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Scott Duff brings Chigaygo comedy to Thursday nights at the Laugh Factory

OUT CHICAGO radio show rolls into third year

Scott Duff has been on a Missy Elliott kick of late.  The singing sensation is his "spirit animal," he said, and her new song – WTF (Where They From) – has been Duff's winter anthem.  So you definitely can expect some stinging Missy Elliott quips and commentary on Feb. 4, when Duff hosts Chigaygo – Chicago's premier queer comedy showcase featuring the best gay and gay-friendly comics.

Chigaygo is produced by Duff, and the regular multi-comic event is held at the Laugh Factory (3175 Broadway St.) in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood.  (Attendees must be 18 or older, and there is a two-drink minimum per person.)

Duff will be joined on stage Feb. 4 by Ali Clayton, Cody Melcher, Matt Griffo, Dina Nina Martinez, Brittany Meyer and others.

And topics assuredly also will include religious freedom, gay Republicans, and bucket lists – and that's just from Duff, who also loves to interact with the audience.

"We have a fabulous line up, featuring each letter of the big gay alphabet," Duff said.  "Cody Melcher, a fixture in the Chicago comedy scene who runs 100 Proof Comedy at Comedy Sports, (along with) Dina Nina Martinez, coming in from Milwaukee (and her) web series called 'The Misadventures of Delilah James,' Ali Clayton, a veteran of Chicago comedy (and) producer on Hoo Ha Comedy and (who) will soon be moving to New York City, Matt Griffo, an amazing musician, and two newcomers to Chigaygo, Brittany Meyer and Zak Stemer.

"They are going to kill."

Chigaygo started in May, 2013, after the Laugh Factory moved into its then-new Lakeview location, literally steps away from the heart of Boystown.  Jamie Masada and Laugh Factory "have always been dedicated to showcasing voices that aren't necessarily a part of the mainstream," Duff said, "and there are so many hilarious queer comics out there, (so) doing a night featuring LGBT comics was a natural fit.  We've had some of the most hilarious comics who have had specials on Comedy Central, Showtime, and Logo, and each month we offer up new emerging comics on the scene.  We've had drag performers, hunky boys passing out cupcakes, singers and musicians; it's a fun night celebrating the queer experience.  And, surprisingly, most of our audiences have been straight."

The Feb. 4 show certainly will offer universal insights through a queer perspective.

Brittany Meyer and Zak Stemer are new to the show.

"Chigaygo is a great night with a little bit of something for everyone: gay, straight or somewhere in between.  No one bites unless you ask them," Duff said of the near 90-minute show.

Chigaygo is splashed on the first Thursday of the month, starting at 10 p.m.

"There is a strong movement of inclusivity that is taking over the arts," Duff said.  "There are so many different perspectives that live under our big LGBTQA umbrella, and I want to showcase as many of those voices as possible.

"We used to be on Sunday nights, and we have just moved to the 10 p.m. slot on the first Thursday of the month following an amazing show, "The Kates on Broadway," a seven-year comedy showcase hosted by Kelsie Huff and featuring the best female stand-ups in Chicago.

"Thursdays are about to become the most fabulously funny night in Chicago."

Dina Nina Martinez, a transgender woman from north suburban Milwaukee, Wisc., will make the trek to the Laugh Factory, once again, bringing her "sassy, charming, self-deprecating and not family-friendly" style to the stage.

"I love doing this show.  It's such a welcoming and fun environment, and the comics on it are always hilarious.  If I could take it home and eat it, I would," Martinez said.  "As a proud member of the LGBTQ community, (Chigaygo) gives me warm fuzzies.  It's amazing to see the diversity in the community and voices from within it.  The absolute best part is that we're making a difference and helping each other understand the differences and needs of all parts of the 'alphabet soup.'"

Cody Melcher, 27, who is gay and lives in Boystown, brings a mix of socio-political observation with personal reflection, but in a fun, silly way, he said.

"I always love doing Chigaygo—the audiences are fantastic, engaged, ready to go with you," Melcher said.   "And this particular show has such a stellar lineup, I'm just happy to be on the boat. I've never had anything less than an amazing time at Chigaygo, as both a performer and audience member. At this show, I'm definitely going to be both.

"Chigaygo is such a great spotlight for LGBTQ comedians that, honestly, it often just feels like a straightforward Best-Of-Comedians show. Every comedian on the lineup is brilliant and, as, myself, a gay audience member, it's often just nice to go to a show where you are comfortable that the show isn't going to take a dark, ignorant turn. At Chigaygo, we celebrate who we are and laugh the whole way through."

Duff, 44, who lives in Edgewater, also is the host/producer of OUT CHICAGO, a weekly live talk show for the LGBTQ community airing Sundays on WCPT (820 AM), known as Chicago's Progressive Talk.

OUT CHICAGO is now in its third year, "and things just keep getting better," Duff said.  "We are trying to put stories out there that are uplifting to our community, featuring people who are making a difference in Chicago and across the country.  And, in this election year, we are keeping tabs on candidates on both sides of the aisle, regarding their attitudes toward the LGBTQ community.  (It) was an amazing year for us (in 2015), and this election is extremely important in terms of keeping those hard-won rights."

Duff said the OUT CHICAGO guests have been "absolutely amazing," including national policy leaders, Academy Award-nominated screenwriters, Golden Globe-winning actors, and local activists and artists who make Chicago one of the most exciting cities in the country, he said.

What's next for OUT CHICAGO?

Perhaps a TV show, Duff said.  "Why not? Dream big!" he added.  After all, OUT CHICAGO isn't far from Sunday brunch with your gay best friends.

Duff said he definitely has grown into the job as OUT CHICAGO host.  He has great rapport with co-host Ellen Miller.  "I feel like the show has evolved into a program where people can turn to get inspired and learn a thing or two about the LGBTQ movement.  And, hopefully have a good laugh every once in a while," he said.

For tickets to the next Chigaygo on Feb. 4 at the Laugh Factory, go to laughfactory.com/clubs/chicago.
 
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