Here to shine a spotlight on our featured guests for July 6th’s Here’s the Story! If you’ve been meaning to make it to our brand new beautiful event, July’s show is THE night to attend! Along with 5 open slots for you or anyone who wishes to tell a story, we are hosting 5 featured tellers who we think will inspire and delight you. These folks are teachers, writers, thinkers, entertainers and all-around Chicago sweethearts who we are dazzled by, and cannot wait to share. So excited. Totally honored. Come join us to listen and tell! :)
Susan Messing, a NJ native and graduate of Northwestern University’s Theatre School, is an alumna of the iO, Second City’s Mainstage, and a founding member of Chicago’s infamous Annoyance Theatre. She continues to teach and perform improvisational comedy @ iO, The Annoyance, Second City, and is an adjunct instructor for DePaul University. Her standup act with her puppet, Jolly, was featured at the HBO/US Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, and on Comedy Central’s Premium Blend and NBC’s Late Fridays, and her most impressive bit movie role was as a bad stripper in a halo brace in Let’s Go to Prison! Susan has been an improviser and comedian for over twenty four years. Nice things said about Susan include Chicago Magazine calling her “Funniest Woman in Chicago,” Chicago Reader naming her “Best Improviser” and recipient of CIF 2010 “Improviser of the Year.” You can see her fuck around in her critically-acclaimed show, Messing with a Friend, every Thursday at The Annoyance, now in its 5th year.
Ian Belknap is a writer/performer living in Chicago. Currently he serves as the Dean of Mean at The Paper Machete, the Minister of Veracity for The Encyclopedia Show, and Host and Overlord of WRITE CLUB. His highly regarded live memoir show Wide Open Beaver Shot of My Heart: A Comedy With a Body Count debuted in the Rhino Theater Fest and was later produced at The Neo-Futurists. He is curator/host of the shows Something Wicked This Way Comes (seven deadly sins-themed monologues), which appeared at Rhino Fest and later at The Garage at Steppenwolf, and Ian’s Dog & Pony Show (it’s a big world of funny – let’s all play nice) which gathered solo performers, improv, sketch, and stand-up in a comedy mash-up. He used to be an actor, but did not find this sufficiently interesting to continue with it. He used to be a stand-up comedian, but had not the patience for it.
JEFFREY JEFFRIES is Jeffrey (Rukes) and (Jared) Jeffries writing, filming, recording, and otherwise performing. Most often, Jeffrey Jeffries does sketch. They do not perform live often, and they do not repeat material. Every show is new and one night only. Jared and Jeff met while attending Ball State University in 2003, and have since collaborated on a series of incredibly important and influential pet projects. Beyond Jeffrey Jeffries, the pair improvises together on the iO Harold team Inkling, produces a comedy podcast written by Jared entitled “Trouble’s Up in Alphabet Town,” and contributes material to Claymore Productions’ episodic sketch show, Exquisite Corpse (second season forthcoming this fall). For more information and sporadic updates, visit www.facebook.com/this.is.not.a.bit.
Ever since the day she was born, Caitlin Bergh has been tired of everyone telling her what to do. She graduated from college three years ago as an English major and has found little use for her degree except that she is skilled in reading everyday life as if it were a Dickens novel, searching for foreshadowing (most people call this attempting to be psychic) and motifs (most people refer to these as coincidence). Reading life like a novel has only ever gotten Caitlin into trouble; she seeks solace from the harsh realities of life in standup comedy, storytelling and the visual arts, where she can say or do anything she wants. The worst that could happen is that you might not like it. And Caitlin is really not afraid of not being liked. She hopes you enjoy her story!
Writer/performer/humorist, J.W. Basilo, is equal parts poignant and perverse, hilarious and heart-wrenching. His raucous performances and charisma have earned him a reputation as one of the most sought-after and compelling spoken word artists working today. His work has appeared on NPR, in the Chicago Tribune, numerous literary journals and in hundreds of theaters, dive bars, prisons, schools and comedy clubs across North America. In 2010 he received a PushCart nomination for his poem, “Anointing the Hand.” His one man dramedy, No One Can Fix You, debuted in 2009 to rave reviews in Chicago, Seattle, and New York City. As a competitor, Basilo was a finalist at the 2007 Individual World Poetry Slam, finished 2nd at the 2009 National Underground Poetry Individual Championship, and has represented Chicago at the National Poetry Slam four times. To date, he has released two full-length albums, Poet Laureate of Apt. 2E (2006) and Love Crimes, Etc. (2007), the chapbook, I Dare You to Believe This and is an Artist in Residence at Chicago’s Real Talk Ave. When not on stage or banging his forehead on a keyboard, Basilo teaches poetry and performance to Chicago’s youth. All things considered, he’s doing pretty well for a guy who failed Creative Writing in high school.