The Annoyance Theater turns 25 this weekend and that is an amazing, wonderful thing. A long time ago, when I first started taking improv classes in Chicago, I was lucky enough to have Mick Napier as my improv teacher at Second City. It was a great combination with my Del class at iO… I would have Del on Mondays and then Mick on Tuesdays. And Susan Messing was my iO team coach! And I was on an independent team with Joe Bill! I had my own mini-Annoyance school structure going.. with all that excellent mentoring you would think I’d be a much, much better improviser.
I have been in exactly two shows (only once each) at the Annoyance. Susan Messing was kind enough to let me play with her (“Messing With a Friend”) once and that was such great fun. And once, once! I got to play with the anarchic, profane and hilarious Screw Puppies. I think Peter Gwinn was in that show with me, as well. (in hindsight, I may have been asked because I was sitting next to Peter when they asked and I just wandered along…) It was amazing.
The old Clark Street space was the greatest place for a theater ever. Almost cavernous with all sorts of weird nooks and crannies. I saw way too many shows there and even went to a couple of strange and odd parties. The first few CIF shows and parties were there and those were amazing.
Rich Sohn is one my favorite all time improvisers and I was lucky enough to be on an iO team with him (“The Pat Shay Dancers”). He’s a teacher at the Annoyance and you should take a class with him. Ask for him by name- you’ll be glad you did.
Happy Birthday, Annoyance, you magnificent bastard. Here’s to 25 more!!