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Posts tagged as chicago

Diving Into Late Night Head-First with Saurin Choksi

As a kid growing up in Texas, Saurin Choksi always loved comedy. After graduating college and moving to Detroit to take a job working for Ford, Choksi decided to do something about that love: he started taking classes at Second City. He worked his way up the improv school's chain before making a shift to standup. “Standup felt like a better fit for me.” Choksi later moved to Chicago and spent six years carving out a spot as a successful player in the Windy City's comedy scene. Over the last few years, he has performed at numerous festivals including SF Sketchfest, The Onion's 26th Annual Comedy Fest, Funny or Die's [...]

Talking About the End of Chicago's Upstairs Gallery

The Upstairs Gallery started in September of 2010 as a small performance space in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood. It is now one of the city’s best known comedy theaters. After four years of putting up some of the most exciting and experimental theater in Chicago, it is closing at the end of this month. The Gallery is operated by Alex Honnet, Caitlin Stephan and Walt Delaney. I spoke with Alex and Caitlin about the Gallery’s shift from “performance space” to “comedy theater”, as well as the upcoming second installment of their independent comedy festival, A Jangleheart Circus.

Talking to Beth Stelling About Gender in the Standup World and Getting Her Start in Comedy

Beth Stelling has been making people laugh professionally for almost seven years with her signature quirky, laid-back style. Having moved from Chicago to LA a few years ago, Stelling has since appeared on Conan, @midnight, and all over the LA standup scene. She released her debut album, Sweet Beth, in the fall of 2012 via Rooftop Comedy. I recently caught up with Beth Stelling to discuss her first open mic, the advantages and disadvantages of being a female in the standup world, and the highs and lows of comedy.

Open Mic Night in Chicago

They drifted in from everywhere, each riding their own current through the vast human watershed that funnels yearning and desperation into the city. They were eager and nervous or apprehensive and nervous or they came with the stoicism of the lunchpail just there to do a job. Some were new and working hard to keep their dreams from running too far ahead and some were weary and wondering if hope had run out. Some came in secret and others told everyone they knew. Not for money or out of obligation but for goals and dreams and reasons of their own all different all the same. I came too. When I [...]

'The Onion' Is Going on Tour

Over the years, The Onion has branched out into TV, film, web video, and books, and now the franchise is taking on another piece of new territory: live theater. The folks behind the revered satirical news entity just announced they'll be teaming up with The Second City, another Chicago-based comedy institution, for The Onion Live!, a stage show that will tour the country this fall. In a statement, The Onion said the show will teach audiences "The Onion’s journalism secrets through a series of presentations from the same news and lifestyle experts who train The Onion’s handsome, knowledgeable staff. Audiences will learn everything from how to chase a scoop [...]

The Next Wave 2015: The Top Up-and-Coming Comics Outside of NY and LA

Welcome to the second semi-annual edition of The Next Wave, Splitsider’s roundup of exciting new comic voices from around the country.

Though Los Angeles and New York City are home to the country’s biggest comedy industries, they aren’t the only cities with thriving comedy scenes. In recent years especially — thanks to the rising popularity of locally-focused festivals, and ofma course, the internet — the following cities have become destinations for new comics looking to grow, and for bookers and agents looking to discover emerging talent. Here are a few must-follow cities, and the comics who are on their way to becoming The Next Wave.

We reached [...]

Chicago Comedian Dan Ronan Passed Away on Friday

Chicago-based comedian Dan Ronan passed away Friday at the tragically young age of 24. Ronan, who began doing comedy at 15, was a writer/performer for The Late Live Show and a regular at The Lincoln Lodge and other spots around the Chicago comedy scene. Ronan struggled with substance addiction and relapsed after briefly moving to Los Angeles last year before returning to Chicago to be closer to family.

Here's a bit from Late Live Show co-host Joe McAdam's heartfelt post about Ronan's life:

Dan created some of my favorite comedy I’ve ever witnessed. He was truly inspired and I’m really lucky that I got to work with him. His mind [...]

The Best of Just For Laughs Chicago

Five years in, Chicago's Just For Laughs Festival has never felt more catered towards comedy nerds; podcast tapings, surprise shows in incredibly intimate theaters, and a pair of shows celebrating the beloved Twitter account @dadboner dotted the medium-eclectic lineup. Though standup was clearly the main attraction, a few of the festival's highest highs came from the conceptual, premise-driven shows that offered up once in a lifetime type of moments that could only happen at a comedy festival.

Getting the Call: Inside iO's 'SNL' Auditions

The website called Monday night’s show at iO — a Chicago improv institution — a “special solo showcase,” but word-of-mouth said it was really an SNL audition.

On a wall leading into iO’s downstairs Cabaret Theater, there are pictures of famous people who either took classes or performed at iO during some point in time. I wanted to make a mental note of whose faces were outlined by the gold picture frames, but the energy in the theater was buzzing and the only picture I can remember is of Mike Myers and iO’s cofounder Charna Halpern.

In the Chicago improv scene, Charna Halpern is the Oracle. As the iO [...]

Columbia College and Second City Team Up to Offer a Comedy Degree

Columbia College in Chicago has joined forces with the city's esteemed Second City Theatre to offer the country's first-ever comedy degree this fall, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Columbia has offered theater students the chance to spend a semester studying at Second City for the past five years, but this new four-year degree in Comedy Performance and Writing "requires students to study both writing and performance, to do improvisation, physical clowning, and stand-up." Not that you need a degree at all for a career in comedy, but for those interested in paying a lot more to go through Second City's program, this is a way to do that.

Chicago Comedy and Theater Great Sheldon Patinkin Dies at 79

The Chicago theater and comedy community lost a big name yesterday with the news that Sheldon Patinkin, who mentored countless performers and directors and was an icon of the Second City community, died at age 79. Patinkin worked as the chair of Columbia College Chicago's theater department and as an artistic consultant at both Second City and Steppenwolf Theatre. He is regarded as a beloved mentor, teacher, and pioneer of the city's improvisational community for over 50 years and also chronicled the history of Second City in the 2000 book Second City: Backstage at the World's Greatest Comedy Theater. Here's an official statement from Second City [...]

Watch Tina Fey Tell an Awful McDonald's Commercial Audition Story

Here's Tina Fey talking about a bad experience auditioning for a McDonald's commercial in Chicago in the '90s for an episode of The Tonight Show's web series My Worst Audition. It didn't work out, but at least Tina Fey didn't get really into being a commercial spokesperson instead of becoming a great comedy writer/performer.

Saying Goodnight to Chicago's 'Late Live Show'

Sad news from the Windy City: after three years and more than 50 performances, one of live comedy's most interesting experiments is coming to an end. This Saturday, The Late Live Show will have its final performance.

For those of you who missed our profile of the show last year, here's the basic idea: A bunch of comedy nerds who grew up watching late-night shows decided they wanted one of their own, but knew they would never be able to get it on television, so they just started doing it as a live show in Chi-town venues. We're talking opening monologues, desk bits, interviews — the whole kit and caboodle. It [...]

Splitsider's Guide to Chicago's Comedy Scene

As any Chicago-based comedian, writer, or performer will tell you, there’s a glass ceiling everyone faces when developing a career in this city, due to the lack of an entertainment industry. Soon after a performer really begins to come into their own, firing on all cylinders (and sometimes before), they make the decision to move out to NYC or LA. It’s helpful to think of Chicago as a sort of comedy incubator, preparing comics for the big time.

That also means audiences regularly get to catch rising talent right before they hit, which makes Chicago’s comedy shows some of the scrappiest, most unique, and most reliably solid shows in [...]