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Posts tagged as chicago

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 [...]

The Complete Guide to Everything: Chicago

October's the time for outdoor autumnal activities. In Tom's case that means traveling to Long Island to tour wineries, go pumpkin picking, visiting a corn maze and running into Arnold Schwarzenegger in Manhattan. In Tim's case that means going to the Bronx to walk around a cemetery at night with a bunch of elderly people, which of course leads to a debate about the reality Michael Jackson's Thriller video is set in.

This week Tom recounts his recent trip to Chicago and the midwest for the first time ever where he discovers how big lakes can be (really big), the numerous ways entrepreneurs are ripping off the Chicago Cubs, [...]

Inside Chicago's Own Late Night Show, 'The Late Live Show'

In retrospect, it just seems so obvious.

After a few minutes of talking to the people behind Chicago's The Late Live Show, one starts to feel like the relevant question isn't, "Why did these guys decide to start a live, untelevised talk show?" The real question seems to be, "Why isn't everyone else doing it?"

"There are stand-up shows, there are improv shows, and there are sketch shows in Chicago," said Joe Kwaczala, the show's 25-year-old host. "Those are formats people are familiar with and can dial into. But so is a late-night talk show! We thought, 'Why isn't there one you can go out and see live?'"

[...]

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 [...]

Talking with The Upstairs Gallery about Operating an Indie Theater and Being a Valve of Chicago Comedy

When you think of Comedy theaters in Chicago you probably think of the big three: The Second City, The IO, and The Annoyance. These three theaters are extremely well established and boast an impressive list of alumni, but where does a performer go if they want to perform but are unable to do so on these stages? Chicago is also home to a big independent comedy scene and one of the leaders of this scene is The Upstairs Gallery. Run by Alex Honnet, Walt Delaney, and Caitlin Stephan, The Upstairs Gallery is already becoming a home to some of the most interesting and experimental comedy [...]

A Video Guide to Fred Armisen’s Pre-'SNL' Years

Throughout Saturday Night Live's history, the  show’s cast has been largely imported from comedy training grounds like the Second City in Chicago or The Groundlings in LA, but Fred Armisen’s path to the show was a little different than most of his peers’. Armisen spent the better part of the 90s as a musician. His main gig was drumming for the punk band Trenchmouth but after the group broke up, he briefly served as background drummer for the Blue Man Group and had his own salsa band before switching to a career in comedy in his early 30s.

“Fred Armisen’s Guide to Music and South by Southwest” (1998) Living [...]

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.

'SNL' Casts Two Chicagoans: Aidy Bryant and Tim Robinson

The Comics Comic is reporting that SNL has brought in Aidy Bryant and Tim Robinson to join the cast. They're starting in time for the season's premiere on September 15. Both are vets of the Chicago comedy scene: Second City, iO, Annoyance Theater, etc. Aidy was actually once part of a sketch group with Vanessa Bayer at the Annoyance, which is fun. Watch a few videos of the two below to get yourself acquainted. We'd be very surprised if this is it for new cast members; expect at least one other new female performer to be announced before the season kicks off.