Tag Archives: Mee-Ow Show

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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Big Fun in Chicago is About to Begin…

There’s little more than a week before “The Vic & Paul Show” opens at The Beverly Arts Center on June 15th.  Get your tickets here.

On the day before we open at The Beverly Arts Center, Victoria and I are joining our great friend, and my fellow Northwestern and Mee-Ow Show alum, Dana Olsen, for a special comedy show at The Wilmette Theatre on June 14th.  Our musical director Steve Rashid and our original “Vic & Paul Show” director Shelly Goldstein will also join us for a night of “Comedy for the Middle Ages”.

Here’s a recent Pioneer Press feature about “Mr. Olsen’s Neighborhood”…

You’ll meet the most interesting people in “Mr. Olsen’s Neighborhood,” Thursday, June 14, at the Wilmette Theatre.

First of all, there’s Mr. Olsen himself, aka Dana Olsen, the writer of such hit films as “George of the Jungle” and “The ’Burbs,” plus numerous TV scripts, who pursues his Hollywood career from the unlikely location of Wilmette.

Then there’s Evanston resident Steve Rashid, an Emmy-winning composer who is also a musician, singer, producer and recording engineer.

Two of Olsen’s other “neighbors” are Victoria Zielinski and her husband, former “Saturday Night Live” writer Paul Barrosse, stars of “The Vic and Paul Show,” an evening of comedy and music which opens a two-weekend run at the Beverly Arts Center the night after “Mr. Olsen’s Neighborhood.”

Lastly, there’s Shelly Goldstein, a cabaret artist and writer, whose numerous TV script credits range from “Laverne and Shirley” to “Flying with Byrd.”

Zielinski, Barrosse and Goldstein all live in Los Angeles but are gathering at the Wilmette Theatre with longtime friends Olsen and Rashid to relive their fun days at Northwestern University (blank) years ago. (Goldstein and Zielinski made Olsen promise not to reveal the dates.)

College buddies

“It’s kind of like we’re getting the old band back together,” 
Olsen said of the comedy-variety show he and his friends have 
created. “We first worked together in the ‘Mee-Ow Show,’ which is the annual comedy review on campus. [Rashid didn’t work on that show with them.] Then, different incarnations of us worked comedy clubs as a group for a while. After graduation, we followed separate paths in the industry. Now it’s years later and our parental obligations have diminished and we decided to start having some fun with each other again.”

Each performer is writing part of the program. Olsen has created a humorous Power Point presentation. Barrosse and Zielinski are doing a few pieces from “The Vic and Paul Show.” Goldstein will perform selections from her cabaret act, which she has presented all over the world.

Rashid is serving as musical director, as well as doing a segment of the show.

“Dana and I have been friends for quite a while through other friends,” Rashid said, “but we’ve never actually worked together. Whenever we get together, we spend a lot of time laughing so we might as well do it onstage.”

Rashid first worked with Barrosse and Zielinski in the 1980s when he was musical director for the Practical Theatre Co., which Barrosse co-founded in Chicago. He is also serving as musical director of “The Vic and Paul Show.”

In addition to participating in the musical numbers from that show, Rashid said, “I’ll have a couple of moments. One of the nice things about this show that Dana is putting together is that there will be several opportunities for all of us to be performing together, in one form or another, and we’ll each have a chance to do a little bit of what we do individually.”

Playing together

“We’ve written some 
sketches for all of us — which has been a real blast,” Olsen concurred. “We’ve been working together on conference calls and throwing ideas around in email, and sending rough drafts back and forth.”

Rashid recalled one of those conference calls. “They were practically writing sketches on the phone,” he said. “It was absolutely hilarious.”

Olsen said that the show’s theme is: “A humorous look at the trials and tribulations of middle age — an idea of different neighborhoods. Middle age being a neighborhood. Wilmette being a neighborhood. Marriage being a neighborhood. We’re taken the ‘Mr. Rogers Neighborhood’ theme and expanded it.”

Sounds like a great place to visit.

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Visit “Mr. Olsen’s Neighborhood”!

Our very funny friend Dana Olsen, a fellow Northwestern University and Mee-Ow Show alum, is hosting “A Comedic Variety Show for the Middle Ages” at The Wilmette Theatre on June 14th. If you’re anywhere near Chicago’s North Shore, you won’t want to miss it.

Dana is comedian and screenwriter whose works include The ‘Burbs, Memoirs of an Invisible Man, George of the Jungle and Inspector Gadget. Dana is one of the funniest people I know — and I know lots of funny people: intentional and unintentional. With Dana, the humor is definitely intentional.

I’ve known Dana since we were both NU freshmen in 1976. He was a brilliant and captivating raconteur back then – and he’s even more fun to listen to now. Plus, he was recently named one of North Shore Magazine’s “Eligible Bachelors of the North Shore.” It’s truly groovy in Mr. Olsen’s neighborhood.

Victoria, Steve Rashid and I will be joining Dana on the bill that evening – just one night before we open “The Vic & Paul Show” on Chicago’s South Side at The Beverly Arts Center on June 15th.

Comedic chanteuse Shelly Goldstein, another fellow Northwestern and Mee-Ow Show alum (and the original director of “The Vic & Paul Show”) will also be appearing with us in “Mr. Olsen’s Neighborhood.”

“Mr. Olsen’s Neighborhood” is the place to be on June 14th.

Then, after enjoying some laughs at The Wilmette Theatre on the North Side, come down to The Beverly Arts Center on the South Side for more laughs.

June in Chicago will be a very funny month.

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