Sunday, March 6, 2016

Interview with Jamison Webb

Danielle Solzman:  Thanks for joining Chicago Improv Celebrity News. How are things treating you in Chicago?

Jamison Webb:  Very well! Springtime keeps threatening to break through the winter sludge and stay awhile. I am optimistic, and also very proud of that last sentence.

Danielle Solzman:  Fool Me Twice, Deja Vu is your first Mainstage revue. How does it feel to join an exclusive fraternity of comedians to have performed as a member of the Mainstage ensemble?

Jamison Webb:  Every time I go on that stage, I feel very, very, very lucky. The Second City is a special and important place, and to even be a small footnote in its long and famed history is a gift.

Danielle Solzman:  What was the process experience like?

Jamison Webb:  Challenging but rewarding! You’re generating lots of material with extremely talented people and trying it out in front of an audience 6 nights a week. The whole thing is a whirlwind. Or maybe it’s a full-fledged storm. Actually, you know that giant storm on the planet Jupiter that’s been raging for like 200 years? It is exactly like that.

Danielle Solzman:  Both the Annoyance and iO opened their doors up to the Mainstage cast to do their free set after the fire last August. What does it say about the Chicago improv community when other theaters have opened up their doors to Second City?

Jamison Webb:  And Victory Gardens Theater hosted us for a weekend of shows in one of their performance spaces! Look, clearly, the fire sucked and we all wish it had never happened, but that said, it was cool to see Chicago’s improv community—and its overall theatre community—come together in the wake of it to help The Second City. It says a lot about what a special and supportive town Chicago is for artists.

Danielle Solzman:  How did you fill your time after the fire?

Jamison Webb:  The Mainstage cast met regularly to pitch and rehearse new material while we waited for the theater to reopen. So my time after the fire was filled with writing, reading, and spending time with my wonderful fiancee and our cute pitbull, Boo.

Danielle Solzman:  When did you first catch the improv bug and at what point did you know it was something you wanted to do for a living?

Jamison Webb:  I think my discovery of improv is pretty similar to a lot of people my age (59 years old): I first found about it watching reruns of the UK version of Whose Line Is It Anyway? on Comedy Central after getting home from school. And then when I went to college, I found out there was a campus improv troupe, so I joined it (shout out to the University of Florida’s Theatre Strike Force!). I reckon the bug done bit me somewheres in there. But I’ve always wanted to get paid to write; all that’s changed is what I wanted to be writing. When I was in elementary school, I wanted to be a writer/illustrator of kid’s books. And then from middle school on, I wanted to write comedy. Now, I am finally pursuing my TRUE passion: writing young adult novels about dystopian horse racing.

Danielle Solzman:  You’re from Florida.  What was the adjustment like during your first Chicago winter?

Jamison Webb:  After living my entire life in Florida, I was happy to be somewhere where the seasons changed. During my first winter, everyone kept saying “Wow, this is Chicago’s worst winter in 15 years,” and I remember thinking “Oh, this isn’t that bad. I can do this!” So I enjoyed it. But I must’ve been storing some residual Florida heat in my bones, because now I think winter is awful and I am rooting for climate change’s continued success!

Danielle Solzman:  What was your improv training like?

Jamison Webb:  I took TPP3124, the improvisation class at the University of Florida during the spring semester of my freshman year. I wasn’t actually enrolled in the class. I just showed up and hung out...for 3.5 YEARS. I got to do shortform and longform, with some great instructors and directors and performers teaching me a lot. I was very lucky. Then I moved to Chicago, took classes at iO, and then later did the Conservatory program at The Second City. You learn something different and valuable from each training program and each teacher.

Danielle Solzman:  Which instructor has had the most meaningful impact on your improv career?

Jamison Webb:  I’m afraid to name just one. What if the others read this and get mad?! I can just see the emails now: “What, I didn’t have the most meaningful impact on your improv career? Go to hell, Jamison!” I don’t know if I can handle that. Let’s go with Shelley Gossman. She made it fun to be taking a class at 10 a.m. on a Saturday.

Danielle Solzman:   How long did you tour with RedCo?

Jamison Webb:  I toured with RedCo from January 2014 to August 2015. Let me tell you, it was about the best 20 months you could ask for. A great group of super funny people trekking across the good ol’ U.S. of A. I learned so much about hotels. The next time you’re in a hotel and it has a flat-screen TV, check to see if it’s an LG. I bet it is. I think the LG people made some big deal with a bunch of hotel chains.

Danielle Solzman:  Many celebrities stop by to check out the show and later perform in the free set. Has there been anyone that you were very excited to meet? Is there anyone you would like to see show up some day?

Jamison Webb:  I’ll single out Steve Kerr and the Golden State Warriors coaching staff as being particularly cool guests to meet. Coach Kerr did our set, which consisted of me asking him a bunch of questions interview-style to inspire our scenes. That was wild. When he came out on stage, people were leaping to their feet to cheer him on. A Chicago Bulls great and the head coach of the reigning NBA Champs, and I’m getting to talk to him one-on-one? Nuts. As for anyone I’d like to see show up, the answer is simple: The Rock. Dude’s the most charismatic man alive. Mr. Johnson, I know you are an active reader of improv interviews: consider this an OFFICIAL invitation to come to The Second City Mainstage!

Danielle Solzman:  If you could go back to your years in high school, what would you tell yourself?

Jamison Webb:  Eat something. You were too thin!

Danielle Solzman:  Thanks again for joining us and keep up the great work.

Jamison Webb:  Thank you, Danielle.

Monday, February 29, 2016

My Improv/Sketch Calendar This Week

I've been back in town for two weeks now and keeping busy.

Monday: BlueCo plays The Best of Second City on Mainstage.  It is Liz Reuss' last night with BlueCo.  Tickets are still available so have a drink in Liz' honor and stay for the set after the show.

Tuesday: Pending any scheduling conflicts, I'll be headed to Secrets, Lies, and Alibis' March Show at the Elbo Room.  The show starts at 8:30 PM and will be hosted by Alex Seligsohn.  The show has an incredible line-up:
Azhar Usman ("American's Funniest Muslim" by CNN, Opened for Dave Chappelle 50+ times, MTV, Funny or Die)
Natalie Jose (Last Comic Standing, Sadsacks and Wisecracks)
Sammy Arechar (RIOT Fest LA, Standup Standup)
Amanda Lynn Deal (Secrets, Lies & Alibis, Ego Trip Club)
Shanna Strum (Life of the Pahrty)
Becca Brown (School of Rock, iO)

Wednesday: I'm usually always at the free 8 PM show at iO on Wednesday nights.  Playing in the Del Close Theater this week are Big Judy, Virgin Daiquiri, and Carl and the Passions.

Thursday: I'll be a regular on Thursday nights at Second City Mainstage's free set.

ETC is in the process of creating the 40th Second City ETC revue so their third act will feature scenes they are working on for the next revue in addition to some improvised sketches.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Back in Chicago!

I've been back in town for nearly two weeks now.  I've hit the ball rolling with getting to as many shows as I can possibly see!

2/16: Second City Mainstage
2/17: iO's free show on Wednesday nights
2/18 Messing with a Friend: Ryan Archibald
2/21: Second City ETC
2/24: Howell and Waltien's last show before Steve moves
2/25: Second City Mainstage free set (You had to be there for this one!)