Laughter and creativity is all around, Chicago


A couple of new installments to the Solo Life, my attempt to take advantage of all Chicago has to offer while also pushing myself out of the proverbial comfort zone —

A week or so ago I went to Write Club at the Hideout [with others].  Highly recommended!  Time Out’s take: Set up like a boxing match with three rounds, the night features dueling writers who are assigned two opposing themes (e.g., Fate versus Free Will or Mind versus Body) and are given exactly seven minutes to expound on the topic. Afterwords, I chatted with the host and he mentioned a few other literary events in bars he thought I might like.  And that’s how I ended up at Ricochet’s this past Saturday afternoon.

What first intrigued me about Paper Machete was the time.  3PM on a Saturday.  Odd times and unique venues have become draws for me [which is why I found myself giving a presentation at ING Direct a few weeks ago; a bank with no tellers that’s a coffeehouse?!?].  It was different and fun to be heading out to such an event during the day.  Unfortunately, Apple Fest, whatever that is, was going on a few blocks away, and a requirement to get in was that you have the ugliest dog dressed in the ugliest dog-sweater and the biggest, most obnoxious baby-stroller and a lack of care for others around you.  I had about twenty minutes to kill before the show, so found myself weaving in and out of that minefield.  Quickly regretted that decision.  Ricochet’s had been on my list of bars to check out for awhile.  It’s small, low-key, comfy, unpretentious.  The back area was full when I sidled up to the bar.  Billed as a live magazine and parlor show, Paper Machete has guests comment on current events.  The host dazzled the audience with a few songs and remarks, and then welcomed up the guests, including a guitarist.  The styles and topics were all very different, but all witty and interesting.  From Glenn Beck to Apple Fest to abortion in Mexico to being an aspiring playwright to homosexuality.  A fun and cheap [it’s free!] way to spend an afternoon.  I’d definitely go back.

Wednesday I headed the opposite direction, both literally [downtown] and figuratively [expensive], and went to see Ricky Gervais at the Chicago Theater.  Of course, as often happens when I’m trying to be by myself, I ran into friends within two seconds of stepping in the lobby.  Caught up with them and then excused myself to go be solo.  I first became aware of Ricky as the original Michael Scott in the original The Office, across the pond.  A Brit, of course I loved him instantly.   And then throw in wit, political incorrectness, and a willingness to laugh at oneself – I loved him passionately.  I haven’t been to a venue like the Chicago Theater in a long time, and never for a comedy show, always for a play or a concert.  What a great time!  The opening act, Tom Something or Other [sorry Tom], was hilarious.  Ricky was a natural, so comfortable on stage in front of a packed house, no um’s and ah’s.  He talked about Noah’s Ark, fat people, fear of flying, Africa, telling jokes at dinner parties, gay marriage, and how rich he is and we’re not.  Used a few props to complement his stories, a huge pointer-stick and a huge TV screen with shots of a book he won for “regular attendance” in elementary school, but other than that, it was just him, dressed in all back and running shoes, with a large can of some kind of drink.  I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time.  And it’s a weird wonderful feeling to belly-laugh along with hundreds of strangers.  What a majestic venue and a majestic entertainer.  Fully worth the ticket price.  I wish he’d come over and play some Taboo with me.