I have lived in Chicago for exactly one month now, and the time has seemed to move very quickly. I know I’ll keep learning more and more about my new home, but I thought I could compose a collection of observations I’ve made regarding the differences between Chicago, IL, and Springfield, MO. Again, this is only a month’s worth…and some of those days were spent in Colorado.
First of all, there is so much comedy going on here than in Springfield. I knew that already, but I didn’t know just how much. And I still don’t – THERE’S TOO MUCH TO KEEP TRACK OF! Because I am not taking improv classes until August, my focus has been performing stand-up at open mics most nights of the week. I was talking to one of my friends on the phone and she was amazed that I regularly do stand-up at comic-populated open mics, like five or six days a week. To a normal person, without the strange ego/self hatred that fuels the need to hit the stage, that seems nuts. Why do that? Then I talk to another local comic, and I’m amazed when he tells me that he does five open mics on Monday alone. And I think how do I do that?
But, like Springfield open mics, there are folks here who consistently hit and consistently miss. That is the nature of an open mic. There are more showcases happening here, and there are more people who have done bigger things (working in comedy clubs, touring the country, opening for national acts, TV appearances…). At often comics are still comics. In the big city and the home town, comics still swear, comics still complain about being single, comics still use the Holocaust as a punchline, comics still bring their notebooks on stage to test their newest thoughts. But in Chicago you’re more likely to get to see a major act, and that’s pretty cool.
Next, a lot of these comedy folks look like me. Thin white dudes in their 20’s with bad beards and dark hair are everywhere. Especially in improv it seems. The varieties of my doppelgängers only appear slightly different, like how all the Batman action figures are pretty much the same, but some have gray suits, some have black suits, some have blue boots and gloves, some have a bright yellow logo, and some come with a weapon. Some “Tylers” wear thick framed glasses, some are tall, some have cool sneakers*, some wear plaid*, some have long hair, and so on. I’ve never wanted to be an ethnic woman so badly.
Despite a recent accident in which a taxi cab, um, inspired me to fall off my bike, I have felt incredibly safe riding my bike in the city. I’ve ridden a bike through cities as diverse as Springfield (MO), Sydney (Australia), and Chicago (IL) (also, those are the only cities I’ve ridden a bike through), and I definitely felt the least in-danger by cars in Chicago. Generally, cars make room for bicyclists, don’t honk at bicyclists, and let bicyclists whip past them when they’re miserably stuck behind a line of other cars during rush hour. And pedaling during times of high-traffic is pretty exciting. It’s like living in a video game where I have to dodge stationary and moving obstacles. Except I get a lot sweatier. And I promise it isn’t as dangerous as I just made it sound.
Umm, what else. Well, the obvious things. It’s colder here. It’s more expensive. A lot of the food is better, but not all of the food is better. There are fewer Walmarts. More concerts happen here. People stay out later. I stay out later.
Oh, here’s a thing: people care about sports here. Like, a lot. That’s weird. I mean, it’s weird to me that people care about sports anyway, but folks go ape here. I was out of town when the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup, and so I’m sorry I can’t give you a first-hand account of the celebration riot, but also I’m not sad I missed the insanity. Apparently sidewalks were fenced off to keep bar-dwelling celebrators away from cars on the streets (surely for the protection of the cars). There were shops broken into, windows broken, unpredictable jovial raging. Policemen were on horseback (that’s how you know this is the real deal). And all of that is when the Blackhawks won. That was how people reacted when something good happened. What if they had lost? Or what if the Cubs ever won anything?
So those are the main differences that stand out to me right now, as I’m still a rookie Chicagoan. Maybe I’ll have some real “deep cuts” by my six month anniversary. Thanks for reading.
*me, for example