It breaks my heart to lose a brigade because they cannot make a living here. Chicago is the mecca of comedy. I don't even have to name names. New York and L.A. are full of our people. Those two cities have Chicago talent that's recast as New York or L.A. comics. You have to support the comedians because they worked their balls off to get that agent. Most agents or talent bookers won't even talk to comedians if they're not in those two cities. The move is a must. Combined with the reason that these cities have tradition, history, and those industries actually support and pay our fucking comedians. Sure, you have the people who only dream about being on a sketch TV show and use stand-up as a stepping stone. Or you'll have some people who just plan on just being famous with no talent. Then you have the truly talented comedians, who love stand-up, and realize it's just time for the move. They're ready.
Chicago will never get that reputation of being the great stand-up city that it is because we are considered an improv city where we like Da Bulls (for anyone who says this phrase, I hate them. Fuck SNL for writing that sketch), and eating a cake sized pizza that takes an hour to cook. Chicago isn't like that. For some reason, Chicago gets this ignorant reputation as a midwestern town full of blue collar coal miners that are living in the middle of nowhere by farms. Chicago has every bullshit thing the east coast and west coast has except we have alleys to dump our garbage in. We INVENTED skyscrapers that don't collapse. We have hipsters. We have assholes trying stand-up because they want to be actors. We have the highest murder rate in the country and we have plenty of bums. Plenty! We're scumbags. Probably the best in America. And so are our comedians. So it baffles me. Why isn't Chicago a stand-up industry filled city? Every time an outsider comes here, we'll equal what they got to offer or outshine them easily. It's because we don't have to impress anybody except our own grandiose egos. To call it a midwestern hick town is calling Chicago a shitty middle of the road sitcom, which I will gladly act in for drugs.
The same is true for media outlets, who move with the comedians for better things. It's just a necessity, and there's no way around it. You hit a wall. A new era has begun. It seems that some industry has gotten wind of us, and is now opening up a couple clubs around the city. Reputation spreads. Even the improv palace Second City has decided to throw their hat in the stand-up game. Classes start in the new Kyle Lease Loft. What I'm saying is I miss the broken toilet at the Lakeshore Theater and the filthy green room. That rock club atmosphere in a theater full of fans was amazing. The new venues are being built as I'm typing. It's scary because I equate sterility with handcuffing the comedians. Be clean, tight five, mention the nachos, wear a nice shirt because you're not funny unless it's Old Navy. Can't we just be the fuck ups everyone knows and loves? But I am happy to see all these new clubs and independent shows start to blossom. Maybe Chicago will get some industry yet.
There is a big problem. The big fuck up is Chicago as a whole. Every stand-up showcase says "the best stand-up comedians in the city". Then you go to a horrible produced show with comedians, who are obviously not the best stand-ups. The show doesn't have a stage, the room isn't made for stand-up, and the producers just look for a quick buck instead of building a crowd. Audiences get hoodwinked and probably won't go to another show ever again. The same is true for regular Chicago comedy fans. Being on television is a badge of honor, and I'm not talking about Letterman or Leno. Being on a soap opera or a really bad sitcom will fill any Chicago arena full of Naperville's tight assholed married people in a second. That doesn't make me feel good. If that's what the comedy fans support then I'm in dire straits. The same is true for any shit town in America, and also for the big cities. Normal working people get advice to see a comedy show by word of mouth and, usually, it isn't good. Then you have the great fans, who've seen great stand-up shows, and spread the word. It's amazing for those fans to see a great show nobody else knows about. It's like a cool secret for them. That's the word of mouth, but it gets a very small audience.
But the move is upon us in Chicago. Some comedians should move, but they're heart is still in Chicago. This is the place where they've found their voices. Every time they come back, they're home. It's addicting to be here. Just remember why they're gone Chicago. It's you, not them.