After a successful attempt to bring Chicago-style comedy to a cold Madison night last January, the Barrymore Theater opens its doors once again to Nathan Craig and his comedy entourage.
This weekend marks the second annual Chicago Comics’ Showcase. Both productions have been produced and hosted by UW-Madison alumnus Nathan Craig.
Graduating in 1999 with a double major in communication arts (rhetorical studies) and art, Craig has found success after college in the Chicago comedy circuit.
He helped produce several shows at the Chicago Comedy Festival this past year, and he substitute-teaches in his spare time. He says, however, that he is going to cut back on teaching in order to “concentrate more on his table-waiting skills.”
Badger Herald: The showcase is titled “Greg Mills and the Killer B’s;” tell us about Greg Mills.
Nathan Craig: Greg has been with “The Second City” for six or seven years now. He started as a piano accompanist and when they figured out what a gift he has for improvisation, they hired him to the touring company. He’s got one of the most unique styles, I think, in Chicago. His writing is structured towards improvisation, and I’m constantly amazed at how successful he is at it.
BH: The show also features Shappy, the 2000 National Poetry Slam Champion. What will he add to tomorrow night’s show?
NC: This is probably Shappy’s last Midwest performance, as he is moving to New York on October 1. He performs comic monologues, takes on obscure characters and treats pop culture with brutal sarcasm.
BH: You were involved with producing some shows in the Chicago Comedy Festival. Were the other comics in your showcase on Saturday involved in that festival?
NC: All the performers in the show were in the Comedy Festival, and making it into that festival is no easy feat. They select from thousands of entries from Los Angeles to Edinburgh. So these are pretty battle-tested comedians.
BH: Of all the comics working today, who do you think you most emulate?
NC: George Carlin, and he comes from Lenny Bruce. Chris Rock is fantastic also.
BH: What do you think about Dennis Miller on Monday
NC: I like him. He’s the smartass wussy-boy in the booth.
BH: Why should students go see your show this weekend?
NC: I know the idea of going to a comedy show right now might make people a little uneasy. But we have to listen and speak about things instead of just feeling anger, which is the easiest of emotions to feel. These comics all do what they do in a competitive market; they do it well, and they get recognition for it. In order to achieve that, you have to write well, have incredible stage presence and combine it all with grace. These people explore their communication, and that, to me, is exciting.
“Chicago Comics Present: Greg Mills and the Killer B’s” will take place this Saturday at 8:30 p.m. at the Barrymore Theater. Tickets are $9 with a student ID and are available at the Barrymore box office, or charge by phone at 241-8633.