Fans of fast-paced, SNL-style sketch comedy punctuated with quirky dance moves will be able to see some of Elmhurst’s home-grown talent on stage at Second City this summer.
Second City, arguably one of the most prestigious stomping grounds for comedy greats like Tina Fey, Steve Carell, Bill Murray and Gilda Radner, has chosen the original show My Life’s Insane, created, written and performed by three Elmhurst teens, for a five-week run at Second City’s Donny’s Skybox Theatre. The show will run on Fridays, July 27 through Aug. 24.
You may remember the comedy trio—York students Michelina Boehmer, 16, Lizzy Rudakas, 16, and Kirsten Mose, 15—from a story Elmhurst Patch ran early this year. The girls, who call themselves Just Bust a Move (JBAM), had filmed a digital short to submit to the Ellen DeGeneres Show for “Ellen’s Dance Dare” back in January.
The girls met through Elmhurst Children’s Theatre, and later performed together as part of the ECT Comedy Troupe, Unintentionally Hilarious. Rudakas and Mose also have attended classes at Second City’s training center and have taken part in the Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival two years in a row.
Rudakas said the three of them applied for the chance to perform at Second City in March. By April, Rudakas received the email that their show had been chosen.
“I screamed,” Rudakas said. “I feel like it’s not even real.”
Amazing Capacity for Satire
Tim Soszco, their director, is an Elmhurst native who is now on the faculty of the Second City Training Center in Chicago. He met the girls when he was working with Elmhurst Children’s Theatre. Even then, Soszko recognized they were talented beyond their years.
“For their age, they have really great acting abilities, singing abilities, dancing abilities and the ability to write songs,” Soszko said. “All these things you wouldn’t expect a teenager to be able to do. It’s been amazing to watch them grow.”
Their age had nothing to do with JBAM's show being selected by Second City, however. Donny’s Skybox Theatre is for sketch comedy artists who have come out of the Second City Training Center—adults and youth alike. JBAM had to fill out an application, send resumes and submit a marketing plan before they were chosen among a pool of applicants of all ages.
JBAM is now in rehearsal mode, working hard to perfect their act. But even though it’s work, the teens say there is a lot of laughter between scenes.
“Comedy is hard to get serious about,” Mose said. “Since we’re all good friends, there’s a lot of, ‘Ok, we’ve gotta work now.’ ”
But when the three of them get together, it can be hard to stay on task—which is OK since it often results in new material.
“We’ll come into rehearsal and say, ‘Oh my gosh guys, the weirdest thing happened to me today,” Mose said. “Then we’ll be telling stories and we’ll say, ‘That would make such a great scene!' ”
My Life’s Insane is inspired by family parties, observations and strange things that have happened in the girls' lives.
“The majority of [the sketches] are based on real life, and then we just heighten it and make it a little more interesting,” Boehmer said. “My Life’s Insane is kind of an easy topic, because everybody’s life is, you know, a little insane.”
And this is why the show at Second City will appeal to all ages, Soszko said. As is expected with teenage comedians, their comedy touches on common themes, like parents, Facebook and apps, he said.
But then, they do a scene called ‘Lactose Intolerance,’ referring to an ethereal sketch that’s part avant-garde dance piece, part infomercial.
“Where did they come up with that?” Soszko said, shaking his head. “Why?"
He said they are so good, he often wishes he had come up with some of their sketches.
“I give them some of my highest praise when I tell them that while I’m watching their show, I’m actually getting upset. I’m like, ‘Shoot! I should’ve thought of this! I am so mad that I’m not doing this hilarious sketch.’ That’s how good they are.”
All three performers are avid fans of Saturday Night Live and list their comedy idols as Andy Samberg (Boehmer), Kristen Wiig (Mose) and Tina Fey (Rudakas). It's a heady realization knowing they'll be performing on the same stage where some of their role models once stood.
“That’s going to be so amazing,” Mose said. “This is our own show, something we wrote ourselves.”
The seamlessness of their friendship is reflected in the collaborative nature of My Life's Insane.
“It’s rare that there is a scene where just one of us actually did all the writing,” Mose said. “We do it all together.”
Boehmer said they work well together.
“We have this mental language kind of thing,” she said.
And while rehearsal is fun, all three teens agree that the actual performance is even better. The sound of the audience is what fuels them to give it everything they’ve got.
“You feel so much more energized, so much better about the work you’ve created to hear people laugh at it,” Rudakas said.
My Life's Insane will run at 7:30 p.m. Fridays, July 27 and Aug. 3, 10, 17 and 24, at Second City, 1608 N. Wells Street, in Donny's Skybox Theater. Tickets are now on sale at the Second City Box Office by calling 312-337-3992, or the Second City website.