I’ve lived in Chicago for four months now and I finally made it out to see a show at Second City. This was the real deal, folks. As much as I will always hold that lovely little black box of the People’s Improv Theater near to my heart, the PIT and all the other improv joints in NYC can’t stand chest to chest with Second City. I know that UCB people might bark back that I am so wrong. Go ahead and bark. All that’ll get you is a shot at being let out to pee.
But this isn’t a pissing contest. Second City is 51. It has established itself as the center of comedy in this known universe. It’s legacy is well-known yet it’s really worthwhile to take a minute and read the list of prominent alumni that they can claim their own. The list reads like a Hall of Fame of Funny. UCB is gaining, though. Established in 1990 by people out of iO and Second City, UCB has given us a lot of quality funny people.
Why have I stayed away from the Chicago comedy scene until now? Why did it take me four months to visit the Mecca of Comedy? Simple. I’m very underemployed and don’t have the money to go see shows and take classes. My girlfriend’s brother suggested it for a night out so I could finally meet his wife. It was a good time for the four of us. We saw the 11:00 performance of The Absolute Friggin’ Best Time of Your Life. It was good stuff. The performers were all very solid and entertaining and I found myself impressed and a wee bit envious.
Envy is not something one normally feels when watching a show. I miss performing and it came down to them being on stage and my sitting in the audience. That’s all. (Listen: I know that envy is one of the Seven Deadly Sins. It wasn’t raging envy. As I said, it was just a touch of the stuff. It faded. I’m no longer drenched in sin (or is that Sin? Well, not that one anyway–).
Getting back to money. Regarding Second City, I want classes more than a show. The reason I stayed away was because I can’t afford to start taking classes there, so there wasn’t a compelling enough reason for me to go. I can always pop in and see a show. I expect my affiliation to be professional and instructional.
I studied improvisational comedy at the PIT and had a great time performing with two improv troupes in NYC: my very first one was Long Division, and I soon after joined Track Suit Mafia. From the first time I got a big laugh from an audience (in a one-time role as the roustabout for the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus), I was hooked. I’ve gone after laughs from people most of my life, yet this was the first time I ever did it for real.
So I saw a show at Second City and had a great time with my girlfriend and her brother and his wife. Two nights ago, Teresa and I saw Ricky Gervais play at the Chicago Theatre. He was very good. Damn he’s smart and funny. And during his show, I considered, during certain bits, how I might have performed them. I have the bug again. I want to start getting serious again about performing. I need to make a steady income that allows me some extra cash for paying for coaches and classes and rehearsal space. A month or so ago I wrote some spec pieces for The Onion; I haven’t done anything with them yet. I have a couple of ideas for sketches, and I have a strong urge to try stand up.
(Yikes. What the hell’s going on here? Is this the direction my life is going to take? It is if I continue to steer down that road.)
Since I started making comedy “for real,” I feel a little weird when I clown around in my regular interactions with people, as if it’s not appropriate. I never felt that way before.
I’ve progressed past the need for acceptance from you. Maybe now I want acceptance from everyone.