Performers!

  • Brandon Strawn @ The Book Stall!

    You're Being Ridiculous is super excited to be back at The Book Stall with a fun summer show for you! AND ... we're delighted to welcome Brandon Strawn to YBR to share a story with us ... learn a little about Brandon here and get your tickets!

    Brandon Strawn is a high school math teacher by day and a musician (specializing in trombone, ukulele, and singing) by night.  He has lived and worked in the Chicago region for 10 years, leaving a trail of math, music, and mirth behind him.  Otherwise he has spent half of his life in Iowa and the other half in Virginia, allowing him to play the Midwesterner card when convenient or Southerner card when convenient.  When he is not mathing or musicking, he spends his spare time playing countless board and card games, going to dozens of theatre productions a year, and trying not to ruminate about politics anymore.  He currently lives in Edgewater with his boyfriend, two best friend roommates, a cat he tolerates, and two guinea pigs who tolerate him.  As you can tell from this bio, his pronouns are he/him/his.

    What's your favorite thing about Chicago in the summer?
    I actually love all four Chicago seasons; it's one of the reasons I moved here.  I could never live in a place like California where the temperature hardly varies.  I need four solid seasons that I can enjoy and tire of and move on to the next, which I'm hoping is not a metaphor for my life.  In summer, the best thing about Chicago is all of the amazing free/inexpensive activities!  So many beaches, Shakespeare in the park, farmer's markets, the Pritzker Pavilion, Ravinia lawn tickets, the Pride parade and Pridefest, tons of free/cheap performances by Lakeside Pride, dozens and dozens of street festivals, camping in southwest Michigan...  The list goes on and never disappoints!

    Brandon is sharing a story with us at The Book Stall on Saturday, July 21.

    Follow this link to purchase tickets

  • Amanda Drenth @ The Book Stall!

    You're Being Ridiculous is super excited to be back at The Book Stall with a fun summer show for you! AND ... we're delighted to welcome Amanda Drenth to YBR to share a story with us ... learn a little about Amanda here and get your tickets!

    Amanda Drenth is a research scientist turned elementary school teacher who is as political and progressive as they come. Fair warning!

    What's your favorite thing about Chicago in the summer?
    My favorite thing about Chicago in the summer, is that Chicagoans understand that there is a finite amount of time for them to soak in the whole summer.  Armed with that understanding, they attack the summer with all their might, until it's October. 

  • Meg Benson @ The Book Stall!

    You're Being Ridiculous is super excited to be back at The Book Stall with a fun summer show for you! AND ... we're delighted to welcome Meg Benson to YBR to share a story with us ... learn a little about Meg here and get your tickets!

    Meg moved to Chicago a long time ago. She and her husband, Art Simon, have three great daughters—Julia, Caroline and Gina, and a rascally terrier named Trevor. She likes to read a lot and write about her work and her family.  All in all, she’s really boring. 

    What's your favorite thing about Chicago in the summer?
    I love the light, the sun and the lake. I love art shows and sidewalk sales and reading outdoors.  I love the ease of summer in Chicago—of wearing a dress and sandals—no coat or scarf or hat.  And no socks.  I love not having to wear socks. 

  • Derek Van Barham @ Steppenwolf!

    You're Being Ridiculous is super excited to celebrate PRIDE at Steppenwolf as part of their LookOut Series -- a performance series that presents the work of artists and companies across genre and form. We're delighted to welcome Derek Van Barham to YBR to share a story with us ... learn a little about Derek here and get your tickets!

    Derek Van Barham is a freelance director, choreographer, playwright, and improviser, and queer about town. He is the Associate Artistic Director of Pride Films & Plays. For Pride, Derek has worked on such LGBTQ+ excursions as Angry Fags, Perfect Arrangement, BITE, Kill Your Boyfriends, Songs from an Unmade Bed, and Priscilla Queen of the Desert. . He also got his gay on with New American Folk Theatre and their 80s sex-ploration Hot Pink, or Ready to Blow; Hell in a Handbag with Dan Savage's play Miracle! about a deaf/blind drag queen named Helen Stellar, and Circle Theatre with the just opened Chicago premiere of The View Upstairs, a pop disco musical about New Orleans' Upstairs Lounge, the site of the 1973 arson attack, one of the deadliest hate crimes in US history. He was named one of Windy City Times 30 Under 30, recognizing the "best & brightest" individuals from Chicago's LGBTQ+ community. Up next is Homos, or Everyone in America with Pride Films & Plays, and penning a holiday parody of his favorite comedy of all time. Get ready for Snomi Malone and Ice Crystal Conners in SNOWGIRLS the musical, coming this holiday season.

    What's the Queerest thing you've ever done?
    Our last trip to NYC was in 2014, when Idina Menzel was on Broadway in If/Then. We didn't want to see the show, bc...it didn't look good. But we couldn't pass up the opportunity to see Miss Menzel in person. We were walking by the Richard Rodgers Theatre and saw a crowd gathered by the stage door. The show had just ended, and her presence was imminent. We couldn't get close enough for direct contact, so we climbed the base of a nearby light pole for a better view. We were immediately yelled at by a cop, scolded for not acting our age, and asked to come down. Rather than stick around to work through the crowd, we went to get do-nuts instead. The quick succession of disinterest, curiosity, risk-taking, disobedience, shame, self-loathing, choosing sugar over singers, and back to disinterest is the path we ALL take, right?

    Also, what is If/Then even about? Is it Sliding Doors the Musical? Does Gwyneth know they made Sliding Doors the Musical?

    Who's your favorite Queer icon?
    Gina Gershon. Do you think she's reading this? If she is -- thank you, Gina!

  • Patrick Curtin @ Steppenwolf!

    You're Being Ridiculous is super excited to celebrate PRIDE at Steppenwolf as part of their LookOut Series -- a performance series that presents the work of artists and companies across genre and form. We're delighted to welcome Patrick Curtin to YBR to share a story with us ... learn a little about Patrick here and get your tickets!

    Patrick Curtin is a Celebrant, also known as an Officiant, with a unique perspective on life.  Is your marriage merging two religions? Does your recently passed loved one have stories future generations need to hear? Patrick can help you honor and celebrate these important moments in life.  Patrick has told stories at You're Being Ridiculous, the Irish American Heritage Center, Second City, Steppenwolf, and Goodman Theater.

    What's the Queerest thing you've ever done?
    The queerest thing Patrick ever did was attend Catholic seminary.  For recreation the seminarians would act out scenes by Joan Crawford, Bette Davis and Olivia De Haviland from such horror classics as "Strait Jacket", "Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte" and "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane".

  • Molly Brennan @ Steppenwolf!

    You're Being Ridiculous is super excited to celebrate PRIDE at Steppenwolf as part of their LookOut Series -- a performance series that presents the work of artists and companies across genre and form. We're delighted to welcome Molly Brennan to YBR to share a story with us ... learn a little about Molly here and get your tickets!

    Molly Brennan is an actron in Chicago. She's been at the Goodman, Lookingglass, Second City, Lyric Opera, The Neo-Futurists, Steppenwolf, and others. Current projects include curating and hosting the Fly Honey Show, directing "Grease" at Windy City Performers, and getting ready to be in a pilot for a new series about racism in Hollywood.

    What's the gayest thing you've ever done?
    The gayest thing I've done recently is hand embroider a patch for my girlfriend of the nickname she acquired at a femme BDSM meet and greet.

  • Edward Thomas-Herrera @ Steppenwolf!

    You're Being Ridiculous is super excited to celebrate PRIDE at Steppenwolf as part of their LookOut Series -- a performance series that presents the work of artists and companies across genre and form. We're delighted to welcome Edward Thomas-Herrera to YBR to share a story with us ... learn a little about him here and get your tickets!

    Edward Thomas-Herrera, the world’s most famous Salvadoran-American, is a writer, performer, playwright, and one of the founding members of BoyGirlBoyGirl, a collective of solo theatre artists. He has worked with Live Bait Theater, the Neo-Futurists, Curious Theatre Branch, Lucky Pierre, the Encyclopedia Show, the Cirque du Soleil, the Wooster Group, Ensemble Intercontemporain, the Algonquin Round Table, the Ballets Russes, the list could go on…

    What's the Queerest thing you've ever done?
    One time, I was watching “Return to Peyton Place” with my husband - a movie we had never seen. As the opening credits were rolling, a woman’s voice started singing. We both looked at each other and shouted “ROSEMARY CLOONEY!” in perfect unison.

  • Kelly Duff @ Steppenwolf!

    You're Being Ridiculous is super excited to celebrate PRIDE at Steppenwolf as part of their LookOut Series -- a performance series that presents the work of artists and companies across genre and form. We're delighted to welcome Kelly Duff to YBR to share a story with us ... learn a little about Kelly here and get your tickets!

    Kelly Duff is the first one to admit, she's the son her dad always wanted. She's an award winning author who spends her days working for Allstate Insurance as the "Happiness Guru" at the Merchandise Mart, and her nights writing romance novels. Kelly is looking forward to the day when 80's fashion makes a comeback and she can put on her roller skates and recreate the movie Xanadu.

    What's the Queerest thing you've ever done?
    I've never been known for being the girliest of girls. I spent most of my life in t-shirts and jeans with super short hair. I've lost count of how many times I've been mistaken for a dude at the grocery store on a Sunday when I've been in my life's uniform with a baseball hat on. Most of the time, when people say "excuse me, sir" they realize almost immediately they're mistaken. There was this one time, when the cashier didn't...so I rolled with it and replied in my deepest voice "no problem." There was a double take and a look that followed that made me laugh all the way to my Subaru.

    Who is your favorite Queer icon?
    Ellen...classy, fashionable, animal lover and the voice of Dory, Ellen DeGeneres makes my heart sing.

    Kelly is sharing a story with us at Steppenwolf Saturday, June 30.

    Follow this link to purchase tickets

  • Lyndsey Lesh @ Steppenwolf!

    You're Being Ridiculous is super excited to celebrate PRIDE at Steppenwolf as part of their LookOut Series -- a performance series that presents the work of artists and companies across genre and form. We're delighted to welcome Lyndsey Lesh to YBR to share a story with us ... learn a little about Lyndsey here and get your tickets!

    Lyndsey Lesh is an avid doodler, artist and illustrator (sometimes writer) based out of Chicago, Illinois. Born and raised in the Midwest with time spent in Kansas City, Minneapolis and a brief stint in Los Angeles. She enjoys weird humor, sentimental exploring, cats, and reading. As well as taking photos, often times in Chicago. If you ever see her on the street, give her a high five!

    What's the queerest thing you've ever done?
    While being a closeted, questioning young gayby (in the truest sense), my first boss, being an all-intuitive bi, and overzealous person, not only took me to a burlesque show, but called me "nugget" and gave me dollar bills to throw at the dancers. It was in good fun but I was awkward af. Also I had a tremendous gay crush on my boss.

  • Robert McDonald @ Steppenwolf!

    You're Being Ridiculous is super excited to celebrate PRIDE at Steppenwolf as part of their LookOut Series -- a performance series that presents the work of artists and companies across genre and form. We're delighted to welcome Robert McDonald to YBR to share a story with us ... learn a little about Robert here and get your tickets!

    Robert McDonald writes poetry and nonfiction. He has read this work at a bunch of venues around Chicago, including Homolatte and Reading Under the Influence, and his writings have appeared widely in journals and zines both online and in print. Gay in Chicago? He really did write the book on it--he’s the co-author, with Kathie Bergquist, of “A Field Guide to Gay and Lesbian Chicago.” He works at an independent bookstore as the events coordinator. As part of this job, he had to hold Patti Smith’s hand so she would not trip as they as they walked up a dark Chicago alley, so really, his work here for this incarnation is done.
     

    Who is your favorite Queer icon?
    My favorite ever queer icon is Miss Judy Garland, and she was my icon before I knew I was queer, or what queer meant, or “friend of Dorothy,” or that gay men of a certain age were all supposed to love Judy Garland.  In grade school I framed pictures of her and hung them on my wall.  I listened to the “Live At Carnegie Hall” album over and over and over again—if you were in Mt. Clemens, Michigan in the 1970’s you could never check the album out of the library, because I already had. I knew the lyrics of every song, and all the between-song patter. If there was going to be an afternoon TV movie of the week playing in the afternoon with Judy Garland as the star, I faked an illness and stayed home sick. I took Judy Garland albums to college, while most of my contemporaries were listening to the J. Geils Band or the Rolling Stones.

    The first time I came home for a weekend visit after I came out to my parents, I was hiding upstairs in my old room. My dad called up the stairs, “Bob, you’d better get down here, there’s a Judy Garland movie on!”  He didn’t know jack about queer icons, or Vincente Minelli, or letting tragic, broken, beautiful women stand in for part of who and what some of us wanted to be.  He only knew that I loved her, and that her legs looked fantastic in the “Get Happy” number. We sat together and watched the whole blessed thing. No place like home, no place like home.

  • David Bartz @ Steppenwolf!

    You're Being Ridiculous is super excited to celebrate PRIDE at Steppenwolf as part of their LookOut Series -- a performance series that presents the work of artists and companies across genre and form. We're delighted to welcome David Bartz to YBR to share a story with us ... learn a little about David here and get your tickets!

    The only stories David Bartz has told until now.are behind a hairstyling chair at Fuss Salon in Andersonville to a generous audience of customers and friends who inspire him daily to scrawl into notebooks while hauling across the city on the Red Line.  As a first time storyteller he only hopes to not be voted off first like “Miss Vanjie” … or have to lip synch for his life … “Now don’t…fuck it up!”
     
    What's the gayest thing you've ever done?
    Gayest thing I've ever done was fulfill my duties as "Miss Gay Grand Rapids (MI)/1982" under the name "Apples" Von Ravenstien ... You asked.

  • Casey Coppess @ Steppenwolf!

    You're Being Ridiculous is super excited to celebrate PRIDE at Steppenwolf as part of their LookOut Series -- a performance series that presents the work of artists and companies across genre and form. We're delighted to welcome Casey Coppess to YBR to share a story with us ... learn a little about Casey here and get your tickets!


    Casey is a queer actor/writer who moved to Chicago from Urbandale, Iowa in 2014 to pursue a life of creativity.  They've performed at various theaters including MCL Chicago, The Annoyance Theater, and The Second City and they are an ensemble member of Acme Theatrics as well as an artistic associate with Gayco Productions.  Casey writes and publishes their own blog, Where Have I Been All My Life? A blog about self discovery through humor.  Casey is also a certified spiritual yoga teacher with a growing practice throughout Chicago.

    Who is your favorite Queer icon?
    I struggle with this question because how could I narrow it down?  If I'm forced to choose I'd probably have to pick Bette Midler or any of the Golden Girls.  I fell in love with Bette when I was in first grade after seeing Hocus Pocus for the first time.  Her performance is campy but flawless which is exactly how I would describe her style, similar to my own.  The Golden Girls are everything.  I consider that show to be the perfect sitcom.  Comedy 101 in my opinion.  I suppose I should throw Shania Twain in there too...  And Lucille Ball...  Wow this is hard...

  • Brandon Strawn @ Steppenwolf!

    You're Being Ridiculous is super excited to celebrate PRIDE at Steppenwolf as part of their LookOut Series -- a performance series that presents the work of artists and companies across genre and form. We're delighted to welcome Brandon Strawn to YBR to share a story with us ... learn a little about Brandon here and get your tickets!

    Brandon Strawn describes himself as an educator, a musician, and a delight.  As we are about to hear in his story, he has lived and worked in the Chicago region for 10 years, leaving a trail of math, music, and mirth behind him.  He lives in Edgewater with his boyfriend, two best friend roommates, a cat he tolerates, and two guinea pigs who tolerate him. 

    What's the queerest thing you've ever done?
    Either Ethel-Merman-esque belting along to Barbra Streisand's Broadway album or regular sodomy with my male boyfriend.

    Who is your favorite Queer icon?
    Definitely Alan Turing on my mathematical side and Stephen Sondheim on my musical side. 

  • Jim Bennett @ Steppenwolf!

    You're Being Ridiculous is super excited to celebrate PRIDE at Steppenwolf as part of their LookOut Series -- a performance series that presents the work of artists and companies across genre and form. We're delighted to welcome Jim Bennett to YBR to share a story with us ... learn a little about Jim here and get your tickets!

    Jim is a gay rights advocate, sketch comedy actor/writer and working toward being a real playwright. He spent more than a decade at Lambda Legal where he was a lead strategist in their Illinois, Iowa and Indiana marriage campaigns and stayed for the backlash in Indiana where he led the fight against Governor Pence’s ‘religious freedom’ crusade. The connection between gays and comedy is, of course, well established.  Even at a very young age, Jim realized he was funny and that he loved Bewitched. 

    His greatest achievement to date is ‘the Church of Hamballs’, his Moth Storytelling Grandslam story. Jim is a graduate of the University of Illinois and The Second City Conservatory.

    What's the gayest thing you've ever done?
    In addition to being an active gay sex participant, the gayest thing I’ve ever done is appearing on stage as a giant singing prostate in the musical number, Hip Hip Hooray for Sodomy, featured in Second City and GayCo Productions’ musical comedy, Poked, a series of ‘penetration-themed’ sketches commemorating the Supreme Court victory striking down all anti-sodomy laws.

  • Kurt Conley @ Steppenwolf!

    You're Being Ridiculous is super excited to celebrate PRIDE at Steppenwolf as part of their LookOut Series -- a performance series that presents the work of artists and companies across genre and form. We're delighted to welcome Kurt Conley to YBR to share a story with us ... learn a little about Kurt here and get your tickets!

    Kurt Conley lived a large part of his life in Erie, PA, a city best known for the Pizza Bomber (google it) and ridiculous amounts of snowfall. But in 2013, he traded one Great Lake for another and moved to Chicago, where he completed an MFA in Writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Currently, he’s putting the finishing touches on his first novel, a contemporary fantasy about a queer punk oracle, writing an article series for CHIRP Radio, volunteering at the Gerber Hart Library, and living his best damn queer life.

    Who is your favorite Queer icon?
    You mean, besides David Fucking Bowie? That honor goes to John Waters, a filthy force of nature that queered my adolescent brain when I first saw the original Hairspray, and he just kept on queering it up. His films and books have been a constant source of bizarre joy in my life, reveling in camp, perversion and rebellion. And his philosophies on life, love, determination—and generally not giving a fuck—have a charming, life-affirming quality to them that I can’t help but be inspired by. And one day I hope to be anywhere near as fashionable.

  • Aimy Tien @ Steppenwolf!

    You're Being Ridiculous is super excited to celebrate PRIDE at Steppenwolf as part of their LookOut Series -- a performance series that presents the work of artists and companies across genre and form. We're delighted to welcome Aimy Tien to YBR to share a story with us ... learn a little about Aimy here and get your tickets!

    Aimy Tien is a Colorado transplant who fell into storytelling due to a combination of an irrational childhood fear of lions, a Val Kilmer film, and an overactive imagination. Now a Chicago-based performer, writer, and producer, Aimy focuses on bringing the stories of people of color and marginalized groups to the page, stage, and screen. She is a proud company member of 2nd Story and the Co-Director of Operations of Women of the Now, a womxn-run film collective. She makes art with Free Street Theater, About Face Theatre, Pride Films and Plays, Collaboraction, and other Chicago-based organizations.

    What's the Queerest thing you've ever done?
    Outside of actual queer sex, the queerest thing I've done is missing a Tegan and Sara concert where I was supposed to be the buffer between two friends who had hooked up and no longer wanted to hook up because I was crying over a sort-of-ex.

  • Ray Goldberg @ Steppenwolf!

    You're Being Ridiculous is super excited to celebrate PRIDE at Steppenwolf as part of their LookOut Series -- a performance series that presents the work of artists and companies across genre and form. We're delighted to welcome Ray Goldberg to YBR to share a story with us ... learn a little about Ray here and get your tickets!

    Ray Goldberg is a Chicago-born-and-raised freelance producer and writer. She studied Screen Arts & Cultures at the University of Michigan, and is about to begin her MFA in Writing for the Screen and Stage at Northwestern. She is currently a staff writer for the award-winning podcast PleasureTown, a content producer and editor for the gaming podcast Tabletop Potluck, and Production Manager for the theatre group Nothing Without a Company."

    What's the Queerest thing you've ever done?
    The queerest thing I've ever done is more of a Rube Goldberg machine of queerness spanning months, but basically the last film I directed for undergrad ended up being so SO very queer that it made me realize I was trans. I was already a brand new baby bisexual when I pitched a film about drag queens to my film production course. As I enveloped myself more and more in Ann Arbor's drag community, I thought it might be fun to be a drag king. I had already picked a name (Jason Tail) and got 90% of the way through choreographing a routine to Fall Out Boy's "Uma Thurman" before I realized I didn't actually want to be drag king. I just liked the freedom of the gender-frickery. so I kept up with that part.

    Who is your favorite Queer icon?
    One of my favorite queer icons at the moment is Janelle Monae. She's a Renaissance woman; she acts, she sings, she writes, she produces. I've loved her back since "The ArchAndroid", but of course "Dirty Computer" is instantly hitting a sweet spot by being unapologetically queer, especially through the lens of a queer woman of color.

  • Lauren Sivak @ Steppenwolf!

    You're Being Ridiculous is super excited to celebrate PRIDE at Steppenwolf as part of their LookOut Series -- a performance series that presents the work of artists and companies across genre and form. We're delighted to welcome Lauren Sivak to YBR to share a story with us ... learn a little about Lauren here and get your tickets!

    Lauren Sivak is the Managing Director of 2nd Story. She was last seen onstage in Steep Theatre's Hinter, and has previously worked with American Theater Company, About Face Theatre, The New Colony, Cor Theatre, and Walkabout, among others. She has a cat named Wiegel and a girlfriend named Erin.

    What's the Queerest thing you've ever done?
    At the age of nine, I memorized Jean Claude Van Damme's dance from Kickboxer and danced with all of the old ladies at a campground social.

  • Carlos Antonio Piñón @ Steppenwolf!

    You're Being Ridiculous is super excited to celebrate PRIDE at Steppenwolf as part of their LookOut Series -- a performance series that presents the work of artists and companies across genre and form. We're delighted to welcome Carlos Antonio Piñón to YBR to share a story with us ... learn a little about Carlos here and get your tickets!


    Carlos Antonio Piñón is a Chicago-born disaster seeking to get his life back together. In the past 6 months, he's quit two jobs, crashed his bike, and shat his pants at his boyfriend's house.

    What's the queerest thing you've ever done?
    As a young gay, the queerest thing I constantly do is almost outing myself by accident. Normally, I'm the one making jokes, but this particular time, my mom and aunt are arguing over who has darker skin between my brother and me. My aunt says, "I think Carlos is lighter!" My mom counter-argues this with, "It's because he's never out." In my head, I thought, "Ha, gay." But then my aunt says, "Yeah, he needs more vitamin D," and I almost had a heart attack.

  • Ariel Carter @ Steppenwolf!

    You're Being Ridiculous is super excited to celebrate PRIDE at Steppenwolf as part of their LookOut Series -- a performance series that presents the work of artists and companies across genre and form. We're delighted to welcome Ariel Carter to YBR to share a story with us ... learn a little about Ariel here and get your tickets!

    Ariel Carter is a poet, badass, and textbook Leo. After graduating from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she majored in having a lot of potential, she seamlessly transitioned into professionally petting dogs. An avid perfectionist, she’s spent roughly 4 years of her life trying to write a good bio, and she finally decided on this one out of sheer desperation. She’s eventually going to be a psychotherapist and covered in tattoos

    What's the Queerest thing you've done?
    i'd say the most lesbian thing I've ever done was not know for a few months if this girl and I were going on dates or hanging out as friends, even though the first time we went out, she wore a vest, took me to the Leather Archives & Museum, and we talked about queer artists, translations of Sappho, and not looking for boyfriends—it was dates, we were dating, I finally figured it out when she sent me a poem confessing her feelings. The GAYEST thing I've ever done--this came back to me years later, but when I was a kid, one of my mom's friends asked if I liked any boys at school and I told her (direct quote) "I have no use for boys.”

    Who is your favorite Queer icon?
    My absolute favorite queer icon is a tie between two writers: the first is Maggie Nelson, author of the Argonauts—among other things, she writes about her little queer family in a way that makes me want to mother like 11 babies, and the second is canonically bisexual modernist poet H.D.—She has a collection of poems about tough nature (Sea Garden, if you care), she underwent analysis with Freud, and she is so cool that it makes my little queer heart sing.