Second City's landmark 100th revue, "Who Do We Think We Are?" just entered its final weeks after running for almost a year. But Chicago's comedy scene never rests. Second City already kicked off work on their 101st revue, which includes returning cast member, and one of my favorite Chicago performers, Steve Waltien.
Steve lent his talents to Whirled News Tonight and Improvised Shakespeare at iO, The Second City Touring Company and this past year, on The Second City Mainstage. His two person show "Jordan and Steve are Steve and Jordan, Respectively" was named "the best sketch show of 2008" by the Chicago Tribune.
Steve was also the first improv teacher I had after moving to Chicago, and I remember him telling the class that he was auditioning for the Second City Touring Company.
Here's a preview of what Steve's doing in "Who Do We Think We Are?" I got in touch with Steve to find out how he came to Chicago and what it means to be performing for the Second City Mainstage.
Why did you choose Chicago to start your comedy career?
I knew about Second City and iO and I had taken a summer class in New York with Martin DeMatt, former director of The Second City Training Center, when I was in college. He painted a picture of studying improv in Chicago that was hard to resist.
When did you first hear of The Second City?
I don't remember precisely, but I know I became more aware of it in high school and college as I became more interested in comedy and learned how many of my idols had worked there.
How did you get by before performing and writing could support you?
I worked for five years at the American Cancer Society, when I first moved to Chicago. I was an office admin and could devote my nights and weekends to comedy.
What was your first paying comedy gig?
Technically, my college improv group probably did a few paying gigs. After that it was probably the show Whirled News Tonight at iO.
Even after jobs on TV, like the Big Ten Network, what brought you back to Chicago?
The work in Chicago is the most pure that I've seen. It's not about getting rich or famous, not that there's anything wrong with those things, but in Chicago people seem more driven by wanting to do good work for the sake of the work. I love that.
What does it mean to you to perform on The Second City Mainstage?
More than I can express. The people who have been on that stage have set an enormous and daunting prescedent. Their work is an inspiration and a challenge.
What did you learn from your first Second City revue that will make this next one even better?
Lots of little things. But this time I am going to try to trust my instincts a bit more.