Tag Archives: comedy revue

Countdown to Comedy: 3 Weeks Before Emilia, Maggie & Daniel at iO West!

Emilia Poster iO West w:dates #2Hopes. Dreams. Dinos. Get Your Tickets Now for “Tyrannosaurus Sketch”

Just three short weeks from now, On March 28th and 29th, my daughter Emilia Barrosse and her Snickerdoodlin’ comedy partner and fellow Northwestern alum, Maggie Mae Fish, will perform their original comedy revue, Tyrannosaurus Sketch at iO West on Hollywood Blvd. Joining the cast will be USC’s Daniel Rashid, the son of fellow Northwestern University alums and Practical Theatre Company members, Steve and Bea Rashid.

I saw Emilia and Maggie perform this show in December at Studio Be on North Sheffield in Chicago.  (It was a nostalgic night for me because Studio Be is across the street from the Vic Theatre, where Vic and I performed in two Practical Theatre comedy revues in the mid 1980s.) Though the temperature outside Studio Be was 1 degree below zero — the comedy inside was hot. After the show I said they should do it again in Los Angeles: where theatre audiences don’t have to brave life-threatening temperatures to attend a spirited night of improvisational sketch comedy. I eagerly volunteered to direct.

In “Tyrannosaurus Sketch”, Emilia and Maggie, two recent college graduates, are ready to strike out on their own and make their dreams come true – but it’s not going to be easy. The madness of everyday life and their own overheated imaginations create hilarious obstacles along their path to self-realization and personal fulfillment. Plus some dinosaurs. And Daniel.

It’s going to be a very entertaining night, folks.

Both shows are at 7:00 pm. Tickets can be ordered here.

Come join the fun!

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Second Generation Comedy

Standuo Banner 1standup banner 2I don’t know if a sense of humor is hereditary. I don’t know whether jokes are in your genes. But it appears that funny runs in our family.

DSCN3300Later this month — on February 20 and 22 — my daughter Emilia will make her West Coast debut as a standup comic at two clubs in Hollywood. If you’re in the Los Angeles area, you may want to check her out.

I have no idea what Emilia’s going to do onstage. She hasn’t run her material by me. She’s 22 years old — and if you’re old enough to vote, fight in the Army, sign a contract and drink legally – you’re old enough not to clear your jokes with dad. So, I can’t wait to hear her routine.

hqdefaultEmilia graduated from Northwestern University (her parents’ alma mater) last June with a hard-earned degree in journalism and a passion for writing comedy. Jokes and Journalism both require a keen, insightful and objective view of the world. But if Emilia’s currently more interested in a punchline than a newspaper byline – what can I say?

After all, what was I doing as a 22-year old  fresh out of Northwestern?

sc0000626233 years ago, in February 1981 during the winter after my graduation, my comic comrades at The Practical Theatre and I were banging the last bent nails into our newly built storefront theatre at 703 Howard Street in Evanston, Illinois – getting ready to stage our second improvisational comedy revue, Thrills & Glory.

It was the PTC’s third season: our first at the magical 42-seat venue we dubbed The John Lennon Auditorium. Thrills & Glory opened on March 21, 1981 with Rush Pearson, Gary Kroeger, Reid Branson and Emilia’s dad (me) in the cast. We didn’t run our material by our parents, either.sc0001416801x

617px-Scubba_Hey!_(1981)A few months later, we opened our third comedy revue, Scubba Hey! — featuring Brad Hall (my fellow PTC artistic director), Rush Pearson, me and a (very) funny (very) young girl named Julia Louis Dreyfus, whom Rush and I met when we performed together in the 1980 Mee-Ow Show at Northwestern.

This month, The Mee-Ow Show will celebrate its 40th anniversary. Of course, I cannot possibly be that old.10 Against

434px-Megafun_(1983)But, evidently, the comedy gene is not solely paternal. Around this same time, as I was earning my last college credits and The Practical Theatre was getting underway, Emilia’s future mom (and my future, fabulous, funny wife) was also doing her own improvisational comedy thing. Victoria Zielinski played the Chicago comedy clubs as a member of a group called Laugh Track: another gathering of Northwestern funny people and Mee-Ow Show veterans.

Vic was in law school in 1981 so she couldn’t be part of the early fun on the tiny stage of The John Lennon Auditorium – but in 1983, she finally joined the cast of the Practical Theatre’s hit comedy revue, Megafun at our Piper’s Alley cabaret space behind Second City.

800px-Art,_Ruth_&_Trudy_(1986)Three years later, Victoria and I (along with Jamie Baron) joined forces in Art, Ruth & Trudy. We got married in 1990. 20 years later, we wrote and performed The Vic & Paul Show — and we’ve been having fun onstage together ever since.

So, I have to admit, our daughter Emilia comes by the comedy thing honestly.

Malo-1Emilia’s will perform her first standup set as part of the Miniature Stand-Up Comedy Festival on February 20th in the Leche Lounge at Malo, located at 4326 Sunset Blvd in Los Angeles.

The show starts at 7:30. I’m told that folks should “please be on time as the show will start at 7:45 sharp and seats are limited.”

Emilia will be on a bill with a series of comediennes, including Carmen Faulkner, Christie Campagna, Katie Robinson and Raluca Sanders.

comedy-store-logo-bigTwo days later, on Saturday February 22 at 7:30 PM, Emilia will be doing a set at the famous Comedy Store at 8433 Sunset Boulevard. Tickets are $10.00, plus a two-drink minimum. But, really, if you’re going all the way down to Hollywood on a Saturday night – two drinks is the minimum, right? (Doors open at 7:00.)

Emilia’s two standup shows are the entertaining preliminaries leading up to the main event.

Emilia Poster iO West w:dates #2On March 28th and 29th, Emilia and her Snickerdoodlin’ comedy partner and fellow Northwestern alum, Maggie Mae Fish, will perform their original comedy revue, Tyrannosaurus Sketch at iO West on Hollywood Blvd. Joining the cast will be USC’s Daniel Rashid, the son of our fellow NU alums and PTC members, Steve and Bea Rashid. (There’s that damn Northwestern/PTC thing again!)

Both shows are at 7:00 pm. Tickets can be ordered here.

sc0000e4f503When Emilia, Maggie and Daniel take the stage at iO West on March 28, they’ll do so more than three decades after my Practical Theatre friends and I staged our first comedy revue at the John Lennon Auditorium.

800px-Thrills_&_Glory_(1981)May Emilia and her friends have as much fun as we did back in the day.

And — as it has been for us — may that be just the beginning.

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Sweet Home Chicago!

Come on,
Baby, don’t you wanna go home
Come on,
Baby, don’t you wanna go home
Back from the land of California
To my sweet home, Chicago.
 

The Vic & Paul Show came from California to sweet home Chicago – and it was good: a magical week of fun, friends, comedy & camaraderie.

Big thanks to Scott Vehill and Stefan Brun of The Prop Theatre for hosting us in their space – and to all of our Chicago friends (and all you out-of-towners) who made the trip to North Elston to share the fun with us.

Thanks especially to Tony Adler of The Chicago Reader whose fabulous article in the June 9th issue assured us of a successful run. (Click on the picture.)

Thanks, too, to Alex Baumgardner, who talked to me for this article in NewCity Stage. (Click on the graphic.)

Given the enthusiastic response to our limited Prop Theatre engagement, we’re planning a return to Chicago this December. This might be the year for comedy-loving Chicagoans to celebrate the holidays with The Vic & Paul Show.

Stay tuned for further details.

Victoria, Steve, and I would just like to say, “Thank you – and we love you” to everyone who showed up and laughed with us at The Prop last week.

More fun is on the way

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Last Call for “Vic & Paul”…

If, for some strange and inexplicable reason, you live in the greater Chicagoland area, and you haven’t yet made reservations to see The Vic & Paul Show, just click on the Brown Paper Tickets icon below:

Did you click it? Did you get your tickets? Thank you. We’ll see you at The Prop Theatre this week!

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Whiskey Tasting

When I was a kid — before it became politically and socially incorrect — it was still okay to get laughs by playing a drunk.

Dick Van Dyke did it. Dean Martin did it. Jackie Gleason did it. Foster Brooks did it. Boy, did Foster Brooks do it.

Red Skelton did it, too. And he may have done it best.

Red was 73-years old in 1986 when I first saw him perform his classic “Guzzler’s Gin” sketch on the stage of The Chicago Theatre. That year, my wife Victoria was a member of the team led by Ray Shepardson (and our pal Drew McCoy) that rehabbed the venerable Chicago Theatre and reopened it on September 10, 1986 with a gala performance by Frank Sinatra. (Frank knew how to play a drunk, too.)

Soon after Sinatra opened the venue, Red Skelton was booked to perform. So, one day that memorable year, Shepardson called Victoria to say he needed someone to pick Red up at the airport and keep him company until his show that night. Are you kidding? Spend a day with a vaudeville, radio, film and TV legend: one of my comedy heroes? We jumped at the chance. (Someday I’ll tell you the whole story of that day — including what Red told me that George M. Cohan told him. Talk about oral history!)

Born to a former circus clown, Red was traveling with a medicine show by the age of 10, and he was in vaudeville at 15. Over the next quarter of a century, he rose to fame on stage, on radio, in film – and in the early days of television. A great slapstick clown, Red perfected his popular progressive drinking sketch “Guzzler’s Gin” over the years in vaudeville and in nightclubs. He performed “Guzzler’s Gin” at his 1940 screen test for MGM — and it was featured in the 1945 film The Ziegfeld Follies.

And here’s another bit of wonderful comedy lore…

Did you know that Red’s “Guzzler’s Gin” bit was the basis for Lucille Ball’s classic “Vitameatavegamin” routine? It’s true. Lucy and Red were both in The Ziegfeld Follies. They became friends — and Red let Lucy rework his sketch and make it her own.

By the time I saw Red do “Guzzler’s Gin” at The Chicago Theatre he’d been doing it for half a century. And it was still funny. Fall down funny.

Red Skelton and “Guzzler’s Gin” were still on my mind in January 2010 when Victoria and I began work on a sketch about the early Old West days in California’s Santa Ynez Valley, north of Santa Barbara – before it became genteel wine country.

I approached my drunken cowboy role with all the subtlety I’d learned from Red and Jackie and Foster and Dick and Dean.  But mostly Red. Red played it so “smooooottthhhh!”

We performed “Whiskey Tasting” as part of “The Vic & Paul Show”, which we performed in June 2010 at Push Lounge in Woodland Hills, California.

Now, as it turns out, some people really do whisky tasting. (Evidently, there’s no guzzling involved. And no gin chasers!) You can read about how whisky tasting should be done here and here and here.

Bottom’s up!

And finally, enjoy this classic Red Skelton moment, captured by the brilliant Ron Crawford.

“Here is a drawing I did at the Chicago Theater at the Red Skelton news conference (thanks to you guys).  He looked at it and grabbed it away and signed it.  I still can remember the feel of the warmth in that room radiating off that wonderful man.”

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