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Events Thu Jun 13 2013
Living in a city, it’s sometimes easy to let an exciting event slip by unnoticed. I had heard of the TribunePress variety show Chicago Live! in passing, but it was mentally categorized in the column entitled “Should Go to That One of These Days.” Now, having attended the program firsthand at Printer’s Row Litfest, it has rightfully relocated to the “Must-See” list.*
With features ranging from live jazz to Second City sketches to political interviews, it’s hard to pinpoint which quality of Chicago Live! proved so engaging. Perhaps it was the nimble fingers of blues guitarist John Primer, or the refreshing candor on the part of interviewed Chicago Aldermen. Perhaps it was the wry musings of MC Rick Kogan, or his intermittent reminders to “keep in mind that it’s free” (thanks to sponsorship by Nielsen). So free in fact that you can watch a webcast of the whole show here!
Re-watching the show online, the entertainment is the same. “SNL” alumna Julia Sweeney’s reading from her latest book, If It’s Not One Thing, It’s Your Mother, is just as bubbly and amusing as ever. Rick Kogan’s intellect translates easily to video. The Aldermen’s straightforward commentary is as compelling as it was in person. The “Live” of Chicago Live! is, as is always the trouble with taped performances, absent. But there is a greater element to the event that a recording just can’t match: the Chicagoans themselves.
What made the event for me wasn’t just the entertainment, it was the audience. Patrons who have been coming to LitFest for 25+ years; who are familiar enough to say, “Oh, Rick Kogan is always a good MC”; who whip out their smartphones to commemorate the moment they saw three aldermen in person. Even in such a crowded room, it felt like an intimate gathering of the city’s greatest devotees.
Sitting among such true-blue Chicagoans solidified for me that, even as I call Chicago home, I’ve still only scratched the surface.
So when you do listen to this webcast — to the pulsing blues guitar, Second City’s repartee, and Julia Sweeney’s infectious laugh — I suggest that you take with you one piece of advice from Rick Kogan: “Explore the city.” There’s always something new around the corner.