Thursday, December 30, 2010

Tim Ryder in ESPN

Tim Ryder was in ESPN Magazine for an Anchorman photoshoot with Danica Patrick.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Baltimore show

TJ Shanoff and Megan Grano spoke to the press in Baltimore about the upcoming show, The Second City Does Baltimore.
Grano and Shanoff are aware that they are treading on sensitive ground. “What’s a little tricky—and we’re anticipating this in Baltimore—is that we’re gonna have reviewers come in saying, ‘Who the hell do these people think they are?’” Shanoff says. “We’re not trying to say we’re experts. But Second City has a certain pedigree, a certain way of doing things that’s very unique.”[...]

Shanoff has learned that you can’t always predict how a joke will go over. In Atlanta, one scene bombed so badly it was pulled from the show. The skit concerned a Georgia theme park called Stone Mountain. “It’s funny because it used to be the home of the Klan,” Shanoff says. “Now it’s where families—Hispanics, blacks, whites—all hang out and watch laser light shows and listen to classic rock music. But the gift shop had all these super racist items, like Mammy salt-and-pepper shakers and Confederate flag magnets.” So the comedy team wrote a scene spoofing on the gift shop; it included a line to the effect of, “Honey, we’re out of swastika magnets.” No one laughed.

Shanoff hopes to avoid falling flat in Baltimore by running jokes by locals prior to opening night. “Here’s an example,” he says. “I desperately wanted to find a piece that would rake Michael Steele over the coals and [the staff at Center Stage] wound up saying that even when Michael Steele was lieutenant governor nobody cared about him.” Despite his recent bid for re-election, the Republican National Committee chairman will not be appearing in the upcoming show.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Melewski joins Chicago Cash Cab

NPR News informs us that Beth Melewski is going to be in the Chicago spinoff of Cash Cab on Discovery.
The Discovery Network show that turns a New York City cab ride into an instant game show is launching a spinoff version based in Chicago next spring. Comic Beth Melewski, a "Second City" cast member, will be behind the wheel.

The expansion comes after a triumphant year for "Cash Cab." The series, itself a remake of a British TV's similar game based in London, won its second Daytime Emmy award for best game show. Ben Bailey won his first Emmy as best host.[...]

Melewski had the combination of smarts and knowledge of her city to work well in the cab, he said.

"Beth feels real-deal Chicago," he said. "You've got to have, for these shows at least, a feel for the city."

He doesn't expect expansion beyond these two cities in the United States, Bunting said. Other "Cash Cab" versions air in Canada, Japan and Australia.

The Chicago shows will begin airing within the two-hour block of four "Cash Cab" episodes that Discovery airs from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Eastern time, probably after the broadcast networks end their season in May. Bailey has been taping fresh New York episodes that will begin airing earlier. He's already made more than 200 since the game began in 2005.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Duffy talks Second City

Kate Duffy was interviewed last week a few days ahead of TourCo's stop at the Ridgefield Playhouse. She talks about how she got her start with Second City, amongst other things.
Q: How did you start performing with Second City?

A: It's funny, because if you asked every actor that, their paths and their journey would probably be different. I'm from the East Coast. I'm from Massachusetts originally and I've always wanted to be an actor or a comedian, and I knew Second City was the launching pad for all the greats. After college I tried to live in Boston for a while and have a normal 9 to 5 job and it just didn't stick, so I packed it all in and headed out here (to Chicago), and I just started by taking classes there actually, about 10 years ago now. So I went through their training center and then I started teaching there, and then I started touring with them about eight months ago.

Q: What's the show like?

A: The show is a two-act. In any show that we do you're going to have archive scenes from the last 50 years; these are best-of scenes that our past casts have written. We also do some of our original stuff that we're writing as a cast. And you'll probably get a little bit of music and some improvisation, as well. And Second City is known for its political and social satire, so nothing is sacred and we poke fun at just about everything.

Q: So many comedians have gotten their start at Second City and then gone on to "Saturday Night Live" and stardom. Is that something the cast is conscious of?

A: I think for a lot of people in Chicago, Second City is often the destination they're going for. There's always the what's next and what's after, and the great thing about Second City is that it has been such a launching pad for such talent, that people do come there to look for talent quite a bit. So you will have Lorne Michaels coming through Second City once a year if he's looking, or L.A. producers will come out, so there is a great opportunity for connections.

Q: Any favorite sketches that you're performing in?

A: Right now a sketch that we're doing is an archive scene that Tina Fey and Rachael Dratch (the "Saturday Night Live" alumna who played Debbie Downer) did back in the '90s called "Wicked." It's basically a mom and a daughter that go shopping at the mall and it's a very Boston-based scene; they have very thick Boston accents. It's really fun for me because I'm from Boston and I know a lot of people that sound like that, but it's also just a very well-written scene that Tina and Rachel put together.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Public Service Announcement

Dress warmly and in layers. Wind chills being called for 25 below zero tonight.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Free show at IO Next Wednesday

Via IO:
TJ & Dave will be taking a rare night off next Wednesday, and seeing as they're irreplaceable, we'll be bringing inone of our favorite performers for a free solo set starting at 10:30. iO fans will recognize Steve Waltien from the Improvised Shakespeare Company, Whirled News Tonight, and Bullet Lounge/Chaos Theory. Steve will be presenting material from his new one man show, "Stand-Up to Live: A Work In Progress", partially inspired by the sudden death of his father this past April.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Shad leaving BlueCo

Shad Kunkle is moving on from the Second City Touring Company. His final show with BlueCo will be Monday, December 20, 2010.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Beard promoted

Karla Beard has been promoted to the Second City ETC stage with Christina Anthony's depature last week. She was previously in Rush Limbaugh: The Musical.

O'Brien helped write bar sketch

If you had your suspicions that someone from Chicago was involved with the bar sketch at the end of this weekend's SNL with Robert DeNiro, you'd be correct. Pat O'Brien said he was 1/3 responsible for it. You can view the "It's a Living" sketch at

Saturday, December 4, 2010


Unless I am losing it, Brad Morris can currently be seen in a Blockbuster commerical and a Sony commercial.

Pat O'Brien appeared during the monologue segment of tonight's episode of Saturday Night Live hosted by Robert DeNiro.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Shelly speaks.

Shelly Gossman recently spoke with her alma mater's newspaper.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Ghostbusters to audition in Chicago

Given the Second City connections, Chicago improvisers probably have a leg up with casting for Ghostbusters 3. Auditions will take place in Chicago but I don't know when for sure.
The long awaited "Ghostbusters 3" is finally set to go into production early 2011. Initial casting for the film's main characters will take place in Los Angeles, and additional casting will be conducted in Chicago, where filming is to take place.

Harold Ramis and Dan Aykroyd will reprise their onscreen roles, as well as serve as executive producers and character writers. Academy Award nominated director Ivan Reitman will return to direct the third Ghostbusters film. In addition to directing the Ghostbusters movies, Reitman has also directed such films as Twins, Kindergarten Cop, Junior, Dave, Fathers' Day, Six Days Seven Nights, My Super Ex-Girlfriend. As a producer, Reitman has been involved throughout all phases of the filmmaking process in over 45 productions.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Christina Anthony leaving ETC cast

Christina Anthony is leaving the ETC cast after a few revues to head out to Los Angeles.

Her last night has been set for December 2nd. We wish her the best.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Xmas Smackdown

Also, via IO:
A Christmas Show For People Who Hate Christmas!
Mark Nutter (The Bicycle Men) returns to iO from the golden shores of Hollywood with Christmas Smackdown, a musical anti-celebration of America's Favorite Holiday®, co-written by Cynthia Carle and starring Lyndsay Hailey, Tim Soszko, Molly Todd, and David Wrigley. Watch in joy/horror as the cast presents an evening of festive holiday songs about suicide, furries, cannibalism, and more. Come slam yuletide sentiments to the mat in a reverse Argentine death choke every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 8:00 from November 30th through December 22nd.
Tickets are $15.

Paul Brittain at IO next week

Via IO:
SNL's Paul Brittain Returns To iO
SNL's breakout star and recent iO alumn Paul Brittain returns to iO for a very special reunion show with his longtime collaborators TOPAZ. This amazing group will strap on their trademark denim jumpsuits one more time on Tuesday November 23rd at 8:00, opening for Cook County Social Club. TOPAZ is as high-energy and physical as improv gets. You do NOT want to miss this.
The show is at 8 and tickets are $12 if they are not already sold out.

Joy promoted

Jessica Joy was promoted to the Second City ETC stage following Beth's departure.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Sunday nights at 9:30 PM over at The Annoyance, check out Kate Duffy in

BUCKLE: A One-Woman Emotional Car Wreck Driven by Kate Duffy and Directed by Scott Goldstein.

The show runs November 21 - December 26. Tickets $10

Check it out sometime.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

For just $15....

At Second City this Friday:
Friday, November 12, 5:30-7:30pm

Our first guest for the Writer's Salon is Reinhold "Reiny" Weege, the Creator/Executive Producer/Writer/Director of the Emmy Award-winning series Night Court, Producer/Writer of Barner Miller, and Writer of multiple episodes of M*A*S*H. Reiny will share his views on comedy and sketch writing, offer up some interesting stories, and treat attendees to a viewing of some of his favorite clips.

Tina Fey to be presented Mark Twain Prize

At the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC tonight, actress-comedian-writer Tina Fey will be presented with the Mark Twain Prize for humor.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Beth Melewski sets last night

Beth Melewski has set her last night on the Second City ETC stage for Sunday, October, 24. Set starts around 9ish.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Lampooning Rand Paul

I wrote and directed this.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Help find a cure

Help EJ Scott in his mission to raise $100,000 for the Choroideremia Research Foundation.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Second City Updates...

Amanda Blake Davis replaced Shelly Gossman in the Mainstage cast.

Tim Ryder replaced Tom Flanigan in the ETC cast.

Comiskey at UCB

Comiskey comes to New York's UCB Theater.

If you are in New York and want a taste of Chicago, go see Comiskey on Monday at UCB.

Via POB:
Come out for the first ever improv show from this group of friends from Chicago who have relocated to work in television in NYC. "Comiskey" includes myself, Vanessa Bayer, Paul Brittain, Tom Flanigan and Shelly Gossman. With special guest John Lutz and possibly more!!

I'll be warming the crowd up with 20 minutes of solo material as well, for those of you who missed my solo show at UCB this spring.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Bullet Lounge at IO Tonight after Armando

Via IO:

Please join us at 10:30pm tonight- Monday, October 4th for a very special performance by veteran house team Bullet Lounge, as current and original members all get together for one last blow-out before the team shuffles on out to greener pastures. Many members of the team will continue to hold down the Saturday 10:30 time slot they have occupied for many years now, while others move on from the group. This "Almost Grand Finale" show should not be missed as it will be one last chance to see the whole gang back together one last time!

This show is free and reservations are not required.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

IO to host SNL watch party

IO will be hosting a watch party for the new season of Saturday Night Live this Saturday. The party is free and no reservations are needed.
The iO Theater and its community of writers and performers invites you to join them in celebrating the success of new Saturday Night Live hires and iO alumni Vanessa Bayer and Paul Brittain with a viewing party at iO.

Bayer and Brittain are following in the footsteps of recent iO hires like writer Michael Patrick O’Brien and SNL Legends like Tina Fey and Mike Myers. While we celebrate every year that an iO troupe member is hired for SNL, this night will be an event to remember.

The episode will be shown on our large projector screen in The Del Close Theater. Admission will be free and seating will be on a first come first served-basis, with the house opening at 10:00 PM.

That Denver show...

A few articles have hit the internets with regards to the limited engagement run in Denver, Colorado.

The first profiles Micah Sherman:
Among the talented touring Second City ensemble is Micah Sherman. Denver is the second city where Sherman has performed with Second City, and he said he has enjoyed working with the group of talented people who make up the ensemble.

“I love performing with the cast, everybody is really funny,” he said.

Sherman has been doing improv comedy since he was 15 years old. Like any activity, there was a steep learning curve at first, but Sherman enjoyed the process enough to stick with it.

“It’s the highest I’ve ever been, it’s a thrill,” he said. “A lot of people like to skydive and all that (stuff), I do improv.”
The second article also profiles Micah Sherman. Something tells me that it will not be too long before we see Micah performing regularly on the ETC or Mainstages.
Here's how Sherman explains it:

"Let's say I'm a congressman in the U.S. House of Representatives," he said. "You wouldn't assume that I was, say, Alexander Hamilton. I am your local, contemporary congressman. I'm someone the entire country hasn't heard of yet . . . but I still have a promising political career in front of me."

The problem with his analogy: "There are no congressmen who are funny the that I am funny," he admits. "They're funny the way congressmen are funny, in that we like to laugh at them."[...]

"All of the sketches that we will be performing in Denver were written by people like Stephen Colbert, Tina Fey and Dan Castellaneta (the voice of Homer Simpson)" Sherman said. "So while the material was written by people you have heard of, it's all being performed by people you haven't — like Micah Sherman."

He describes the evening as a journey through Second City's storied past, with narration peppered throughout explaining who was responsible for writing what scenes. He says one sketch written by Arkin in 1961 "is amazing for how well it still plays."
The limited run in Denver ends on October 10th.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Big Ten Tailgate

For those wondering what happened to all the correspondents from the Big Ten Friday Night Tailgate appearing on the Big Ten Network presented by iO, I know for a fact that Tim Baltz is appearing on the Second City ETC stages these days.

Jordan Klepper, I'm not so sure about. Nor am I sure with Steve Waltien. Other than performing regularly at IO.

The other difference this season is that Mike Hall is on the road as opposed to being in studio.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A POB Interview

No, I didn't interview POB but Live from New York, It's Saturday Night did. Here's an excerpt:
What advice, if any, do you have for aspiring comedy performers/writers?
Everything I've ever gotten has come to me when I stopped trying to get things, and focused on finding and performing in my own voice. So, make sure the bulk of your time is spent on projects that are truly unique to you and keep you up at night with excitement, not projects that showcase your cast ability. I'd also say don't get married to one path. I see a lot of people who let the fact that Second City or SNL has not hired them cause them to become bitter and/or quit comedy. I think it's healthier to set goals like, "I want to be working with friends and producing interesting comedy for a living some time soon," than "I need to get Second City main stage by 2012 and SNL by 2015 or I've failed."

Lastly, don't spend any energy worrying about what other comedians have been hired for, whether they deserve it, whether their last joke was good or not... Just worry about your own stuff and do your best to enjoy all the hilarious people out there without judgment. All easier said than done.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Jeff Nominees announced

“The Absolute Best Friggin’ Time of Your Life” - The Second City e.t.c.

Sam Richardson - “Spoiler Alert: Everybody Dies” - The Second City

Christina Anthony – “The Absolute Best Friggin’ Time of Your Life” - The Second City e.t.c.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Improv(e) Humanity

This Thursday is a benefit for the American Cancer Society.

You can find more info at Facebook.
Have you ever had $12 and thought to yourself, "I could either donate this $12 to the American Cancer Society OR I could go see a comedy show..." What a dilemma! Now you can do both! Join us for an evening full of genius by Ken Barnard, high-energy improv from Fart City, music by Courageous Rue, and all hosted by the lovely and always quirky Cameron Esposito.
It takes place Thursday, September 2, 2010 at Gorilla Tango, located at 1919 N. Milwaukee.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Vanessa Bayer and Paul Brittain hired by SNL

Vanessa Bayer and Paul Brittain have been hired as a featured player for Saturday Night Live.

Joining them as a featured player is Groundlings' Sunday Company cast member Taran Killam.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tom Flanigan to write for Saturday Night Live

Second City ETC veteran Tom Flanigan has been hired to write for the upcoming season of Saturday Night Live.

Flanigan joins a staff featuring his brother-in-law Pat O'Brien.

Tom's last show will be August 29th.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Way to go, Brendan!

Congrats to Brendan Jennings on his recent Tribune honor.
Brendan Jennings, 32
Second City has a lot of slick comics with savvy smarts. But in Brendan Jennings, it also has an emotional well. Jennings, making his debut on the Second City's e.t.c. stage, says that the new gig is “a dream come true” for this graduate of Xavier University in Cincinnati. He has paid his dues — touring with Second City for more than two years until it got too tough to match up with fatherhood. All this 32-year-old needs for discovery is an old-fashioned TV or movie executive to understand the deepest laughter needs risk and heart. We hope Jennings sticks around town. He's the latest in that long and distinguished Second City line of big, funny, needy men who are willing to risk everything at every moment — and thus become the souls of whatever revue they perform.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

SNL called some back

Word has it that a few were asked to go to New York so if anything comes of it, we'll know soon..

Monday, August 2, 2010

SNL hires Shelly Gossmann

I will have a link up later but Shelly Gossman of Second City Mainstage has been hired as the newest writer of the long running sketch comedy show, Saturday Night Live.

Lorne Michaels and several writers were in Chicago last week scouting for new cast and writers.

Shelly's last night on mainstage has beem set for August 18th.

Here is a blurb from Time Out Chicago:
In the wee hours of the morning O’Brien informed Gossman that she’s been tapped to join the writing team for the venerable sketch comedy show and have her final performance at Second City on August 18. We can’t imagine the current Mainstage revue Spoiler Alert: Everybody Dies without Gossman’s outstanding contributions. Between her bit as a hapless and overbearing mom and a fully-improvised monologue based on accessories submitted by the audience, she’s one of the show’s driving forces and will be missed.
Congrats again, Shelly!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Mainstage sets opening night

Second City Mainstage has set the opening night of the 98th Mainstage revue, Spoiler Alert: Everybody Dies, for July 14, 2010. It's a Wednesday night, and also, the only day that there is no activity in sports save for the AAA all star game.
In the blockbuster of human life, we all know the outcome - no spoiler alert needed. In spite of this inevitable ending, we continue to live our lives, find joy and understand the world around us. Sometimes our path leads us to save the world and sometimes our path is to simply remind our husband where they left their keys - it's what you make of it and how you deal with it that matters. From cold feet on your wedding day to the comfort of viewing the comic misadventures of others on Reality TV, Spoiler Alert: Everybody Dies reminds us that in the end, we are all in this together.

Directed by Matt Hovde (2009 Joseph Jefferson Award Winner for Best Director and Best Revue), the cast of Spoiler Alert: Everybody Dies includes Allison Bills, Shelly Gossman, Timothy Edward Mason, Sam Richardson, Tim Robinson and Emily Wilson. Julie Nichols is Musical Director and Craig Taylor is Stage Manager. Stylist is Claire Tuft. Set Design by Amy Jackson. The producing team for Spoiler Alert: Everybody Dies includes Chief Executive Officer & Executive Producer for The Second City, Andrew Alexander; Chief Operating Officer, Diana Martinez; Executive Vice President, Kelly Leonard; Producer, Alison Riley and Associate Producer, Monica Wilson.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Beer Shark Mice at IO

Beer Shark Mice will be at IO during the Just for Laughs festival in Chicago. The group consists of David Koechner (Anchorman, Snakes On A Plane), Neil Flynn (Scrubs), Mike Coleman (Curb Your Enthusiasm), Pat Finn (Seinfeld), and Pete Hulne (American Body Shop). Tickets will sell out.

Show Dates And Times

Wednesday, June 16 at 8 p.m.
Opening Act: 3033

Wednesday, June 16 at 10:30 p.m.
Opening Act: Deep Schwa

Thursday, June 17 at 8 p.m.
Opening Act: Middle Age Comeback

Thursday, June 17 at 10:30 p.m.
Opening Act: The Reckoning

All Tickets Are $24.

Monday, May 24, 2010

For the movie lovers

I don't know how many within the improv community frequent Webster Place or City North 14 but as of May 25, 2010, those theaters will no longer accept the Keresotes Five Buck Club card for discounted movies. As you may recall, Keresotes sold all but two theaters to AMC. AMC has subsequently sold these particular theaters to Regal Cinemas.

Here's the email that Keresotes sent out:
Dear Five Buck Club Member of City North 14 and Webster Place,

I wrote you recently about AMC's acquisition of the Kerasotes Theatres. In a subsequent transaction, AMC has sold the City North 14 and Webster Place to Regal Cinemas. Regal will take over management of these two locations effective May 25, 2010.

We have been asked by Regal to inform you that they will not be honoring Five Buck Club cards after they assume operation of these locations on May 25, 2010.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Interview with Susan Messing

Danielle Solzman: Thank you for joining us today. How are things going in the Windy City?
Susan Messing: Besides the fact that the infrastructure of the Chicago Public School system is crumbling, great.

DS: Congrats again on winning Improviser of the Year at this year's Chicago Improv Festival. How does it feel?
SM: Awkward but very kind of Jonathan Pitts and the rest of the gang. It's strange to have that kind of acknowledgement when I know that any success I have is due to my friends making me look good and the simple fact that I wouldn't give up, even when I wanted to do just that.

DS: How did you discover improv and sketch comedy?
SM: I was a theatre major @ Northwestern University. There were auditions for the Meow Show, a campus revue with short form and sketch. It was directed by Dan Patterson (I think that was his name) the guy who ultimately created the original "Whose Line is it Anyway." Sophmore year. Didn't get cast. The next year I heard about some improv audition off campus and it was @ ImprovOlympic on Wilton Street in Chicago. Didn't get cast. Still, it must have stuck out in my mind after I graduated, because I started @ ImprovOlympic.
Sketch was always around- Monty Python, SNL, SCTV. Finally discovered SC when I was studying @ ImprovOlympic and took classes there too.

DS: When did you start performing Messing with a Friend?
SM: 2005? Ask Jack Farrell @ Second City because the opening night @ Second City's Unhinged Series was also the day that Jack almost died in my class. Since he's still alive, he's probably hep to that day. After that run, I did two runs @ iO and we're almost at the four year mark @ The Annoyance.

DS: What about Children of a Lesser G-d? When did that start? Any chance of a new run in the future?
SM: COALG was just a bunch of awesome lady friends who felt like playing together. Charna had nothing going on upstairs after student shows on Sundays and gave us the slot so Rachael, Kate, Emily and I grabbed it. It's a nice time slot. I'm bad with dates- 2007? 08? It ran for about a year and a half and then Rachael made a baby, Kate went on a SC boat, and Em moved to San Fransisco. We had a fun reunion during CIF this year and I'm sure we'll meet again onstage together in the future.

DS: How did Pleasant Valley start?
SM: Jet and Holly have done my show before and we missed each other so threw it together. Fun is winning.

DS: You created the level 2 curriculum at IO, right? How did that happen?
SM: After years of performing, I felt like I had enough experience to teach. Mick had me teach a class @ the Annoyance with Jodi Lennon and when I approached Charna, she told me that I had to coach first. I was annoyed because people who started years after me were already given teaching opportunities but I plowed ahead. For a year I coached three teams simultaneously and made up exercises that I thought would support them. Wrote it out on some yellow lined people, handed it to Charna, and thankfully, she liked my curriculum.

DS: You're one of the founding members of The Annoyance. How did that come about?
SM: Mick was one of the first three improvisors I met @ ImprovOlympic. He was working with some people creating new forms- it was called Nimbus under the banner of Metraform. He'd get someone like Noah to direct a bunch of newbies, give us a theme like "clown" and then walk away and have us figure it out. At the same time he was directing a show called "Splatter Theatre," which was hysterical. When he did "Splatter Theatre II" I auditioned. I think I had to walk into a room and scream. That show was a pain in the neck, too many people, money mismanagement, bad landlord, whatever. At the end there were about ten people who Mick could stomach and we created a musical called "Co-Ed Prison Sluts." We were still under the banner of Metraform, but when we got our own space on Broadway/Briar, it was renamed The Annoyance.

DS: What did you think of your Mainstage experience at Second City?
SM: It was great and humbling. Never thought that I'd have the opportunity to work there. I knew that it would be one of the hardest and best jobs that I would ever have- you walk into the building and you can feel the history. I don't think I did my best work there, which I regret, but I think I always feel that way- that I can still do better. That said, I learned an unbelievable much about myself and about the work. Invaluable. I am very grateful to Mick, who was my director, and everyone who produces and works for Second City for the experience.

DS: What were the 50th anniversary celebrations like?
SM: Surreal and lovely.

DS: What advice do you give to beginning improvisers?
SM: Don't give up. Learn table manners. Put your blinders on and take the hard note. Don't give up.

DS: Thanks again for speaking with the Chicago Improv Celebrity News? Is there anything else you would like to add?
SM: Thanks for having me.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Adam McKay pens op-ed

Former SNL head writer and Second City/IO alumnus Adam McKay wrote a letter to the editor. It was published in the Chicago Sun-Times.
So often we hear politicians talk about the "small business owners" and how we must protect "the little guy." But more often than not, we see corporations lining these same politicians' pockets with campaign money to give corporations tax breaks, preferential zoning and exemptions from a multitude of regulations. Well surprise, surprise, they're at it again.

Wrigleyville has been a neighborhood of small businesses that has thrived for decades with a vibrancy and personality that has come to symbolize Chicago for millions of visitors and residents. So the recent plans to mow down the street to create a mall for CVS, Best Buy and Apple can be viewed as nothing more than another in a long line of sellouts to corporate interests over the interests of the people who live and work in the community. This must end.

First and foremost, Ald. Tom Tunney must be made aware of the fact that if this continues, he will not be re-elected as we will spread the word and work together to make sure everyone knows what he has advocated.

Second, we will boycott these new stores, take out full-page ads in local papers and on websites and petition our congressman and senators to make this a line in the sand between corporate monied interests and the people.

These politicians and corporations rely on the fact that people are not informed by the corporate news, but we will make it our mission to spread the word about the destruction of Wrigleyville for corporations.

Adam McKay, People Against the Malling of Wrigleyville

Monday, May 17, 2010

Interview with Andy St. Clair

Danielle Solzman: Thanks for joining us today. How are things going in the Windy City?
Andy St. Clair: Good. Ready for the summer to come. Don’t be a pussy summer. Get here. Summer in Chicago is really really great.

DS: When did you decide to go into improv and sketch comedy?
ASC: Um, I think in 1998. I moved up to Chicago to be a “real” actor and just kinda fell into sketch/improv. I’m glad I did.

DS: What was your improv training like? Is there any particular thing that an instructor said that has really stuck to you?
ASC: Well, I did all the things people do now in Chicago. Took class at IO/2nd city. I might have had one class at the Annoyance. Maybe. The best training I got was I was lucky enough to be apart of a team out of my level 1 class at IO and got to work with a lot of great people. That group became a group called “People of Earth”. So, every week in my first year of improv I was getting to do Class/Rehearsal for improv group at IO/Show at IO. I had been doing improv 2 months at that point. So, that was good for me. I had a lot of great teachers who all taught me something different. Peter Gwinn was a big influence in my improv life. He was the coach of my IO team and did that for 5 years.

DS: After several revues on ETC and being able to participate in the 50th anniversary Mainstage show, you decided to say retire so to speak. How did this decision come about?
ASC: Sometimes it’s just time to go in whatever it is you do. You do shows at 2nd city and after doing it for 3-4 years, not having any time to do whatever it is I wanted to do, it was just time to go and it’s for the best. It’s scary and fun but it’s the future (robot noise).

DS: When did you join the Second City National Touring Company--and how long were you with them? What did you do do to climb the ladder through the system?
ASC: I got hired in fall of 2003 but got on a tour company in January of 2004. I was with them till Feb 2006 when I then moved to Las Vegas and wrote a show in Vegas. To climb the ladder at 2nd city I fucked everyone I could. Kelly/Andrew/Monica/Robin/Beth/janitors/Lois Kaz/Ruby/Craig Taylor….it didn’t matter, I fucked them. Eventually they had to give me another job. I had seen them all naked. Or, I have no clue how the ladder climbing goes. Just do good work. Be funny. Hope for some luck. There are a lot of talented people at 2nd city and not everyone gets to do a stage.

DS: "Taming of the Flu" was your first revue on the Mainstage. What was your initial reaction when you found out you would be promoted to Mainstage?
ASC: I was in shock. I always wanted to do a mainstage show but after “Studs” opened up on the ETC I was kinda happy with just being an “ETC” guy. So, I didn’t see it coming and was blindsided.

DS: What are some of your favorite characters to do?
ASC: Funny ones. Are you asking in a 2nd city show or just in general? Honestly I don’t know but I’m sure if you asked 10 people that know me or have seen me 2 times will tell you I play this: Stupid Kid/Asshole boss/Asshole neighbor/Asshole Coach. I’m not an asshole….I don’t think. Maybe I am. Ah fuck it. Honestly, my favorite characters are funny ones. Go with your instincts kids.

DS: What's the process like when it comes to writing a new revue? How early do new scenes start joining the running order?
ASC: The process is long and fun. It’s getting to write a show with 6 performers who hopefully all want the show to be funny. You get to try out jokes and scenes for 10-13 weeks for 300 to 600 people a night. How cool is that? People pay to watch you act like an ass. Sometimes you don’t even know what is going on you just go out on stage and hope you don’t say “fuck” to many times in a scene.

The running order and new scenes all start and end with the director. He or She makes those decisions. Normally though about the 1st or 2nd week new scenes start appearing in the show.

DS: When did you join Carl and the Passions? Who is Carl anyway? What's it like to perform with such a great ensemble?
ASC: I joined CATP in 2004 or 2005. I think 2004. Carl is Paul Grondy. Actually I think CATP was a name The Beach Boys use to call themselves before they went with The Beach Boys. I could of just made that up as well. I’ve been very lucky to work with a lot of great ensembles. POE/3033/CATP/2nd city etc and mainstage. The people always have your back and believe in whatever it is your doing no matter what. That really is a freedom that is hard to explain but once you have it there is no going back.

DS: What do you usually tell new improvisers when they are just starting out?
ASC: I tell them a few things.

#1) Quit being better then me.

#2) Have fun. You’re playing make em ups. If you don’t like it or are going to get mad the entire time find something else to do.

#3) Listen to your fellow performers. Listening is how you get better.

#4) React. Make strong bold choices.

#5) Quit being better then me. I say it twice to really enforce the point.

DS: What's your first memory of Second City and what would be your favorite?
ASC: My first memory was watching the show “Psychopath Not Taken”. My favorite show ever at 2nd city. It’s so damn good. Also, the first thing I remember seeing at 2nd city. My theory is that the first show you see there is always your favorite. Turns out to be true for me. TJ was in it. Kevin Dorff. Stephanie Weir. Amazing. It was the moment I had to at least give this “improv comedy” thing an honest hard working try.

My favorite 2nd city memory for myself? So many. Hard to just choose one. I made Harold Ramis’s wife piss her pants. That was a proud moment. Probably my favorite is spending time with the casts and having serious conversations that go like this:

Andy: I think if I say “Let’s slip it in his butthole” that that is funnier.

Cast Member: I think you have to say “Let’s slip it in his asshole” it’s funnier.

Andy: Really?

Cast Member: Yup.

Andy: I’m going to say “butthole” this time and just hold on that word and see if it gets a laugh.

This isn’t an actual conversation (or is it) but you have serious discussions about the stupidest things and can’t believe you just said that in all seriousness.

DS: You were quoted in the AP about having to sign an autograph for an audience member and were flattered when they said they can't wait to see you on SNL. How often does this happen to you?
ASC: At 2nd city, that happens all the time. Which is a great assumption. Let’s keep that going. It’s just in the history of 2nd city. People think you do 2nd city and then go to SNL. Which is positive thinking. I’m glad Chicago people and the city of Chicago is so positive. Nowadays walking the streets like a bum it doesn’t happen as often. So, the next time you see me will you say it to me?

DS: You also said Second City was the Yankees of Improv? What does this make IO? The Annoyance?
ASC: 2nd city: Yankees of improv. Biggest team in town. Has the most money. Gets whoever they want. You always want to play for them. Glad when you do. Like being in the building. The best.

IO: The team you love and started out with. Has the craziest old Jewish lady running the team. You want to kill her but love her at the same time. Sometimes when she speaks you have to go and say “don’t listen to that”. She is a great lady and a great manager. Loves all or most of her ballplayers. She is also my friend so I can’t say to many bad things about her. But, she crazy. I love it. I’ll go with Chicago White Sox. Charna is Ozzie.

Annoyance: Fun ass team. Ran by a crazy man who would rather talk about fucking a goat then improv. Luckily this team has co-managers and the lady co-manager is the brains. She keeps it all together. Whew. These managers are fun and do some great magic. Magic. Like card tricks and shit. Hypnotism. Mind tricks. Amazing. Anyway, you can do anything at this theatre and to be honest it’s freeing. So, for this team I’ll go with the Colorado Rockies. Mainly cause I don’t know anything about the Rockies but I hope their clubhouse is like the Annoyance theatre.

DS: Lazy Tuesday or Lazy Sunday?
ASC: Lazy Tuesday. For a lot of reasons. Mostly good. Mostly.

DS: Thanks again for joining Chicago Improv Celebrity News. Is there anything else you would like to add?
ASC: Two dimes and a nickel is the same as a quarter.

The latest on this whole mess

Charna just posted the following to the facebook group:
Folks-I have great news. I was just contacted by an attorney who told me we were given erroneous information. Zoning on the Development HAS NOT BEEN APPROVED. First it goes to the planning commission meeting-and we will be there too. Ill get the date.
This is definitely great news for all those concerned.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Matt Besser shows his support

Even after comedians have moved from Chicago to New York or Los Angeles, they never forget where it happened in Chicago. Improvisers? We stand together in solidarity.

Friday, May 14, 2010


Jason Chin's blog has some information on last night's photo shoot and what all is going on. Unfortunately, I was unable to be there.

44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunnney is in favor of the $100 million project so that should tell you something and I'd prefer to keep politics off of this blog but it's so upsetting to the comedians in Chicago.

The Chicago Sun-Times has an article that was published this morning.
Bar, theater and restaurant owners lambasted Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) on Thursday for endorsing a $100 million mixed-use development across the street from Wrigley Field that will sweep them out of the "cool, hip neighborhood."

Roughly eight neighborhood businesses would be displaced to make way for "Addison Park on Clark," a project at Addison and Clark that includes a 137-room Hyatt Hotel, 135 residential units, 145,000 square feet of retail space and 399 underground parking spaces.[...]

On Thursday, displaced business owners fired back. They accused Tunney of selling out independent merchants who live in the neighborhood in favor of a mall that would "bring suburbia to Wrigleyville."

"It'll be the end of a very hip neighborhood," said Charna Halpern, owner and director of iO Theater.

A neighborhood haunt since 1995, the former ImprovOlympic is where Halpern and her business partner, the late comedy legend Del Close, taught improvisation to future stars, including Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Seth Meyers and Jack McBrayer.

"People like being able to walk to iO, see a fun show for $14 and go dancing at Wild Hare afterward. It's a fun block that's good for the neighborhood. On a Saturday night, it's like Mardi Gras. It's not just about the Cubs. Now, there'll be nothing. It'll be Best Buy. How exciting is that on a Saturday night?"

Other business owners voiced similar complaints but declined to comment publicly.

Halpern directed her anger at Tunney, owner of Ann Sather's Restaurants.

"We're the people who elected him because we thought he was a man of the people -- that he wouldn't be bought out by big business," she said.

"If some business owner bought up his property and wanted to throw him out for a Friday's chain, we would have his back. That's how people feel here."

Tunney said nobody knows better than he does the trauma faced by a displaced business.

In the 1980s, he was forced to move Ann Sather's, 925 W. Belmont, to a former funeral home next door because his lease had expired and the landlord was converting the building to condos.

"I put my life savings into owning a piece of property so I didn't have to do it again," Tunney said.

Calling himself the City Council's most "pro-business and pro-small, independent business" member, Tunney promised to work with all of the displaced businesses to find new locations in Lake View.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Interview with Tim Baltz

Danielle Solzman: Thanks for joining us today. How are things going in the Windy City?
Tim Baltz: Pretty good! Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are playing SNL this Saturday and they have a new album coming out in June. First studio album for the band in 8 years, Daniel. 8 years. Set aside the knitting equipment you use when you listen to other bands on your iPod. And pick up something that rules.

DS: I don’t own an iPod. When did you decide to go into improv and sketch comedy? When did you have your “Second City” moment? Or IO moment?
TB: In '95 or '96, I was 15, and I went with a friend of mine and our parents to see a Harold show at iO. It blew my mind. It was hilarious, but it was also really poetic, and harmonious, and different. As junior high or high school kids, I think a lot of us rely on movie quotes and falling down to get laughs. I remember in 7th grade, a friend of mine came up to me and told me that another kid in our class was upset that I was getting laughs by quoting the same movie as him. One of the dumbest conversations of my life. Anyway, in contrast to stuff like that, iO just seemed so intricate and wide open. Anything was possible. I made a promise to myself to be in Chicago and try it, and eventually went to college at Loyola University. At first, I was really afraid to suck at it, though, so I took Second City's Beginning Levels (A-E), which were a lot of fun. And then started iO classes three days after I graduation. In 1999, right before college, my aunt and uncle got me tickets to see Second City's Touring Company in Aurora, too. That was cool. I saw Better Late Than Nader after prom once, too, and that left an impression. I didn't really understand what Second City was all about until I got hired, though. To me, it was this big thing that people went to after they honed their skills at iO. Turns out they're both great, I just knew more about iO first and really wanted to play there.

DS: What was your improv training like? Is there any particular thing that an instructor said that has really stuck to you?
TB: I did SC's Beginning Improv Levels in college, then iO's Training Center, then SC's Conservatory from 2005 to mid-2006 when I got hired as an understudy to the Touring Companies. I had some great teachers....I won't list them all, but TJ Jagadowski, Paul Grondy, Peter Grosz, Liz Allen, Jimmy Carrane, Joe Bill.... I've forgotten so many of the great things that they've said. Joe Bill once told me, right before a show, "I'll bet you like tall girls, right?" Starting out, probably the main note I got was about focusing on one thing at a time. Andy St. Clair told me in a rehearsal once that I was like a cat in a room full of toys, and I couldn't just play with one, I tried to play with all of them. So I pushed myself to play with one at a time for a while. Otherwise, one that stuck out was being real on stage. Not being afraid to play yourself, have actual opinions. Anyone can be fake on stage, but some of my early teachers challenged me to play characters either close to myself, or characters that my real opinions could channel through. That was a good one.

DS: When did you join the Second City National Touring Company--and how long were you touring with them?
TB: I got hired in April of 2006, was put into the mightiest RedCo in May of 2006, and toured with them until early January of 2009. It was a really, really great time. Northern Idaho and Pittsburgh are cooler than you think.

DS: When you were promoted to the ETC stage, what was your initial reaction?
TB: Oh man, I chunked my pants, Danielle! I was really excited. I'd been understudying Pat O'Brien's parts on the mainstage throughout 2009 until he went to SNL, so I'd never gotten to understudy the e.t.c stage. It was just really cool. They were running a show I really admired in Studs Terkel's Not Working, so I felt honored to step in. And I had toured with Brendan Jennings for a year and a half, and with Mary Sohn for two and a half years, so that took a lot of the nerves out of the process for me.

DS: What’s the experience been like to be performing on the ETC stage?
TB: Come on, Danielle! It kicks ass!

DS: How does it compare to touring the Big Ten colleges?
TB: Totally different. Do you like apples AND oranges?? Okay, you said yes. But does your mouth recognize that they're different?? It's like that, MAN! Big Ten was a lot of fun, and I learned so much from it. I couldn't have asked for better people to learn from in Steve Waltien, Jordan Klepper and Mike Hall, too.

DS: How did you get involved with the Big Ten Friday Night Tailgate? Now that you are on the ETC stage, will you not be returning in the fall?
TB: I've known Mike Hall, a commentator for Big Ten Network, for several years now. I performed with his sister, Molly, with pH Productions from 2003-2005, and now he shamelessly hits on my girlfriend in front of me. He had me audition the season before, and I had a good audition but Steve Waltien got the gig. So they brought me back this past year and I auditioned well enough to get the job. It was challenging, too, since it was a one-camera operation, but we were constantly improvising. That's a coverage nightmare for a cameraman. I learned so much about production from that job. Every angle of it, from the cameraman, to the sound, to the direction and production aspects. I'm really thankful for that experience. And, it's true, now that I'm on e.t.c I'm out of the running for that job. However, from what I hear, the format of the show is changing a great deal for this upcoming season, so I hadn't been counting on it.

DS: The Big Ten is talking about expanding their conference. Does this mean that IO is going to field an athletic team since they practically sponsor the network, right?
TB: They should've struck while the iron was hot! That's classic Joni Mitchell! (that's a thing I say a lot these days - "classic Joni Mitchell" - please help it catch on, but give me credit)

DS: What can you tell me about the new revue?
TB: I can't tell you too much because Second City is an EMPIRE that would CRUSH us. But the show begins and ends with a song, has a bunch of scenes in the middle, and we improvise in the third act.

DS: What are some of your favorite characters to perform as during a show?
TB: I play a spy with a clubbed foot at his dermatologist's office, a waiter who thinks he's dreaming but is actually serving people without pants, and a gay panda bear that's really picky about what eucalyptus leaves he eats.

DS: What's the process like when it comes to writing a new revue? How early do new scenes start joining the running order? For the new revue, The Absolute Best Friggin' Time of Your Life, when did this process start?
TB: The process started, in earnest, on February 9th. Old scenes get replaced with new ones as the director thinks they're ready. We pitch in a variety of ways, from fully-fleshed out scripts, to beat sheets for a scene idea, or just an idea to be improvised, in earnest. Eventually all the old stuff is out and you turn your attention to what the show needs, and all the little, transitional elements that make it feel whole. And you try to get a lot of sleep and do something that isn't comedy related every once in a while. Otherwise you go insane, earnestly.

DS: What do you usually tell new improvisers when they are just starting out?
TB: Stop thinking about trying to be funny and start thinking about how you and your scene partner are communicating on stage. Not just talking, but communicating with your body language and subtext. Once you're paying attention to that, you can lend it importance. When you lend importance to something your scene partner is doing, saying, or conveying, they feel safer. When they feel safer, they can take more risks, access their subtlety, and not just do broad, stand-by, run-of-the-mill improv. If you're both doing that for each other, the sky's the limit. In short, relax and react honestly to the last thing said.

DS: What's your first memory of Second City and what would be your favorite?
TB: My first memory of SC is going to see the Touring Company in 1999 in Aurora, IL. I saw them again after prom, I think in 2002 (I was dating a younger girl, Danielle). I'd also go see the mainstage improv sets while I was taking the A-E classes. Those were the casts for Thank Heaven It Wasn't 7/11, I believe. But, probably my favorite early memory of SC was when I interviewed Joyce Sloane, Producer Emeritus, for a radio documentary I was doing in college. I had called SC and they'd set it up for me. I knew very little about the building, so I didn't know that getting to talk to Joyce was a huge treat (she was SC's first-ever producer). I prepared only 5 questions. Through the first 4, Joyce talked for 40 minutes, which was awesome because it meant I had tons of material to edit. Oh, and the Cubs game was on mute on her TV behind her the entire time. My final question was a real softball, "Do you have a personal favorite anecdote about your time at Second City?" She turned and glanced at the TV, then back at me and said, "....I think you've had just about enough." And, in total silence, I packed up my things and left. It still makes me laugh so hard. She and I have joked about it many times since I've actually gotten to know her.

DS: How did the Family Tree House Boat Accident come about? By accident?
TB: Well, first off, Family Tree House Boat Accident is a show I do with Seth Weitberg and Jordan Klepper every Sunday night at iO, and we create a brand new improv form each week, based on the events of one of our lives that week (we rotate each week). And we've been doing that for at least the last 35 weeks. Before that, though, Seth and I did a two-person show together called Nogoodnicks for almost 5 years. We started it right after we met in Level 2 at iO, and Jordan coached us. We wanted to do a show with Jordan for a while, and this idea is what excited the three of us the most. Last week, we just had Steve Heisler, who reviews for all kinds of publications across Chicago and the country, do a live-review of our show, complete with audience comments on his reviews. It was a blast.

DS: Do you always post crazy personal ads on Craigslist like you did last October?
TB: Sometimes, it's fun. You'd be amazed how many people sent back legitimate responses to something entitled "Man With Tree For Penis Seeks Woman With Chainsaw Pussy." They honestly thought it was a real ad.

DS: Andy was quoted in the AP about having to sign an autograph for an audience member and was flattered when they said they can't wait to see him on SNL. Has this ever happened to you?
TB: People tend to think my path to stardom lies in a Happy Days re-make, or an all-French re-make of Predator, so their post-show comments usually reflect that.

DS: Do you ever get recognized for your work with Sonic or the Friday Night Tailgate?
TB: I've only been recognized by strangers a few times for Sonic. You'd be surprised how many people recognize me from Friday Night Tailgate, though. At least it surprises me. That show was such a fun hybrid of sports, reality tv, improv and Chicago comedy. I think its format will be missed. A guy stopped me outside a shoe store the other day and told me that all of his brothers and his dad sat down each week to watch it. They all went to different Big Ten schools and loved the show.

DS: Thanks again for joining Chicago Improv Celebrity News. Is there anything else you would like to add?
TB: Hey, thank you, Danielle. Stop by and see the e.t.c show the next time you're in town.

Very short notice but...

The Chicago Sun-Times will be doing a photo shoot at IO at 6:30 pm but you need to be there by 6!

Please click here for more info.

Via Charna:
Help! The Sun-Times is coming by iO for a photo shoot tonight at 6:30 and we need EVERYONE who cares about our neighborhood to be there, standing together. I know it's short notice, but I'm begging you! Help us save Wrigleyville!

Two things...

First, join this facebook group: People Against the "Malling of Wrigleyville and the second thing is that there will be a community organization meeting on Sunday at 6 PM in iO's historic Del Close Theater. It seats up to around 120 people.

We cannot let a mall destroy this historic section of Clark street.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Interview with Beth Melewski

Danielle Solzman: Thanks for joining us today. How are things going in the Windy City ?
Beth Melewski: Great! We just opened the new e.t.c. show and I've got my whole summer ahead of me! Woo hoo! Spring is also such a great time to be in Chicago so all is good.

DS: When did you decide to go into improv and sketch comedy? When did you have your “ Second City ” moment? Or IO moment?
BM: I did short form improv is high school and really never looked back. I've always loved performing but the improv bug really bit me that last year in high school. I remember being at iO and watching amazing teams like Valhalla and People of Earth and wanting to be a part of that community.

DS: What was your improv training like? Is there any particular thing that an instructor said that has really stuck to you?
BM: I had amazing teachers. Craig Cackowski, Jack McBrayer, TJ Jagadowski. They all had a part in forming my identity as an improvisational actor. I took classes and basically started performing as much as possible. Stage time is so important when you're first starting.

DS: When did you join the Second City National Touring Company--and how long were you touring with them?
BM: I started touring in the fall of 2003. I toured for about a year and a half before I went on one of the Norweigian Cruises with Second City for 8 months. Sort of like the touring company but on the water! I saw so many amazing places on tour and on the ship. It's truly a fantastic way to see the world.

DS: Was the show in Denver similar to what we are seeing in 2010 with limited runs in Laguna, Miami , Arizona , and Boston ?
BM: When we got to Denver we took an existing show from Second City, "Red Scare" out there and performed that for six months. Then once we got such an amazing response we were given the green light to write our own show and we ran that for another six months. It was a full year and we had such a fantastic time in Denver. So it was a little different in the way that it was a much longer run.

DS: When you were promoted to the ETC stage, what was your initial reaction?
BM: I was so surprised! I wasn't expecting it at all which was probably why it happened. I had been laid off as a copywriter a few months prior and was actually interviewing for ad jobs. They called me in to talk about "some projects" and then they asked. It was a real fun shock.

DS: What’s the experience been like to be performing on the ETC stage?
BM: It is truly the best job in the world. I remember Frank Caeti saying that it's the most creative freedom you'll ever be allowed and he wasn't lying. You can try anything up there. And the schedule can't be beat. It's truly a dream.

DS: Studs Terkel’s Not Working won a Jeff Award with a such a talented cast. Congratulations on that. How did the Mainstage cast members react when the ETC revue won? Was there a bet placed before the awards—similar to those of governors and senators before a huge sporting event?
BM: No bets. Hehe. Maybe St. Clair because he's a gamblin' man. The mainstage was awesome and gracious. We just had a ball that night drinking and partying. The awards were a ball too.

DS: What is Dual Exhaust? How do you find time between ETC and VD to perform with Dual Exhaust?
BM: Dual Exhaust is a two person show that I perform with the amazing Zach Ward. Zach moved to North Carolina about 5 years ago to start his own super successful theater so we haven't performed together in awhile! I miss him though and I hope we can reunite soon.

DS: What are some of your favorite characters to perform as during a show?
BM: I love playing the weirdos. I also tend to gravitate towards playing men.....probably in my desparate attempt to understand them. Hee.

DS: What's the process like when it comes to writing a new revue? How early do new scenes start joining the running order? For the new revue, The Absolute Best Friggin' Time of Your Life, when did this process start?
BM: The process for the current show started in Feb and we just opened 5/2! New scenes go in as soon as the director thinks they are ready and that's pretty fast. It was strange because I thought I would hold onto those old scenes much more, but I was fine with swapping out the new for the old. It's exciting to turn over an old show.

DS: On a related note, did it feel different to do the process without Andy St. Clair, Amanda Blake Davis, and Tim Mason?
BM: They were definitely missed, but it was so much fun to have three new cast members! The energy is just so different and I love that.

DS: What do you usually tell new improvisers when they are just starting out?
BM: Keep at it. It's NOT going to happen overnight. If you really care about this work, follow your gut, don't be afraid to bust your ass. And don't be entitled. People work years for this stuff and it's not going to happen right away.

DS: What's your first memory of Second City and what would be your favorite?
BM: My first memory is seeing the review Paradigm Lost. The theater seemed so big back then and now it's amazing to think that I work there. My 2 favorite memories are walking out of the building after I got hired for e.t.c. I remember what I was wearing and I remember who I called and I walked for a really long time. Hehe. My other memory is opening night for Studs Terkel. It was my first review and I was so giddily nervous the joyful feeling was amazing.

DS: Andy was quoted in the AP during the 50th anniversary celebrations about having to sign an autograph for an audience member and was flattered when they said they can't wait to see him on SNL. Has this ever happened to you?
BM: People say it a bunch, but dis' mama probably too old. Hehe. I just am so pleased when people enjoy the show and enjoy what we do on stage.

DS: Thanks again for joining Chicago Improv Celebrity News. Is there anything else you would like to add?
BM: Thanks Danielle! Hope to see you in Chi soon!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Support research and theater....

Next weekend, you have a chance to help support cancer research and the American Theater Company. For ticket information and details, click here.

May 15, 10:30 PM: Pudding Thank You (Adal Rifai, Louis Sanders, Jorin Garguilo, Ryan Dolan)-- featuring guests such as Paul Grondy, Noah Gregoropoulos, Mick Napier, etc. Tickets are $10 but you can pay $15 if you like free beer.

May 16, 8 PM: The headliner is John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats. Robbie Fulks, Ron Lazzeretti & Naomi Ashley will open. $25 or $35 for beer and wine.

May 17, 8 PM: Virgin Daiquiri, 3033, and Messing with a Friend featuring Second City Mainstage Alumnus Brad Morris. $15 or $25

Friday, April 30, 2010

Interview with Brendan Jennings

Danielle Solzman: Thanks for joining us today. How are things going in the Windy City?
Brendan Jennings: Getting warmer everyday, so awesome.

DS: When did you decide to go into improv and sketch comedy? When did you have your “Second City” moment? Or IO moment?
BJ: I never did any acting until I went to college. My Sophomore year I did a bunch of shows and at the end of the year the theater department had an improv/sketch show and I joined. I was always told that I was funny and should do stand up, but was nervous about going up in front of an audience and bombing. The second I did improv in front of an audience I was hooked. I had someone to work off of, I could still be funny, and it was never the same twice. My Second City moment was with my same college theater group visiting Second City. We were all going to take a workshop with Martin DeMatt, so me and three of my improv nerd buddies drove down from Cincinnati early, whilst the rest flew. Snow storms delayed them so we showed up at SC to find no workshop happening. Martin was awesome and gave us a tour of the whole building, let us sit in on a class, it was amazing. Saw the mainstage show ,4.0 ,that night and was blown away. I made a vow that night to do everything I could to work there. Years later I finally went for the big Chicago move and had my first iO moment, which was seeing the Reckoning and paying to much for one of iO’s “pizzas” It was my first Harold experience and I got all the good and bad in one night. Two weird teams and then The Reckoning was great, this was in POB’s huge glasses days. He was real good.

DS: What's your first memory of Second City and what would be your favorite?
BJ: Oops, I may have covered that in my long winded first answer. I’ll never forget my first conservatory class, that was cool. I was so nervous looking back, I don’t know why it was just a class. I guess I thought you could get hired the same day. That class is where I met Greg Hess (fellow Cook County chap) and I changed his life forever.

DS: What was your improv training like? Is there any particular thing that an instructor said that has really stuck to you?
BJ: My first three years were self taught doing shows with a group my buddies and I started at Xavier. I then moved to Orlando and took a class with Sak Comedy Labs, a great improv theater there, and then worked for them for 3 years or so. I learned a ton doing shows for them every night and moved here feeling pretty polished. I took SC conservatory and iO’s training center at the same time and learned even more. It was exhausting taking both at the same time but worth it. I had great instructors through out, Tim O’Malley, Michael Gellman, TJ Jagadowski, Rachael Mason, and Al Samuels. I really loved how Al taught and he was the guy who settled me down and got me to just enjoy it for a bit. I was so obsessed with getting hired by Second City and he told me, you’re good, it may or may not happen, so why not enjoy where you’re at. It was a great wake up call.

DS: When did you join the Second City National Touring Company--and how long were you touring with them?
BJ: I can’t remember the date. It was right when Andy St Clair went to Vegas. I took his spot. I toured for just over 2 years. I loved it, but then my first son was born and I missed being home and hung up the ol’ touring pants.

DS: What was the Mainstage experience like?
BJ: Amazing. I loved that cast and that show was real fun to run. Canale gave me some fun things to do.

DS: When you came out as the polar bear, did you tend to get awkward experiences from the audience?
BJ: No. It was generally great. If you got an asshole I would do the opposite of Joe and just end it quicker. Joe would crush those cats for hours, I’m too non confrontational. I only had one truly awful person. Some rich couple who couldn’t be bothered or lighten up. We subtly would make fun of them through out the night, I think the woman caught on and left even more unhappy. Terrible people, damn them.

DS: What are some of your favorite characters to perform as during a show?
BJ: In those SC shows, polar bear was great and when I did a spell as Ithamar Enriquez’s understudy, Iggy the Jiffy Lube mechanic was a blast.

DS: How long have you been with the Cook County Social Club and how did you guys get started? Is the social club restrictive like most of these country clubs?
BJ: We’ve been together for five years maybe? I’m real bad with dates if you haven’t noticed. Greg, Bill Cochran and I were in a group called Show Pony together. It was my first squad and we had a blast performing together. We became friends with Mark Raterman who was in an equally great group called Chuckle Sandwich. A few years later Mark, Bill and I were working as secretaries at a law firm down town and Greg worked at the art institute near by. We would meet everyday for lunch, bit for hours and hours over email and eventually decided we should do a show. We wanted to do it at iO real bad, so we wanted it polished and worked for three months or so just rehearsing with Jeff Griggs. We never did a show until we were really happy with the form and we did a short Thursday night run at iO. Charna saw it and kept giving us new nights until we ended up taking the Tuesday night spot over. Last year while I was on Main, Tim Robinson played in my sot and we loved him so much we kept him on. Everyone is welcome to be a member of our club, so please come and join us on Tuesday nights. (Thanks for the plug)

DS: When you found out that you were going to be on ETC stage for the new revue, what was your initial reaction?
BJ: I was thrilled. I moved to this city with the intent of getting a stage at Second City and I did it. Real great phone call to get.

DS: For most people, isn’t it usually the other way around—going from ETC to mainstage? I’m not trying to be rude or anything but how often does it happen that one goes from Mainstage to ETC?
BJ: My Mainstage stints though very long and amazingly, amazingly well done were only in the capacity of understudying. I finished Joe’s and Ithamar’s contract and of course wanted to stay on for the next show, but a lot goes into the decision on who gets a stage there and both times the cards didn’t fall my way. In the end I’m in a great cast, for a great show, and I’m on a better schedule so victory for all.

DS: The Big Ten is talking about expanding their conference. One rumor has the Big East being scrapped to the basketball-only teams and having most of the Atlantic 10 joining them. Any thoughts on the idea of Xavier playing in the Big East?
BJ: I would looooovvvveeee this. In Cincy, UC still gets al the press in college sports. They endlessly rip XU for playing in a weaker conference and make a ton of excuses when we beat them head to head every year. I think X would do great in the big east, much better than UC any way. F those guys.

DS: Any comments on the Xavier recruits for the 2010-11 season?
BJ: We got four great players coming in again. We may lose Jordan Crawford to the NBA, but X always does an amazing job reloading talent. I think we can expect the same results from X next year, though I would love to break out of the elite 8 and get a final 4. I think the program is real close on doing that. This year would have been perfect, damn KSU.

DS: Do you have a Final Four for next year?
BJ: If the tourneys anything like this year I’ll say Xavier, Duke, the Golden Grifs of Canisus and Long Island University.

DS: World Series pick?
BJ: I would love to say the Mets but picking them would jinx them so I’ll say Phillies, Yanks again and hope I jinx them.

DS: What can you tell me about the new revue?
BJ: I can tell you it opens May 2nd and is a laugh riot.

DS: What's the process like when it comes to writing a new revue? How early do new scenes start joining the running order? For the new revue, The Absolute Best Friggin' Time of Your Life, when did this process start?
BJ: We started in February. Early on we’d bring scenes in or improv through ideas, soon the director would try things in the set, then move them into the ro. Billy Bungeroth is our director and he got things into the show real, real early on. It’s fun to slowly take the old show apart.

DS: What do you usually tell new improvisers when they are just starting out?
BJ: Perform baby! Stage time is the best learning tool. Take notes well in class and be a good person to play with and be able to play with anybody. When I say take notes I don’t mean write stuff out I mean when the teacher says something apply it rather than argue. If you disagree you can change it later but people feel notes sometimes are a personal slight, when the teacher is just trying to make you better.

DS: Andy was quoted in the AP about having to sign an autograph for an audience member and was flattered when they said they can't wait to see him on SNL. Has this ever happened to you?
BJ: Yeah, it’s exciting and weird. I then feel like I’m going to ruin this person’s life if I don’t make it. But in the moment it’s great. I also somehow get recognized when my family is around, so that’s cool. Especially if it’s a member of my wife’s family, I think it makes them feel I’m less of a bum.

DS: Remember that time you got to meet Kentucky Basketball Coach John Calipari? That was awesome! How did that happen? I heard it had something to do with Brad Morris, right?
BJ: It has everything to do with Brad Morris, that’s my answer to improv and all other questions in life. While Brad was in rehearsals for Taming of the Flu, I got to go out on the road with Uncle’s Brother (Brad, Joe Canale and Tim Meadows) We got to go to UK for a show, it was a pep rally that we did prov for at the end. Before hand Calipari was talking with Tim so Joe and I used that moment to go meet the new king in town. He was amazingly slick, I can see why he’s a good recruiter.

DS: Thanks again for joining Chitown Improv Celebrity News. Is there anything else you would like to add?
BJ: I’m thrilled to do an interview with improv’s leading news paper. Thanks Solzy.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Reckoning on May 4th

Word has it that Charna will be joining The Reckoning on stage next Tuesday. Don't miss it.

Tim Ryder profiled in Missouri paper

Tim Ryder was profiled by The Telegraph.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Time Out talks with new cast members

Time Out Chicago profiled the new Mainstage and ETC cast members.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Interview with Joe Canale

Danielle Solzman: Thanks for joining us today. How are things going in the Windy City? Or Los Angeles? Or wherever it is you call home these days?
Joe Canale: No problem. What day is it again? Where am I joining you? What is happening? Oh, LA is great, that is where I pay rent, though I am in Chicago as often as I can afford to be to see my daughter, Sofia Mia and my lover Charna Halpern.

DS: When did you decide to go into improv and sketch comedy? Did you have a “Second City” moment when you knew it was what you wanted to do?
JC: When I was in college, this dirty scummy theatre director named REDACTED told me that I should move to Chicago because they have this great theatre called The Second City. Basically he was moving to Chicago and needed to con someone into being his roommate, I was high enough to fall for the ruse. Once I got into classes I realized it was the only thing I was good at.

DS: What's your first memory of Second City and what would be your favorite?
JC: Second City classes? Or working there? I guess I’ll decide since this interview is really just you sending me a bunch of questions over e-mail. My first memory is being the first person to arrive for my first class at second city. I took a seat in the ETC theatre and judged everyone as they came in. I tried to pick the person I thought smoked as much weed as I did and be their friend. I turned out to be right with my guess and Bob Skupien and I did nearly every improv thing together for the next 5 years. My favorite memory of Second City is every minute I spent performing on the mainstage.

DS: What was your improv training like?
JC: Typical. Some teachers I liked, some I hated, didn't matter. Stage time was the key. My best training in improv was hosting the Jam at IO on Saturday nights. My best teachers were Susan Messing, Mick Napier, and Del, because in Del's class you didn't get much stage time and you really didn't fuck around, so you were really concentrated on being your best . I have since learned that fucking around is the only reason to do improv.

DS: When did you join the Second City National Touring Company--and how long were you with them?
JC: I was hired shortly after I returned from working at Boom! Chicago (early 2000). I spent 3 months in Green Co holding a spot for John Lutz, who was doing a show at IO at the time. I then understudied for about a year then got hired permanently into Blue Co where I worked for almost exactly one year.

DS: What was the Boom! Chicago experience like abroad?
JC: The Boom! Chicago experience was unbelievable. On par with my mainstage experience, I worked with some very talented performers, made lifelong friends and did shows for money in a country where smoking pot was legal. I also became a much better physical comedian, because no one in Holland was laughing at my Chicago White Sox jokes. I have since nearly completely abandoned physical comedy so that I can stand around and be clever. A real shame.

DS: What was your initial reaction when you first found out you would be on Mainstage prior to your first revue? And which show was it?
JC: At first, I asked Robin Hammond if I could do the ETC because they have a much better schedule. And I figured I could do more shows that way (do a couple on etc then a few main drainers), but I was pretty excited overall. This is going to make me sound like an arrogant asshole but by the time I got hired on the mainstage I felt like it was overdue. I knew who else was out there and I had performed with everyone and I think I more than held my own. I don't recommend this attitude however; because it seems like in "show business" merit is not always at the top of the list of reasons to get hired. Nor is being an entitled prick. But in Chicago, it worked out pretty good for me. Anyway my first show was called "WAR!! Now in it's 4th smash year!!" (which must have been a nightmare for the people in the box office selling the show over the phone). It's widely regarded as the 3rd best show ever in the history of The Second City right behind two of my other shows and in front of one of my other shows.

DS: What are some of your favorite characters to do?
JC: Well, when you ask me what my favorite "character" was I would say "joe canale" because i'm not a huge character guy. I enjoyed the art institute scene that I wrote, most likely because I am talking through the entire scene (however, without the bugged out eyes and masterful expressions of Brad Morris, the scene would not have been what it was). I also enjoyed any opportunities to improvise in the shows, which is a nice segue to your next question which I am reading right now.

DS: What is it about the polar bear? Is it true that Brendan does such a better job?
JC: The polar bear, for anyone who didn't see "America: all Better!" is a bit where I come out on stage with a giant polar bear head on and do some bullshit bits about global warming, but truly I am just interacting with the audience with very little scripting for about 6 (or if it's going well 11) minutes. Brendan Jennings (who understudied me when I left mainstage and is now on the ETC) was funny as well, pretty much anyone can get laughs with that head on. I have said that Brendan did some of my parts better than me, likely because he is a fun person to watch on stage and he was working with brilliantly constructed material. That's actually bullshit, I didn't write anything in the last show I did at Second City, though I didn't really let anyone else write anything I said either. By that point I pretty much knew how a process worked at second city, and I knew how Matt Hovde, our director worked. I knew that Matt would allow each person to make each part they were in their own. So I did. I brought in a few ideas that got in, but my main goal was to make every part I was in funny, while still serving the original idea of the scene. The polar bear idea came about only because that head was being stored in Kelly Leonard’s office, as soon as I saw it I knew it would be in the show.

DS: I want to talk about the roast at IO for a minute. Was there any roaster there that really surprised you?
JC: Again for context, before I moved to LA, there was a roast for me at IO. Bob Kulhan sent his roast in to Brad Morris, who chose to have Danielle Solzman read it. That was the biggest surprise and likely the highlight of the night.

DS: What are your thoughts on the process when it comes to writing a new revue? How early did new scenes start joining the running order?
JC: My thoughts on the process were outlined in my polar bear answer. Just do what the director assigns, and try to make everyone’s scene work, and try to avoid judgment of anyone's (including your own) ideas. Everything else should work itself out. Obviously, this is an incomplete answer, but at this point I’ve typed a lot.

DS: How did Uncle's Brother come about? With your move out west, how often do you think that there will be shows at iO?
JC: Uncle’s Brother came about because Tim Meadows did the set on the Main Stage a few times, liked Brad and I, asked if we wanted to do a run of shows at IO, we said yes, shows were funny= Uncle’s Brother. Until Brad moves to LA (summerish?), we will still do shows about once a month, as I come into Chicago a lot. We have two shows in May, one on May 2 and one on May 23. Come to the shows.

DS: What do you usually tell new improvisers when they are just starting out?
JC: Stage time, stage time, stage time. And watch good shows. Mine mostly.

DS: Around the time of the 50th anniversary weekend, Andy was quoted in the AP about having to sign an autograph for an audience member and was flattered when they said they can't wait to see him on SNL. Have you had any similar moments?
JC: Yes, people often say they can't wait to see people on the mainstage when they get on SNL. I tell them that I am 10 years too old to be on that show. I like to crush their dreams.

DS: Lazy Tuesday or Lazy Sunday?
JC: If you are truly lazy, you don't know or care what day it is.

DS: Thanks again for joining Chitown Improv Celebrity News. Is there anything else you would like to add?
JC: yes.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Schnuffy is Jake Schneider and Kate Duffy.

You can come see them on Tuesdays at 8 PM at IO's Del Close Theater, starting May 4th. The run ends on June 15th.

Also on the bill are Margolis and Reisman.

Tickets are $12 but if you are an IO student or IO performer, tickets are free.

Stay for more fun and see The Reckoning at 10:30 PM for an additional $5.

Ruby Streak's Last Night is Tonight

Second City Mainstage Music Director Ruby Streak is stepping down.

Her final mainstage show is tonight at 7 PM.

Chicago Sun-Times:
Ruby Streak, who for more than three decades provided all manner of musical accompaniment for Second City shows at Piper's Alley on N. Wells and elsewhere, bows out after Sunday's 7 p.m. mainstage performance of "Taming of the Flu."

Having begun her long stint with the Chicago-based comedy institution's touring company in 1977, Streak was a founding member of the e.t.c. theater in the early 80s and eventually replaced the legendary Fred Kaz as mainstage music director.

Throughout her tenure, she worked with such future stars as Jim Belushi, Dan Castellaneta, Bonnie Hunt and many others. "Ruby represents all the best qualities of Second City," said Andrew Alexander, Second City's chief executive officer & executive producer.

"Smart, funny, and most of all, the quintessential ensemble player. She has made an enormous contribution to the work and will always be remembered as a Second City gem. She is a very hard act to follow."
During "Taming of the Flu," she had a solo spot.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Charity Jam at IO

This email was sent out via IO:
You are receiving this letter because we need your help. iO has designated April 30th - May 28th as All-Star Celebrity Jam for Charity month. All month in the Jam slot (Fridays at midnight) we will have the most talented improvisors in the city, as well as local celebrities, performing short-form games and Jam favorites--all in the name of charity. The success of this event is dependent upon the improv community and its friends all over Chicagoland donating their time and talent to pack the house.

Proceeds from the door as well as donations solicited during the show will go to Global Aid Network ( and will be used specifically to aid in relief efforts taking place in Haiti. Global Aid Network was chosen due to an iO performer's personal relationship to this organization. Kate Lambert performs on the team, You People. Her parents recently returned from Haiti on a relief mission and will return soon with Global Aid Network. The money we collect will help send doctors and nurses, like Kate's parents, back to Haiti with desperately needed medical supplies.
If you are able to help out, do not hesitate to get in touch with Colleen Doyle.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

ETC to open new review on May 2nd

Second City ETC will be opening The Absolute Best Friggin' Time of Your Life on May 2, 2010.
We finally elected our first black president and passed our first national health care bill. It should be the best time of our lives. What happened? The cast of The Second City e.t.c.'s new show, The Absolute Best Friggin' Time of Your Life takes you back to a time when we had a budget surplus and unemployment rates were at an all-time low. Grab your daisy dukes, enjoy those nachos and attend the prom of your 1990s dream - it's The Absolute Best Friggin' Time of Your Life.

Directed by Billy Bungeroth, the cast of The Absolute Best Friggin' Time of Your Life includes Christina Anthony, Tim Baltz, Tom Flanigan, Brendan Jennings, Beth Melewski and Mary Sohn. Jesse Case is Musical Director and Joseph Ruffner is Stage Manager. Stylist is Logan Vaughn. The producing team for The Absolute Best Friggin' Time of Your Life includes Chief Executive Officer & Executive Producer for The Second City, Andrew Alexander; Chief Operating Officer, Diana Martinez; Executive Vice President, Kelly Leonard; Producer, Alison Riley and Associate Producer, Monica Wilson.

CIF Awards Night

The CIF Awards will be presented tonight.
CIF Awards Night at The SecondCity ETC, 6:30pm, where awards will be given to The Improvised Shakespeare Company, Susan Messing, Dcik Schaal, Harold Ramis and posthumously to Severn Darden. After the awards ceremony there's a free party at Mullens Bar & Grill at 10pm.[...]

Charna Halpern will speak about Susan Messing; Steve Heisler will speak about The Improvised Shakespeare Company; Sheldon Patinkin will speak about Severn Darden; Bernie Sahlins will speak about Harold Ramis; and Jeffrey Sweet will speak about Dick Schaal.
You can get tickets here, assuming they are not yet sold out. I would think that they would be.

Mark Sutton will be roasted on April 25, 2010 on his last night as CIF Artistic Director. You can find show/ticket information here.

Uncle's Brother helped open things up.

On Thursday, if you aren't attending Anthony LeBlanc's last night, you should certainly check out Messing with a Friend [Susan's guest will be Tim Meadows). The cost is $20 and tickets are available on the day of the show.

Andy's last night

A friendly reminder that tonight is the last night you will be seeing Andy St. Clair on Mainstage at Second City.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

More Mainstage news

Allison Bills will be replacing Lauren Ash on Mainstage.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Anthony moves on...

Anthony LeBlanc is leaving mainstage and his last night will be April 22, 2010.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Are you in Boston?

Second City has yet another limited engagement. This time in Boston.
We're coming to Boston! The Second City teams up with Improv Asylum for "One if by Land, Late if by T" for a limited run April 20th-May 9th, 2010, at The Virginia Wimberly Theatre. "One if by Land, Late if by T" casts a satirical eye towards all things Boston and what it means to live here in the hub of the universe.

Come join the party! On April 28th and Sunday, May 9th, there are VIP tickets for $99. Price includes the best available ticket for the performance, VIP cast party with food and open bar. Regular tickets are $45-$65.
Cast: Katie Caussin, Kiley Fitzgerald, Dana Quercioli, Micah Sherman, Tim Sniffen and Ric Walker. TJ Shanoff directs. The music director is Bryan Dunn.

Mainstage news

Sam Richardson and Tim Robinson have been promoted to the Second City Mainstage cast. Congratulations!

After School Matters

On Friday, April 16, 2010, teens from across the Chicago area will be performing on the Second City stages from 4:30 to 6 PM. It's a a part of the After School Matters Teen Improv Exchange at The Second City, presented by The Second City Diversity and Outreach.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Andy St. Clair sets last night on mainstage

This one is a shock mainly because it feels like it was just yesterday that he was promoted to Mainstage but Andy St. Clair's last night will be either April 25 or April 28.

This announcement comes one day before Lauren Ash has her last night on Mainstage.

EDIT:Okay, this is hopefully the last update: April 21st will be Andy's last night.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Still can't believe it...

I don't know about how others feel but I still can't believe that Lakeshore Theater closed its doors.

Check out this interview with Chris Ritter.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Lakeshore Theater shutting down

Lakeshore Theater is shutting down. It's a sad loss for the comedy scene in Chicago.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Lauren Ash to leave Mainstage

Lauren Ash has tentatively set April 13th as her last night on Second City Mainstage.

It comes just a few short days after Brad Morris bid farewell on the stage.

She will be missed.

Friday, March 26, 2010

In the news....

Second City producer Kelly Leonard had a piece featured in the Chicago Tribune.
Here's another matter I could use your help on: My TiVo is convinced that my season passes for "30 Rock" and "Frontline" must mean that I would enjoy Spanish language reruns of "The Real Housewives of Orange County." It doesn't matter how many thumbs down I press, when I come home tonight, my suggestion list will be dominated by shows I never watch in a language I don't speak. If you could pop on the phone with the folks from TiVo, I'd appreciate it. Every time I call, I'm on hold for two hours.

Lastly, baseball's Opening Day is less than two weeks away. I try not to care. Really, I try. But I and millions of others are about to have their summers ruined when the Cubs decide to collapse and give us another year of utter futility. Can you please make the Cubs win the World Series this year? I'm pretty sure you would have broad bipartisan support on this one.
Go read the full article. It's hilarious.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Second City opens new Laguna show

This past weekend, Second City opened a new show in Laguna where they skewer Orange County. The name of the customized revue is The Second City: Can You Be More Pacific. It's playing at The Laguna Playhouse until April 11, 2010.

Here's excerpts from a review.
Thanks to the fictional O.C. as well as the addictive scandaliciousness of The Real Housewives and MTV's Laguna Beach franchises, Orange County was put on the map as a breeding ground for privileged excess (oh, the drama!). While CAN YOU BE MORE PACIFIC? does touch on a few things specific to Laguna Beach life itself, they more or less point a funny, endearingly judgmental finger on the county as a whole that used to be the home of millions of orange groves before Walt came in up north, and the upwardly mobile staked their claim parts Southward. (Don't worry, the not-so-rich enclaves of Fullerton and Santa Ana are made fun of too).

The Chicago-based six-member troupe in this particular show—comprised of (in alphabetical order) Frank Caeti, Craig Cackowski, Molly Erdman, Brian Gallivan, Niki Lindgren, and Claudia Michelle Wallace—are not only amusing with wit, brashness and charm, they are also quite wonderful stage actors/singers (although, poor alto Wallace is not served consistently well by the collective troupe's song keys). This remarkable feat from comics is not too much of a bombshell considering their training ground produced some of the most well-known, well-trained stage and TV performers around. Everyone from Bill Murray, Rick Moranis and Dan Aykroyd, to Catharine O'Hara, Amy Sedaris, and Bonnie Hunt have honed their skills here, and almost every player on Saturday Night Live (including Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, arguably two of the funniest women today) got their start here.[...]

The central idea here is to let a few out-of-towners shine a light in the silly little things that make O.C. a unique place. Thanks to Marc Warzecha's direction of a script he co-wrote with Andy Cobb, and six brilliant improv hams, this "outsider's" look into life in the O.C. isn't so much a parody but a reverently humorous tribute.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Morris' last night

Brad Morris has set this upcoming Sunday, March 21, 2010, as his last night on mainstage.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Katie Rich talks improv

Katie Rich was interviewed by the Daily Cardinal. In addition to being a member of BlueCo (Second City Touring Company), Katie can be seen at IO on Wednesday nights, performing the Harold with Carl and the Passions.
“I think Second City’s staying power is that it finds a way to reinvent itself while still staying true to its roots,” explains Katie Rich, a member of Second City’s touring company.

“Our shows are organic, always in flux and we’re willing to change so much, it’s never going to get old.”[...]

Although the comedy of Second City draws in fans from all age groups, Rich is confident college students will be particularly attracted to the show. Because they are familiar with and fond of the humor in shows like “The Colbert Report” and “The Daily Show,” she expects students to enjoy Second City’s similar satire on political and social issues.

“Having grown up with The Onion and Jon Stewart, I think college kids are so very well versed in satire and irony. [Our] style itself is perfect for college kids,” said Rich.[...]

“We actually have a scene from the first ever Second City review that Alan Arkin was in,” Rich said. “It’s all archived material.”

This is not to say, however, that the show does not make room for some improv. Weaved throughout the archived sketches are chances for the cast to improvise, something Rich describes as providing “more fun for us.”

Traditional shows put on at Second City’s Chicago main stage often include humor meant specifically to amuse the city’s natives, whether this means mocking Cubs fans or taking a jab at a lowly Chicago suburb. However, the touring show has been adapted to appease its national audience. But as Rich explains, it cannot fully avoid mentioning its hometown.

“We’re so proud of it,” said Rich. “There’s always going to be some nod to our roots.”

But regardless of whether you live in the birthplace of Second City, the Badger State or anywhere else, everyone could use a laugh these days. Comedy, specifically this Friday’s Second City performance, can help to supply this much-needed laughter.

“I think in some ways with everything that’s going on sometimes laughing is the only thing that makes sense,” explains Rich. “Sometimes comedy is the best way to make heads or tails of a situation.”