Posts tagged as chicago

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 [...]

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, [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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.