Monday December 11th 2017

Second City opens its new “UP Comedy Club”

When it comes to comedy, in particular “improv” there is nothing like Chicago’s Second City! When one goes to North Avenue and Wells Street/Piper’s Alley, one is assured that no matter how their day went, laughter will become the norm ,and as if they were not already the destination spot for laughter, a brand new  venue has been added to the Second City stages- UP Comedy Club, a marvelous cabaret that will bring back memories of the days of Mister Kellys and The Happy Medium on Rush street has taken over the spot where Tony and Tina played for years. This spot has been redone to make it a true club atmosphere with great views from all points and a menu that will knock your sox off.

Up Comedy Club , is the name of the venue and this is the grand opening of this  new sparkling spot that can be entered from either North Avenue or wells Street- up the escalator and boom, you are there! When you enter, you will be seated either on the floor area, at a rail ( like on the other Second City venues, or on risers above those below you. The stage is wide as in ETC, but the sight lines appear to be better from all angles, which makes for a better experience.

Tonight was the “grand opening” so we were treated to many guest comics, alumni from days past, comics who began their careers in Old Town and have gone on to fame and fortune, but have never forgotten their roots. For the opening, a delightful evening of mirth, our host was Pat Tomasulo, who is mostly recognized as the sports broadcaster on WGN-TV’s morning news show. This is a news show that has added many comic touches to help viewers rise to a brighter, sunnier and funnier day. He also makes the rounds as a “stand-up” and while he started a bit slow, he soon grew on us and gave us many laughs.

The first Guest of the evening was funnyman Colin Mochrie ( many tv buffs recognized him for his years of working with Drew Carey’s; “Whose Line Is It Anyway” a show which he came to America with from the British version. He handles improv with great speed, as trained by Second City ( Toronto version). He did a little on his own and then joined with  Chicago favorites, Ryan Archibald,Chelsea Devantez,Cody Dove, Hans Holsen and Rachel Mason, along with funny lady Maribeth Monroe, to do some marvelous improv using audience suggestions. They are hysterical and quick minded performers who can take a word or sentence and create a full scene without hesitation. That is the beauty of Second City training.

                                                           

We were also treated to the comic touch of Adam Burke and Southsider Ken Garr for some rousing “stand-up” and then came the amazingly funny Ben Bailey, looking more like a line-baker than a comic, but this is one funny man. Even when he overstayed a topic, he managed to get back on track with his routines and playing off the audience itself. My sides are still in pain, almost two hours after leaving Old Town from the laughter that this man brought out in me. I am a laugher! Most of the other reviewers know where I am sitting when the show is a comedy, tonight, I think they not only knew where I was sitting, but what I had to drink. Bailey is hysterical.

This was a gala evening , so of course, no holds barred, but based on hearing what Executive VP Kelly Leonard had to say, this operation will be first class for every performance. The dining menu is very Chicago- Lou Malnati’s Pizza ( prepared daily- only cheese and /or sausage, 6″ size), a fantastic UP burger, Chicago style Italian beef, a trio of Vienna style mini sausages ( a Polish, a brat and an Italian) on mini-rolls with all the “proper” trimmings and some great “starters” including the best sweet potato fries and just the right touch of Mexico, Nachos. They even have a kids menu ( which floored me as they do not really do shows for kids).

This space is perfect for what Second City is known for- comedy, but I have a feeling we might see some special uses from this smart new venue. Perhaps some Cabaret! Perhaps some smaller stage presentations! Maybe a review or two! Whatever it is, I know it will be done to perfection and that they will continue to nurture new and raw talent, some trained by them, some discovered at other venues. This spot is also used on Thursdays as the studio where Rick Kogan of WGN Radio tapes his “Chicago Live! ” radio show that airs on Saturdays at 11 p.m. on WGN Radio. After seeing this spot, I look forward to attending one of Rick’s broadcasts in this new, more intimate venue.

To find out more about the exciting upcoming events and prices and anything else you feel you need to know, visit www.UPComedyClub.com or call the box office at 312-662-4562 and then prepare yourself for a great time.                                                    

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