As of January 1, 2016, Gapers Block has ceased publication. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions over the past 12-plus years. 

TODAY

Monday, May 20

Gapers Block
Search

Gapers Block on Facebook Gapers Block on Flickr Gapers Block on Twitter The Gapers Block Tumblr


A/C
« "Reel People" Midnight Film Screenings Those Two Guys-Update! »

Comedy Wed Feb 22 2012

UP Comedy Club Off To A Strong Start

The tone in Chicago comedy these days feels like one of change and transition. New theaters like The Laugh Factory and Up are opening, and an interest in high-brow comedy and stand-up seems to be on the rise. I will be the first to admit that I was skeptical when I learned that Second City, legendary for improv and sketch comedy, was opening a club that would feature stand-up, sketch and improv, among other mediums. I was unsure of whether or not UP could cross all of those boundaries in one theater, but I wanted to keep an open mind. While I was hesitant going in, I left the theater feeling optimistic and excited for things to come.

Second City's Improv All Stars was the first show to bring me around.

UP_IMPROV_ALL-STARS_001.jpg
(L-to-R Kellen Alexander, Cody Dove, Chelsea Devantez, Hans Holsen)

The show, directed by Mick Napier (artistic director and founder of the Annoyance Theater), showcases a rotating cast of some of the best improvisors in Chicago. Improv veterans Chelsea Devantez, Cody Dove, Kellen Alexander and Hans Holsen (pictured above, not present are repertory cast members Rachael Mason, Ryan Archibald, Brooke Breit and Tim Ryder) were the first of the cast to take the stage on Monday, February 13th.

Things started out slowly but quickly gained momentum as the audience warmed up. Napier's trademark "anything goes" style shone through in scenes that layered one complicated form on top of the other, and the games became more unique and innovative as the show progressed. Some of the forms I was witnessing were different from anything I had ever seen on stage; it felt as though Napier created them specifically for this cast, and it turns out that that's because he had.

Cast member Chelsea Devantez, whose quick wit and musical timing had me in tears at one point, spoke of Napier's unique directing style. "Mick is a phenomenal director...during rehearsals he would introduce an idea, regard a room full of suggestions and then create a complex and precise new form that would be on its feet within moments."

UP_IMPROV_ALL-STARS_004.jpg

(Chelsea Devantez and Rachael Mason)

Napier also directed The Next UP Spotlight later that week, which featured an eclectic mix of sketch, performance art, monologues and stand-up. A tricky combination to have in the same lineup, Napier, along with Stage Manager Jeremy Smith and Musical Director Jacob Shuda, successfully carried several strong comedic performers from vastly different facets of comedy through one show.

The show felt long and I would have loved to have seen more variety in the booking (so much character work!) but the talent was strong enough across the board that it brought me back in at the end.

Jet Eveleth filled the room with laughter and Dan Telfer's first-hand account of a childhood incident that included a leg brace, a makeshift zipline and pockets full of porn-confetti was, hands down, one of the funniest things I have ever seen him do on stage. Neal Dandade, Dean Evans, John Hartman, Ever Mainard, Chris Redd, sketch group Schadenfreude and Adam Burke filled in the evening with seamless sets, and host Cody Dove transitioned smoothly between them all.

UP_Club_Interior_004.jpg

The soft lighting and rich colors that fill the interior of the space feel like a throwback to comedy clubs of the past, with the design of a modern theater and a touch of Chicago history in Frank Sinatra's infamous booth, purchased from the iconic Pump Room restaurant to add to the theaters nostalgic vibe.

UP_Club_Interior_003.jpg

Second City CEO, President and Co-owner Andrew Alexander sees opening the theater now as part of the natural progression of comedy in Chicago. "The bar is being raised, there are new theaters going up all over town... comedy is changing and the timing was right."

Cody Dove shares his enthusiasm. "A new theater, thankfully, means new opportunities to grow and display our work. It's a great to be a part of an exciting new venue right from the beginning."

If it's true, if comedy really is changing and the bar is being raised, I am excited to see the direction things take. If UP keeps doing what it is promising to do, and with guests like Colin Mochrie and shows like The Next UP Spotlight, the gap between tourists, comedy fans and the industry may soon be bridged and countless doors will open for local talent.

For showtimes and ticket information, visit the UP Comedy Club's website.

 
GB store
GB store

Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »

Blogroll

ACRE
An Angry White Guy
Antena
AREA Chicago
ArchitectureChicago Plus
Arts Engagement Exchange
The Art Letter
Art or Idiocy?
Art Slant Chicago
Art Talk Chicago
Bad at Sports
Bite and Smile
Brian Dickie of COT
Bridgeport International
Carrie Secrist Gallery
Chainsaw Calligraphy
Chicago Art Blog
Chicago Art Department
Chicago Art Examiner
Chicago Art Journal
Chicago Artists Resource
Chicago Art Map
Chicago Art Review
Chicago Classical Music
Chicago Comedy Examiner
Chicago Cultural Center
Chicago Daily Views
Chicago Film Examiner
Chicago Film Archives
Chicago Gallery News
Chicago Uncommon
Collaboraction
Contemporary Art Space
Co-op Image Group
Co-Prosperity Sphere
Chicago Urban Art Society
Creative Control
Defibrillator
Devening Projects
Digressions
DIY Film
ebersmoore
The Exhibition Agency
The Flatiron Project
F newsmagazine
The Gallery Crawl...
Galerie F
The Gaudy God
Happy Dog Gallery
HollywoodChicago
Homeroom Chicago
I, Homunculus
Hyde Park Artcenter Blog
InCUBATE
Joyce Owens: Artist on Art
J-Pointe
Julius Caesar
Kasia Kay Gallery
Kavi Gupta Gallery
Rob Kozlowski
Lookingglass Theatre Blog
Lumpen Blog
Marquee
Mess Hall
N'DIGO
Neoteric Art
NewcityArt
NewcityFilm
NewcityStage
Not If But When
Noun and Verb
On Film
On the Make
Onstage
Peanut Gallery
Peregrine Program
Performink
The Poor Choices Show
Pop Up Art Loop
The Post Family
The Recycled Film
Reversible Eye
Rhona Hoffman Gallery
Roots & Culture Gallery
SAIC Blog
The Seen
Sharkforum
Sisterman Vintage
Site of Big Shoulders
Sixty Inches From Center
Soleil's To-Do's
Sometimes Store
Steppenwolf.blog
Stop Go Stop
Storefront Rebellion
TOC Blog
Theater for the Future
Theatre in Chicago
The Franklin
The Mission
The Theater Loop
Thomas Robertello Gallery
threewalls
Time Tells Tony Wight Gallery
Uncommon Photographers
The Unscene Chicago
The Visualist
Vocalo
Western Exhibitions
What's Going On?
What to Wear During an Orange Alert?
You, Me, Them, Everybody
Zg Gallery

GB store

 

Events


A/C on Flickr

Join the A/C Flickr Pool.



About A/C

A/C is the arts and culture section of Gapers Block, covering the many forms of expression on display in Chicago. More...
Please see our submission guidelines.

Editor: Nancy Bishop, nancy@gapersblock.com
A/C staff inbox: ac@gapersblock.com

Archives

 

A/C Flickr Pool
 Subscribe in a reader.

GB store

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15