Every once in a while, networks announce that they’re forming new sketch shows. To find talent, they’ll scour the country looking for brilliant performers.
I’m going to help them out with their homework, and they don’t even have to pay me to this time. Here are a few of my personal recommendations of who you should be looking at.
Adam & Danielle; young and talented
If there are two performers that scream to networks “you should hire them now”, as a power couple, they are Adam Cole and Danielle Wheeler.
Adam Cole’s roots start in standup, but he has that soulful look that allows him to get away with saying bad things.
Sure he’s pretty.
I mean, he’s very very pretty.
God I love his eyes.
What was i saying? Oh yeah… With a firm background in the Annoyance Theater in Chicago, he genuinely understands comedy. He has the best balance between someone who is passionate about his work without taking himself too seriously.
When you see a woman as drop dead gorgeous as Danielle Wheeler (She’s on my business card, y’all. That’s how gorgeous she is… she made me say “y’all”), you don’t expect them to be funny. Because in order to be funny, you have to allow yourself to be ugly and be the clown. Danielle never shies away from either and will do anything for a laugh.
She is a woman without pretension – with all humility – and she’s just darned nice. I’m willing to bet she owns a kitten, and that its named something cute.
With roots in Second City’s Training Center, she performed in the same sketch show in Chicago for years before moving to New York.
Paul Thomas; a writer who never stops
I knew that I was in a special place when I was in conservatory at Second City with Paul Thomas. It wasn’t just that he was continually writing, but that he thought about every aspect of a scene.
He wrote this gorgeous scene, post 9/11, about how the terms of football had changed. That announcers could no longer use the phrase “throw the bomb”. After explaining to me (the desk anchor) which terms were thrown out, and which terms replaced them (“ride the pony”), his sports announcer recounted the day’s game using the new terms that we just learned.
In one reoccurring sketch, Paul was allowed to improvise a different non-sequitur every time. The rest of us would watch a monitor backstage, just to see what line he would use to break his scene partners.
If I were the head of a sketch television show, I would hire Paul without asking him for a spec script. He is, in my opinion, the most underused writer in Chicago.
Anthony Oberbeck; beyond ordinary
I once read about a famous comedian, that he was the guy that the other comedians would gather around to watch.
Meet Anthony Oberbeck.
When Anthony puts together a sketch show, he’s the one that I’m leaning forward to take mental notes on. In comedy, its the best thing in the world when someone surprises you. Anthony always surprise me. Think I’m going to tell you how? No, because, you know, surprise.
Susan Messing; has shit out more talent in her life than LA, combined
No, I don’t want to get into a pillow fight over how great the talent in LA truly is. Not while you’re wearing that neon top.
All I’m saying is that its mind-numbing that we have a performer that so many people on all coasts combined would agree is one of the very best, and she hasn’t been tapped to create a show, much less star in one. Its kinda like finding out that this guy named Tiger Woods has been playing golf in your back yard, and no one has offered to let him play in your tourney. Or its like finding out that this kid named Van Halen has been playing on a street corner, but no bands have invited him to play. (Okay… bad example. I’d get why no lead singer would want to play with Van Halen right now.)
My point is that at some point in time, you might be the network executive chomping on your cigar (and/or legalized pot brownie) telling your network-executive-friends about how brilliant you were, and how you bought that new G600 Gulfstream because Susan Messing’s show was picked up for a fifth season.
But right now, you aren’t. Because you aren’t asking why 95% of the female improvisers in Chicago want to be Susan Messing, or why 95% of the male improvisers cried while listening to Morrissey when she remarried.
Is this all of the amazing talent that you’ll find in Chicago? Not even close. But start here. I’ll have more for you shortly.