Imagine telling a friend a story, recounting a memory with a family member or whispering a secret to a confidant only to have what you told that person come to life before your eyes. Now, imagine sitting in—like a fly on the wall—to not only hear the juicy story, but to watch a slice of another person’s life unfold for them as witness.
Every other Wednesday at The Logan Theatre (2646 N. Milwaukee Ave.), Interview(squared) gives those in attendance the ultimate voyeuristic opportunity to get to know a well-known, important or famous—or infamous—Logan Square resident. The “guest of honor” is put on stage and questioned about events in his/her life. After the probing interview, improv actors—trained at Second City and iO—act out an interpretation of an event or a piece of history from that person’s life for both him/her and the audience.
So Good, Someone’s Already Ripped It Off
Steve Labedz started Interview(squared) in 2013, and due to the unique concept and successful execution, another theater in Chicago (that will remain nameless) stole his idea and charges three times ($15) what he does ($5) for people to attend.
Past guests include Doug Sohn of Hot Doug’s, U.S. Rep. Will Guzzardi, Sam Lewis of Elastic Arts and Justine Rowland of Criterion Productions. In early December LoganSquarist’s founder, Kate Hamilton, found herself in the hot seat and had her life of knitting and giving back to the community acted out shortly after her interview.
“It was really creative and inventive, considering the in-the-moment setup of the event,” Hamilton says. “It was really funny.”
For a more in-depth look at Interview(squared), founder Labedz answered a few questions for us.
The interviewer gets interviewed:
Q: What is it about Logan Square residents that made you want to get them on stage and act out their answers?
Labedz: Logan Square is a neighborhood filled with fascinating people: studio artists, small business owners, dancers, musicians, actors, politicians. There’s a pull for the people to be creative and make their own community and protect it. I love that. (As a side note: the interviewee does not perform in the show, the comedians do a long form improv set based on information from the interview.)
Q: How does your troupe practice for answers to questions they only get during the show?
Labedz: We assembled a team of very talented improvisors, who have all studied improv comedy at Second City or iO and perform all over Chicago with their other troupes. There were initial practices to get the team acquainted with each other and to learn the form of the show, but now the machine kind of runs itself. I’m always amazed at the kind of scenes the team comes up with from the interview. Sometimes it’s a direct recreation of the guest’s story and sometimes they make these crazy connections from different stories to make an absurd scene. They’re so damn good at what they do.
Q: So far, who was the subject who surprised you the most with his/her answers?
Labedz: I have a bunch of favorite guests: one was a resident named Brett Rudder, who gave my favorite answer. He’s lived all over the place and so he was asked what his favorite thing was about Chicago. He said that Chicagoans are so proud of their city, they just love it—they tattoo the city flag on their bodies and talk about it so much. He said he’d never seen that in any other place he’d lived. I really liked that.
Another favorite guest was Jeremy Scheuch, he just had the coolest life. He has a Santa Claus tattooed on his arm because his dad is a professional Santa. He told stories about how he hosted karaoke at Liar’s Club for a bunch of years and how he got Do312 rolling in Chicago. The best was when he talked about people who make fun of his look at bars, he’s got a ton of tattoos and an amazing mustache—he approaches people and says, paraphrased, “Tomorrow you’re going to remember me and I won’t remember you because you all look the same.” When you were watching the interview, you just had no idea what he was going to say next, but it was always great.
Q: Who would be your dream subject/personality to interview from Logan Square, and why?
Labedz: I really want to interview Rey Colón, I think his view on the neighborhood from when he came into office until now would be so interesting. How the neighborhood has developed, the good and the bad changes, all that sounds like a great interview to me. I tried getting him on the show early on, but I’ve got to try again soon.
(Note: now that Colon has been unseated as alderman in the recent elections, he might have some time on his hands to attend as a special guest.)
Interview(squared) happens every other Wednesday at 7:30 pm at The Logan Theater; the next event takes place March 11, when the interviewee will be Zoog Von Rock of the Australian band Angelspit.
Photo: Steve Labedz