Tag Archives: Second City

Get your towels ready.

10 Dec

achievement-unlocked-template

I have accepted an offer to be a music director for Second City Theatricals aboard a cruise ship.

When I was preparing to move to Chicago, people told me that this work existed, and that I’d have a good chance at it. Getting this gig was a short- to medium-term goal for me, and I’m pretty damn happy: it’s a recognisable standard for music directors in Chicago and a great basis for landing future projects.

This contract is also a big reason I moved to the US: New Zealand doesn’t have this volume of work for comedy music directors. Chicago really is the centre of the universe for the most niche skill I have.

600-norwegian-dawn-Cruising-NYCI will be on the Norwegian Dawn from 21 February to 29 July 2016, with a one-month hiatus while the ship is in dry dock. In the spring, I’ll be plying my trade on the New Orleans-Cozumel-Roatán-Belize-Costa Maya-New Orleans route, and in the summer I’ll do Boston-Bermuda-Boston.

This is great for a whole bunch of reasons:
– I’ve always wanted to work on a cruise ship – or even set foot on one. I’ve never had the chance up until now.
– Out of all the cities in the United States I haven’t yet been to, the two highest on my list are New Orleans and Boston. And they’re just landing in my lap!
– I get to do improv and sketch full-time… for a time.
– Free board, free food. I should be able to save money pretty well.
– I escape Chicago’s winter in the middle of February. Yes please. Given that winter hasn’t properly started yet and it’s mid-December, it’s probably going to last quite late into April & May. Glad to leave that behind.

In the meantime, I still have plenty going on in Chicago. Come to some of my shows!

Hitch*Cocktails: every Friday 10pm, The Annoyance Theater, It’s an improvised Alfred Hitchcock-style thriller/drinking game. Tickets $20/$15, book here because we often sell out over the holidays.

VAMP: every Friday & Saturday 10:30pm, MCL Chicago. It’s all short-form musical improv. I lead a four-piece band for Saturday night shows, and the rotation of improvising singers are freaking amazing. Tickets $15, book here including for my birthday VAMP on Saturday 12 December, and a free show we’re videoing on Sunday 13 December.

The Great Annoyance Melodrama and Vaudeville Revue: Sundays 8pm, until 27 December, The Annoyance Theater. It’s a traditionally hokey Christmas story about a small town, a tall tree, and a meddling villain. Written and directed by C.J. Tuor of Hitch*Cocktails fame, I’m the composer and music director.Ask-Your-Doctor-Poster-400x499$12/$8, book here, it’s family-friendly!

Ask Your Doctor: Thursdays 8pm, 7 January to 11 February, The Annoyance Theater. It’s a brand new musical about pharmaceutical sales reps and the dodgy shit they do. Written and directed by Jillian Mueller, I’m the composer and music director. $20/$15, book here, we’re currently in previews.

PlayGround Zero: Fridays 7:30, 8 January to 5 February, De Maat Studio, Second City. This is a Writing 6 graduation show, written by students who have done the full one-year course at the Second City Training Center. Directed by Aaron Sjöholm, I’m their music director and composer. $12, book here.

And I’ll leave you with this video.

The extremely belated Chicago arrival post

26 Jan

I'll give you my mobile number on request.

I’ll give you my mobile number on request.

Hello world.

Today marks three weeks since I arrived in Chicago, my newest city of residence. It’s the first time I’ve lived outside New Zealand, and the first time I’ve set myself up in a city with so few connections.

If you’ve come to this website because I’ve handed you a business card in the last three weeks, welcome. I am indeed here in the city that you met me in. I live in Wicker Park – a neighbourhood sort of inconvenient to Lake View, where much improv takes place, but wonderfully hipster all the same.

I’m attending Wicker Park Fitness and working with a personal trainer there; I’m enjoying coffee at Intelligentsia on Division, The Wormhole and Brü; and I’m eating regularly at Sultan’s on North Ave and Chicago Bagel Authority on Belmont.

I came to this city to work as a music director for improv, comedy and sketch; and other related things around that. I’ve acquired a few regular shows as MD:
The Second City Teachers’ Jam (Tuesdays 10:15pm, De Maat Studio)
– House Party (Wednesdays 8pm & Sundays 7pm, ComedySportz)
and starting on 6 February:
– Hitch*cocktails (Fridays 10pm, The Annoyance).

Playing at Drop The Mic, a show at MCL. (source)

Playing at Drop The Mic, a show at MCL. (source)

I’ve also done occasional one-off performances:
– Drop The Mic at MCL Chicago, performing my epic Belgian waltz Dry July
– SalsaSketch 2015 with Salsation at Gorilla Tango Theatre, in which we devised/rehearsed/performed 25 minutes of sketch in a day. I played a French chef/teacher and Pope Francis.
– And there’s a one-off revue at Second City on Friday 20 February, for which details are a little sketchy right now!

And I’m taking two classes:
– Level 1 at iO. It’s nice to go back to basic principles, especially in an improv tradition which is quite different to my own.
– Writing 1 at The Second City. This is a great bombardment introduction to sketch writing. I have homework for the first time in a long while.

Impressions:
– The first week was really quite cold (got as low as 0F, or -17C) but without big snow storms or huge wind it was manageable. Since then it’s been pretty mild. I’ve heard people say “winter is coming” quite a lot. Sometimes in a Game of Thrones style.
– So many theatres have their own pianos/digital pianos here. I mean, I’ve bought my own, but I haven’t had to schlep it anywhere yet.
– Chicago hot dogs. They’ve got all the trimmings and are quite marvellous.
– The El train is great. The buses are patchy. I rely on some buses, particularly the 72 (North Ave).
– When the weather is cold in New Zealand, you feel it inside the house as well. When you step out your front door, you’re only feeling 80%. Chicago, as most of the US, heats its dwellings properly. I can quite happily walk 15 minutes in -10C because I’m warm at either end of my journey.
– Free delivery on SO MANY ITEMS when you order online.

I was well laden.

I was well laden.

– IKEA. I had quite a time shopping out in Schaumburg. I spent like $573 on furniture and bedding and stuff.
– When it’s been snowing and the footpathssidewalks turn to slush, there’s etiquette around tracking your outside shoes too far inside.
– Cheap shavers from The Warehouse are inevitably 240V only, and will not last all that long being charged on 110V American power. At least I didn’t make the same mistake in reverse, which may result in molten plastic.
– This is the Midwest. Basically everyone has a college football allegiance.

In summary:
– I’ve been here three weeks.
– I’m making connections bit by bit.
– I don’t need a day job just yet but probably will after my April trip back to New Zealand.
– I’m invested too heavily and sold too much of my New Zealand life to be in Chicago for anything less than the long haul.
– We’ll see! It’s a fun adventure.


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