Chicago is the comedy capital of the world because we're always innovating. It started on the stage with groups like The Second City, iO and the tradition of improv. And it continues today with the independent spirit of our local comedians in the digital world.
Some of the best web series and videos online are created by people right here in Chicago. One of those hot series is Funemployed. Now in production for their third season, Funemployed recently won the Chicago Comedy Pilot Competition and their videos have garnered almost 2 million views.
The show follows a group of recent college graduates, looking for artistic fulfillment, love, and work in modern day Chicago.
I asked Ted Evans, one of Funemployed's creators, his thoughts on Chicago and how the city's atmosphere and unique comedy culture influenced the series.
How does the setting of Chicago influence the show?
Chicago has always been the perfect setting for the theme of our show. Funemployed is all about being right out of college, and knowing that you have so much potential, when it may take some time for it to be realized in the way you want. You can see the characters' motivations and actions reflected through the spirit of the city. For one: the weather.
Chicago's weather fluctuates between our famous winters and the beauty of the summer warmth. You see it in how people suddenly become happy and alive and party practically every day and are constantly outside, until it gets cold and everyone retreats back into their winter routine. It's like becoming a butterfly every year. Having to endure the winter that really gives Chicagoans a sense of unity, of bonding together and enjoying life.
That has always been at the core of what our show is about. Even if your life isn't where you want it to be, that there is always something worth struggling for, an opportunity that means light at the end of the tunnel, or a summer season that is so much fun rolled up into a few short months that it makes you forget every year that it ever got as cold as it once was.
Did acting and comedy training in Chicago help shape your story and characters?
Several of us have training through iO and Second City. That influences how we shoot the show. We write everything in drafts for months, and then once we get to set, we realize what the scene is really about and often improvise within those frameworks--sometimes doing away with what we thought was cleverly written dialogue.
I think this training and willingness to completely change dialogue makes everyone feel more connected to what they're saying and makes the end product that much fresher and often funnier as a result.
Has the Chicago community been supportive of the project?
Chicago has always been very supportive. Friar Tuck and many of the locations we have used have always been very accommodating and allowed us to use their spaces to give the show that authentic Chicago feel. And the fans have always been very supportive as well. We're lucky to have a small but loyal fan base, and it keeps us doing what we do when fans of the show get as excited to see it as we get to make it.
What do you love most about making a series in Chicago?
While I've never been the star of a major motion picture or on any of the big theaters here in Chicago or in a national commercial campaign (not to say that won't happen in the future, fingers crossed), I can say that I took experiences from my own life and brought my closest friends together to create 3 seasons of something that makes people laugh and allows them to take a brief leave from the frustrations in their lives.
I think that knowing that something we created can do something like that, regardless of whether or not it makes us rich and famous. It may not go beyond making the people close to us laugh, but that gives us the strength to keep doing what we love to do.