The Chicago comedy scene is a great place to see some of the best comics in the country. Recently, we have produced such talent as Hannibal Buress, John Mulaney, and Lil Rel Howery (to name a few). There are many more gems that have recently left the city and are on the way to many great opportunities. Currently, there are nearly 30 to 40 comics that live and work in Chicago that would do extremely well if given the opportunity.
The key word I just used is opportunity. In order to be on the show, you had to be invited. The people casting these auditions were going off recommendations of who they knew were doing well on the Chicago comedy scene. These included clubs such as the Laugh Factory, the Chicago Improv,UP Comedy Club, Jokes and Notes, and Zanies. The problem lies in the fact that out of all the venues I just named, Jokes and Notes is the only one located on the South Side of Chicago. Mary Lindsey, the owner of Jokes and Notes, has given so many comedians, myself included, opportunities to get in the spotlight of major festivals (Just For Laughs Chicago and Just For Laughs Montreal) and perform on bigger stages outside of Chicago.
The problem is that knowing one person is not enough in this city. Most people know that Chicago is very segregated. The ethnic make-up of the city is pretty simple. Majority of African-Americans and Latinos live on the south and west sides of the city, and Whites live primarily on the North Side. Even if they do live on the South Side, it’s generally in pockets such as Bridgeport, Pilsen, or Hyde Park. I’m not saying black people don’t live on the North Side, or vice versa, but generally, that’s how it is. It’s like different worlds to some when they travel to different “sides” of Chicago.
I hope my words were helpful. Don’t box in your opportunities. We are in a craft where what you won’t do, the next person will do it times ten. So please remember to work smarter, and put yourself in front of the people who can put you in front of other people to make your dreams come true.
Catch Dave featuring at Zanies all this week!
Contributing Writer - Dave Helem
Dave is a stand-up comedian, producer and writer, living and working in Chicago.