Thursday, December 31, 2009

Second City to debut Rush Limbaugh musical

Second City will debut Rush Limbaugh: The Musical in February.
It’s the new project from Matt Hovde, director of the Second City hit “Rod Blagojevich Superstar!,” and its writers, Ed Furman and T.J. Shanoff. Local improv veteran Mark Sutton (of Annoyance Theater and “Bassprov” fame) will sing the title role.

“Limbaugh” will run Tuesday and Wednesday nights in Second City’s e.t.c. space.

Like his WLS-AM (890) colleague Blagojevich, El Rushbo is leading a volatile life full of stage-ready drama; on Wednesday, the radio star went to a Honolulu hospital after suffering chest pains on vacation.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Interview with Matt Hovde

Danielle Solzman: Thanks for joining us today. How are things in the Windy City?
Matt Hovde: It’s freezing and wonderful.

DS: I understand that you've been named as the new artistic director for the Second City Training Center. What exactly does that entail?
MH: I’ll be steering the philosophy of the various programs. I’ll also be working to strengthen the connection between the artistic side of Second City and the educational side. I think it’s a great opportunity to take all the great things that happen in the Training Center and make them even more focused and relevant.

DS: What led you to discover improv and sketch comedy? And what have you done to get to where you now?
MH: I’ve been a comedy junkie all my life. I used to memorize Monty Python Sketches and perform them at school, and even in junior high I would stay up late to catch Johnny Carson. Also around that time I caught a Kid’s Show at Second City, and was pretty much hooked. I studied theater in high school and college, and came right to Chicago after I graduated so I could start classes at Second City. Then I just worked on a ton of independent shows, including Galileo Players. And Brad Morris and I did a two man show briefly called Schlitz und Bagels – this was before the internet, mind you - which helped shape my comedic point of view.

DS: You are a founder of the Galileo Players. How did that come to be in existence?
MH: Tom Flanigan, Ron Feldman, and I started Galileo right after we graduated the conservatory together in 1998. We felt like a niche would help distinguish us so we chose to focus on science. For the first few years we focused on writing original sketch revues and put them up in various venues, including Donny’s Skybox, Victory Gardens, and Live Bait.

DS: You directed both America: All Better and Studs Turkel's Not Working. Which production had more pressure? What is the process like as far as transitioning from one revue to another revue?
MH: It’s hard to discuss pressure, actually. There is inherent pressure on any resident production, of course, because you’re trying to uphold the legacy of all the shows that came before you, and you know that your work will get lots of attention from the press, the community, etc. And with this year being the 50th Anniversary of Second City, there was an added amount of scrutiny. But on the other hand, you have to be immune to pressure, because you want the process to be creative, and fun, and spontaneous, and if you’re too worried about he external pressures you may end up suppressing your mojo. I remember once Andy St. Clair coming up to me after a show once – he was upset because he felt too much pressure so I just told him to be like a samurai and block out all external stimuli. He laughed and the very next day created a killer monologue about African politics. Classic St. Clair.

As far as transitioning between revues, Second City shows never close – they simply morph into a new show. When we start developing new material, we slowly start blending it into our current show until eventually there is nothing left of the old show and we have an entirely new revue.

DS: How are the revue names determined?
MH: Lots of fighting, bickering, and pulling teeth.

DS: What was your experience like during the 50th anniversary festivities at Second City being around all these famous alumnni?
MH: The 50th was a humbling and inspiring party. It made me feel deeply connected to the entire Second City family, and motivated me to try and keep doing the best work I can. I had the pleasure of working first hand with some of my idols – Scott Adsit, Richard Kind, Brian Stack, Rachel Dratch, while also the irritation of dealing with crotchety Shelley Berman.

DS: Thanks again for joining us. Is there anything else you would like to plug?
MH: You guys were great – best of luck!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Comedypalooza is this weekend!!

Fred Willard has an ambivalent relationship with improv.

Bob Odenkirk was on the radio earlier this week.

Comedypalooza, as Andy calls it, is this weekend.

IO event sold out

Friday night is going to be a great night at iO!
At 9:30pm Beer Shark Mice with Neil Flynn, David Koechner, Pete Hulne, Pat Finn and Mike Coleman are playing. Opening for them is iOld School with Joel Murray, Mark Beltzman, Joe Liss, Cindy Camponera, Isabella Hoffman and accompanied by the master, Fred Kaz.

Afterwards, other alumni will be joining the casts for an Armando including Brian Stack and Kevin Dorff from The Tonight Show, as well as other surprise guests.
It's sold out so if you didn't get tickets, oh, well.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The 50th...

Andy St. Clair compares Second City to the New York Yankees.
On a blustery fall afternoon, Andy St. Clair slips into an empty club, with rows of tables, wooden chairs and a bare stage awaiting its next bit of comedy magic.

It doesn't look like much, but the stage is something of a shrine.

This is The Second City, the place where legions of comics — among them Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell, Mike Myers, Chris Farley, John Belushi, Bill Murray and John Candy — sometimes killed, sometimes flopped, but always tried to make 'em laugh.

This weekend, the theater marks its 50th anniversary, a milestone that's even more impressive in the ephemeral world of show business. Second City has survived and thrived for a half-century with the same formula: small, youngish casts; parody, satire and improvisation; and hip, irreverent, topical, often political humor.

Decades ago, it was Alan Arkin in a rain hat and slicker phoning God — "That's N-O-A-H," he tells the divine — and auditioning ark candidates. Thirty years later, it was Carell (Arkin's cast mate in "Little Miss Sunshine") as a job applicant ordered to stomp his foot and disguise his voice so a blindfolded personnel manager can guard against biases.

From one generation to the next, Second City has cranked out talent with clockwork regularity. "It's a comedy factory," says Harold Ramis, a former cast member turned director-writer-actor-producer.

Now it's Andy St. Clair's turn. He's at the Wells Street theater this day for rehearsals for the 97th main stage show, "The Taming of the Flu."

Tall with a Midwestern geniality, St. Clair, 34, made it to the main stage after working his way up the ranks over six years, much like a rookie moving from the minors to a championship team. So his description of Second City is apt.

"I call it the comedy Yankees," he says with an easy grin. "When it's not funny, people are going to be, 'What's wrong with the Yankees?' But when it is funny, they're going to be, 'Well, they're SUPPOSED to be funny. They're the YANKEES.'"[...]

"The reason it's successful is because we stay relevant," says Andrew Alexander, co-chairman and chief executive officer since 1985.

Shelly Gossman, a current cast member born nearly 20 years after the troupe was founded, elaborates.

"Unlike any other theater, it will always be new and different," she says. "It's younger people writing what they think. ... It's always current. It can't get antiquated. It's not a script from 20 or 30 years ago. It's theater in the now."

Monday, December 7, 2009

News articles...

The Sun-Times has a fascinating story on the musical direction for shows at Second City.

How Second City has fed SNL and Hollywood

Opening night!

Congrats to the Second City Mainstage cast and crew on a successful opening of the 97th revue, Taming of the Flu.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Michael McCarthy talks about his Second City experience

Michael McCarthy, an alumnus of both Second City Mainstage and ETC, shares his experiences.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Second City in the news

Andrew Alexander sits down with TimeOut Chicago. At over 7 pages, it's a great read. Go here for more about the 50th anniversary.

Second City was featured on CBS Sunday Morning.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Uncle's Brother to return to IO

Uncle's Brother (Tim Meadows, Brad Morris, and Joe Canale) will be back at iO Chicago on November 29th and December 13th. Both performances are likely to sell out so get your tickets now!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Shad Kunkle profiled in Lexington Paper

I don't know how I missed this but Shad Kunkle was profiled in the Lexington Herald-Leader earlier this month when BlueCo was in Lexington on tour.
Shad Kunkle went from Iowa to Chicago hoping to make it to the Super Bowl.

But he wasn't playing for Da Bears. He wanted to get to the Second City comedy troupe.

"It's the first Oregon Trail, it's the first place where comedians sought to use satire to affect people, and the place where people sought to do a blend between stand-up and actual comedic acting," says Kunkle, who will be on stage Friday night when Second City's touring company performs in the University of Kentucky's Memorial Hall.

If the name Second City doesn't ring a bell, many of its alumni certainly will — and they will explain why Kunkle refers to the theater as "the Super Bowl."[...]

"All those people who came before us, who blazed this trail, I think the reason a lot of people search Second City out is they want to walk in those footsteps."
In addition to his TourCo duties, Shad Kunkle can be seen performing with Carl and the Passions in IO's Cabaret Theater on Wednesday nights at 8 PM.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Letters to Santa: 24 Hours of Improv

This event is all-ages
Tickets are $15 and are good for the entire 24 hour event as long as there are seats available.
Tickets will be available at the door only.

Second City Chicago- ETC Theatre
1608 N Wells St
Confirmed Special Guests
Jeff Tweedy- Tue 7pm
Robbie Fulks- Tue 10pm
Upright Citizen's Brigade's Matt Walsh & Horatio Sanz- Midnight
Flashmob Marching Band- 3am
Bonnie Prince Billy- Wed 6am
BabyCo- Wed 7:30am
Nina Nastasia- Wed Noon
The Mountain Goats- Wed 2pm
The Blisters- Wed 4:30pm
Steve Albini

Visit Facebook for more!

Information about Letters to Santa can be found here.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I was in the audience for a mainstage show over the past weekend and things are certainly looking good for the 97th revue, which is opening up very soon.

Some sketches will likely be polished up between now and the opening but both the first and second half had me laughing up a storm.

Improvised Shakespeare

The Improvised Shakespeare Company was profiled in the AV Club.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Second City's 97th Mainstage Revue

Second City has announced that Taming of the Flu will open on December 6, 2009.

Taming of the Flu is directed by Mick Napier and the cast includes Lauren Ash, Shelly Gossman, Anthony LeBlanc, Brad Morris, Andy St. Clair, and Emily Wilson.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Jeff Garlin coming to IO

WHAT: Combo Platter featuring Jeff Garlin (Curb Your Enthusiasm, Arrested Development)
iO's Del Close Theater
Thursday November 5, 2009 10:30
$10, call the iO Box Office

Seating is limited.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Second City in Variety

Chances are you probably know this but Variety ran a few things on Second City since it's turning 50 this year, including 10 top milestones in the history of Second City.
Dec. 16, 1959:
Founded by a former U. of Chicago improv troupe, The Second City Theater opens its doors at 1842 N. Wells St., Chicago. In 1967, it moves a few blocks south to 1616 N. Wells, where it remains to this day.

April 1961
Debut comedy album, "Comedy From The Second City," is released. Among the album's performers is a little-known thesp named Alan Arkin.

June 1973
Company goes international with the opening of The Second City Toronto in the Old Firehall on Lombard Street. Among the performers who get their start there are John Candy, Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara.

Oct. 11, 1975
"Saturday Night Live" debuts on NBC. The Second City alums dominate the show's cast for its first two seasons, including John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Gilda Radner and Bill Murray.

October 1976
A year after "SNL" debuts, The Second City launches its own variety show, "SCTV," throughout Canada. A year later, skein airs in 55 U.S. markets as well.

Sept. 19, 1982
Nominated for seven Emmys, "SCTV" takes home a statue for best writing for a variety show.

The Second City Training Center founded, teaching the club's brand of comedy through workshops. Alums include Steve Carell, Tina Fey and Stephen Colbert. Today, training centers operate in Chicago, Toronto and Los Angeles.

June 1995
"Pinata Full of Bees" debuts, a fast-paced revue that breaks the structure of past productions. Featuring cast members such as Rachel Dratch and Adam McKay, production goes on to become a landmark show for The Second City.

June 8, 2004
The Second City gains placement on DVD shelves across America with the release of "SCTV: Volume One."

January 2005
Humor hits the high seas when The Second City forms a partnership with Norwegian Cruise Lines. The agreement places full-time companies on seven ships.
Some of the latest alumni breakouts:
SC legacy: After serving an 18-month stint in Tourco, Cackowski had a short run on Mainstage before impressing "Saturday Night Live" scouts.
Breakout: Penned such "SNL" sketches as "The Needlers" and a Bob Fosse opening routine for guest star Catherine Zeta-Jones, then went on to launch (and star in) popular soccer-mom Web series "The Jeannie Tate Show."
Up next: Writing for NBC sitcom "Community" and developing "Jeannie Tate" for HBO.

SC legacy: Notched a spot in Tourco during autumn 2001. A pivotal sketch for Lutz was his role as an overweight child whose mother force-feeds him Suzy Q's and makes him cry.
Breakout: Was hired for "SNL" during the same season as Cackowski. Fey invited him to appear in the "30 Rock" pilot.
Up next: Has been an "SNL" scribe since 2003 and plays a recurring role on NBC's "30 Rock."

SC legacy: Alum of four shows on the Toronto Mainstage, where he served as artistic director.
Breakout: As a wedding present, Martin's SC pals gifted him a pile of 1920s musical sketches, which inspired "The Drowsy Chaperone," which he co-shepherded with fellow SC alum Lisa Lambert into a Tony-winning Broadway tuner.
Up next: Retooling the book for the musical "Minsky's," which had a January tryout at L.A.'s Ahmanson Theater.

SC legacy: Scored a spot with The Second City Touring Company (aka Tourco) after his first audition, distinguishing himself with his knack for improv (he credits studying SC tapes of such greats as Steve Carell and Tina Fey).
Breakout: 3 Arts Management signed Miller in Chicago. Did a stint at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival, where he was seen by a Paramount casting director and hired for a featured role in "Cloverfield."
Up next: Starring in "Get Him to the Greek" with Russell Brand, and Tony Scott's "Unstoppable."

SC legacy: Known for cleverly breaking the fourth wall, O'Brien is living proof that persistence pays off. He waited in the wings for a spot on Mainstage for seven years after working as everything from box office manager to Tourco director.
Breakout: Scooped up by "SNL" scouts after teaching an audience member how to play the spoons.
Up next: Recently hired to write this season on "SNL."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Jeff Award winners

PRODUCTION – REVUE: “Studs Terkel's Not Working” - The Second City e.t.c.
DIRECTOR – REVUE: Matt Hovde – “Studs Terkel's Not Working” - The Second City e.t.c.
ACTRESS IN A REVUE: Amanda Blake Davis – “Studs Terkel's Not Working” - The Second City e.t.c.
TRIBUTE AWARD: The Second City - 50th Anniversary


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Noah talks about children...

The Armando Diaz Experience takes place every Monday night.

If you went last night, you would have seen Noah talk about children and some scenes performed about what he spoke about.

It was a great way to cap off the 25th birthday.

I didn't see that one coming...

I was going to go to the free improv set at Second City on Sunday night but due to the my birthday, I mean the Columbus Day holiday, they didn't have a TourCo show on Monday so they added an extra mainstage show and ETC show to the schedule.

I decided to catch one of the final Children of a Lesser G-d shows at IO (and to also see Family Tree House Boat Accident).

I don't remember what the suggestion was but I definitely was not expecting Emily to pick on me during a part in the show. Wearing a hat does make it easy to avoid making eye contact but I was cracking up hysterically.

As for Family Tree House Boat Accident, Tim Baltz was trying to either sell or buy a couch on Craigslist so he printed out all these relationship postings on Craigslist, including one that he said that he wrote himself, which I think was this one. These craigslist postings were performed by either Tim, Jordan Klepper, or Seth Weitberg.

Monday, October 5, 2009


Go to Armando tonight. Don't question me. Just do it, if it's not sold out.

Also, happy birthday to IO's Noah Gregoropoulos.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

CNN talks to BlueCo

CNN sat down with members of BlueCo when they performed in Washington, DC recently as a part of the 50th anniversary celebrations.

It's just a 2 minute clip.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Tuesday's Reckoning...

If you missed Tuesday night's Reckoning show, then you missed Charlie McCrackin acting as if he were one of those fiery ministers. Brian Jack was acting as G-d responding to the Grace Before Meals. You had to be there...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Children of a Lesser G-d to close

News from IO...Children of a Lesser G-d will be closing in 5 weeks. They perform on Sundays at the Del Close Theater upstairs at IO.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Tess Vigeland talks to current Jeff-nominated ETC star Amanda Blake Davis and mainstage alumnus Brian Gallivan.

Friday, September 25, 2009


During the free improv set at Second City last night, the cast using using the improvisational method of Trigger. I don't know as to how long this method has been used but it was certainly unique and different.

Anyway, between last Thursday and last night, the previews for the new set are looking great. Some new material was previewed last night (it's new to me anyway) and I was cracking up a storm.

The revue is slated to be opening in November and I will do everything in my power to be at opening night.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Brad Morris in Sears commercial

Catch Brad Morris in the recent Sears commercial with Brett Favre.

Second City doing previews...

If you are heading out to Second City for a Mainstage show and stay around for the free improv set, you'll be able to catch some of the scenes being worked on for the next revue, which I believe is being directed by Mick Napier.

If you laugh a lot, it will likely be in the next revue. If you don't, well, they'll just have to work harder. That last bit? Andy St. Clair's words, not mine.

But, in all seriousness, they've got some good stuff being prepared. You can't go wrong with some CTA action, be it a bus or a train. I won't ruin it but it's a scene with Emily Wilson and Shelly Gossman. I was cracking up a storm.

Another scene features Lauren Ash as a camp counselor. I halfway thought that it would feature some improvisation with the audience. Nope. I was cracking up a storm.

Another one is at an abortion clinic. That has Emily Wilson and Shelly Gossman. It's funny despite a controversial topic.

There's a scene with Anthony LeBlanc and Emily Wilson, where Anthony is eating tacos for dinner. I love the direction where this is headed.

I want to say there was one with Brad Morris, but that may have just been the improvised part of the night.

While they continue to rehearse the new revue, I highly suggest you check out the free set after the regular show. I think that Friday night is the only night that they don't have a free set.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

That roast...

This was from Joe Canale's's not safe for work.

The Reckoning

Last night, I saw The Reckoning perform in the Del Close Theater at iO.

It started out with Jake Schneider reading a short story that he wrote after last week's show, combining someone's birthday with 9/11. Even though I feel 8 years is too soon for jokes about a tragic day, I was laughing up a storm.

Then we got into the long-form improvisation that iO is known for.

Unlike prior shows that I've seen, be it at iO or even Second City, this one was different in that they went from scene to scene without any kind of a wash across the stage. I don't know if they are the only ones that transition that way but it works. I had no idea it was coming but it definitely works.

The idea suggested last night was Kanye. All in all, this group is one that you have to see if you enjoy improv.

The Reckoning consists of Jet Eveleth, Beau Golwitzer, Charlie McCrackin, Holly Laurent, Eddie Pina, Pat O'Brien, Brian Jack, Brad Morris, and Jake Schneider. Missing from last night's show was Beau Golwitzer, Brad Morris, and it goes without saying that Pat O'Brien wasn't there either. I hear he's writing for some television show...

EDIT: JTS Brown was in effect last night. Good to know.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Middle Age Comeback/3033

Last night, I walked over to iO to see the double feature of Middle Age Comeback and 3033. They perform back to back every Sunday night at 10:30 in the Cabaret theater.

Middle Age Comeback consists of Jim Carlson and Craig Uhlir, both of which have been performing together for years.

The word suggested last night was babies. Immediately, we see Craig as a person at the doctor's office asking Jim as to what he wants to name the kid. We also see a look into the kid's future with the different names such as Farn, Charn, Darn, Rarn, and Dave. Except for Rarn, the "kid" was played by Craig. Rarn was a tupperware salesman played by Jim. Rarn gets killed by Zarn.

It was very hilarious to watch as they play different characters in the same scene.

3033 mainly consists of members of the former house team People of Earth, mainly Bill Arnett, Alex Fendrich, Rush Howell, Danny Mora, and Andy St. Clair.

The suggestion was weather man and we immediately are taken to a dry run of the 6 PM news in which there is a head anchor that comes up with sexual innuendos in every lead story during the dry run through. Both the weather man and sports reporter try to do the other reporter's news. We also see how some of the news team meets at college and the b-roll for Donald Ferraro's introductory reel, which is at least 5 minutes long, if not more. Not to mention how the news team goes from Albuquerque to Chicago. The improvisation is solid and consistent.

Thanks, Larry Pubes!

For only $5, you can see two talented groups perform on a Sunday night. It's not a bad price to pay.

Friday, September 11, 2009

iO cuts house teams

Willie Nelson Slept Here and Electric Mayhem were both cut from iO.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

SCTV Reunion

Tickets go on sale this upcoming Monday for the SCTV reunion as Second City celebrates 50 years!
Anniversary celebration in December, The Second City is proud to announce that tickets will go on sale Monday, September 14th, at 10:00am for the SCTV Reunion Show for one night only on Friday, December 11th.

This once-in-a-lifetime performance will feature beloved characters, scenes and songs from The Second City and SCTV, performed by the comedy icons that made them famous. Joe Flaherty, Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Catherine O'Hara, Harold Ramis, Martin Short and Dave Thomas will reunite for one night only to kick off The Second City 50th Anniversary festival weekend December 11th-13th. Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit The Second City Alumni Fund, a resource fund for performers, technicians, support staff and other members of the creative and production teams at The Second City and SCTV.
For more on the 50th anniversary celebration, just point your browsers here.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Shows to check out

Some of the best shows in town that folks should check out include:
Williams and Martinez (performing every Monday night at 10 PM at The Playground)
Felt (performing at 8 PM at iO on Wednesday nights in the Del Close Theater
Best Church of G-d (Every Sunday starting September 20 at Lakeshore Theater)
The Reckoning (Del Close Theater at iO, Tuesday nights, 10:30 PM)
Improvised Shakespeare (Fridays at 8 PM and 10:30 PM at iO
TJ and Dave (Wednesday nights at 11 PM at iO)

Joey Bland goes from Rod Blagojevich, Superstar to ETC

With Andy St. Clair moving to mainstage, a void has to be filled on the ETC cast. Joey Bland, who just finished a run as Rod Blagojevich in Rod Blagojevich, Superstar, has been promoted to the Second City ETC cast. Bland is a former member of The Second City Touring Company. In town, you can find him performing in Baby Wants Candy and The Improvised Shakespeare Company.

Studs Turkels' Not Working

Directed by Matt Hovde, and until this past Sunday, the cast featured Andy St. Clair, Christina Anthony, Amanda Blake Davis, Timothy Edward Mason, Beth Melewski, and Tom Flanigan. The 33rd revue by the Second City ETC theater is very hilarious.

This revue recieved quite a few Jeff Award nominations. The nominations are as follows: Production – Revue, Ensemble, Director – Revue, and Actress in a Revue (Amanda Blake Davis – "Studs Terkel's Not Working").

If I had my way, I would have nominated all six of them.

The show starts off with a very hilarious song about the city of Chicago, with scenes incorporated, but the song also includes a reminder to turn your cell phones off.

One of the improvised scenes happens when Tim Mason comes out asking "You wanna fight the machine?" The punchline at the end: "Vote Republican." That's a way to find the sole Republican in the audience...

They spoof the Hall of Presidents and later, take a tour through the city of Chicago.

One of the best scenes, maybe because of the audience member chosen, had to be where they solved the crime. Tim Mason did his absolute best Thursday night. The audience member, not so much.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Andy St. Clair is moving to Mainstage

Andy St. Clair, a veteran of the Second City ETC stage, ended his run on the ETC stage this past Sunday with his final performance as a cast member of Studs Turkel's Not Working. Andy is a very talented comedian. I've seen him perform several times. Before I moved to Chicago, one of the first things I was told a few years back (2005, actually) was that I HAD to see Andy St. Clair perform. This was back when he was performing Sunday nights at iO with Molly Erdman as a member of Pie.

I saw a performance of Brother, Can You Spare Some Change? around the start of June. I was laughing up a storm when I saw it. During one of the parts where they take audience suggestions, I screamed baseball. Andy acted as a manager attempting to pull Tom Flanigan out of the ballgame. Flanigan didn't want to come out of the game if I recall correctly.

However, during this performance, they were doing previews for the new show. Three of the sketches that I saw did make it into the new revue directed by Matt Hovde. One of the sketches features Tim Mason as a writer of a crime novel. An audience member is picked and has to solve a crime. It's always different every night and the show that I went to last Thursday was unique to say the least because the audience member probably didn't give his real name. Another sketch that made it in was based on the Hall of Presidents at Disney and included Barack Obama. This one never gets old.

I try and catch the free shows every Wednesday night at iO where Carl and the Passions perform regularly. I imagine that Andy's run with them is moving to a close very soon since mainstage cast members perform nightly. However, for the time being, you can catch Andy in the following shows at iO: The Armando Diaz Experience (I think the cast in this show changes every week but don't quote me on it), 3033, and Don Tremendous.

Pat O'Brien hired by SNL

This is a repost from my other blog, The Kentucky Democrat. I had the chance to meet Pat at the send-off party following the free improv set on his last night (August 19, 2009) as a cast member of America: All Better!. Pat was a founding member of The Reckoning, performing weekly every Tuesday night at iO.

In SNL news, they've made some hirings for their writing staff. One of the additions is Pat O'Brien, who was most recently seen at Second City appearing in the revue, America: All Better! O'Brien's final show was last Wednesday night.

Michael Patrick O’Brien, is now starring in the Second City production, ‘America All Better!,’ in the windy city, but will be heading to New York in the fall to write for NBC’s 35th season of SNL.

O’Brien performed with the Second City touring company and the iO team the Reckoning before joining the show’s cast. According to the Chicago Sun Times, O’Brien teamed with Peter Grosz, a writer with the famed ‘Colbert Report’ in a widely praised iO sketch group entitled Misled.
Charna broke the rules when Lorne Michaels was here to audition Chicago improvisers. For SNL's sake, I'm glad she did. See here.
Any time "Saturday Night Live" head man Lorne Michaels visits Chicago on a talent-scouting trip, he has one rule with iO founder Charna Halpern: Don't showcase an actor Michaels has already flown out to audition.

Halpern broke that rule when the "SNL" crew visited several weeks ago. She put up Michael Patrick O'Brien, an actor who performs with The Reckoning at iO and on Second City's Main Stage, in the showcase's opening slot.

"I thought long and hard about it and decided that if Lorne didn't hire [O'Brien] before, it was because he didn't get to see enough," Halpern said. "Lorne and Seth [Meyers] said they were glad I broke the rule."

O'Brien now has two weeks to pack for New York City, where he'll join "Saturday Night Live" as a writer.

"It's one of the reasons we all sign up for that first improv class," O'Brien said, "to be on that show one day."[...]

After the iO talent showcase in late July, O'Brien was flown out to audition at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. O'Brien stood on the same monologue stage as Will Ferrell, Bill Murray and Gilda Radner, and performed his "5 minutes" -- the standard set of characters and impersonations sketch comedians prepare.
Tim Baltz has since been promoted to Mainstage.

Pat can be found in Pratkour:


Welcome to Chicago Improv Celebrity News!

This is a new blog that will be covering a lot of the improv happenings within the Chicago community. Who knows, maybe even an interview or two. Or three? We'll see what happens.

Chicago is the mecca of improvisation and sketch comedy. This goes back to 1959, when Second City was founded.

Want long form improvisation? Check out iO Chicago, formerly known as Improv Olympic.

If you are up for more, then check out The Annoyance Theatre and Bar.

Those are the big three names around here but that doesn't mean you should ignore the other ones.