a comedy festival in Portland and my mom emailed me the link with one sentence: ‘I didn’t know you didn’t identify as straight,'” Rebecca said. “And the rest is history!”

Rebecca O'Neal

Rebecca O’Neal

Rebecca, whose influences include Robert Benchley and Paul F. Tomkins, said her identity is “a huge part” of her comedy.
“I get very personal on stage and I think I have a unique perspective as a fat, black, queer, female comedian,” she said. “Not many people have my point of view and that informs every joke I write.”

Similarly, Lianna Carrera thinks that being a lesbian “influences [her] perspective.”

“There are privileges and disadvantages to where I sit in my little part of the world,” the Los Angeles based comic said. “I do my best to give myself a voice like no one else can. If someone relates to it and wants to speak up too, and they laugh, then suddenly comedy is related to everything, including who we are and how we identify, if we identify at all.”

Lianna, who studied at Second City, started performing, back in 2007, “by accident.”

“I was named class clown even though I wasn’t particularly aware I was making jokes. Fuck you guys!” Lianna said. “It wasn’t until my senior year of college that I would recite from memory, Ellen DeGeneres’ Here & Now in an effort to fill the time gap for the judges to decide who won the lip sync, that my comedy career began to reveal itself.”

Outside of Ellen, Lianna’s influences are “early Wayans Brothers, anyone on In Living Color and The Kings of Comedy.” The daughter of a Southern Baptist minister and a deaf mom, Lianna has performed in Africa and Ireland and recently participated in Lady Parts Justice, a funny feminist social justice series from by The Daily Show co-creator Lizz Winstead.

Lianna Carrera

LIanna Carrera

Shannon Ennis has been doing stand-up since 1999, beginning with a set at the famous Caroline’s in New York City.

Shannon Ennis

Local Chicago Fave: Shannon Ennis

“I remember being on that stage and thinking, ‘I’ve arrived,'” Shannon said. “By far, my favorite single moment was the first show I ever did. I was so worried that I wouldn’t be good, that I would have no real talent for stand-up, this thing that I’d been wanting to try for what seemed like forever. And I nailed it, and thought, ‘Phew! Thank God I’m good at what I really, really want to do.'”

Shannon went to create Web Series: The Web Series with Tello Productions and embraces her sexuality on stage.

“My sexuality is integral to my comedy because it’s as much a part of who I am and how I relate to the world as any other attribute, characteristic or whatever else I bring to my material,” she said. “My being a big, fat homo is essential to why I’m super special and hilarious.”

And that’s something all of the comics have in common. Shannon puts it like this: “Comedy is about what’s unexpected, what’s different, what’s odd, and it celebrates that. So, being a stand-up comedian allows me the opportunity to celebrate being gay. It’s a wonderful, wonderful gift.”

The Meet-Up and Comedy Night is Friday, August 22 from 7-9. Admission is $5.


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