The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

New Comedy Club 'Of, By, And For The South Side' Opens Wednesday

By Mae Rice in News on Jan 5, 2016 9:15PM

Photo of The Revival's exterior courtesy of John Stoops

A new comedy club in Hyde Park, fittingly called The Revival, opens Wednesday night at the same intersection—55th and University—where the Compass Players first invented improv in 1955.

Owner John Stoops has opened the theater not just at the same intersection, but on the exact same northeast corner where, decades ago, greats like Mike Nichols and Shelly Berman performed in a makeshift space.

Starting on Wednesday, the space will revisit that comedy legacy with the Lincoln Lodge, a 16-year-old stand-up comedy showcase. You can see the month’s full lineup here.

Stoops was inspired to open the theater not only by the corner’s history, but also by his own background in improv and sketch.

A native Chicagoan, Stoops got into the comedy scene in 1995, when he took his first job after college in downtown Chicago and “jumped into the Second City Training Center, with no previous theater experience whatsoever—no school plays, no nothing.”

He was hooked. Soon after, he moved to Amsterdam to perform in BOOM Chicago, which he calls “the Second City of Europe.” While he was there, he performed (and was roommates with!) Seth Meyers.

Ike Barinholtz, of The Mindy Project fame, also performed there, as did writers for Saturday Night Live, The Colbert Report, and every other late night show imaginable.

Photo of The Revival's interior courtesy of John Stoops

Stoops doesn’t think of The Revival as a stomping ground for all the famous people he knows, though. “The idea is, this is really of, by, and for the South Side of Chicago,” he said.

Though the North Side has historically had a borderline monopoly on sketch comedy venues, “We’re really excited to have a space on the South Side for this piece of a city.”

Stoops and his team are taking various steps bring in performers from outside the University community—a potential challenge, since the theater is practically on campus—including asking two prominent South Side comedians, Dave Helem and Felonius Munk, to curated a Saturday night showcase called The Green Room.

The theater will also develop local talent through improv classes, ranging from short, one-off workshops for kids to multi-week classes for adults, at prices “comparable to similar programs and classes throughout the city,” Stoops said. They’re currently taking applications, and they plan to have a class schedule by the end of the month.

The Revival already held some scattered shows in November and December, Stoops explained, but only to “figure out how to operate the bar taps, figure out how to swipe credit cards in our brand new register.”

Now, though, “we’re up and running, Wednesday through Saturday, for the rest of time,” Stoops said.