The Brian Costello Show with Brian Costello - live in Chicago (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Brian Costello Show with Brian Costello

live in Chicago (2006)

live show

Every month or so, the Empty Bottle plays host to, well, a talk show host. By the name of Brian Costello. And Mr. Costello runs himself a live talk show, reminiscent of "The Late Show," on the stage, complete with a couch, a table to sit behind, a sidekick, and a house band. He has a few guests come on, has the house band play a few songs to make up for the lack of commercials, and then has a musical guest play a set at the end of the show. Pretty standard.

The house band this show was the Billy Carter Band (named for Jimmy Carter's dead brother, not for the singer), with guests including columnist Liz Armstrong from The Reader, Ringo Starr impersonator John Patavina (of fame) with wife Molly Patavina-Hale as Joan Jett, rival talk show host Ben Johnson of the Late Night Late Show held at the IO (formerly Improv Olympic), with musical guest Camaro Rouge. And who could forget sidekick Lord Bryan Hoben?

I'll admit it. I'm underage. The only reason I got in was because Brian asked me to help do a freestyle emo-off contest for the monologue. Two categories, whiney and growley, and Brian won. Let's talk about other things now.

The Billy Carter band, while only getting a chance to play songs interspersed in the show, put on a strong set. They play a five-piece sort-of drunken rock and roll with a garage punk attitude, and I don't think there was a point during the entire show that a member of the band wasn't smoking or drinking. Their songs were short, loud, fast, and awesome. There wasn't any dress up, there wasn't any special effects, but I was enraptured all the same. After the show, the singer tried to explain to me that the band wanted to be called JFKFC, but there was already one of those in Atlanta. He also remarked that he'd like to get a dagger and stab a note that says, "We're the true JFKFC!" onto the door of the bar that all the members of the other JFKFC worked at, but the rest of the band wasn't down with it. Definitely worth seeing live.

As for the show, Brian Costello was a gas as always, using his writerly wit to interject funniness. A highlight of the skits was a one-act play that he had people perform. What was the play, you ask? Why, it was the comments left about the review of his book The Enchanters vs. Sprawlburg Springs on! I got to play the role of myself, while friends and colleagues of Brian played the parts of darkstarm, SilentStorms, Anchors, AlmostPunkEnough and the poster with the most credit, Anonymous. It was fun times.

From Liz Armstrong, we learned that not only does she write the "Chicago Antisocial" column, but that putting peeled garlic in your ears is a very good remedy for harmed ears. She also told a tale about getting kidnapped by a lady who was a sexual prowler. Then John Patavina told us what it was like being a Ringo impersonator, then gave a hilarious rendition of Ringo Starr relating a story to a friend about a trip to Whole Foods. It was capped off by an anti-drug skit performed by Ringo Starr and Joan Jett, and a rendition of "Don't Go Breakin' My Heart (By Doing Drugs)." Ben Johnson was the final guest, himself a live talk show host, and made everyone laugh with some great antics and stories about running a talk show on the north side. He also read the review of his show from The Reader while the singer from the BCB and Lord Bryan Hoben made paper hats from the rest of the issue.

Camaro Rouge finished the show with a three-piece rock'n'roll turned up outfit, featuring a double-female front. Their songs reminded me of bands like the Stooges and Rolling Stones at their rockingest. Just a hint of rockabilly, and balls (ovaries?)-to-the-wall intensity. It was a bit weird, since they were set up on a side stage and the speakers were behind us, but besides that, they put on a helluva show. I was thoroughly entertained and head bobbin'.

So all in all, it was a wild Saturday afternoon of talk-showin', laughin', rockin' and rollin', and damn worth going to check out if you get a chance, though I can't promise that the new house band and musical guest are going to be as good as the Billy Carter Band and Camaro Rouge.