I am BARRY HESS > Blog

Chicago

Unfortunately the pictures are forever broken on this post.

Chicago was a great, great time. I’m happy the in-laws are moving closer to us, but in a way it’d be nice to have them there to continue having good excuses to visit. Ha!

We decided to leave at about 10 PM on Thursday night and hit the ridiculous Kalahari hotel/resort at Wisconsin Dells. Calling them at 1 AM garnered a nice price on a room, which also include entry to the water park the next day. We spent a couple hours torturing Ava in the water. All-in-all it was a good decision.

We arrived in Chicago at four or five Friday afternoon. After eating a nice home cooked meal, we went out to see Red Scare at The Second City. We met Nate there and had a good time. The show was much better than the last Second City show I saw, and that one was pretty good as well. This particular show was more politically charged and just altogether funnier. Lots of great transition work that I’m not used to seeing as well. Matt Craig was great in it also. All of the actors seemed quite polished and Matt didn’t stick out at all, which is a good thing.

Nate and I then ditched the others for some more improv, all under the context of the Chicago Improv Festival. Earlier I said something about Horatio Sanz being part of the show. I had the wrong week in mind. That was last week.

The show we attended started with Annoyance Productions. Annoyance is a large group of improvisers. In the past membership has included the likes of Jeff Garlin and John Favreau. Currently the only recognizable face (for me) was Mick Napier, director of the current, and many past, Second City mainstage show. Their set was hit or miss. Not too bad, but I certainly wasn’t blown away. Not even by Mick, but my opinion of him would change throughout the weekend.

The middle act was a stage presentation of PAX-TV's World Cup Comedy. I was pretty excited after their performance. Lots of great laughs were had by the audience. It was a little fishy since no suggestions were taken from the crowd in a game format that was ideal for crowd suggestions. We gave them the benefit of the doubt, however, because we felt they could be trying to present their product in the same manner as on television. Apparently this show has given a lot of opportunities to a lot of improvisors across the country, so I may just have to give it a try.

The final act was Bassprov, and they knocked it out of the park. The main performers are Joe Bill and Mark Sutton, both founding members of the above mentioned Annoyance Productions (Mark actually performed with them on this night). Bassprov is often performed with a guest, and tonight we saw the suprisingly on Emo Philips (you may remember him). I wasn’t expecting too terribly much from this show and it just knocked my socks off. I’d highly recommend it if you’re ever in Chicago. Bassprov.

Saturday we visited The Art Institute of Chicago. I was set to enjoy it quite a bit, and I did, but Ava unfortunately wasn’t all that interested. The Wife took care of her nicely and I thank her for it, but we did need to abbreviate our visit. And I’m also guessing we pissed off a ton of people since you aren’t even supposed to use cell phones in there, let alone screaming babies. Visited American Gothic, Paris Street, and A Sunday on La Grande Jatte. I’m looking for affordable prints of Harbor in Normandy and Arrival of the Normandy Train, so let me know if you find any. Maybe I should visit France, huh?

That night we hit the White Sox game versus the Tigers. It was all well and good in our outfield seats. The Sox were losing, the scoreboard said the Twins were winning. Then what seemed like a great thing, finding open seats behind the plate, turned bad when the Sox rallied to win. In the ninth Detroit had the tying run on, but IRod hit into a double play, helped by him not really running to first, but jogging. I swear he could have beat it out.

Sunday we lazed about for most of the day, watching Finding Neverland. It was kind of what I expected…a little too boring for me.

In the evening I hooked up with Nate again to attend some closing CIF shows. We intended to hit an ImprovOlympic class graduation show of someone Nate improv’d with in Minneapolis. We only saw the first set, though, which didn’t include Nate’s friend. I thought it was a decent performance, Nate was OK with it.

Then on to the big show. CIF closing night at ImprovOlympic. The first act was an hour long duo improv with Mick Napier and future “that guy” Scott Adsit. We were treated to the best improv duo I have ever seen in my life. From what I could guess by Nate’s reaction it was the best he had ever seen as well. Simply outstanding.

The second act was an hour long duo improv with T.J. Jagodowski (I’m now calling Caleb McEwen a poor man’s T.J. Jagodowski) and David Pasquesi. I will call this just narrowly the second best improv duo performance I’ve ever seen. Nate’s rating, I’m guessing, was third on his much longer all time list.

At the closing show, 80‘s SNL alum and Police Academy star Tim Kazurinsky was roaming around quite a bit. Shortly before the show began Nate notified me that Keegan-Michael Key, from Mad TV, was sitting right next to me. He turned out to be a pretty nice guy - at least when Nate talked to him.

So a great visit with family and a completely renewed interest in seeing improv was all that happened this weekend. Not bad. Not bad at all.

I’ll finish with some pictures.

Looking at art:

Looking at art

Paris Street:

Paris Street

A Sunday on La Grande Jatte:

A Sunday on La Grande Jatte

American Gothic:

American Gothic

From the outfield seats:

From the outfield seats

Strike a pose, A.J.:

Strike a pose, A.J.

A pitch, a bunt, and a steal:

A pitch, a bunt, and a steal

Mid-swing:

Mid-swing