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Pimprov Knows What You Want, Baby

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingThis Friday at 9 PM, Schadenfreude will be throwing their July rent party at the Gallery Cabaret. Rumor is that it will be a variety-show type extravaganza. Performers will include Chicago writer Claire Zulkey, Pajama Men, Deb Downing, and Pimprov, who are currently at IO.

Pimprov performer Marz Timms, who has performed in more festivals than you can say in one breath, shares some favorite improv festival memories:

"The thing I like most about festivals is that you're performing with the best and brightest improvisers. Everyone is on their A game, even in improv, where sometimes it can be a crap shoot.

"My favorite experience might be performing at the Del Close Marathon in New York. We were about to walk on stage, and I look back and Horatio Sanz is standing behind me. I said 'Are you coming on stage with us?' He said 'Yes, but I don't have pimp costume.' So he decided to come out and introduce us. It was a packed house, and he introduced us as his favorite improv group from Chicago. We hit the stage with our music blaring, and the audience went nuts. I was so excited that a little trickle of pee ran down my leg...just kidding."

-Elizabeth McQuern


Lorne Michaels on the Prowl in Chicago?

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingHas Lorne Michaels been in town scouting for new talent for Saturday Night Live? The SNL casting season is underway, and The Bastion hears that this time last year Michaels was scoping out the fresh young improv talent in Chicago.

Of course, on the first day of new student orientation at Second City, they tell you straight up that you're not going to be plucked from Improv Level Two obscurity and whisked to Weekend Update fame the next week, but as we all know, giant herds of talent have migrated from the Windy City to the Big Apple to populate the stage at 30 Rockefeller Plaza.

Second City Chicago recruits of recent years include Tim Meadows, Chris Farley, David Koechner, Ana Gasteyer, Nancy Walls, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Rachel Dratch and Horatio Sanz.

So what the dilly, yo? What's the buzz?

-Elizabeth McQuern


Stephen Colbert Enjoys Continued Accolades For Being a Smartypants

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingStephen Colbert, notable Chicago comedy alumnus, continues to enjoy career ascent with movie and television endeavors. He's so busy he doesn't even have time to submit a headshot for his IMDB listing. He delivered a brilliant, much-discussed speech at this year's White House Correspondents' Association Dinner, and was named one of Time Magazine's Top 100 Most Influential People.

The good news is, his satirical format is now so well-known that even the least hip and media-savvy public servants now have some kind of clue what they're in for before arriving on the set for an interview. Seattle Democratic congressman Rick Larsen recently taped a segment with Colbert, which is apparently a "badge of honor" among elected officials, and gave himself over to the process with a reasonable attitude: "So what are you gonna do? You just play along. All you can do is just play along."

However, Colbert did manage to catch Georgia Republican Rep. Lynn Westmoreland off guard with a quiz on the Ten Commandments Westmoreland so dearly wanted to have displayed in federal buildings. Colbert asked Westmoreland to name those precious commandments, and the representative, well, came up short. In the linked clip, check out the Cheshire grin on Colbert's face as he concludes the interview with a "that's all I need" handshake...he knows he got a priceless moment there. Do you think Dan Rather would have had the spine? I don't think so.

-Elizabeth McQuern


Laughing and Chatting with Schadenfreude

Last night The Bastion caught Schadenfreude's staged reading of hilariously terrible '80's sci fi movies "Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn" and "RobotJox" at the Neo-Futurarium, and then scooted on over to Simon's Tavern for a drink and some chitchat.

Schadenfreude founding member Justin Kaufmann won The Bastion's nerdy little heart by revealing himself to be an NPR insider with his initial friendly e-mail upon our launch on Monday. He invited us to last night's show, in which full-on robot punches were thrown, Kate James did an uncanny recreation of Kelly Preston's indescribably bad performance as Dhayana in "Jared-Syn," and "because it's the future" was given as the explanation for everything from excessive perspiration to the sudden making out of lead characters.

The Bastion is very interested in creative developments in new media, and naively asked Schadenfreude whether, despite the live-performance nature of their collective endeavor, they "taped their shows." In fact, they are mad bloggers, dedicated podcasters, archive years of videos, host many photo-type experiments, and are committed to sharing new content online on a daily basis. In short, their site is crammed with goodies.

Justin and cohorts Stephen Schmidt and Adam Witt gave us lots to think about, in regards to the nature of comedy culture in Chicago, the delights of modern prankery, the beauty of the D.I.Y. ethic, and the wonders of modern media. More on the topics that came up in our interesting conversation coming soon.

-Elizabeth McQuern


Carousing with John Roy, Visiting with Dan Kaufman

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The Bastion found itself out drinking too late and enjoying some heavy shop talk with comedian John Roy night before last at Ricochet's in the lovely Lincoln Square neighborhood of Chicago. John is home for an extended visit and tour, and had many, many things to say about the business of comedy, the state of comedy in Chicago, and why some very talented comedians need to take certain logistical steps to maintain their career momentum. It was really interesting, and the Bastion was promised a full brain pickin' in the very near future.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingYesterday afternoon we caught up with Dan Kaufman, somewhere in this crazy world-of-its-own known as Caesar's Palace, in Las Vega$, NV. He's out here for six weeks, and we're seriously wondering if he's left the poker table even once. We make this comment by way of complimenting his astonishing talents at the table: Dan was recently featured on Ultimate Poker Challenge.

We've also spotted The Second City outpost here in LV NV, and might just take a break from bachelorette festivities long enough to explore that club and others on the Strip. (Yes, the Bastion reported from two cities in the same night...we're a global phenomenon!)