WBEZ | Second City http://www.wbez.org/tags/second-city Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Improviser finds purpose in Chicago police mental health crisis trainings http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/improviser-finds-purpose-chicago-police-mental-health-crisis-trainings-111274 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/StoryCorps 141219 Clark Weber.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In 2004, the Chicago Police Department implemented a voluntary training program to deal with mental health emergencies.</p><p>Today, Chicago has the <a href="http://www.namichicago.org/documents/cit_advocacy_sheet.pdf" target="_blank">largest crisis intervention training program in the world</a>, according to Alexa James, Executive Director of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness)-Chicago.</p><p>Clark Weber is an essential part of the crisis intervention training. In this week&rsquo;s StoryCorps, Weber describes how he found himself in the greatest role of his life.</p><p>After moving to Chicago in the late 1980s, Weber studied improv at Second City. He loves acting, whether it&rsquo;s theater, television or film. But Weber struggled with depression and suicidal tendencies too. He was diagnosed as bipolar and spent four-and-a-half weeks at a state mental hospital before moving into a group home with Thresholds, a non-profit that assists people with mental illness.</p><p>&ldquo;When I came to Thresholds,&rdquo; Weber said, &ldquo;they had a theater arts program &ndash; which now unfortunately is defunct - and I was told that we have this opportunity to role play with Chicago police to make them aware and see what a real mental health crisis is like.&rdquo;</p><p>Weber soon found himself in the middle of the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training program, roleplaying as a person in distress.</p><p>The role-playing can be intense, Weber said. &ldquo;Officers have play weapons and a real Taser, which is non-functioning. And instead of using force, they try to talk us down. And we have total freedom to insult the police officers. We have total freedom to swear at them, to make it as real as possible.&rdquo;</p><p>If officers feel &ldquo;that the Taser needs to be used, they&rsquo;ll just point it towards us and say, &lsquo;Taser. Taser. Taser.&rsquo; So we&rsquo;re fake-Tased and then we discuss why the officer feels he or she had to do that.&rdquo;</p><p>Pastor Fred Kinsey is a member of ONE Northside, a group that this past year helped get police to increase the number of officers able to go through CIT training. &ldquo;If you have tools to recognize people in crisis, to know what kinds of medications people are on, that helps,&rdquo; Kinsey said. Chicago Police recently doubled the number of officers who are able to receive CIT training each year, Kinsey said. But that doubling of officers - from 200 to 400 officers each year &ndash; is small compared to the number of officers who don&rsquo;t take the training. &ldquo;I&rsquo;d like to see the majority, if not all, officers trained,&rdquo; Kinsey said. The biggest impediment to expanding the training program, he said, is not so much financial, but the time costs of taking officers off the street.</p><p>For Clark Weber, the experience has been transformative. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m not saying every day&rsquo;s gonna be a good day, or every day&rsquo;s gonna be a great day. Being bipolar I do have my ups and downs. But I run into officers that I&rsquo;ve helped train or they&rsquo;ve been in a class and they&rsquo;ve watched the videos. And I&rsquo;ve had officers come up to me and said, &lsquo;Because of you I helped save this person&rsquo;s life. Or I helped this person get the treatment that they needed.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s very empowering,&rdquo; Weber says. &ldquo;For the first time in my life, I feel I have a purpose. I have a place in the world.&rdquo;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/6250422&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="888px"></iframe></p></p> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 13:34:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/improviser-finds-purpose-chicago-police-mental-health-crisis-trainings-111274 The Second City Chicago pushes for diverse voices on stage http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/second-city-chicago-pushes-diverse-voices-stage-110094 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Bob%20Curry%20Fellows.JPG" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="For the first time in the history of the Second City, a special fellowship was created this year named after Bob Curry, the first African American to perform on The Second City’s mainstage in 1966. (WBEZ/Mariam Sobh)" /></p><p>Another late night talk show host is leaving CBS.</p><p>Craig Ferguson of <em>The Late Late Show</em> is expected to sign off at the end of the year.</p><p>This news comes just after the network announced Stephen Colbert will replace the retiring David Letterman.</p><p>The announcement raised questions again about why all the networks&#39; late night comics are white males.</p><p>Part of the answer takes us to Chicago, where many of the comedy stars of the last few decades learned their trade &ndash; including Stephen Colbert who studied improv at The Second City.</p><p>While some inroads have been made, comedy is still seen as a predominantly white male art form. Particularly when it comes to the art of improvisation and sketch comedy.</p><p>Improvisation was founded in 1955 at the University of Chicago and since then it has been slow to transition to an art form that is available to the masses.</p><p>While efforts have been made to be more inclusive of women, the LGBT community, and actors of color, there is still a lot of work to do.</p><p>Full disclosure, I&rsquo;m the first Muslim woman wearing the headscarf to graduate and perform at the Second City Training Center&rsquo;s conservatory.</p><p>Diversity is an issue that big improv institutions are keenly aware of.</p><p>Andrew Alexander, CEO, of the Second City has been grappling with this for the last 20 years.</p><p>He said he noticed the problem back in 1992.</p><p>&ldquo;I was in Los Angeles during the L.A. riots and I happened to fly back one of those evenings and I came to Chicago and I went straight to the theater,&quot; Alexander said. &quot;And our actors were 6 or 7 white actors who were struggling to figure out how to sort of deal with the riots in L.A. and it became quite apparent to me that the point of view just wasn&rsquo;t strong. And from that moment on I made a decision to really embrace how can we improve our diversity.&rdquo;</p><p>But, more than two decades later, there is only one person of color on the main stage at Second City.<br /><br />Why is that?</p><p>Anne Libera, director of Comedy Studies at Columbia College and an instructor at the Second City Training Center said it&rsquo;s difficult to cultivate diversity in general.</p><p>&ldquo;You both need people who want to do it, but for people to want to do it, you need them to see representation above them,&rdquo; Libera said.</p><p>For the first time in the history of the Second City, a special fellowship was created this year named after Bob Curry, the first African American to perform on The Second City&rsquo;s mainstage in 1966.</p><p>The fellowship is an intense training program that has accepted only 16 minority students who already have some experience on stage.</p><p>The goal is to mold them into exactly what the Second City is looking for.</p><p>Matt Hovde, the artistic director at the Second City Training Center, said he&rsquo;s confident this program will open the door for more voices.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s the first time in a long time that I feel like it will directly translate into a bigger pool of diverse talent at Second City that are working and can work,&quot; Hovde said. &quot;So to me it&rsquo;s a great leap forward.&rdquo;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/147285183&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>One of the Bob Curry Fellows, Patrick Rowland, is also a member of 3Peat, an all black improv team that plays weekly at iO, another comedy institution.</p><p>Rowland said when he took classes back in 2006 he was always the odd man out.</p><p>&ldquo;Every class I was in I was the only black person or person of color,&quot; Rowland said. &quot;There was a tall lanky white guy, a chubby white guy, a white girl who thought she was Tina Fey and then there was me.&rdquo;</p><p>Rowland said that since then, he has seen some changes.</p><p>&ldquo;Nowadays...it&rsquo;s not a lot but to me it&rsquo;s like an explosion of black people,&quot; Rowland said. &quot;And by explosion I mean that you you can count them on two hands.&rdquo;</p><p>3 Peat member John Thibodeaux said he&#39;s slowly seeing a paradigm shift.</p><p>&ldquo;The dominant voices you see in the media, if you&rsquo;re like a black actor in movies or television, you&rsquo;re gonna be the guy who&rsquo;s always the black guy and not just the guy. You don&rsquo;t see a lot of black protagonists in movies. And that&rsquo;s something that can be really inspiring to people coming up. Because I know I don&rsquo;t personally see a lot of people who look like me in the media, telling a story similar to mine. And that&rsquo;s why I like especially playing with this group because when you walk into a scene you know you&rsquo;re not going to be just a black guy. You&rsquo;re just going to be another improviser on stage which is refreshing.&rdquo;</p><p>Thibodeaux and the other members of 3Peat agree that in order for more minorities to get involved, they have to pave the way.</p><p>Which is something I&rsquo;m also now aware of.</p><p>I wrote a blackout sketch for my conservatory graduation show at the Second City Training Center that satirized being a Muslim woman and a person&rsquo;s fear that I was going to blow them up.</p><p>I was playing off a stereotype and people laughed.</p><p>But it&rsquo;s not always funny.</p><p>I was once in a class where the instructor thought it would be amazing if I came out on stage with an American flag and Indian music playing in the background.</p><p>I was confused, because I&rsquo;m not Indian.</p><p>Stereotypes are often another challenge for diverse performers.</p><p>3Peat member Nnamdi Ngwe is all too familiar with this and said he experienced it during an improv class.</p><p>&ldquo;I was actually told, in one of my classes, can you blacken it up,&quot; Ngwe said. &quot;He didn&rsquo;t use exactly those words, but he did want me to essentially blacken it up. I was like no thank you. I wanna do me.&rdquo;</p><p>The process of diversification is complex. But there have been some gains.</p><p>The Second City&rsquo;s smaller stage is now made up of half white and half minority actors.</p><p>But true diversity on the bigger stages promises to be a long term project made more difficult by the fact that it&rsquo;s so competitive.</p><p>The Second City for example may have only one or&nbsp;two positions open in any given year.</p><p><em>Mariam Sobh is Midday Host and reporter at WBEZ. Follow her<a href="http://twitter.com/triciabobeda"> </a><a href="https://twitter.com/mariamsobh">@mariamsobh</a></em></p></p> Tue, 29 Apr 2014 11:07:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/second-city-chicago-pushes-diverse-voices-stage-110094 Improvising to improve business http://www.wbez.org/news/improvising-improve-business-108914 <p><p>Back in the summer, librarians from all over the country flew into town for the American Library Association&rsquo;s annual conference. On a Friday morning a few dozen of them gathered in Second City&rsquo;s main theater. A big space was cleared in front of the stage.&nbsp;</p><p>Workshop leader Andy Eninger told the group what to expect.</p><p>&ldquo;So, today, is going to be very interactive,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a little like learning to swim, this improvisation.&nbsp; You can analyze it, you can talk about it, but its only when you jump in the water that you realize how it&rsquo;ll work.&nbsp; So we&rsquo;re going to throw you in the proverbial water.&rdquo;</p><p>Before tossing them in, Eninger reassures them with a fable about himself. Once upon a time, in the 1990s, he was a guy with an office job. &ldquo;I worked at an advertising agency&mdash;not as a creative person but as a database administrator&mdash;and was sneaking off at night to take improv classes.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>And the classes, he says, transformed him. &ldquo;The more I studied improv here at Second City the better I got at my job by day, and began to manage people&mdash; not just some servers and machines&mdash; and started to do more and more creative work.&rdquo;</p><p>Eventually, he quit to do improv full time, &ldquo;and have not looked back since,&rdquo; he tells them. &ldquo;Well, maybe a couple of times, for the health insurance.&nbsp; But other than that&hellip;&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Andy%20Eninger%20workshop%201.png" style="height: 216px; width: 350px; float: left;" title="Andy Eninger leads a training for Second City Communications. Participants learn how to use the principles of improvisation — including risk-taking — to be more effective in their work. (Courtesy Andy Eninger)" />Like anybody spinning a fable, Eninger is leaving out some important stuff. Actually, there were some lean times in there. Leaner than lean. When he left his office job in May, 2000, he stepped off a cliff and fell pretty hard.</p><p>He and a friend rented an office and hung out a shingle as improvisers for hire&mdash; doing custom shows and running trainings like the one he&rsquo;s doing today, but entirely on their own.</p><p>&ldquo;We had a few gigs on the line, so we had a few gigs coming up,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;But there was this crushing reality that there was no real income. We didn&rsquo;t know where it was going to come from.&rdquo;</p><p>It got worse. Just as their enterprise was starting to pick up steam, 9/11 happened. An agency representing their company on the college circuit scammed them for thousands of dollars. He had three years of negative income, and racked up credit-card debt that took ten years to pay off.</p><p>&ldquo;We had a lot of pitfalls,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;Things that, if I had known those things were coming up, I never would have taken that risk.&rdquo;</p><p>And yet: Today, he calls those pitfalls an investment. And risk-taking is a big part of what Andy is here to teach the librarians in the Friday improv workshop.</p><p>Any performance&mdash; especially improvising&mdash; is inherently full of risk: The risk that you&rsquo;ll fall on your face, look like a jerk.&nbsp;<br /><br />In everyday life and in business, we confront the same risk every time we raise our hand in a meeting, propose a new project, or initiate a new business deal.</p><p>Improv training focuses on getting people into the habit of taking those kinds of risks.</p><p>When he first started learning to improvise, it was a lesson Andy Eninger needed to learn as much as anyone.</p><p>&ldquo;I mean, I&rsquo;m the person who, in fifth grade, went to the bathroom in my pants because I was scared to ask to go in from recess to go to the bathroom,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;I still have that operating, any time I have to raise my hand or speak out of turn. And improv is the thing that makes it possible.&rdquo;</p><p>What he learned from improv, he says, was &ldquo;to risk in the moment&mdash;to say the first thing that comes to mind. Because I was doing it in class, every night and all the time, I couldn&rsquo;t not-do it in my job.&rdquo;</p><p>And so, he became a much more valuable worker in that day job.</p><p>&ldquo;I always would see opportunities, or see systems that were not working,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;Like, &lsquo;Oh, you&rsquo;re dealing with this ridiculous spreadsheet. It gave me the confidence to speak up and say, if you allow me to work on this, then I know I can make it better.&rdquo;</p><p>So, he did, and he got noticed. He got promoted. He survived layoffs. He even started to do some creative work.</p><p>&ldquo;But there was a moment when I thought, if I don&rsquo;t disrupt it now, I can see my life laid out in front of me,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>So he saved up some money, and took a bigger risk. He left that cushy day job. And we&rsquo;ve already heard about how tough that was at first.</p><p>But over time things turned around, thanks to Second City. Andy started doing corporate training workshops, got some gigs as a performer, and eventually became head of the writing program at Second City&rsquo;s Training Center. By 2008, he says his take-home pay finally matched the paycheck from his old corporate job. It felt pretty good.</p><p>Andy still makes time for the corporate workshops, which are a big moneymaker for Second City. They charge thousands of dollars per session, to clients including Pepsi, General Electric, and hundreds of others like the American Library Association.</p><p>So, how does it work?</p><p>WIth the librarians, Andy gets everyone into a big circle, and asks a volunteer, Mike, to come to the center. Then he has him strike a pose. It can be anything.</p><p>Mike makes a silly face and holds his arms up.</p><p>&ldquo;Perfect, now hold that for a moment,&rdquo; Andy tells Mike.</p><p>&ldquo;Now, this&rdquo;&mdash;Mike&mdash;&rdquo;is the first half of a statue,&rdquo; Andy tells the group. &ldquo;Somebody come out and show us the second half by adding another pose.&rdquo;</p><p>Someone does. &ldquo;Mike you can say thank you,&rdquo; Andy says. &ldquo;Your job is done, good work.&rdquo;</p><p>Now it&rsquo;s time for another volunteer. And another. The poses are goofy, random, and gone in an instant.<br /><br />&ldquo;It&rsquo;s perpetual motion,&rdquo; Andy tells them. &ldquo;Someone is always coming out to join.&rdquo;</p><p>Volunteers keep coming up, one after another, and Andy eggs them on.&nbsp; &ldquo;If you haven&rsquo;t been out, just urge yourself to go out, trust that gut instinct,&rdquo; he says.<br /><br />When it&rsquo;s done, Andy asks a question: &ldquo;If you did not go out, why did you hesitate to go out?&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t know what pose to do,&rdquo; a librarian answers.</p><p>&ldquo;Right,&rdquo; says Andy. &ldquo;Because how many poses would be wrong in this game?&rdquo;</p><p>The room fills with laughter&mdash;recognition and release.</p><p>&ldquo;Yeah,&rdquo; Andy says, &ldquo;it&rsquo;s a game in which really anything will be right.&rdquo;</p><p>Andy builds on the moment.&nbsp; He asks the group, &ldquo;What does that person in the center want?&rdquo;</p><p>Immediately the answer comes: To get out of there.</p><p>&ldquo;Yes, to get out of there!&rdquo; Andy says, channeling the player: &ldquo;&lsquo;OOOH. come in and save me!&rsquo;&nbsp; And we&rsquo;re all there thinking, &lsquo;Someone should go and help them out.&nbsp; Not us, but someone should go out there.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>Andy tells the group that the impulse to help others is one of the things that lets improvisors take risk after risk.</p><p>&ldquo;We find out that that bravery comes not from any brilliance on our part,&rdquo; he says, &ldquo;but from: &lsquo;I need to get my idea out there to support that other person.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>After the workshop, library administrator Sarah Dallas reflects.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m kind of a shy person, and this was a real challenge for me to do something like this and I knew I had to be more out there,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;And I was kind of going through this and getting through&hellip;&rdquo;</p><p>And then came the final exercise: Working in a small group the librarians created a whole scene&mdash; a fake ad for a fake product&mdash; out of nothing and performed it for the group.</p><p>&ldquo;When we got the final assignment, to perform in front of everybody, I just wanted the floor to open up and let me drop down,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;But it didn&rsquo;t. And with the support of the group, I survived, and for me that&rsquo;s a victory.&rdquo;</p><p>She says she&rsquo;ll remember these moments when she&rsquo;s running meetings back home at her job..</p><p>Responses like these are exactly what Andy Eninger hopes for.</p><p>&ldquo;We don&rsquo;t make them pretend to be improv performers,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;For us, it&rsquo;s all about what they&rsquo;re doing&nbsp; It&rsquo;s all about what their challenges are. We want them to have the joy that improv is for us, but we want them to be able to take it away, so they can use it that next Monday.&rdquo;</p><p>That is, he wants to give them just enough risk to help them re-think their routine.</p><p><em>Dan Weissmann is a reporter for <a href="http://www.marketplace.org/">Marketplace</a>. &nbsp;Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/danweissmann">@danweissmann</a>.</em></p><p><em>&ldquo;At What Cost?&rdquo; is made possible in part by the John A. Wing Society, an initiative of the Illinois Humanities Council to improve dialogue about business and the common good.</em></p></p> Mon, 14 Oct 2013 10:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/improvising-improve-business-108914 Afternoon Shift: Fracking, parental fatigue and Bernard Sahlins http://www.wbez.org/programs/afternoon-shift/2013-06-18/afternoon-shift-fracking-parental-fatigue-and-bernard-sahlins <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Fracking.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois Governor Pat Quinn just signed the most restrictive legislation on fracking in the country into law. Author Jen Hatmaker gives insight on that burnout many parents get towards the school year&#39;s end. Second City CEO Andrew Alexander discusses founder Bernard Sahlin&#39;s legacy.</p><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/afternoon-shift-fracking-parental-fatigue-and-bern.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/afternoon-shift-fracking-parental-fatigue-and-bern" target="_blank">View the story "Afternoon Shift: Fracking, parental fatigue and Bernard Sahlins" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p> Tue, 18 Jun 2013 12:50:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/afternoon-shift/2013-06-18/afternoon-shift-fracking-parental-fatigue-and-bernard-sahlins The Kate Lambert Interview http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-04/kate-lambert-interview-106836 <p><div><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/KateLambertHeadshot.JPG" style="float: right; height: 453px; width: 300px;" title="Chicago comedian Kate Lambert. (Photo courtesy of Brian McConkey)" />Let&#39;s talk about what it&#39;s like to make a living as a comic performer in Chicago. Kate Lamber is an actress, improviser and writer. She is a cast member of The Second City Touring Company and has performed as an understudy on The Second City&#39;s e.t.c. Stage and at UP Comedy Club.</p><p>Kate has also toured with The Second City aboard Norwegian Cruise Line. She wrote and acted in viral shorts such as <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FC-jafOj_Y4" target="_blank">&quot;Adults &amp; Tiaras&quot;</a>, <a href="http://vimeo.com/39320247" target="_blank">&quot;How to Live Like Beyonce&quot;</a>, and &quot;<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3smaIc7UHEg" target="_blank">How to Sponsor a Uterus</a>&quot; that have been featured places like The Huffington Post, MTV and Cosmopolitan.</p><p>In addition, she is an actor, writer, and executive producer for the web series,<em> Teachers</em>. Kate is a member of the sketch group Cell Camp and performs at iO with the improv groups like Virgin Daiquiri (which featured <em>SNL</em>&#39;s Aidy Bryant and Cecily Strong) and guest improvises with Whirled News Tonight and The Deltones.</p><p><strong>What do you get from each of the&nbsp;</strong><strong>sketch and improv groups</strong><strong>&nbsp;you&rsquo;re in?</strong></p><p>Currently, I am performing with The Second City Touring Company, <a href="http://ioimprov.com/chicago/io/shows/the-armando-diaz-experience" target="_blank">The Armando Diaz Experience,</a> <a href="http://ioimprov.com/chicago/io/teams/virgin-daiquiri" target="_blank">Virgin Daiquiri</a>, and <a href="http://www.thekatydids.com/index.html" target="_blank">The Katydids</a>.</p><p>Working for The Second City has been a dream of mine since I first started improvising. The Touring Company lets me improvise, act, write, and travel, which are four of my favorite things to do. It is an honor to have this job and perform for people all across the country. In addition to creating our own material, we also perform some of the best scenes from Second City&rsquo;s fifty-plus year history. It&rsquo;s pretty incredible to be in scenes that people like Steve Carell, Tina Fey, and Stephen Colbert originally wrote and acted in.</p><p>Armando Diaz and Virgin Daiquiri are the two improv groups that I watched most when coming up in classes at iO. The players in these shows were some of the performers I admired most. When I was asked to join both groups, it was a &ldquo;pinch me&rdquo; moment. To play with these improvisers is a real privilege as they are at the top of the game, and being onstage with them only makes you better.&nbsp;</p><p>With The Katydids, we started as an improv group and then we expanded to doing sketch and online shorts. This is a group (made up of women with all varying forms of the name Kate) who are friends and co-workers.&nbsp; It is an independent group, so we began focusing on creating material. We have really had to pound the pavement to get our work out there and to have it pay off has been really rewarding. Most recently, we wrote, produced, and acted in a web series called &quot;<em><a href="http://www.teacherswebseries.com/" target="_blank">Teachers</a></em>&quot; (with Matt Miller and Cap Gun Collective) that was really successful and with which we are hoping to do more.</p><p><strong>When you&rsquo;re writing, are there any comedy topics you tend to avoid either because you find them too sensitive, overdone or just not that funny?</strong><br />I don&rsquo;t have a hard and fast rule about what topics I can write about and what I can&rsquo;t. Last year, I wrote about women&rsquo;s rights and gay marriage in two shorts. Both are pretty sensitive subjects where emotions run high on both sides. In the shorts <em>How to Sponsor a Uterus</em> and <em>Get Cash 4 Rights</em>, I wanted to weigh in on these subjects, so I did it by satirizing the opposition. I think that in order to write in a comedic way about any sensitive subject, you have to first understand why it&rsquo;s not funny before you put your spin on it.</p><p><strong>Who is Michael Billington and why is he worthy of mention <a href="http://www.katelambert.com/About" target="_blank">in your bio</a>?</strong><br />Michael Billington is the longest serving theatre critic in Britain and the theatre critic for The Guardian. He was also Harold Pinter&rsquo;s authorized biographer. When I was in college, I was lucky enough to study abroad in London and take a class from him. As a class, we attended multiple shows&mdash;several of them written by Pinter, and one that was written and directed by Pinter. It was an incredible experience to see these shows, but also discuss them with someone like Mr. Billington afterwards. We were able to critically analyze the performances and think about them in a way we hadn&rsquo;t before. We were also able to tell him that one of the actors we saw did a terrible American accent.</p><p><strong>As a Second City cruise employee, what secrets can you tell us from behind the scenes of cruise ships?</strong><br />When you&rsquo;re performing on a moving vessel, you have to deal with factors you would never encounter on land. I remember the water could be a little rocky as we were leaving Belize, and that was during our sketch show. Performing in heels is tough enough as is, but when the ship is moving every which way, even sitting in a chair requires concentration so you won&rsquo;t slide off.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>With the ship, you are essentially living and working on a floating city for four months. It gives you a lot of time to work on material or just stare at the ocean which, surprisingly, doesn&rsquo;t get old. You also learn terms like <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vessel_emergency_codes" target="_blank">&ldquo;Code Oscar&rdquo;</a> that come in handy for any future improv scenes that takes place on a boat and make you sound legit.</p><p><strong>What have been some of your favorite parts of the cruises?</strong><br />I was so excited to go on the cruise because it was my first job with Second City and because I got to travel which was something I wanted to do since I graduated from college. To make it even better, the people in the cast were incredible and seasoned performers so I learned a lot from them. We were able to go to so many amazing places together. Some of which I knew I would never have the chance to visit again, so I made the most of it.&nbsp; I got to swim with dolphins in Mexico, zip line through the rainforest in Belize and Costa Rica, swim in a mud volcano in Colombia, and go dog sledding in Alaska. It was pretty surreal to experience all of those things within four months.</p><p><strong>What are you happiest to come home to after a cruise?</strong><br />I was happiest to come home to my family and friends. And it was nice to be in a house that always stayed in one place.</p><p><strong>What have been some of your favorite voiceover gigs?</strong><br />Voiceover is something that is relatively new for me. I did a radio spot last year that was a lot of fun, but I have also had a great time auditioning for things. I recently auditioned for an animated film and it was so cool to see the part I was reading for and check out the script.</p><p><strong>How is writing for web series different from writing for the stage?</strong><br />Writing for shorts and web series is different from writing on the stage because there are things that you can show onstage that you can&rsquo;t on film and vice versa. The great thing about online shorts is that you can go to town with costumes and makeup when you wouldn&rsquo;t have time for something like that in a sketch show. For one short we did, I had to use latex, scar wax, and layers upon layers of foundation to cover up my eyebrows. It took forever to do, but the end result was ridiculous and looked real. Sketch shows are so fast paced that you don&rsquo;t have that kind of time.</p><p><strong>What&rsquo;s harder: being a girl in comedy or being in comedy and living in Chicago?</strong><br />I hear more about how difficult it is being a woman in comedy than I think about it myself. It&rsquo;s a question that is posed to a lot of female comedians since there have been several high profile people in the news this past year claiming that women aren&rsquo;t funny. That concept is ludicrous to me because having a particular body part isn&rsquo;t what makes you funny; it&rsquo;s about being smart and observant and that&rsquo;s not relegated to either sex. If someone believes that women aren&rsquo;t funny, then their opinion is already insignificant to me because I can&rsquo;t respect anyone who thinks that way. Personally, I&rsquo;m glad to be a woman in comedy, and right now is a really exciting time to be doing this. Women&nbsp;like&nbsp;Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Lena Dunham have made an incredible impact not only as actors, but writers and producers and I think that trend is going to continue.&nbsp;</p><p>Chicago&nbsp;was the absolute right place for me to come to pursue comedy&mdash;even if I didn&rsquo;t have that intention when I first moved here. While it is very competitive, it is also a nurturing community. You can always find a place to perform, and on any given night onstage, I know I can look out into the crowd and see other performers in the audience watching and supporting.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>What is the best skill to have with musical improv?</strong>&nbsp;<br />The best skill to have is to not worry about looking like an idiot. Musical improv flexes a completely different muscle than improv. It is easy to get into your head about the rhythm of the music, singing on key, or whether or not you will be able to rhyme. But if you get out there and just have the most fun you can possibly have with it, it&rsquo;s impossible for the audience not to enjoy it too.</p><p><strong>Tell me about your<em> Check Please</em> appearance. </strong><strong>Where did you go and what&rsquo;s the best thing you ate?</strong><br />My <em>Check Please</em> episode aired earlier this year.&nbsp; It was a lot of fun to do because I had to visit two other restaurants to which I had never gone, so it was great to get out and try some new things. &nbsp;If you see it, you can look forward to watching me try not to be awkward.</p><p>I went to three restaurants&mdash;<a href="http://taximchicago.com/" target="_blank">Taxim</a>, <a href="http://czechplaza.com/" target="_blank">Czech Plaza</a>, and my pick&mdash;Marion Street Grille in Oak Park. I am not someone who typically orders fish, but I had the fish and chips at Marion Street Grille and they were fabulous. &nbsp;he fish was tempura fried, light and fluffy.&nbsp; It was great.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>What are you hoping to achieve in the near and in the distant future?</strong><br />I would love to continue working for The Second City. Ultimately, I want to work in TV and film. I would love to write and act for movies or a TV series. My first love was always performing, but working in Chicago has made me love being involved in all aspects of the process. It is awesome to have a hand in creating what you are performing.</p><p><strong>How does it feel to be the 346th person interviewed for Zulkey.com? </strong><br />Pretty good.&nbsp; I just hope I get a jacket.</p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 26 Apr 2013 08:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-04/kate-lambert-interview-106836 Tina Fey's Chicago love affair http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/tina-feys-chicago-love-affair-105241 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Screen Shot 2013-01-31 at 11.24.03 AM.png" alt="" /><p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="358" mozallowfullscreen="" scrolling="no" src="http://www.hulu.com/embed.html?eid=tc_mfzmwer5og-cb4lzsqw" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="620"></iframe></p><p>Tina Fey&#39;s love affair with Chicago is well documented. And on the <a href="http://storify.com/WBEZ/afternoon-shift-240-live-at-the-old-town-ale-hous/preview" target="_blank">Afternoon Shift Thursday</a>, Rick Kogan talked with Second City&#39;s Andrew Alexander about what the show did for local comedians and writers. And Charna Halpern, director and co-founder of iO (formerly Improv Olympic) says about &quot;30 Rock&quot; impact on Chicago is significant.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F77325410&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>As &quot;30 Rock&quot; wraps up tonight, here&#39;s a look back at some of the love she and the show have bestowed on the city.</p><h2><strong>Tina&#39;s two great loves</strong></h2><p>On meeting her husband Jeff Richmond while they were working together at Second City in <a href="http://www.vanityfair.com/magazine/2009/01/tina_fey200901" target="_blank">Vanity Fair</a>:</p><blockquote><p>&quot;(Tina and Jeff) fell in love quickly, soon after a Sunday afternoon spent together at Chicago&rsquo;s Museum of Science and Industry. (&ldquo;We walked into a model of the human heart,&rdquo; Fey deadpans.) The writer-comedian and the musician-director dated for seven years, have been married for another seven, and have worked together in improv theater in Chicago, on Saturday Night Live, and on 30 Rock.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p>On food in Chicago, during an <a href="http://www.hulu.com/watch/187122" target="_blank">Ask Tina</a> segment where she said the &quot;internet could run out of space&quot; if she kept talking about her favorite Chicago restaurants:</p><blockquote><p>&quot;I lived on the North Side. You need to go to a place called the Athenian Room on Webster. You need to order the roasted chicken. It&#39;s cooked on a spit, it comes on a bed of steak fries and the chicken juice gets into the fries. Unbelievable.&quot;</p></blockquote><h2><strong>Chicago casting</strong></h2><p>As Chris Jones <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2006-10-08/news/0610070204_1_mad-tv-paradigm-tina-fey">pointed out</a> as the show began, the cast is a televised reunion of the Second City cast of &quot;Paradigm Lost&quot;:</p><blockquote><p>&quot;I can&#39;t believe I got away with it. I somehow got all those people past all those random hurdles you have to get people past when you are doing television. And if <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Zulevic#Television" target="_blank">Jim Zulevic</a> had not passed away, he&#39;d have been in there too.&quot;</p></blockquote><p>Tina talked more about why she loves Second City actors in the same article:</p><blockquote><p>&quot;Second City actors know their purpose within a larger story and ensemble. I know people like <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2010-04-23/entertainment/ct-ae-0425-scott-adsit-20100423_1_tina-fey-laugh-second-city" target="_blank">Scott</a> and <a href="http://chicagotonight.wttw.com/2012/04/30/rachel-dratch" target="_blank">Rachel</a> so well. We did eight shows a week together in Chicago. So for example, I know that if you want a subtle physical bit that suddenly turns into a fall, <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2010-04-23/entertainment/ct-ae-0425-scott-adsit-20100423_1_tina-fey-laugh-second-city/2" target="_blank">Adsit is your man</a>.&quot;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></blockquote><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 31 Jan 2013 11:26:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/tina-feys-chicago-love-affair-105241 The Q Brothers do Dickens http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-12/dont-miss-list-december-13-19-inside-pritzker-pavilion-and-round <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/RS6807_345.unb_.th_.qbrothers.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="338" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/erQ8zJpuWVo" width="601"></iframe></p><div class="image-insert-image "><u><em>A Christmas Carol</em>, a work in progress by the Q Brothers; inside the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, tomorrow (Friday the 14th) through Sunday (the 16th); Friday and Saturday at 7, Sunday at 2; FREE!</u><p>The Q Brothers are a pair of actual brothers from the North Side who&#39;ve carved out an unlikely niche: They turn Shakespeare plays into hip-hop musicals, thereby managing to horrify both Shakespeare aficianadoes and hip-hop fans. And yet &mdash; speaking from the Shakespeare side, at least &mdash; it absolutely works. The Brothers&#39; verbal and physical inventiveness, coupled with complete understanding of the plays, made <em>The Bomb-itty of Errors</em> and <em>Funk It Up About Nuthin&#39; </em>not just fun but faithful to the originals in every way that matters.</p><p>Now they take on another classic that could use a good shaking-up: Charles Dickens&#39; nearly exhausted <em>A Christmas Carol</em>. While it&#39;s still a work in progress, the Brothers are spicing up this year&#39;s holidays by sharing their reinvention of the work we think we all know. The audience will sit safe and warm in the choir lofts of the Pritzker Pavilion stage and see what new changes can be rung on the familiar story. Believer me, if there are any changes left, the Qs will find them!&nbsp;Tickets are free, but RSVPs are strongly recommended. To RSVP, please contact <a href="mailto:qbrotherschristmas@gmail.com" target="_blank">qbrotherschristmas@gmail.com</a>.&nbsp;And when that&#39;s over . . .</p><div class="image-insert-image "><p><u><em>The Second City That Never Sleeps</em>, a benefit for Onward Neighborhood House, Tuesday (the 18th) at 6 pm at <a href="http://secondcity.com/">The Second City</a> e.t.c. Theatre, 1608 North Wells, 2nd floor; 312-337-3992; tickets $20 at the door throughout the 24-hour event.</u></p><p>The Second City may be a for-profit company (unlike most Chicago theaters) but its heart is apparently in the nonprofit world. For 24 hours beginning Tuesday evening, Second City company members, alumni and friends will present improv, music, stand-up comedy and even an interview with political stats maven (and University of Chicago graduate) Nate Silver. Proceeds will benefit Onward Neighborhood House, a broad-spectrum social service agency (or what Jane Addams would have called a settlement house). If you can&#39;t imagine rising and shining to see Fred Armisen perform at 1:30 in the morning, there are plenty of offerings at reasonable hours, including Jeff Tweedy at 9 p.m. Tuesday, the aforementioned Nate Silver at 10 a.m. Wednesday, and others too numerous to mention: find details on the <a href="https://www.facebook.com/search/results.php?q=The%20Second%20City%20That%20Never%20Sleeps&amp;init=quick&amp;tas=0.56148045176595">Second City That Never Sleeps Facebook event page</a>.</p></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 13 Dec 2012 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-12/dont-miss-list-december-13-19-inside-pritzker-pavilion-and-round Don't-Miss List December 6-12: Comedy Tonight! Gilda Radner lives, 'Fifty Shades' becomes a musical http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-12/dont-miss-list-december-6-12-comedy-tonight-gilda-radner-lives-fifty <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Gilda_Radner_actress.jpg" style="float: left; height: 405px; width: 300px;" title="Never forget: Gilda Radner (Courtesy Michael Radner)" /><u><em>Spank! The Fifty Shades Parody</em>, the <a href="http://ticketmaster.com">Royal George Theatre</a>, 1641 N. Halsted Street, 800-982-2787; through December 16; tickets $42.50-$52.50.</u></p><p>What were the chances a musical parody of <em>Fifty Shades of Grey</em> would be anything more than an endless series of jokes about middle-aged women masturbating? While there are certainly plenty of those, <em>Spank!</em> is actually a hilarious satire of practically every trope in popular culture, from the conventions of Harlequin romances to the standard scenes in chick flicks. This entire enjoyable evening is performed by three improv-trained actors who handle songs, impossible dance maneuvers, ludicrous dialogue and conversations with the audience with equal ease. Perfect for a girls&#39; night out/bachelorette party/frothy evening. You don&#39;t have to have read the book to get the show &mdash; and, of course, I haven&#39;t.&nbsp;</p><p><u>Celebrating Gilda, <a href="http://secondcity.com/">Second City</a>&#39;s UP Comedy Club, 230 W. North Avenue, 312-337-3992; Thursday December 6 only from 5 to 6 p.m.; free!</u></p><div class="image-insert-image ">Now that a tone-deaf group of Gilda&#39;s Clubs around the country have announced their intention to change their names because nobody remembers Gilda Radner, the Second City has decided to make it clear why people should remember her. This is not a show but a panel discussion of Gilda&#39;s influential work featuring Mainstage ensemble cast members, Second City alumni and a member of the Governing Board for Gilda&#39;s Club Chicago &mdash; whose name will remain proudly the same. Doors open at 4:45. Get there early: This group of people won&#39;t be able to help being funny.&nbsp;</div></p> Thu, 06 Dec 2012 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-12/dont-miss-list-december-6-12-comedy-tonight-gilda-radner-lives-fifty Daily Rehearsal: 'SNL' taps three Chicagoans for new season http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-09/daily-rehearsal-snl-taps-three-chicagoans-new-season-102317 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/cecily strong.jpg" style="float: left; " title="Cecily Strong" /><span style="font-size: 14px; "><span style="font-family: georgia, serif; "><strong>- Proving once again that Chicago</strong></span></span> is your city on the hill for comedy, Cecily Strong, Tim Robinson and Aidy Brant have joined the cast of <em>Saturday Night Live</em>. <a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/lyapalater/meet-snls-newest-cast-members">Buzzfeed catches you up</a> on the talented trio, if you haven&#39;t seen them performing in the usual spread of&nbsp;Second City, Annoyance Theater and iO. The new season starts this Satruday night.</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, serif; "><strong>- &quot;For the first 35 hours they&rsquo;re on sale,</strong></span></span> tickets to Hubbard Street Dance Chicago&rsquo;s 2012&ndash;2013 season performances at the Harris Theater are $35.&quot; This offer starts on Thursday at 9 am; use the <a href="http://hubbardstreetdance.com">code &quot;35&quot; online</a>.</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, serif; "><strong>- Did <a href="http://openstreetschicago.org/"><em>Open Streets</em></a></strong></span></span> get in your way when traveling downtown this weekend?&nbsp;<em>Open Streets</em> event shuts down traffic in the Loop on Sept. 8</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/tim robinson.jpg" style="float: right; " title="Tim Robinson" /><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, serif; ">-&nbsp;<strong>Some theater companies</strong></span></span> are offering entertainment options for those affected by <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-union-dont-take-it-out-kids-102310">this week&#39;s teachers strike</a>. <a href="http://lookingglasstheatre.org">Lookingglass </a>is offering drama workshops for 5 to 13 year olds from 9 am to 3 pm, though the classes are $65 a day.&nbsp;&ldquo;Lookingglass has long been a resource that provides quality arts-based alternatives for students &ndash; we have a history of partnering with schools and other non-profit organizations to provide residencies and after-school programs, in addition to our well-known classes and camp programs,&quot; said&nbsp;Artistic Director Andrew White in a statement.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/aidy bryant.jpg" style="float: left; " title="Aidy Bryant" />If you&#39;re interested in free things, Court Theatre lets CPS students (and one parent or guardian) into their production of <em>Jitney </em>this Thursday at 10:30 am. Just bring your CPS ID to the theater -- though its recommended that this activity be fore those above 13.&nbsp;&ldquo;Every year Court Theatre invites thousands of CPS students to attend our productions as part of its educational outreach programs,&quot; said Executive Director&nbsp;Stephen Albert. &quot;Despite the strike, we want Court to remain a place where students, teachers and parents can benefit from and enjoy classic theatre.&quot; (This last one is only happening if the strike is still happening Thursday.)</p><p>Questions? Tips? Email <a href="mailto:kdries@wbez.org">kdries@wbez.org</a>.</p></p> Mon, 10 Sep 2012 15:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-09/daily-rehearsal-snl-taps-three-chicagoans-new-season-102317 Daily Rehearsal: Second City opens teen company http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-05/daily-rehearsal-second-city-opens-teen-company-99562 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/4460272059_b269562f13_z_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center; "><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/_oNFOwnoldo" width="560"></iframe></p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, serif; "><strong>- Now&#39;s your chance to become that teen superstar </strong></span></span>you&#39;ve always dreamed of!&nbsp;<a href="http://www.secondcity.com/training/chicago/news/detail/1548692134423998525/1863527738242952316/">Second City is opening a teen company</a>; auditions are June 1 and 2 for those 13 to 17, though it seems as though you would have had to be a go-getter and sign up for those already....&quot;In the past five years we&#39;ve seen tremendous growth and incredible talent coming out of our youth classes and summer camps,&quot; Second City&#39;s CEO/Executive Producer Andrew Alexander said in a statement. &quot;It seemed only fitting that we provide more resources to these talented teens and a regular stage to share their unique voices.&quot; These summer classes they speak of run from June 11 to August 31 and you can pay for those.</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, serif; "><strong>- Regina Taylor</strong></span></span>, the playwright and director <em>Crowns </em>at the Goodman, has chosen a person for <a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/gyrobase/theaster-gates-acre-restaurant-alexander-mqueen/Content?oid=6398257&amp;storyPage=1">her <em>Reader </em>Culture Vulture pick</a> this week: Theaster Gates.</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, serif; "><strong>- Stage 773</strong></span></span> hosts&nbsp;<a href="http://www.sgtheatre.org/?page_id=99"><em>Honest</em>&nbsp;<strong>| Fair </strong></a>(emphasis theirs) this Sunday for one performance either, from&nbsp;Protégé Ensemble: &quot;Since early September...[they&#39;ve] been exploring the rehearsal and devising techniques of contemporary American practitioners including Moises Kaufman, Robert Wilson and Anne Bogart. Focusing on the Nunnery Scene from&nbsp;<em>Hamlet</em>&nbsp;as source material,&nbsp;<em>Honest</em>&nbsp;<strong>| Fair</strong>&nbsp;is the bad-ass culmination of this year&#39;s work. Experience a portal into Hamlet and Ophelia&#39;s disintegrating relationship as you&#39;ve never seen it: Shattered.&quot; Tickets are free.</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, serif; "><strong>-<a href="http://paramountaurora.com/"> Paramount Theater</a>&nbsp;is extending&nbsp;<em>Route 66</em></strong></span></span> for two months, until&nbsp;August 19. And because you&#39;re marking your calendars for January 2012, William Shatner will be there with his show <em>Shatner&#39;s World: We Just Live In It</em>.&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 25 May 2012 10:38:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-05/daily-rehearsal-second-city-opens-teen-company-99562