Chris Condren performs comedy at The Lincoln Lodge in Chicago, Chris Condren claims there’s an area in the tony northwest ’burb of Barrington consisting “entirely of midgets.” Condren wants to invade it with his friends. “We’re going to find that town, drive there and start fights,” the lanky six-foot-six stand-up says over a New York slice at Ian’s Pizza in Wrigleyville. “We’ll rent a Mini Cooper. That way, we’ll come in under the radar.”
This kind of stuff comes out of Condren’s mouth all the time. It’s delivered, mostly in jest, at one of the city’s open-mic nights, at rooms like the Lincoln Lodge, and in Entertaining Julia at the Town Hall Pub.
The scrawny comic typically hits the stage dressed in his trademark hunter’s cap, goggles and nerd glasses (braces add to the strangeness). On his Casio-3000, he bangs out ditties with a basic, early-’80s synth sound. “This one’s about a rapist,” he says, launching into his rendition of Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.” In his signature song, “Space Time Warp,” which he wrote in a summer writing program at Pittsburgh’s Duquesne University, Condren wails about a guy who builds a time machine that takes him first to a Nirvana concert and then to meet Helen Keller; he discovers Keller’s a leader of the Illuminati and has ninja assassins at her disposal. Condren sells such ridiculous fare with nerdy earnestness. “When he strolls onstage, you can almost feel the skepticism,” fellow comic Ken Barnard says. “But the crowd only needs about 15 seconds to know they’re seeing a very unique performer.”