Just For Laughs Chicago: An Interview with Susan Messing
At Just For Laughs Chicago we got the chance to sit down with Susan Messing, an icon in the Chicago improv scene. We talked about her upcoming wedding, improv classes and just what makes Chicago a great city for improv.
Susan, I am very honored to sit here with you.
Shut your hole!
No I’m serious.
I’m so local.
I’m so not.
How do you even know? Are you an improvator?
Horny! Where do you improvate?
I have my last class at 5 tonight. But I never had the honor to study with you… studied at Second City with Rachel Mason.
Rachel is my home girl. She’s amazing. She is the person more than anybody that I absolutely felt no concern whatsoever leaving her with the level 2 curriculum because I knew she knew exactly where I was coming from. Plus I play with her in Kate Duffy and the Playboys all the time.
And I saw her with Messing a couple of times. This was a while ago; she maybe went up a year ago with you guys.
She’s awesome isn’t she?
She changed my whole perspective on the whole thing.
Well yeah, ‘cause it’s a dick-around for me. The Annoyance Theater is one of the few uncensored theaters on the planet, so that’s not something we take lightly in comedy, that’s a luxury- that’s not a right.
Right, I went up there to see “Messing with a Friend” as much as possible. I love the Annoyance Theater. Annoyance Theater. Annoyance Theater. See? That’s three name drops.
Well let me know when you want to come, I’ll comp you. I mean its only $5 a ticket. Even for “Just for Laughs” it was only $5, I appreciated that.
I saw you last year with, I believe, McCarthy? Mike McCarthy?
Uh I did it last year- well, Michael McCarthy I’m marrying.
Woah!! Wait a second!
You know what I’m talking about? Michael McCarthy who started the writing program at IO, yeah I’m marrying him in September.
Wow! That’s great. I took some workshops with him he’s a past SNL writer, The Drew Carey Show, Sesame Street, we we’re laughing about Sesame Street a little bit, too.
Yeah isn’t it weird to have SNL and Sesame Street together?
He set me straight too. He’s said, “If they pay you $2,500 a week you write whatever the fuck they want.”
Sesame Street fucking rocks, though, too. Sesame Street, I mean how can you not enjoy? He might be the only person whose resume includes SNL, Sesame Street, and Mike and Molly. Like, that is like the strangest combination. That’s like eating herring, liver and pickled pig’s feet; three disturbingly unlike things.
That’s awesome. Well congratulations! Is he still in LA, or back and forth?
He’s still in LA but he’s going to move here in the middle of August. Otherwise I’m going to have a husband who lives somewhere else.
Oh he’s moving to you?
Yeah and when he comes back? That’s when you take the writing classes again. That’s Michael’s stuff.
I took his portfolio workshop when I was getting my portfolio together
And it actually helped too! All those dittos and handouts he gave you?
Huge. Huge. Like 5 pages of notes from maybe a 45 minute session with him. I was just like, “wow!”
Awww! Michael’s going to be so happy that his shit worked!!
Very smart. That’s why I’m going to try and pull that kindness to, and give it to him too, and like slip him a few bucks and be like, “Hey, do you like this?” You know, just get some real feedback.
Absolutely. And when he comes back, like that’s a class that you’ll see an absolute payoff on, especially if you’re feeling driven. Chicago is a city where there is a tendency, we happen to be lazy unless we’re driven. So he’s good because he absolutely gives you succinct notes that you can re-apply right away. And he just actually sent me today, 25 pages of his new screenplay, and it’s awesome! I don’t say that ‘cause he’s mine, ‘cause if it was bad, I’d be like, “Love you, Michael.” Or “You’re great in bed- keep working at that writing thing!”
HAHAhahaha!! That’s very cool. When’s the marriage? …when’s the wedding!!! “Marriage”
“When’s the marriage?” Actually I’d be perfectly happy if we just went to City Hall, but we are getting married September 30th at the James Hotel here.
Well I’ve been married before. I married, uh, Joe Canale. And I had a lovely daughter with him. He now lives in Los Angeles but he comes back all the time to visit. He’s a great dad.
I didn’t know your love life, so, I feel like I know a little something about Sue now.
I’ve got 25 years of sleeping with some of the top names in comedy.
That’s great. Just what do you think makes Chicago so strong for Comedy?
We’re the epicenter of that shit!! We’re not afraid to fail because a glorious failure is a glorious success here, so people don’t have to worry about selling anything. I mean, its city process. So, New York and LA, they rock and I love them, but my friends there are really pushing productivity, not for shits and grins and joy, but because there’s a gun to their head. There’s no gun to your head in Chicago.
But being the place where no one cares to fail, big risk big reward, I mean I think that’s what it is.
It is yeah! I’m very fortunate to be part of Chicago comedy. I’ll do it forever or as long as they let me do it. If they’re dumb enough to do it, I’m smart enough to take it. YEAH, keep me there!
We had a lot of fun. Should we wrap it?
Brian and Chris are going to come to Messing With a Friend now. I think I’ve made a lover.
Yes. Absolutely. You’ve been beautiful as always, Susan, I appreciate the time.
Back at you. Come back and do level 2 and just slip in.
That’s very kind of you.
No, I’m serious. Cause you might as well get your money’s worth.
Susan Messing’s “Messing With A Friend” improv show is currently running at the IO Theatre in Chicago. You can get more details here.
|Brian Elles is an actor, comedian, and writer currently living in Chicago. Brian peruses to find the truth in comedy through improvisation, sketch review, parodies, and stand-up. Follow him on his website or Twitter @EllesExperience.|