Here are some random, out-of-date, and seemingly incongruous news items.
The Second City Mainstage opened up a new show this week called “Southside of Heaven” to great reviews. The Trib’s Chris Jones called it a “ groundbreaking, richly textured and deliciously dark new revue.” Pretty nice. Nice work, guys. And, I think (and this is completely unresearched) this may be the first time two African-American men have been on the Mainstage at the same time. Which is cool as well.
The Chicago Improv Fest is coming this month! April 25th is the start date and there will be CIF events all over the city. This year the CIF is dedicated to Joyce Sloan
and is, in the words of Artistic Director Jet Eveleth, based on “improv’s edge”: Thinking outside the box may start with interdisciplinary elements, incorporating new mediums such as music, dance, clown, literary and playwright styles, poetry, costumes, lights, props, audience participation, non-linear time travel and expand from there. CIF is looking for shows that are not only experimental but have put in the time and work to see the project evolve.
Also, I’m interviewing Margaret Hicks about her new book, “Chicago Comedy: A Fairly Serious History” on Friday, April 29th. It’s at the Playground Theater at noon and admission is free.
And I’m doing hilarious lights and sounds for the incredible 3033 on Saturday at 11:30pm in the DeMaat Theater. It will be the first time I will have set foot in that room.
Martin DeMaat was a teacher of mine when I was at Second City. He was a kind, gentle and fun man. I was lucky enough to have him at the same time I was taking classes with Del Close and the two could not have been more diametrically opposed. The wonderful thing of that opposition was that they both spoke well of each other and basically believed in the power of improvisation both on and off-stage. I have two great memories of Martin.
Once I was just hanging about Second City between class and work and he asked me to run across the street and pick up some newspapers so he and his friend Joe Flaherty could look for something in them. I came back and helped them find an article on Mike Leigh, whose film “Secrets & Lies” had just come out. Then I sat there listening, and occasionally chirping in, as they discussed the use of improvisation in the film. It was great.
Martin used to live just one block away from me on Belmont. One hot day I was walking down the block and he called to me. He was the picture of a perfect gentleman; just sitting on his porch, relaxing and sipping a lemonade. I joined him and his sister on the porch and we sat and drink lemonade. It was kind and fun and sweet. Which is what all teacher/student relationships could be and perhaps should be. Thanks, Martin.
I had planned to write some more (in fact, when I started writing this it had the title of “News! and other Stuff” and had News Roundup Logo) but I think I’ll end with Martin. Thanks.