Mystery flavors of comedy

A steady chatter rumbled inside Strapping, a specialty boutique in Oak Park’s Triangle District that sells everything from office trinkets to home décor. But the crowd wasn’t there to buy Ruth Bader Ginsburg coffee mugs. (That was me.) Instead, this lively bunch of 50 sat in rows of chairs, cracked open beers and uncorked bottles of red wine, waiting to be entertained by funny people during the pop-up showcase Don’t Tell Comedy.

The night was hosted by comedian Caleb Lush, who’s hosted a few of these shows in the Bay Area. Tonight marked its second showcase in his hometown.

Here’s how it works: show info is kept secret until you purchase the $20 ticket online. Then, an email unveils the deets. Where to go. Who’s playing. It’s an intriguing take on the typical stand-up comedy show that’s usually hosted at expensive nightclubs with two-drink minimums. Don’t Tell Comedy is held at new and unusual venues each time, and it’s BYOB. Was it worth the surprise?

Lush warmed up the crowd between comics with material that touched on weed legalization, blowjobs and his grandfather, who was Holocaust survivor. I suck at retelling jokes, but know it was lighthearted and the room erupted in laughter.

The night’s lineup included comedians I’d never seen before. Tony Zavala, out of San Francisco, opened his set with material on the #MeToo movement that playfully called out rappers like Nelly for their overtly sexist lyrics. He also talked about growing up with his mother, who is proudly gay, the Bible’s inconsistencies and Betty White.

Next, Shahera Hyatt, who adorned a black and white sweatshirt that said “Weed Mom,” kept the night lively with her topical set that worked in themes of bisexuality, feminism, a little Trump and bits on how Oak Park is getting “gentrified hard right now.” She also had this Michelle-Wolfe-esque cadence that I enjoyed.

Becky Lynn from Chico had me rollin’. Her bit about sleeping with white men while trying to teach them rhythm in the bedroom—killed—even the visible white men in the room seemed to nod in agreement with her.

But headliner Kiry Shabazz stepped to the mic and topped everyone off with the best nightcap: full-bodied laughs. Shabazz is definitely a familiar face. Besides his appearance on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, he also won last year’s StandUp NBC comedy competition. “Following your dreams will leave you homeless at a Greyhound bus station for a long time,” he told the crowd.

A Los Angeles transplant, Shabazz asked the audience simple questions that cleverly led into another hilarious story. His jokes about working at Taco Bell, in particular, had the audience belly-up, first on how the fast-food chain’s recipes are forever ingrained in his memory. Then, if he ever had to save the planet in an Armaggedon-type situation, what his ultimate Taco Bell crew would be: “Maria, a lady on her second pregnancy at the register,” followed by, “Philip, he’s 54, white, on meth and is the store manager.” I left happy, buzzed and craving T-Bell.

For more info on upcoming comedy shows visit