Katie Johnston-Smith is an actor, writer, singer, comedian and producer happily living in Logan Square.
Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.
I am an actor, writer, singer, comedian and producer happily living in Logan Square. Every Saturday night, I cheat on Logan Square with Lakeview and perform in Cupid Has A Heart On at Stage 773. I rap about eating cake and sing about obscure presidents I’d sleep with, so you should definitely check it out. I also founded and produce The Chicago Nerd Comedy Festivalfor Stage 773. When I’m home in Logan, I am usually holed up at Bang Bang Pie (@bangbangpie, 2051 N. California Ave.), drinking their delicious coffee while planning my next project with Outside High 5, an indie production company and comedy collective. We specialize in humor with heart and we also make a lot of jokes about butts.
Tell us about Cupid Has a Heart On.
Cupid Has A Heart On is Chicago’s longest running musical sketch comedy show. Cupid combines equal parts wit, raunch and heart to deliver a sweet, cynical, touching, smart, inane and funny show. Or in the words of my cousin, “It’s fun! You are there sitting next to your parents, and then these people come out and sweetly sing about doing it!”
How did you get involved in improv?
My entire life, I’ve been somewhat of an accidental goon. Whether interrupting a family prayer circle by offering my uncle a six-pack of beer, or unironically wearing pleated shorts, it seemed like I was always unintentionally making people laugh. When I went to college, a cousin of mine encouraged me to follow my comedic leanings. The comedy bug lead me all the way to a two-week improv and writing intensive at The Second City. Those two weeks drastically changed my life. I met my future husband (for real, the man I am now married to), future directors and bosses, and fell in love with comedy and Chicago. And my husband.
How long have you lived in Logan Square?
How did you choose this neighborhood?
My husband and I had friends who lived in Logan, so when we moved to Chicago we decided we wanted to live close to our friends. We’ve stayed here because it is a beautiful neighborhood with many delightful social, cultural and food offerings.
What does this area offer to those looking to get involved in comedy and acting?
Logan Square embodies the independent entrepreneurial spirit and culture. A creative electricity pulses through the neighborhood that encourages its inhabitants to go make the art that is living in their brains. I am constantly inspired by the Logan business owners who have made a beautiful something where once there was nothing. Logan Square is a daily testament to making your own luck. Many Chicago-based artists are waiting around for something to happen to them, rather than creating their own opportunities. Someone looking to break into the comedy or acting scenes can tangentially take inspiration from the Logan Square indie business revolution.
Favorite neighborhood hangouts?
Bang Bang Pie Shop, Letizia’s Fiore (@LetiziasFiore, 2456 N. California Ave.), The Logan Theatre (@TheLoganTheatre, 2646 N. Milwaukee Ave.), Reno (@RenoChicago, 2607 N Milwaukee Ave.), Revolution Brew (@RevBrewChicago, 2323 N. Milwaukee Ave.), Lula Cafe (@lulacafe, 2537 N. Kedzie Ave.), Chicago Diner (@chicagodiner, 2333 N. Milwaukee Ave.), Cole’s (2338 N. Milwaukee Ave.) (especially when the Fabulous Ladies Of Fitness are hosting a dance party), Uncharted Books (@UnchartedBooks, 2630 N. Milwaukee Ave.) (especially when Congrats On Your Success has a show), Wolfbait and B Girls (@WolfbaitBGirls, 3131 W. Logan Blvd.), Longman and Eagle (@longmanandeagle, 2657 N. Kedzie Ave.) (nothing beats the OSB in summer) and The Logan Square Farmer’s Market (@LSFarmersMarket). Running into Shawn “Shawnimal” Smith (@shawnimal), the Mayor of Logan Square, is also nice.
Have you read any books, seen any movies or listened to any music recently you would recommend?
I just finished reading “The Raven Boys” by Maggie Stiefvater and loved it! “The Raven Boys” is set in a small Virginia town and explores a world of magic, psychics, ley lines, forbidden kisses and long-dead Welsh kings. Since it’s book one of the Raven book cycle, I will only have more young adult fiction to look forward to. Oh, and yes—it’s young adult fiction—is this where I do some sort of “selfie no shame” hashtag?
I’ve also been listening to Chicago band “The Fruit Flies.” Their music is folky, catchy cuteness at its best.
What is one piece of advice you would give to your teenage self?
Everyone is making their Sims have sex when they think no one is looking, don’t worry.
If you had one extra hour of free time everyday, how would you use it?
I would connect with a family member or friend.
If you could spend 15 minutes with any living person, who would it be?
Chicago-based filmmaker Joe Swanberg. I’d love to pick his brain about the ins and outs of maintaining a sustainable indie film career while living in Chicago.
Where can we see you perform?
See me play in Cupid Has A Heart On every Saturday at 8 pm at Stage 773 (1225 W. Belmont Ave.)
Don’t miss the 2nd Annual Chicago Nerd Comedy Festival, March 19-22. The Chicago Nerd Comedy Festival also hosts a free monthly fan fiction reading event called “Hey, I’m a Big Fan.” This month’s event will play Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013, at 7 pm at Stage 773.
How can we find you online?
Follow me on Twitter and Instagram: @GenericBrunette. Follow me on Tumblr: katiejohnstonsmith.tumblr.com. Check out my production company: outsidehigh5.tumblr.com. I also do a podcast (that has featured many Logan Square businesses): soundcloud.com/kiilpodcast.
“Socializing the neighborhood” is at the core of the LoganSquarist mission, so we introduce readers to interesting and unique residents throughout Logan Square in our Know Your Neighbor column. If you know someone who would be ideal for to feature, let us know.