Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Best Buy commercial

Pretty sure that Emily Wilson is in a Best Buy commercial.

Second City's 100th Mainstage revue

Looks like it's that time again...I saw this tweet from Mike Hall this morning as I woke up:
Tim Baltz, Steve Waltien- 2 BTN (Tailgate) alums will be on the cast of the 100th Second City revue ever! Couldn't have more pride for em
There's more. I saw on Steve's facebook status from yesterday with this statement:
In response to the influx of texts questioning these cryptic congratulations, I am pleased to confirm that I will be joining my friends Katie Rich, Holly Laurent, Mary Sohn, Tim Baltz, Edgar Blackmon, Julie Nichols, Craig Taylor and Matt Hovde to create the Second City Mainstage's 100th revue. Thanks for your support, everyone.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Katie Rich in Wal-Mart ad

Katie Rich was in a Wal-Mart Black Friday ad.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Mayne Street

Tim Robinson, Greg Hess, and Mark Raterman were on the newest edition of Mayne Street.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Book now for sale

I just finished this the other day and you can now buy it online at Create Space or Amazon!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Last night's SNL

If you have good eyes, it's likely that you caught Shelly Gossman in the background of the bridal shower during last night's SNL hosted by Emma Stone.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Jeff Award winners

PRODUCTION – REVUE: "Sky's the Limit (Weather Permitting)" – Second City e.t.c.

ACTOR OR ACTRESS IN A REVUE: Tim Baltz – "Sky's the Limit (Weather Permitting)" – Second City e.t.c.

NEW WORK – MUSICAL OR REVUE: Tim Baltz, Aidy Bryant, Jesse Case, Matt Hovde, Brendan Jennings, Jessica Joy, Michael Lehrer and Mary Sohn – "Sky's the Limit (Weather Permitting)" at Second City e.t.c.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Comedy pilot ordered

A comedy pilot was ordered by Comedy Central featuring Tim Robinson, Mark Ratterman, and Andy Miara.
Comedy Central has ordered My Mans, a comedy presentation from the Chicago writing/acting team of Tim Robinson, Mark Raterman and Andy Miara. The three co-created and are writing/executive producing the project, which stars Robinson and Raterman as two best friends, one who is constantly getting into trouble, and the other who is always bailing him out. The narrative series offers a twist on sketch comedy as it weaves in and out of stand-alone sketches.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

RIP Jo Forsberg

Jo Forsberg passed away recently. M she rest in peace.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Nora Dunn coming to Second City

Nora Dunn will be speaking to students of the Second City Training Center.
Actress Nora Dunn will be visiting the Training Center on Tuesday, September 20 at 2pm for a free Q&A session for Training Center students.[...]

This event is free to current and former Second City students; non-students of The Second City Training Center can pay the $15 student membership fee to attend.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Catching up...

The Daily Herald profiled Carisa Barreca.

Colin Quinn dropped by to visit Second City.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Late Live Show cancelled

I know I'm slow on posting this...that's what happens when you work on getting a book self-published within a short time frame. Anyway, Second City announced the cancellation of The Late Live Show. It's one of those shows that I wished I had the chance to have seen in person.

Here's what the AV Club notes on the matter:
According to the show’s co-creator and host Joe Kwaczala, the reason given for the cancellation was that the show’s producers were “using the Second City name to further the show.”
In other Second City news, the Up theater is gaining steam on opening. I'm gonna be interested in seeing just how it can compete with Zanies as far as stand-up goes.

One final thing to note: Adam Peacock replaced Tim Robinson in the Mainstage cast.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Blogterview with Chris Witaske

Danielle Solzman: Thanks for joining us today. How are things going in the Windy City?
Chris Witaske: Hi Danielle! Chicago is great. Enjoying the summer while it's still here.

DS: When did you decide to go into improv and sketch comedy? When did you have your “Second City” moment? Or IO moment?
CW: The first show I ever saw at Second City was Slaughter House Five Cattle Zero. I was in Jr. High. It was like nothing I'd ever seen, so funny. I was hooked.

DS: What was your improv training like? Is there any particular thing that an instructor said that has really stuck to you?
CW: I started taking classes at Second City in High school. My favorite teacher ever was Mick Napier at the Annoyance.

DS: When did you join the Second City National Touring Company?
CW: I've been touring for about a year now and before that I lived on a cruise ship for Second City.

DS: Earlier this year, I saw you perform in Murderers with a few of Chicago's talented improvisers. How did this show come into being?
CW: Murderers is my favorite show to do. It's a long form improv show that John Hartman and I started. It's a super fun cast of funny people.

DS: What are some of your favorite characters to do?
CW: My favorite Character is called Aunt Joyce. It's a mix of all my Chicago aunts pitching comedy ideas to me at a forth of July party.

DS: What do you usually tell new improvisers when they are just starting out?
CW: Don't take it seriously. You'll have bad shows if you're busy freaking yourself out.

DS: What's your first memory of Second City, or even IO, and what would be your favorite?
CW: My favorite SC performers are Bill Murry and Ed Furman.

DS: Last summer, you were one of several comedians from Chicago to audition for SNL. What was that whole experience like?
CW: It was the scariest/most exciting experience of my life.
DS: Lazy Tuesday or Lazy Sunday?

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

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

MTV Movie Awards

If you looked closely, the guy playing Bob the Boulder looked familiar. That's because it was Pat O'Brien!

What is $2?

Scott Goldstein was a contestant on Jeopardy! when it aired yesterday. Unfortunately, he was $2 short of tying the winner.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Witaske talks improv

Apologies for slacking but I recently caught this article where Chris Witaske talks about improv.
“The long-form improvisation is doing 15 minutes from just one suggestion from the audience,” said Witaske, who appears in The Second City’s “Fair & Unbalanced” on May 21 at the Paramount Theatre in Aurora. “You strive to get good at the long form. The true talent in Chicago is being well versed in the long form of improvisational comedy.

“In long form,” Witaske continued, “you can have an ‘on’ night when you kill it and then an ‘off’ night when you dive bomb and you are performing to silence.”[...]

“We have 50 years of Second City scenes to draw from,” said Witaske about the show. “Second City has a staff of producers who watch the sketches and decide what we will do, but we all do have a voice. There is some original material written by us. We have maybe three or four original scenes in the first two acts.”

Witaske gets great satisfaction from making people laugh.

“There is nothing better,” he said. “You think you are funny and people also think you are funny.”

He also finds the collaboration of fellow comedians exhilarating.

“When you are with a group for a while it becomes like well-oiled machinery and you know each other’s sensibilities and who they are,” said Witaske, who has performed with Second City for about one year. “It is like a good basketball team. You get ‘in the zone’ when you perform. It is a true ensemble process.”

Friday, April 22, 2011


I saw Murderers at IO on Wednesday night.

The group features Amanda Blake-Davis, John Hartman, Chris Witaske, Lauren Dowden, Tim Stoltenberg, and featured special guest Andy St. Clair on Wednesday. Aidy Bryant was supposed to be in the show but seeing as how she just promoted to ETC, it is very unlikely she'll be in a future show so Andy filled in for her last night.

The show starts by asking the audience to pick a number between 1-6. The next thing the audience is asked for is a location.

The introductory scene was in an elevator shaft and I was laughing so hard and almost fell out of my chair. Chris Witaske's shouting and slaps added to the hilarity of the evening.

Time Out Chicago lists the show as a Critics' Pick. I agree. It was very funny when I went.

Murders, for the time being, performs at 10:30 on Wednesdays in the Del Close Theater at IO, right after Dummy.


I saw Dummy on Wednesday night over at IO.

Dummy features both Colleen Doyle and Jason Shotts.

I saw Jason perform back in June 2009 in what was easily one of the most hilarious shows I've ever seen. I believe he was with Whiskey Rebellion at the time. Christian Bale was the suggestion and from there, it got crazy hilarious.

The suggestion on Wednesday was conspiracy theories and the scenes were at a Half-Price Books, a doctor's office, and a date. What if you read a full book and got to the last page to find out that it had all been a dream? All the scenes tied into each other in some way or another.

Dummy performs at 10:30 on Wednesdays in the Del Close Theater at IO.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

ETC creating new revue

ETC is starting it up again. Brendan Jennings, Tim Baltz, and Mary Sohn stay on board. Joining them in the cast are Aidy Bryant, Jessica Joy, and Michael Leher.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Time Out profiles Bungeroth

Time Out Chicago profiled Billy Bungeroth, director of both the recent ETC and Mainstage revues at Second City.

Here's this excerpt:
Whether Bungeroth’s initial landing at the Second City was predetermined is debatable, but one thing is for sure: South Side of Heaven, a dark, emotionally charged assault on audience expectation, revels in the idea of destiny. “This is a show about how everything that’s happening is absolutely meant to happen,” says Bungeroth in March while sitting down to discuss the show’s progress toward opening.

When we speak, the eager ensemble—which includes newcomers Edgar Blackmon, Holly Laurent and Katie Rich alongside veterans Timothy Edward Mason, Sam Richardson and Tim Robinson—is about eight weeks into a process that has largely been informed by a tumultuous string of events. In January, Mary Scruggs, the head of the writing and education programs for the Second City Training Center, died suddenly. Several weeks later, longtime producer Joyce Sloane passed away just days after the theater shuttered its doors for the first time in years because of the February 1 blizzard.

It was a dark time at North and Wells, but it inspired the cast to go to edgy places normally reserved for its experimental sibling, the e.t.c. “There’s an expectation here,” says Bungeroth, acknowledging that the Mainstage’s constant nod to its esteemed alumni means audiences enter the theater with preconceived notions. “We’re aware of that and working very hard to set them up a little differently so we can do some of the stuff that we do next door.”

SNL cast members in town

According to Charna, Vanessa Bayer is in Chicago during the SNL hiatus. She will perform with Revolver on Friday night at 10:30 PM.

Paul Brittain is in town, too. At 8 PM tonight, he will perform at The Playground with former IO house team Rattlesnake High School.

Over at IO tonight, Murderers opens up at 10:30 PM with Dummy.

Monday, April 11, 2011

South Side of Heaven

I had the chance to attend last night's opening of South Side of Heaven. I give it two thumbs up. If I had more thumbs, I would give it more. I've seen Red Scare, America: All Better, Taming of the Flu, Spoiler Alert: Everybody Dies, and now the 99th Mainstage revue, South Side of Heaven. This current revue gives the others a run for their money. Second City has managed to outdo itself with the new one.

Newcomers Holly Laurent, Katie Rich, and Edgar Blackmon join the three holdovers from Spoiler Alert: Timothy Edward Mason, Tim Robinson, and Sam Richardson.

Sam Richardson's impression of Barack Obama gives Fred Armisen a run for his money.

Mason's TSA agent is one of the highlights of the night.

The way that they paid tribute to former Mayor Richard Daley was hilarious. Different than I expected but still funny nonetheless. How will we survive?

After directing the recent ETC hit revue, The Absolute Best Friggin' Time of Your Life, Billy Bungeroth was asked to direct the newest Mainstage hit.

Tribune critic Chris Jones gave it 3.5 stars. I give it four out of four stars.

Friday, April 8, 2011

ETC news

Tim Ryder announced his last night on ETC via Twitter. Tim has been filling in for Tom Flanigan, who departed Second City to be a writer for SNL.
Well friends, this is it. My last night on the etc stage is April 17. So if you've waited seven months to see me, you now have two weekends.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Matthew Craig hired by SNL

Saturday Night Live has hired Matthew Craig as a writer. Congrats!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Second City to open new revue in April

South Side of Heaven, the 99th Mainstage revue at Second City, will open on Sunday April 10, 2011. The revue, directed by Billy Bungeroth and featuring Julie Nichols as Musical Director, features the following in the cast: Edgar Blackmon, Holly Laurent, Timothy Edward Mason, Katie Rich, Sam Richardson and Tim Robinson.

The synopsis:
South Side of Heaven is a thought-provoking, irreverent and hilarious new show from The Second City exploring the many fates that propel our world and universe. From the cultural divide between Cubs and White Sox fans to the delicate distinction between dancing and stripping, South Side of Heaven rejoices in the earthly and ethereal. A President, an outgoing Mayor and a creepy TSA agent are all just part of the natural flow of South Side of Heaven.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Brad Morris cast in NBC pilot

Brad Morris was cast in an untitled multi-camera sitcom pilot for NBC. Via Deadline:
Brad Morris has landed a co-starring role in NBC's untitled Dan Goor pilot. The multicamera comedy, from writer/exec producer Dan Goor, centers on Adam Foote (Andrew J. West), a young doctor who joins his parents’ medical practice and spends as much time tending to his family as to his patients. Morris, recently out of Chicago's Second City, will play Adam's older brother Matt, the only non-doctor in the family. Morris is with Innovative and 3 Arts.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

New York Television Festival

The New York Television Festival is hosting an event in Chicago on March 21st, and Chicago area comedians are encouraged to find out about what opportunities await them.

Here's the press release:
ATTENTION COMEDIANS OF CHICAGO: The New York Television Festival is coming to the Windy City and we want to meet you!

On Monday, March 21st, join Festival staffers and alumni for networking, cocktails and a chance to learn more about the NYTVF - including current development opportunities with FOX ($25k script deal - comedy), FX ($25k development deal - comedy pilot), IFC ($25k development deal - comedy pilot) and MTV (two $5k development deals for comedic animation).

WHEN: Monday, 3/21, 6 pm - 9 pm
WHERE: The Spot (4437 N. Broadway Avenue)

You can register for the event via Facebook. It's a fun time for all.

TV Squad interviews Vanessa

Vanessa Bayer was interviewed by TV Squad. She spoke about Miley, the audition process, not having cable in Chicago, etc.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Vanessa and Paul talk SNL

In the Chicago Tribune, featured cast members Vanessa Bayer and Paul Brittain talk about their experiences so far on Saturday Night Live.
When "Saturday Night Live" returns March 5 after a two-week hiatus, the host will be Miley Cyrus, a celebrity who has recently been the subject of repeated mockery on the long-running NBC comedy series. A recurring sketch called "The Miley Cyrus Show" debuted on the second episode of the season, featuring new cast member Vanessa Bayer playing Cyrus as an incomprehensible teenage motormouth talk show host who rolls her eyes whenever dad Billy Ray pipes in with a lame comment.

In an uneven season, it is a head-turning performance that stands out, and it got Bayer — who joined the show a few months ago after an audition at iO Theater here in Chicago — noticed early on. Cyrus' appearance next week on the show will no doubt be the culmination of Bayer's nascent career in television.

"She's so fun to do," Bayer said, talking by phone from her East Village apartment in New York on Tuesday, midway through her brief vacation from the weekly grind. She has spent the last several days mostly catching up on sleep. This is the first in-depth interview that she has given since joining the show. Even six months into the new gig, she said, "There's always a part of me that's, like, freaking out."[...]

Halpern only gives 15 performers a slot in the showcase. "Vanessa had about five different characters ready to go, including Miley Cyrus, and I could see that they were things that Lorne could take and use tomorrow," Halpern said. "That's what he wants — he wants to see characters and pieces that he can use right away and put into the show. When he's here, the new season is literally just a few weeks away, so he wants to see something where he goes, 'There it is. I got something we can use for the show.'"

Among the rookies this season, Bayer seems to have had the most airtime, playing characters featured prominently in a large number of sketches. The same hasn't been true of Brittain, who tends to show up in most sketches as human filler. (Bayer honed her comedy chops locally at iO and the Annoyance Theatre, and both she and friend Brittain are veterans of Second City's four-month Norwegian Cruise Line tours.)[...]

As for the disparity in airtime, there doesn't appear to be any tension between the Chicago rookies. "I don't know who has gotten more or less airtime, but I will say that it is so luck of draw what scenes get in," said Bayer. "There will be scenes that make it to dress rehearsal but get cut for the show, so it's such a random thing. Like, I remember when I used to watch the show, you think there's 10 scenes that are written for the show, when really there are 40 or 45 scenes that are written; 12 get picked for rehearsal and then 10 get into the show."

Brittain's patience is likely to pay off, colleagues said.

"He's a real easygoing guy," said Bayer, "which is exactly the energy that I need as someone who can be a little high-strung." And in the opinion of iO's Halpern: "Paul is going to be the dark horse if Lorne uses him right. He's a real ball of energy, but he's not pushy. He really can play anything."

Cast member Jason Sudeikis (who also trained at iO and Second City) said: "Paul just has a quiet confidence to him that I wish I could steal a little bit from, and Vanessa, I don't think I've ever seen her not smiling. They're both doing great. But it's so interesting, it's only like their first six months — and yet they probably feel like it's been three years."

The Chicago connections help. One of the biggest challenges for new performers, Halpern said, is "getting the writers on staff to write for you. And I think because Vanessa and Paul already know some of the writers from Chicago" — the aforementioned Gossman and Flanigan, as well as Michael Patrick O'Brien, who was hired from Second City in 2009 — "they probably have a slightly easier time of it."

On the Russell Brand episode this month, Bayer worked with Gossman and Flanigan on a sketch called "Livin' Single" that featured Bayer as an upbeat talk show host/single gal enthusiastically grinding against Brand.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Second City to open theater for stand-up

Even though Zanie's is right down the street on Wells, Second City has announced that they are opening a theater for stand-up comedy.
Andrew Alexander, CEO/Executive Producer of the legendary Second City has partnered with Robert Hartmann, CEO of Levity Entertainment, to create Chicago's newest Stand-Up and Comedy Cabaret theatre located in Piper's Alley. The new theatre is scheduled to open October 1st, 2011.

The theatre will be located in the former Tony & Tina's Wedding space in Piper's Alley which also houses The Second City e.t.c. Theatre and The Second City Training Center campus. Designed by Ryan Nestor of Barker & Nestor, the new space will be a 280-seat classic cabaret-style theatre featuring a bar and restaurant component. President of Second City, Diana Martinez and Vice President Kelly Leonard are working on programming and operations which will include headline comedians, performances of Second City theatrical productions, alumni shows, and improv shows.

"With the addition of this theatre, we are truly turning Piper's Alley into an exciting Entertainment destination. This club will be a great home for stand-up, sketch artists and alternative comedy. With its retro nightclub feel, this space will evoke the memories of the days of Mr. Kelly's and the Gaslight Club," said Andrew Alexander, CEO/Executive Producer of The Second City.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Cash Cab Chicago starts today

I just finished watching Cash Cab Chicago and it's nice to see the scenery of Chicago on TV. It's also nice to see one of our fellow improvisers, Beth Melewski, hosting the game show.

The Sun-Times spoke with her about the show recently. From the article, it appears that she will be going back to the ETC stage for good until the beginning of April.
The new “Cash Cab Chicago,” debuting Monday on Discovery, follows the New York installment weeknights, with the same concept: Contestants must answer trivia questions for cash as Melewski drives them to their destination. If they miss three questions, they’re ejected from the vehicle — no matter where they are.

“I think weather has been kind of a hilarious factor,” Melewski says. There are no consolation parting gifts of umbrellas or boots.[...]

If texting and driving is a bad idea, game-show hosting and driving is even more difficult. But Melewski is proud of her driving record. “I tapped a valet sign once,” she admits.

Before filming, she had to pass taxi certification tests. “It was really the hardest thing I’ve ever had to study for,” she says. “It’s a tough process. Be nice to your cab drivers because they went through hell. And tip well.”

It’s thoroughly entertaining to watch a group of hipsters en route to Schubas trying to come up with the names of seven founding fathers. But any humiliation is minimal.

“There’s nothing really negative about the show,” Melewski says. “You pick people up, and they can win money. It’s such a basic, amazing premise. People either haven’t heard of the show, or they absolutely love it. It’s all about feeling good and rewarding people for knowledge.”

Melewski left Second City’s e.t.c. stage for three months to tape 40 episodes. She couldn’t resist. “I got to stay in town and shoot a national television show,” she says. “That never happens. Put some more icing on that cake.”

Now that the show’s wrapped, though, she’ll be back at Second City to perform the show she co-wrote, “The Absolute Best Friggin’ Time of Your Life.”

“I’ll be there till the beginning of April,” Melewski says.

Despite rattling off question after question for months, Melewski says she retained “just nuggets” of information. But that doesn’t mean she didn’t learn anything.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Another tribute

Mainstage alumnus and current Second City instructor Tim O'Malley pays tribute to Joyce Sloane over at his blog.

Cash Cab Chicago debuts Monday

Beth Melewski was interviewed by Chicagoist. Word has it that she will be performing on the ETC stage on February 17th.

Cash Cab Chicago debuts Monday on Discovery Channel.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A moving tribute video

I don't know where they dug up the footage from Stephen Colbert's last night on Mainstage at Second City but here is a very moving tribute to the late Joyce Sloane.

I won't lie. It brought tears to my eye. Watch it and then go share it with your friends.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Chances are you watched the Super Bowl and saw the Groupon ad. Furthermore, chances are you saw Conan last night and saw the parody ad featuring Brian Stack.

Groupon employees a large number of the improv community in Chicago.
From entry-level scribes and senior managers to its front-desk receptionist, Groupon’s roster boasts visual artists, musicians and comedians. Improv actors, in particular, abound — many of them in the customer service department.

“It’s a starting point for people to build rapport here and to bond,” With says. “And I think it feeds into the work.”

Groupon’s artist-friendly atmosphere is old news in Chicago’s creative community.

“If you were to trace the lineage of every customer service and editorial employee referral, and list the outside accomplishments of each individual employee,” customer service rep and improviser Andrew Smreker says, “you would basically have a diagram of Chicago culture’s central nervous system.” He goes further, claiming that “every person in every Chicago scene either knows a Groupon employee or is a Groupon employee, and everyone has at least applied.”

There’ve been some notable breakouts, too, including recent “Saturday Night Live” hire and erstwhile Chicago improviser Paul Brittain, who temped at Groupon in 2009, and stand-up comic C.J. Toledano, a new Conan O’Brien script intern. Onetime staffer Amanda Velez now works for Lady Gaga’s Monster Ball Tour.

“Collaboration is huge at Groupon,” says Toledano, who’s “still involved with Groupon,” via e-mail during a “Conan” break. “Everyone is constantly doing ‘bits.’ And it’s not like other work environments, where there’s that one unfunny guy who keeps trying to be funny and no one likes him, because everyone who has been hired has more than likely been referred by a friend or collaborator. Thus, they check out and their humor has been approved. I hosted and produced a late night talk show called ‘The Late Live Show’ at Second City, and I can say that about 95 percent of the writing staff is working at Groupon in some capacity. If you go to an improv or sketch show, I guarantee you would see four or five people who work at Groupon either onstage or in the crowd supporting. It’s an amazing environment that makes going to work fun. I can count so many times where I or a co-worker have said something like, ‘Man, I have tomorrow off, but all my friends are at work. I’d rather just go in.’ ”

Tributes flow in...

Jonathan at Jewlistic pays tribute to the late Joyce Sloane.

Outside of the many status updates on facebook, you can do a search on twitter for other tributes.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Statement from Andrew Alexander

Kelly Leonard just posted this:
Joyce Sloane’s impact on the Chicago theatre community cannot be measured. She nurtured thousands of young performers – she encouraged them, fed them, even housed them when needed. She was the mother of The Second City and she cannot be replaced. The loss is monumental but Joyce Sloane’s legacy carries on forever in the work of the artists of whom she was so proud.

Andrew Alexander
The Second City
May Joyce Sloane rest in peace.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

IO news

This comes via Tara and sounds like an awesome IO venue if it happens:
here's what i can say: lakeview. diff ward. cool facade. build out would be: 3-4 classrooms, 2-3 theatres, greenroom, full for-real bar, offices, and parking lot. size of an airplane hangar. structurally great, looks like Saw III now. close to nightlife, el, bus. yes. lots of legal coming and another building looked at too, but this would be a joint to be real stoked about, improvisers.
My guess is it would be somewhere in Lincoln Park but I don't know for sure.


Lyndsay Hailey has been hired by the Second City Touring Company as member of BlueCo. Congrats.

Monday, January 17, 2011

BlueCo loses another...

Meghan Teal's last night with BlueCo is tonight on the Second City Mainstage. Her last night with BlueCo was follows both Shad Kunkle and Katie Rich. Have a great last night, Meghan!

Interview with TJ Miller

Danielle Solzman: Thank you for joining the Chicago Improv Celebrity News today. How are you doing?
T.J. Miller: Okay.

DS: You've had a rather busy year with She's Out of My League, How to Train Your Dragon, Get Him to the Greek, Unstoppable, Yogi Bear and Gulliver's Travels being released in 2010. Were you trying to compete with Jonah Hill and Amanda Seyfried for the most movies in 2010?
TJM: Nah, I don't consider myself in the same league as those two. I'm far further along than they are.

DS: With all these movies, how do you find the time to perform stand-up tour?
TJM: Whenever I'm not doing a movie, I'm doing stand-up or working on my own stuff. I don't see any alternative. I have to do as much stand-up as I can because other comics don't have to take time off if they don't want to. I have no choice, so I'm always playing catchup to the comics that are just doing stand-up. So I'm basically working all the time unless I take a concentrated period of time off on purpose. Which I rarely do. Except for something like brain surgery.

DS: You made a YouTube video to obtain your part for Yogi Bear, right? Did you ever think it would work?
TJM: I did not make a YouTube video to obtain anything. I did it as a joke. I thought it would be funny to send a video of me with a real bear to Warner Bros. and pretend it was real. They obviously knew it wasn't, I wasn't pining for the part or anything, I auditioned sort of as a joke, made the video as a really silly joke, and then when they offered the part I said "what is the funniest ending to this story/joke? to be in the movie." So I did the movie. So the whole thing was really based on comedy bleeding into life...

DS: Having seen you perform at a venues such as Lakeshore Theater in Chicago (may it rest in peace) and Comedy Caravan in Louisville, which is your favorite type of venue to perform in? The larger theater or the smaller one?
TJM: I like any size room as long as it's well run and the audience is into it. The bigger the room the easier to get laughs (when it's full) but a small crowd in a good venue is just as fun. It's about the audience not the venue usually. I like a venue about 300-500 though, that is pretty sweet because my subtle stuff still goes over but it feels like a huge crowd.

DS: When did you get the itch to go into comedy for a career? Was it while living in Denver? Or while a student at George Washington University?
TJM: Comedy as a career came when I was in receSs at GW. Those guys were the first ones to make me understand that comedy was it's own thing. I didn't have to be an actor who did comedy, I could be a comedian and just a comedian. And that is more than enough. Way fucking hard.

DS: What sort of training did you undergo in Chicago as far as improv and sketch is concerned?
TJM:Annoyance Theater, iO, and I took like one class at Second City and then they rejected me from the conservatory. Later they hired me after my first audition to understudy and later tour. So they don't always know what is going on. A rejection from them should be seen as one from the prettiest girl in town. She's flighty, flaky, and will eventually come around once other people want you.

DS: Is there any thing that has stuck out from any instructors that you have had?
TJM: Everything Mick Napier has said. I think really standing behind your instincts is important. I also think someone somewhere must have said something akin to "do what you think is funny and will make you laugh." Because that's usually where I start.

DS: What teams were you on at IO?
TJM: Sturgis and Bullet Lounge.

DS: When did you join the Second City National Touring Company and how long were you with them?
TJM:I think in '05 maybe. I toured for a little over 2 years.

DS: What was the Tour Co experience like?
TJM: Amazing. It was the first real reps I got on the road, the first time I had to start performing for people from all over, not just peers in Chicago. That was extremely helpful and an invaluable learning experience.

DS: Have any favorite characters that you like to do at gigs?
TJM:I have a new one I like but people aren't into it as much, a guy who is really pushy about whether or not you're going to take a bite of his banana.

DS: I want to talk about Carpoolers. Do you think the series would have lasted longer if the strike didn't get in the way?
TJM: Maybe. Maybe a back order, but I don't know if it could have gone many seasons because ABC didn't have a comedy brand then, and now they do with Modern Family and such. I think it was tough timing no matter what.

DS: Variety named you as one of the top ten comics to watch in 2008. How did that make you feel? Pressured?
TJM: No. Most awards and accolades are appreciated but not much more than that. Comedy isn't really about awards, it's about laughs and respect from the peers you respect. If you're getting that, and you're happy with your work, then I don't give a fuck what list I'm on, I'm still going to keep ascending in one form or another. I'll never try and get an academy award, I'll never want to be taken seriously. That list is usually just hype around town anyway...

DS: What do you tell beginning improvisers?
TJM: Do as much as you can all the time. Perform as much as you can, take as many classes, start your own group. All comedians: Your work ethic is one of the few things you have complete control over.

DS: Thanks again for joining us. Is there anything else you would like to add?
TJM: No. Thank you.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Customized shows...

An article appeared in the New York Times about the customized shows that are being performed across the country.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

RIP: Mary Scruggs

I never had the chance to have a class with Mary Scruggs but my heart aches for her family, friends, and the many students that had her as a writing teacher.

If you have any favorite memories that you wish to share, please feel free to do so.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Mainstage News

With the depatures of Emily Wilson and Allison Bills from the mainstage cast, it was only time before we knew who would be promoted for the next revue.

Katie Rich, Holly Laurent, and Edgar Blackmon are confirmed to be joining the cast for the next revue.

Katie's last night

Katie Rich has set her last night with BlueCo for tonight.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Furman speaks

Eddie Furman was interviewed by Louisville's Courier Journal about Second City's Louisville-based revue, It Takes a Ville!
Q: Were you the sole writer on “It Takes a 'Ville” or was it a collaboration?
A: It's a two-person team, me and Tim Baltz, who's a very funny guy. We went down to Louisville for four days to learn all we could about the great city. Louisville has a great theater tradition, so I think it seemed like a natural fit, and people were genuinely excited to tell us things and show us things. It's a city both Tim and I really fell in love with, so the pressure was really on. We wanted to write a really great show for you.

How long does it take to write one of these shows?
You try to write quickly while everything's fresh in your mind, so it was about two weeks for ideas and treatments for scenes, with some shorter scenes written out, then meeting with Mick Napier, our director and a Kentucky native, and the producer to see which scenes are worth fleshing out. Then there's another two weeks of writing, before we handed off the script. There will be an improv element, too — we wrote a Louisville-specific improv piece for the show.

What did you do on your four-day cultural immersion tour of Louisville?
Bourbons Bistro. We met a lot of cool people there. We went to Yum! Foods headquarters and visited Colonel Sanders' grave (in Cave Hill Cemetery). The immersions are a funny thing because we want to see the things Louisville is famous for, but we also want to do the things that locals do.[...]

So what did you learn about Louisville and Louisvillians?
An interesting thing about Louisville is the dichotomy of it being the northern-most Southern city or the southern-most Northern city. You have the mega-churches and the Bible belt, but you also have bourbon and horse racing. It's very tolerant and everybody seems to get along and have a good time. I think more cities could benefit from that lesson.

What is Louisville's biggest idiosyncrasy?
Something you have in common with other cities where you are geographically — how you treat snow or bad weather. It didn't snow while we were down there, of course, but hearing the stories about how people react to an inch of snow in January. They're shooting the weak and the elderly and burying them in shallow graves so they don't have to endure the harsh winter, and the next afternoon it's 75 degrees again.

What's the big joke about Louisville?
I think it always comes back to people and how human nature manifests itself. That said, I think the biggest joke in Louisville is actually Southern Indiana.

Ouch! Why is that?
I don't know, but you all don't seem to be particularly fond of each other. It's a classic cross-river rivalry.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Louisville cast announced

The cast and musical director for Second City: It Takes a Ville has been named. They are as follows: Anthony Irons, Steve Waltien, Mitchell Fain, Lauren Dowden, Matthew Cohen (musical director), Jennifer Estlin, and John Hartman.

Of course, Mick is directing it.

I'm telling everyone I know about this show...being a native of Louisville but my heart is most definitely in Chicago.