Laughing All The Way To The Show: Comedy in Chi-town

Norah and I met each other through comedy. I used to love going to see live comedy, but London has killed that, much like it has killed a number of other parts of my spirit. So Norah’s enthusiasm to planning was met more tepidly than it previously would have been. Stand-up was always my comedy format of choice, while her’s was improv. I never got into watching improv. English improv is in the Dark Ages. On with the show.

5B Conservatory Showcase, Second City

The Second City is a multiplex of a venue, with prices to match. Jay was in the showcase and so we went along to show our support. He didn’t really want us there as he didn’t particularly like his class or  the material that was being put forward.

It was fine. I’m not American enough for the political stuff, and it wasn’t universally funny enough for there to be a laugh. Apparently one of the sketches was straight lifted from Andy Samberg (“that guy is such a dick. He steals sketches, he sleeps with ex-girlfriends. I’m glad the class is over.”). There were songs, showcasing the varying degrees of competence the class were as singers.

A lot of people audition for these classes. I wonder who gets rejected.

Why accents? Most of the time in sketches accents are unnecessary. This experience made me reflect on my past life in a sketch group and all the mistakes that we made.

On the El back Norah saw someone that’s in Jay’s improv troupe. “We always have really awkward conversations. He does comedy and magic so we should get along really well but I just can’t make it click. Let’s go say hi.”

Stuck on a train with someone you have struggle making conversation with is less than desirable.

Herold, iO

I showed up drunk and with a date in tow. Norah had friends there, but was still not happy. I apologised. We went in.

Herold is an all girls Harold show.

Having taken some Harold classes and watched a number of Harold shows, I am still none the wiser about what Harold is.

iO is a much nicer place to hang out and watch shows than Second City. The beers are good, as are the fries. I can’t tell the difference between cheese and aioli.

I enjoyed this immensely, though slightly drunk Sophia enjoys most things. There was one bit in particular that had me near crying with laughter.

Prior to inviting himself along, my date told me that he didn’t like improv. “But you’re pretty”. Ick. He said that he liked this, but it wasn’t improv it was sketch so that’s different. He refused to believe that it was improvised: the sign of good improv!

Blessing, iO

Second show with date in tow, this time Norah’s friends had left so we were an awkwrd threesome. Later that evening, my date messaged me “your friend has romantic inclinations for you, no?” She does not. But I do her!

Susan Messing is a comedy genius. I have no real idea what format Blessing was. There were three of them. It was funny, clever and quite sexual. A friend from Manchester is going to take a class with Susan Messing, which I’m glad about as she sprang to mind while I was watching.

Superhuman, iO

Words can’t convey how much I loved Superhuman.

After Herold and Blessing my comedy love was reawakening, but this threw gasoline all over the simmering fire (I can’t think of the right word) and set that bitch ablaze.

We went to watch it with a guy that Norah liked, but has since changed her mind about. He was textbook adorkable. It opened with My Neck My Back and flowers being thrown (the theme was Spring). All ladies as performers. The scenes were all incredibly strange. Some of them corpsed a few times. But who cares? It was just an incredibly enjoyable – and funny – experience. When performers have chemistry it shines through, ditto when they like each other and like and trust each other when performing, it really is something else. As an audience member you are drawn in, then slapped over the face with a left field action that makes you cackle with glee.

I left feeling exhilarated and like I needed to find some friends.

Oh how I wish I was Superhuman.

Improvised Shakespeare, iO

The show that everyone says you should see.

A fully improvised Shakespeare play surely is impressive, but this was the day after the high of Superhuman and frankly I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much.

We ate macarons that Norah brought after an ex-booty call had fallen ill and said that he wanted macarons.


I’m a mild ingrate and don’t particularly enjoy Shakespeare. Still, this was far more impressive than anything I’ve done in the last eight years (in 2008 I facilitated the birth of some two million oysters).

We were meant to see another show that evening but forgot (I didn’t forget but I was tired and grateful for the rest).

Handsome/Homeless Romantics, Second City

I went to the toilet and missed the first scene by accident. For an amateur group, Handsome were pretty good.

Homeless Romantics were everything that I hate in improv and I could feel myself getting angry as it went on. We went to a bar after the show and they were there, and one guy in particular grated on me even from afar (as per the show). One girl was very good and I feel bad for her that this is the hand that she’s been dealt.

Brett and I griped about the show in the foyer immediately after it finished.

$13 for a 50 minute amateur show is a rip off.

There ended my Chicago comedy platter. A whole range of emotions had been visited. On returning to London I watched some even worse improv, and  the dream lies dormant again.


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