Filtering by Category: about us
Just Joking Guys!
Today I was reading an excellent essay by Kelly Leonard about Donald Trump's comments yesterday. To catch you up Trump made what he is calling a joke...here it is:
""Hillary wants to abolish, essentially abolish the Second Amendment," Trump said. "By the way, and if she gets to pick — if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know."
I was even tagged on facebook by a friend even asking...what do you think...was this a joke?
Well...yes I do think it was meant to try to pander to his audience in hopes to elicit a laugh. But his joke construction was poor, and his content was mean (not to mention you should not ever ask people to shoot public figures...because some folks don't understand you aren't being serious. Its like talking about bombs in an airport. We now know that to be inappropriate no matter how much you are joking).
Comedy can be used for biting social satire, but we should use it to talk about things that either have not been talked about or haven't been talked about enough. AND we should ALWAYS punch up.
I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes and I am not sure who said it...but Martin DeMaat said it to me first "Keep them laughing and then slip the truth in while their mouths are open"
We would love for you to chime in on this. Tell us what you think on Facebook.
Links Hall is a Poke Stop!
Do you wanna be the very best? Like no one ever was?... WE DO!
We're obsessed with PokemonGo and since our building is a PokeStop we are going to post a contest!
For the next two weeks if you tag us and use the hastag #UTGPokeMe on Facebook, Twitter, or Instragram you will be entered in to win a Pokemon Date Night on us! Two tickets to any show you choose, two drinks, and two Lure Modules in the game! We will drop a Lure 30minutes before the show and directly after the show so you can catch Pokemon to your hearts content and enjoy a great night out!
#UTGPokeMe will run from July 25-Aug 5. Winner will be chosen at random and posted at 6pm on Friday Aug 5. Tag us on Twitter and Instagram @utgtheater and Facebook @undertheguntheater
We are offering Team Building & Soft Skill Training with our new partner Improve It Chicago!
Our workshops are typically two hours in duration but can be modulated to fit your needs. We offer six different workshops that train on specific soft skills:
- Team Building / Collaboration
- Effective Communication
- Presentation Skills
- Taking Initiative / Creative Risk
- Thinking Quickly on Your Feet
In these interactive workshops, attendees will participate in an interactive lecture and series of improvisation-based exercises led by professional improvisers. A thesis statement is set at the beginning of each workshop, and attendees will then participate in a series of improvisational activities that relate back to the key message. After each activity, a debrief is held to relate back to the key message, and an action plan is put into place.
This experiential way of learning will bring people together in ways that no other activity can!
To book a workshop with us please email [email protected]
Here are a select list of Clients and Testimonials:
Erin delivered several improve it! workshops at United and each session was energetic, entertaining and extremely valuable. Her approach is unique and a welcomed change to the standard training presentations we are used to in a corporate environment. The feedback from participants was very positive and the lesson (improving presentation skills) was well received. Erin is a pleasure to work with and great at what she does. I’d highly recommend improve it!
–Jessica Montanez | Recruiter | United Airlines | Chicago, Illinois
Erin and her team did a wonderful job demonstrating team building skills. The team was very engaging and energetic; they were able to get us energized bright and early in the morning! The exercises were very valuable in the workplace and allowed us to break out of our shells!
What a great way to wake up! The improve it! team got everyone out of their comfort zones in a safe, fun and nurturing environment. The skills they passed along impact every area of our business. Certainly worthwhile for any company!
—Illinois CPA Society | Chicago, Illinois
improve it! was an amazing opportunity for my organization to team build. It took my colleagues and myself out of our comfort zones in an appropriate manner and really was a creative, spirited, and relevant afternoon away from the office. I truly and thoroughly enjoyed myself!
We will be offering our stage on Sunday and Wednesday nights to outside theater companies for rent. We have a large stage, nearly 100 seats, a full bar, LED light system and a professional sound system.
Here are the time slots available in September and October:
- Wednesdays at 7:30pm
- Wednesdays at 9:00pm
- Sundays at 6:00pm
- Sundays at 7:30pm
- Sundays at 9:00pm
Under The Gun Rentals Info & FAQ
Hello and thank you for your interest in renting Under The Gun Theater for your production this summer. Here is some information on your rental agreement.
AVAILABLE TIME SLOTS
7pm setup time, 7:30pm curtain, struck by 8:30pm
8:30pm setup time, 9pm curtain, struck by 10:00pm
5:30pm setup time, 6pm curtain, struck by 7:00pm
7pm setup time, 7:30pm curtain, struck by 8:30pm
8:30pm setup time, 9pm curtain, struck by 10:00pm
The rent for a 60 minute performance slot is $150, plus 50% of all ticket revenue above $150. Rental payments will be directly taken from box office sales and remittance will be paid (or due) no later than 7 days after the closing of the production. 5% is deducted from all credit card transactions.
WHAT YOU PROVIDE
You must provide artwork for our website (minimum 600 wide x 450 pixels tall).
You must provide any printed materials you wish to display on site.
You must provide two different individuals to work your front of house (one to run sound/lights and one to usher)
You must do your own promotions and marketing.
WHAT WE PROVIDE
We will sell your tickets on our website
You have the option to have us list your shows for 50% discount on HotTix.org and Goldstar.com
We will provide box office staff
We will provide a bar tending staff
We will give you a 2 hour block of tech on our stage at an available time (likely late night)
If you have questions, contact Angie McMahon at [email protected]
It all started during a self-destructive spiral of depression after I found out my boyfriend of three years was cheating on me. I was 21 and thought I had everything figured out. I had moved across the world (London) for him, and I had a very specific life I envisioned that had just fallen apart in the form of a Facebook message chain I found by Sherlock-ing the hell out of his account.
I turned to excessive drinking and partying to numb the feelings I was too frightened to face. I was too wrapped up in my own pity party that I didn’t realize my two protective and very supportive brothers had noticed. One of them decided enough was enough, and signed me up for my very first improv class to give me an outlet to express myself while also making friends.
I initially thought to myself. But as the alarm rang on that polar vortex Sunday morning I got up and got my hungover ass over to class. And I loved it. I loved every minute of my silly, goofy first-level improv class. I felt that way about all of my classes, until the final level.
We’ll come back to that…
Meanwhile, I got my shit together and graduated college (yasss queen) all the while locking down a full-time job at a small tech company. I was starting to feel better, but as I got more confident, I got more social. That’s when the comments started during my improv class. There was an older man who would make comments during scenes that were mildly uncomfortable, or take the time to remind me that I should ‘date older men’ during drinks after class. There was one particular scene where we were on a date and it was just comment after comment. I was so visibly uncomfortable and just praying to hear, “Scene!” Then my instructor said, “Accept his compliments. This is the reality of the scene!” I decided this was no reality that I wanted to be a part of, and I peaced.
I was frustrated. Comedy had been my outlet for frustration, so it was frustrating to be frustrated with my frustration outlet. That’s when I saw a fundraiser for Under the Gun Theater, a new comedy club in Wrigley. And look at that! They were offering improv classes for like half the price of other comedy clubs. I was sold. I signed up.
It was a new space. The bar wasn’t built, and the people in my class were all a little awkward because we all came from different comedy backgrounds.
I went to my first Under The Gun show that weekend, and was impressed that the majority of players on the stage were women. Turns out, the ensemble was split exactly in half with an equal number of men and women. I was not, however, impressed that there was nobody designated to work the box office that night.
“Hey, uh, do you guys need help on the weekends with the box office?”
As I started volunteering at the box office, I was reaching just over six months at my full-time job. I was happy, and it showed. But as it happened with my improv class, it started happening at my full-time job.
It started with dick pics. We’d be at an event for clients when my (now former) boss would approach me and whip out a dick pic. Like what! Sir! No! Completely unsolicited, but what was I to do? We were with clients, how could I react? It’s the audacity he had that caught me off guard.
At first, I tried to laugh it off. I mean, I had a full-time, salary job right after graduating. I should be so lucky, right? And it wasn’t just me he showed them to, he showed them to other female coworkers too. They seemed unphased, or if anything, amused. So I was probably just overreacting.
Then, the texts started. He would text me during after hours. One such incident occurred after a client event (which I was starting to absolutely DREAD going to), where he asked for my address because he was coming over. When I didn’t respond, he asked me about it at work the next day. I didn’t know what I should do. I felt naive, I felt dramatic, and I started to feel worthless. I’d show up to work 20 minutes late every day. Dress pants turned to sweat pants while button ups turned to hoodies.
I started spending more time at Under the Gun. There, I felt the complete opposite of how I felt at work. I could wear my cute*, 22-year-old clothes and laugh and smile knowing that nobody would “take it the wrong way” or take advantage of me in a public place the way he did with those pictures. And should anyone make me uncomfortable, there were at least 7 to 10 ensemble members who would put them in their place because Under the Gun is where people say “I have your back” and actually mean it.
*cute is subjective.
It’s because of the love and respect I felt and saw at Under the Gun that made me realize I should never let anyone make me feel less than I am just because they’re signing my paycheck. I finally got the courage to talk to my manager.
“That’s his humor, if you don’t like it then don’t work here.”- my former manager
I was like, for real? You’re going to tell me what humor is? I WORK at a comedy club, you dingus.
So began my job hunt. Three months and several ‘client events’ later, I found my current job at a fantastic company. Unfortunately, the transition was overwhelming so I had to make the tough decision and bid farewell to Under the Gun after 10 months of working there.
I cried and cried my last night at Under The Gun.
“Don’t be a stranger”
After several months, I finally felt settled in with my life. Minus not being involved in comedy, I felt like I was in a good place! Things were looking up. That was until…
“Someone has been roofie-ing comedians at open mics”
What in the actual fuck? I couldn’t believe it. Really? Roofies at open mics? I feel like I know a lot of comedians from Under The Gun and standup mics, but, if I don’t know you, I associate you with the comedians I do know and therefore consider you a friend. How could I get involved? How can I help? I am so sorry to anyone who was affected by the selfishness of this loser, low life.
That’s when I heard about a networking event for a group called Women in Comedy. WIC aims to empower, connect and advocate for women in comedy. After my experiences, I was excited to help and do what I can to give back to a community that had given me my confidence and voice back. So when someone asked…
“Any idea where we could host an all-male panel discussion?”
So, without further ado (did you really think you’d get through this post without me pitching something?)
Join Women in Comedy and Under the Gun Theater this Sunday for our all-male panel discussion to open up the dialog with male comedians in the community!
- Time: 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.
- Price: FREE
- Where: Under the Gun Theater (obv)
- Kevin Mullaney: Co-Founder Under The Gun Theater
- Padraic Connelly: ComedySportz Theater
- Scott Dikkers: Founder The Onion, Head of Second City Writing With The Onion Program
- Matt Fox: Ensemble Member Under The Gun Theater, Creator of Improvised Mythology
- Antoine McKay: Fox Network’s Empire
- Patrick Rowland: 3Peat, Creator Barack All Night
- Prateek Srivastava: Co-Producer of SimmerBrown Comedy and Snack Attack Comedy
- Seth Wanta: Creative Marketing Manager at Catharsis Productions, Director of Marketing for the iO Comedy Network.
Moderated by Victoria Elena Nones, Executive Director, Women In Comedy
Doors open at 3:15pm.
Audition to become a member of the Under The Gun Theater Ensemble.
Under The Gun Theater is a comedy theater. We create shows which feature improv, sketch comedy, storytelling, standup, music and more. We are looking to add many new players to our ensemble. We value diversity at Under The Gun Theater and hope to expand the variety of voices in our cast.
Nearly all of our shows are created by our ensemble. And our ensemble members are invited to participate in many shows each month. For more info, check out these 11 reasons why you should want to be in the Under The Gun Ensemble.
The auditions will consist of improvisation, since a plurality of our shows are improvised. Our second round of the process will be an interview where you will be asked to provide an example of comedy writing, if you have any.
Auditions will take place at the Under The Gun Theater at 956 West Newport in Chicago on Sunday, February 28th and March 1st. Grab your audition slot at SignupGenius:
Making a Better Creative Culture
by Kevin Mullaney - February 6, 20160
The following is a message that we sent out to all of the students in our Apprentice Program:
I wanted to reach out to all of the students in the Apprentice Program to let you know that we are committed to providing a safe space for students to grow as performers. Behavior that creates the kind of atmosphere that leads to people dropping out of classes or pulling back from performances is unacceptable.
Over the last couple of years, my business partner, Angie McMahon, and I have spoken many times about how important it is for our theater to be a welcoming place for all. We strive to have a diverse ensemble with many different voices. We’ve delighted in a cast that is split evenly among men and women, and we’ve enjoyed many nights when women have outnumbered men on stage. In short, being a safe space for students and performers to grow, is fundamental to the kind of community we are trying to build.
So, I wanted to let you know what is happening behind the scenes. We are in the process of developing a specific policy to handle issues concerning diversity, discrimination and harassment. We are also putting in place methods to allow students to submit complaints and concerns confidentially. We have asked one of our managers, Surena Pridgen, to be our new Student Liaison. She is former student from the Apprentice Program and has ties throughout the community.
We welcome feedback at any time. You should feel free to contact your teachers or the owners: Angie McMahon or me, Kevin Mullaney. However, you can choose to contact Surena instead, through email or through a form where you can choose to be anonymous. Our contact information and the form will be found here:
Please note that we have not finalized the form, but it should be found at that link within the week.
Lastly, we would like to make clear that intimate relationships between teachers and the students they are currently teaching is not allowed. Teachers should not be making sexual advances toward students, nor should students toward teachers. In addition, please be respectful of your fellow students. Unwanted sexual advances between any two people at the theater is not acceptable.
On a personal note, my early years in the improv world were an amazing time for me. I grew as an artist and performer. I also gained confidence socially and made many friends who have remained close two decades later. I hate knowing that there are performers who have had that experience tainted or damaged by a culture that often does not make them feel welcome. We should all be committed to creating a better culture for ourselves and those who come after us.
Under The Gun Theater
Reprinted with permission by Gabe Caruso
Man, there are sure are a lot of us white male improvisers here in Chicago, aren’t there? I know what you’re thinking? We should start a group with other white, male, improvisers! WRONG! You know what we need? Diversity! Wait, did I say WE need diversity? I’m sorry I meant COMEDY needs diversity! That’s what I meant to say.
Now I know what you’re thinking: But if we have diversity then there won’t be as many opportunities for white, male, improvisers. God dammit white male improvisers! You are all so stupid! Not only are you wrong, but you are missing the entire point. Let’s take a couple steps back and look at comedy for a second. We will only use things that you know so we can continue to have a conversation.
What was your favorite show growing up? No it was not Ally McBeal, buddy, it was Family Guy you simple, fucking idiot. What was that show about? Oh, a fat white guy and his dumb, white family. Goddamit they’re so white that their fucking dog is white. What other show did you like? Oh, Boy Meets World? Oh what was that show about? A white guy who goes to a white school, and falls in love with that white girl, but oh wait, he’s always getting yelled at by that white teacher. Isn’t that show great! So both of your favorite shows involved all white dudes, with the exception being white girls, who fill the roles of wife, daughter, and off-again-on-again girlfriend. WHAT AN EARTH SHATTERING CONCEPT!
I know what you’re thinking: but if we improvise with women or non-white people, I’ll have to assign them roles that only women or non-white people have, right? JESUS FUCKING CHRIST WHITE MALE IMPROVISERS! ARE YOU ALL THIS STUPID? NO! Don’t worry, I am here to help you out. See, when I first started doing improv in this city with an independent team it was a two person group called Truly Terrified. My partner was the funniest person in our class, and she also happened to be a lesbian. Shut up you stupid WMI. Lesbians are not like that. Our scenes were successful because they were scenes between two people. I treated her like a person, and she treated me like a person. That’s it. We didn’t have scenes where we talked about threesomes, or about her making out with women. We didn’t have scenes where we talked about dildos or how she would never be attracted to me. We had scenes about the waiter talking to the chef about hating where he was at in life, and scenes where we had to talk about our mom dying. You know, real funny stuff.
A couple years later I was on a different two person team called Gray Star with a very talented and accomplished performer who happened to be a black woman. She’s a very close friend of mine, and outside of our scenes we would discuss racial issues.
Side note, let me show you the proper steps on having racial discussions with minorities:
- Keep your mouth shut
Now I know you have so many important things to say you WMI, but now is not the time. You don’t have to explain the white experience to black people or hispanic people. They watched the same shitty episodes of Family Guy and Boy Meets World that you did. They get it. You, however, didn’t grow up watching UPN, and since there is more to being black than what rap videos show, now you have to listen. If you really feel the need to talk during these discussions, just try processing what they said and repeating it back to them and saying, “do I have that right?” at the end of it. Now is the time for learning.
Now back to the story. Because we are close friends and are comfortable talking about racial issues, we would sometimes use our artform called “improv” to skillfully talk about race and the differences between our worlds. Now some of these scenes were golden, and the ones that were the best were the ones were the ones where my partner would take control of the scene. She was after all, the funnier one, and she knew I was there to support her. She felt comfortable with me saying just about anything to her on stage because she trusted me outside of our scenes, and she knew I would never do something stupid like making her my maid, or my mistress inside of the scenes. She knows that when I hop on stage with her she will always be an equal or a higher status than me, unless she chooses low status. That is the key. So here’s what I’m saying you stupid, white, male improvisers. Comedy is not just fart jokes you make on your couch. Comedians come from a proud tradition. We come from court jesters who were often the only people who dared make fun of the kings and Queens. We come from clowns who punched up by making fun of the aristocrats. We come from people who challenged governments and religions and showed us new ways to think about things, and make us laugh during the process. Comedy historically has been a tool that has been used to highlight injustices while attempting to dismantle the systems that are allowing them to continue existing. We cannot allow comedy to fall victim to these injustices by continuing to push only white male voices to the forefront. We need to hear from those whose voices aren’t heard. You have so many privileges in this Chicago improv community, and everywhere else you will go in the world. I promise you that the best thing you can do with your voice right now on stage, is use it to give light to someone else’s.
Now for the love of god, please go talk to someone who doesn’t look like you. And shave that fucking moustache. You look like a real douchebag.
By Maya Haughton
Under the Gun Theater is home to an ensemble of more than 50 comedians of varying backgrounds. Because the theater is so new, I wanted to share some information about Under The Gun from the perspective of some of our actors. I interviewed a couple of original members our ensemble, Claire Swanson and Catharine Savage.
1. What made you decide to audition for Under the Gun Theater?
Claire: I had worked with Angie McMahon twice for Writing 6 shows at Second City and had a great time. When I heard she was one of the founders, it was a no-brainer!
Catharine: I had taken a class with Kevin Mullaney earlier that year called “Game of the Scene.” And it took my improv to the next level. I had been improvising for about a year, and Kevin’s class gave me a boost of confidence that I could navigate any scene. Plus, he gave me my first opportunities to improvise in front of an audience. I knew that being part of his ensemble would continue to challenge me as an improviser, would offer me more chances to perform, and would all around, be the kind of place where I could try things and explore.
2. What is it like being a member of a large ensemble?
Claire: I really love it. I get to be a part of as much as I want but I don’t feel a pressure if I can’t step up. We’re all busy so sometimes a small group can be a bit claustrophobic in how much they need you. Plus I’ve met so many amazing and talented people!
Catharine: Being part of this big ensemble is wonderful. Some of my closest friends in the comedy community I met through Under the Gun. The diversity of talent constantly pushes me to get better. And they are all a bunch of lovable goofballs who make me laugh.
3. What are some of the shows you’ve performed in and which was your favorite?
Claire: Have to give a big shout out to Horrible Fun, there’s a great energy for that show. Also, I have loved being a part ofPorn Minus Porn. I’m very grateful to host a weekly open mic at the theater too which has been an amazing experience.
Catharine: I’ve performed in a whole bunch! Horrible Fun, Based on a True Story, Improvised Movie, The Bachelor parody. Hard to pick a favorite. I will say that Based on a True Story is consistently a fun show. I like that anyone in the ensemble can jump in, and because the form is pretty open, I like seeing what the other ensemble members come up with. I always learn something from a move another cast member makes.
4. What sets Under The Gun apart from other theaters/venues where you’ve performed?
Claire: The ensemble! I’ve never been a part of a group that is so talented. Everyone brings something so amazing and unique to the table.
Catharine: Kevin and Angie take such good care of us. Even when it seems impossible to weigh the opinions of 40-something ensemble members, they do. They listen to us, they actively seek our feedback and suggestions, and they give us chances to try things. Under The Gun is comedy home. I love that it offers me the flexibility to be as involved as I want.
5. Under the Gun has shows every Thursday-Sunday night. How is the show content generated? Do you get to pitch ideas for shows?
Claire: I believe if you’re an ensemble member you can pitch a show any time! I really enjoy how included the ensemble is in creating shows and their content.
Catharine: The ensemble pitches the shows! It’s real cool! Because of that, Under The Gun has done improv, sketch, storytelling, cold reads of porn scripts, TV show parodies, etc. The diversity in content comes from the diversity of the ensemble.
Catharine has trained at The Second City, iO, and Black Box Acting Studio. In addition to shows at Under The Gun, she currently performs with ’99 Problemz, an improvised 90s sitcom. Claire has studied at iO, The Annoyance and has completed the conservatory at The Second City.
Often people will contact the theater and ask about nearby parking. Parking around the theater is actually quite simple. Just follow these guidelines:
Parking before 6pm, Monday – Saturday?
Then the best place to park would be on a residential side street, marked in green. At 6pm you will need to move your car, since you need a residential parking permit to park there between 6pm and 6am.
Is it after 6pm, Monday – Saturday?
Then the best place to park would be either of the areas marked in yellow or orange on the map above. These are metered spots, but they are free after 6pm. They are often full by 7 or 8 pm, especially on the weekend. So you may want to look for a metered spot in the areas marked in red, blue or purple.
Parking on Sunday before 8pm?
Then the best places to park would be the areas marked in yellow or blue. These parking spots are free on Sunday. The meters on Clark Street and Sheffield (south of, but not north of, Newport) are enforced on Sundays until 8pm.
Is it after 8pm on Sunday?
Any metered spot should be free after 8pm on Sunday.
Parking after 9pm on Friday or Saturday or on a day when there is a Cubs game?
Then don’t park in the area marked in red on the map. That is a tow zone. There are meters which say you can park until 10pm there, but don’t believe it. You will receive a ticket and be towed after 9pm.
Parking between 5pm and 6pm on a day when there is a Cubs night game?
Then you can’t park on many of the streets marked in green, because those zones are only for residents with valid permits, starting at 5pm when there is a Cubs night game.
Parking at a meter for more than 2 hours?
You can, but you need to use the app for your phone and load it with your credit card (iOS/Android). You can put the maximum number of hours on the app and then 10 minutes before your time is up, you will get a notification. You can extend your parking for another couple of hours. There are various fees and restrictions which will make this seem more expensive than it should be and that might make you angry, but it’s less expensive than the various lots nearby.
What about parking at the $5 lot?
It’s fine, but the $5 price is misleading. It’s $5 for the first 30 minutes. It’s more like $20 or $25 if you want to park there all night.
What if your head hurts after reading this?
Don’t drive. Take a cab, an Uber, a Lift, the Clark Street bus (#22), the Red line train to Addison, or the Brown line train to Belmont.
See wasn’t that simple? Thanks, Chicago, for making things so straightforward.