Jill Valentine

The performers may be all women, but everyone's laughing. June 6-9 marks the return of the Chicago Women's Funny Festival, a celebration of women in comedy masterminded by Jill Valentine. Jill's been a leader for the smash hit Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival since its inception 13 years ago, so it's no surprise that the inaugural Women's Funny Fest last summer made a big splash too.

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This year's lineup features 80 shows and over 400 performers, including the best of the best of Chicago's funny ladies. The festival spans all genres of comedy: sketch, improv, stand-up, musical acts, puppets, and more.

I spoke with Jill Valentine, Executive Producer of the Chicago Women's Funny Festival, to see how this whole thing came to be and what we should look for on the 2013 schedule.

Where did the idea come from and how did this thing get started?

I have worked alongside Brian Posen on The Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival which is going into its 13th year. The festival has exploded over the years and when I pitched this sister festival, Posen gave me the blessing. We wanted to create a festival that was a celebration of women in comedy. This year festival hosts 80 shows and 400 performers in four days and spans all different comedic art forms of sketch, improv, solo, musical acts, stand-up etc.

What's the most important thing about the festival for you?

The most important thing for me is the artists coming together and seeing each other's work. Knowing that there are so many of us out there is exciting and empowering. Networking, collaboration and celebration!

What acts would a Chicago visitor most enjoy?

What's your flavor? We have it.

Puppets, Latino groups, gay groups, political satire, burlesque parody, musical sketch, improv and much more. You can go to our website for the calendar and line-up.

Some highlights include: Susan Messing, Off Off Broadzway, Kelsie Huff, Rachel Mason, Tara DeFransisco, Rebecca Sohn, Brouhaha: An Improvised Puppet Musical.

Visit ChicagoWomensFunnyFestival.com for the latest schedule and ticket information.

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