Last week, I took a short trip to Chi-Town for my b-day (because sometimes you just got to treat yo self) and it was amazing. So, for this week’s blog, I decided I would give you cool cats a little recap of my travels and encourage all you comedy lovers to hop a plane and head out to the Windy City sometime, too.
Ah, Chicago: a land of windy days, deep dish pizzas, and awesome Midwestern accents. It’s a magical place where hot dogs live on poppy seed-speckled buns and improv comedy resides on every street corner and seedy back alleyway. Seriously, with iO, The Second City, Zanies, The Annoyance Theatre, and a slew of others, it's no wonder why Chicago is largely considered America’s comedy capital. Thus, I was super pumped to be spending a few days there.
I stared out the window, enthusiastic to catch my first glimpse of the city below. I felt like a little kid that received a ticket to Wonka World (obviously, the Gene Wilder version, not the Johnny Depp travesty that will forever be synonymous with shame). I nearly wet myself out of excitement. In fact, I was so excited and caught up in my own giddy thoughts, that instead of saying, “Yes, ma’am” after the nice flight attendant lady asked if I would like something to drink, I replied with a triumphant, “Yes, mom.” Then, I immediately lowered my head in embarrassment and internally told myself to “calm your tits.”
But who was I kidding; I was fired-up and ready to explore this comedy nerd paradise. From the get go, I could tell this was going to be a grade-A trip, mostly because the O’Hare bathrooms had these lovely automatic cellophane seat covers. For me, that was a sign. A sign that the City of Chicago is a city that knows how to treat a girl, right down to the health and cleanliness of my own derriere, so clearly I would be in a for a good time.
For the majority of my trip, I spent my time putting one delicious thing in my belly after another. I ate, and ate, and ate some more. I believe I started eating as soon as I stepped off the plane and continued non-stop until I got back home to Texas, or shortly before as I realized I’d have to purchase an extra plane ticket for the massive food baby amassing in my abdomen. I think I might have been carrying food twins.
My first food stop: a place to get top-notch pizza. The original Pizano's on State Street has some of the best pizza and pasta you will ever be fortunate enough to shove in your piehole. If you don’t take my word for it, trust Oprah’s, as she fully endorses Pizano's too. They’ve got everything delicious, and cheesy, and Italian, that will make your tummy very, very happy. If you like seafood, head to Shaw’s Crab House. I had a tuna burger the size of my head there, and I ate the whole thing. No regrets. They have a full oyster bar and live jazz music, and it’s a ton of fun. Plus, there’s a karaoke bar right across the street, so your night is set. From gelato to cheese fries to gourmet popcorn and to a divine French toast bagel with maple cream cheese (try it at Fabcakes, highly recommend), I think I tasted it all.
The second night, I spent more than four hours laughing my butt off at Howl At The Moon, a dueling piano bar that is my new mental happy place. I was thoroughly content with the piano man’s renditions of my requests for "Don’t You Want Me" and "I Believe in a Thing Called Love." Because it was snowy and wet and generally cold out, I opted for more indoor activities. The Art Institute of Chicago is breathtaking and you can spend a full day there. Unfortunately, the Skydeck at the Willis Tower had zero visibility the day I went, but was still pretty cool to check out. It does cost a wazoo to do, but on a sunny day the view may be worth it. Also, it should be noted that the glass doors there are incredibly clean and they do hurt when you walk into them.
Without a doubt, though, the highlight of my trip was seeing a sketch revue at the The Second City Mainstage. As soon as I walked in, I immediately drooled over all the photos of its famous alumni. The faces of Bill Murray, Tina Fey, Alan Arkin, Stephen Colbert, Chris Farley, John Candy, and so many others adorn the Second City walls. I even touched a picture of Tina Fey’s face in the hopes that maybe it had magical comedy powers that could rub off on me. I also tried uber hard not to break into full fangirl mode and start crying like that one kid did during Sanjaya Malakar’s performance on American Idol (does anyone else remember that?).
The show, Fool Me Twice, Déjà Vu, was incredible. Playing with themes of re-occurring events and time out of joint, for the show’s second half the cast revisits its earlier bits with several hilarious callbacks, twisting the gags and reversing points of view to...wait for it...fool you twice. Selfie sticks, bad bitches, the staying power of Papa Roach, and gluten vs. non-gluten free diets are but a few of the many topics I found myself lol-ing over. The improv set I stayed to watch afterwards was super impressive and inspiring. How they managed to weave bee farms and arsenic-laced pancakes into hysterical scenes, I don’t even know. I bow down to them. I’m not worthy.
I was sad to have to return to Dallas, but alas my trip had to come to an end. No worries, I fully plan on going back in the near future. Chicago, you have my heart and also a pair of my socks, which I’m pretty sure I left on the dresser in the hotel. With that said, until we meet again, friend.
Have you been to Chicago and have cool stories, awesome trip recommendations, or general fun facts/trivia you’d like to share? If so, put them in the comments section below!
Lauren Levine is currently a Level 4 student at DCH. When she is not trying to come up with witty things for this blog, she is a freelance writer and editor, an amateur photographer, a Zumba-enthusiast, a dog lover, and an 80s movie nerd. In addition, she enjoys all things Muppet-related, the smell after a rainstorm, and people with soft hands.