The Vic Theatre in Chicago is known for showcasing acts that endlessly entertain and delight audiences – and an upcoming event on September 15 will be no exception. Chicago’s own Pat McGann will take the historic stage for two shows to present the comedic material that he has spent the last year perfecting.
“I’m really looking forward to it. We were looking for a great theater in Chicago and The Vic really is exactly what we had in mind,” said McGann. “It’s intimate, it’s historic, it’s got the classic look of a theater. There have been some specials shot there that look really great on tape and I’m glad we were able to get that venue.”
McGann has been traveling as the opening comic for Chicago-native, Sebastian Maniscalco. However, this show is a bit of a role shake-up, as McGann headlines and Maniscalco is serving as producer for the show’s live taping – as this performance will be used as a special. “For [Sebastian] to put his name on this and be behind it, it’s the biggest thing you can do for another comic,” expressed McGann. “I’m really floored by him putting himself out there and going out of his way to try and pull me up the ladder a little bit.”
Growing up, McGann was a fan of comics like Eddie Murphy, Jerry Seinfeld, Dana Carvey, and Ellen DeGeneres. He also expressed that Chris Rock’s work was a big influence on him. “When his specials came out, that was a huge shift in stand up, for me,” McGann said of the comic. When it came to late night comedy, McGann’s go-to was always David Letterman. When asked about his proudest career accomplishment, McGann expressed having the opportunity go on Letterman’s show. “That to me was the biggest thing,” remembered McGann. “That was really the goal of mine that I set out to and it was the only late night show that I submitted to. I was such a fan of David Letterman, that even now that his show is gone, it almost means more to me that I was able to do that.”
One of the current major conversations surrounding stand up comedy is the audiences’ receptiveness to the material. A common thought is that most people are easily offended by virtually anything said on stage, but this is something McGann finds to be a misconception. “I don’t think the audiences have changed as much as people have perceived that to be. I think that the online chatter and reaction to stand up is not even very real. You might see that online, but conversations when you see people, they’re not like, ‘oh I was so offended by Dave Chappelle, or what Chelsea Handler said, or what Whitney Cummings said’, it’s more like people being ridiculous online and policing things,” explained McGann. “I think that the audiences are still great. I think they’re smarter than they used to be, in a sense. I think they’re more sophisticated and you can’t really fool them without being real. The biggest change in comedy is that it’s real now – you have to be real and authentic or they will smell it on you a mile away.”
The man of the hour hails from Chicago’s south side and says that this show will have a very Chicago feel to it. McGann has found humor in everyday life – enough so that he’s been able to make a successful career out of it. His material has shifted from more observational jokes to content that directly relates to his life, such as being a husband and father. The importance of this material is that it is authentic and can make the audience relate. “You’ve gotta have a point of view, and it helps if you’re talking about your life and real experiences and people will relate to you – that’s what [the audience] wants, they want to connect with you, and find that’s why it’s funny,” said McGann. “I think where I most connect with people is talking about real stuff.”
The first show is at 5pm and the second is at 7:30pm, additional information and tickets can be found here. McGann and Maniscalco will re-team in Chicago on November 2, as they take their tour to the United Center. The dynamic duo will continue to amuse audiences while teaching each other a thing or two. “The biggest thing I’ve learned while working with Sebastian is how hard you have to work and how much you have to really sacrifice and be willing to put into anything if you want to be really good at it,” said McGann. “He’s got a great work ethic. I mean, beyond being hilarious, I’ve learned that you have to be a little bit more inside of your material, too. I’ll never be as acrobatic and doing the act-outs like him. I have to be myself and stay within my own style. But I’ve learned that performing is a big part of stand up, as well.”
[Feature photo credit: Todd Rosenberg]