I have been performing here in Chicago since 2004 and it seems, as if almost all of sudden, that everyone is doing solo work. Whether it is at The Playground for The Gimme 5, solo showcases at iO, Holy Fuck Hour at The Annoyance, performers putting up their own showcases etc, solo work is everywhere.
I love solo work.
For me, it has made me more aware of my own sense of humor and characters I enjoy playing. With solo work, you arn’t being asked to broaden your range of characters or play against type. You are purposefully putting out exactly what YOU like. What YOU think is funny. That is what makes solo work here in the city so strong. It also pushes you. The first time I did solo work, which was only about 4 months ago mind you, I thought I was going to blackout. ‘What if what I think is funny no one else thinks is funny?’ – 80% of time, they do think it’s funny. And then there is that 20% when you buck up and push through your bit even though no one is laughing and it couldn’t be more obvious to anyone more than you.
Failure teaches you that you arn’t going to die. Loren Michaels isn’t going to come out of the backlot of The Playground and deem you unworthy for show business. And the walls arn’t going to cave in. But yes, you may blackout. You will more than likely blackout.
I was talking with Carmen Christopher, #eavesdropping on his conversation with Anthony Oberbeck about failure in solo work last night. As Carmen put it, (ps: Carmen is not only an amazing perfomer, I am lucky enough to play with him and call him a great friend – so if you haven’t seen him play, go see him) failure is good. It teaches you the ultimate form of commitment: how to commit to something that is dying as you’re doing it. It teaches you process, it teaches you that sometimes bits just arn’t going to work and or how to rework them. There is a lot of knowledge in failure.
I also love watching solo work because I am always blown away from the talent in this city, in my friends. Watching solo work reminds me of the endless possibilities for bits, characters and ideas to come alive.
Sometimes I think we all get a little lost in what we want to accomplish here in Chicago or what we feel pressure to accomplish. Or that if we arn’t being seen at certain theaters, we arn’t doing enough. Solo work allows you to ground yourself. Find your voice again and discover what who you are as an actor/comedian.
Alright, enough of artistic theory.
If you wanna see some kick ass solo work of some of the best talent in the city check out !Solo Ole! at The Annoyance. I went last night and was blown away by Carmen Christopher, Anthony Oberbeck and John Hartman. All 3 sets were very different but each performer’s voice was so strong. The best part? It is only $5!?! Footlongs arn’t even a clean 5 anymore.
Do yourself a favor and check it out!
Wednesday | 8:00PM | $5
September 5 – Carmen Christopher, Anthony Oberbeck, John Hartman
September 12 and 19 – Andrew Tisher, Sarah Fineout, Christina Boucher
October 3 and 10 – John Reynolds, Adam Cole, Jo Scott