In order to alleviate the withdrawal pains when our Tuesday night Risk, Play, and Relationship classes ended, we finally used our Christmas present from SisDER, Sammy, and Paul from last year and booked tickets at The Second City to see the critically acclaimed Between Barack and a Hard Place. Our last class was on the 6th, so we went to the SC on the 13th. Shannon had never seen a show there, and The Second City is one of my favorite places to go in Chicago so we were both very excited. Neither of us was disappointed. The actors were excellent (especially Joe Canale who did an awesome south side guy giving an audio tour of the Art Institute - our favorite sketch of the night!), and the timing was great. We agreed there was only one scene that left us with a "...huh." feeling, and ...I can't remember what that scene was, so it's like it never happened and the show was therefore flawless!
JoFact: The Second City was the first place I drove to in The City - before I even had my license! (#379 on the list of "Things My Parents Never Wanted to Know.")
In keeping with our Tuesday night tradition whilst taking our clown classes, I took the Metra downtown to meet Shannon, then we went to eat. Instead of going to My Thai,* though, we decided to try something new - I took Shannon out for pizza at Coalfire,* reported by Time Out - Chicago magazine to have the best thin crust pizza in Chicago.
It was really good pizza, and I would argue that it is the best I've had in Chicago. Bella Napoli in New York may be better, but I'd have to have lunch at Coalfire, take a taxi to ORD, fly out to NY, and have dinner at Bella Napoli to be absolutely certain. It's that good.
I got the white pizza, which I'd never had before, and Shannon had the margarita with onions. Both were excellent! I was especially pleased with mine, though: I'd never had a white pizza before, and this, our waiter's favorite, was a delicious introduction to a whole 'nother world of pizza!
From Coalfire we walked back to the Brown Line and took the El to Sedgewick - a platform you couldn't have paid me to stand on after dark back when I was taking classes at the Second City in 1992. Now it's all fulla trendies, just like the Western stop in our neighborhood! I tell you, Mayor Daley's doing something right - he's somehow turned all the riff raff and gangbangers into trendies, DINKs, hipsters, and yuppies with their puppies (of both the two and four legged variety). It really is pretty awesome to be able to safely take the El and get off a block south of North Ave. and walk the 3 blocks to Piper's Alley rather than driving and illegally parking across the street in the Treasure Island lot where you'd be fretting through half the show - the half before the Chicago River specialty drink served in a souvenier glass kicked in - that maybe you'd leave the show only to find your car had been spotted and towed while you'd been chuckling away at the antics on the Mainstage.
I really did feel old talking to Shannon as we approached the Sedgewick stop: "Back in my day, a suburban girl like me wouldn't even think of parking a half block south of North Ave. for fear of being carjacked or raped or worse! Back in my day, this was all burned out buildings, now it's full of 1-bedroom condos starting at $600,000.00! 1-bedroom! Back in my day Corcoran's was called The Last Act and I spent the better part of 2 years there. Now it's owned by a high school classmate of mine. Good on ya, Eamon! Small world. Back in my day O'Rourke's had the best pint of Guinness in the city. You'd have liked that bar, Shannon. It was quiet. Dark wood. Very authentic pub feel. I'm still sad they had to closed. Heck, so's the Steppenwolf! They took the bar and use it in their sets once in a while! Great place, O'Rourke's.
Back in my day Jim Zulevic and Chris Farley and Martin deMaat and Don dePollo were all still alive and three of them were teachers of mine and, God, Don - he was one of the nicest, most cheerful people I've ever met in my life. Don, along with people like Adrian Danzig and Rachel Dratch and Molly Brennan and Tina Fey and Mick Napier, and you, Shannon, and each of the Buttresses and Mugsy - who, by the way, is actually responsible for getting me back into improv after what was a 5-year hiatus - Don was a guy who, if you felt down on Chicago improv and wondered why the heck you wanted to be involved at all - I mean, it was hard! And just like in retail, it seemed the pushier people, the takers, the loud ones, the "LOOK AT ME!!!!'s HEY! OVER HERE!!!!"-types were the ones who were getting ahead, getting noticed and why would you even want to be involved in that anyway? Then you'd talk to Don for, like, 15 seconds and be like, "...Yes. THAT's why I got into improv. Because it's supposed to be fun. Really fun. And when I do my best, when I'm on, it's the closest thing to flying there is."
At this point Shannon asked if I could just give the woman our gift card so we could find our seats. Oh, and would I please stop talking like Dana Carvey's old man character? That'd be great.
We got to sit RIGHT UP AGAINST THE STAGE, just off center. We were sitting so close to the actors that during the performance one of the actors slapped my hand because "white people dig that shit!"
Thank you Kelly and Paul and Sammy for treating us to such a fun night out!
Barack Obama will actually attend Between Barack and a Hard Place next Friday, December 7 at 5PM. Tickets are only $750. Act now! I'd be a little miffed if I were the Second City, though. They'll be raising all that money for him, and he didn't even put the event on his Website. The event he DID put on his Website for December 7 - he'll be attending the Go Chicago concert at 8:00PM - will only be raising $75 a ticket. What is it with this man and the numbers 7 and 5, anyway?
Here are two random shots taken while walking from the Art Institute to Coalfire:
Then from Coalfire to the Brown Line at Chicago:
Good thing it wasn't open - it was a superpricytrendy furniture store fulla superpricytrendy expensive things, and I would have just had to buy something - just to get a bag.
* JoPetPeeve: Why, WHY doesn't the restaurant's home page come up on the first page when you Google a restaurant? I don't CARE what ChowHounds and UrbanSpoons and CenterStagers and Yelpers and MetroMixers have to say about Coalfire and My Thai, I want to see the restaurants' home pages! And they get harder and harder to find! I'm glad there are sites that collect reviews from people who've actually eaten at these restaurants - Lord knows I was on Yelp offering my opinion of Bhabi's Kitchen's atrocious service 10 minutes after I got home, but most of the time I know exactly where I want to go and just want to see the restaurant's menu and hours. I don't want to find this information on a third party website, I want the ACTUAL Website. And it's getting harder and harder to find the actual Website for almost any restaurant! Even when you add "menu" to the search, all that gets you is some "helpful" review site giving you their menu recommendations. I just. Want. The restaurants'. Home. Pages. Is that so much to ask???