JBTV to make cable pitch for local, live comedy show

Jamie Campbell performs at “Fourstar Standups”

Jerry Bryant’s JBTV music television is turning to comedy with “Fourstar Stand Ups,” a concept that combines homegrown performers, BYOB crowds and one of the best live production facilities in America.

On select Tuesday nights throughout the spring, Kevin Kellam, a veteran working comedian and the show’s host, will invite four comics into JBTV’s River North studio, where each will perform a 10-minute set for a live audience.

The goal is to tape, compile and edit 10 shows into a half-hour pilot by early June, says executive producer Thomas Flynn. The show will be pitched to cable and broadcast networks as a glimpse of “the funniest city in America.”

“These are really good comics who open up for big headliners and they’re gonna break,” says Kellam. “The next Louis CK or the next Maria Bamford is in Chicago already and is gonna be on this show.”

Enthusiasm for the show had been brewing at JBTV for about a year when Flynn decided to act on it last February.

The St. Pat's day crowdScoring a roomful of chairs from Abbey Pub owner Tom Looney and a Romanesque painting from JBTV’s collection of old set pieces, Flynn transformed the look of JBTV’s studio from music venue to comedy club within three days.

Wielding a geek’s ransom of digital equipment — including eight HD cameras and an audio setup customized by JBTV sponsor, Shure — there is no doubt that the crew will make “Fourstar Standups” look and sound as good as anything on TV.

“Music and comedy and JBTV are a perfect fit,” says JBTV founder Jerry Bryant. “The show gives comics a chance to be on a real stage and be properly recorded in a professional kind of atmosphere.”

The comics who’ve performed so far include Kristen Toomey, Jamie Campbell, Mikey Mankar, Martin Morrow and  Kris Flanagan.

But instinct and experience have proven that the fans are the only people who can dial it up to eleven.

Kellam and BryantTo help get them in the mood, the online description of “Fourstar Stand Ups” reminds potential guests that the “shows are BYOB” and suggests that they “go to Binny’s Beverage Depot down the block” before arriving.

Additionally, host Kellam works the crowd with finesse that he developed through years of live promotional work for WKQX 101 FM.

“This is a real show,” he told the audience before introducing the first comedian on St Patrick’s Day. “An unbridled, underground comedy show with the best up and coming talent.”

“So don’t sit on your hands,” he shouted. “If you think something is funny, laugh!”

To attend the March 24 taping, RSVP here.