After years of performing live on stage with ComedySportz and in shows like the sketch comedy duo Urlakis and Cusick, Dave Urlakis took his brand of comedy online a year ago when he began the YouTube channel Awkward Spaceship. The channel’s video, “If Computer Problems Were Real”, an exploration of the ways tech speak has appropriated everyday language, was introduced four months ago and has hit nearly 800,000 views so far. And Awkward Spaceship’s fifteenth video, “Danger Hospital” – which imagines a TV series combining the conventions of 24 and ER - was featured just last week on the G4 TV network’s Attack of the Show.
The Awkward Spaceship videos – which have featured a number of ComedySportz players – boast some pretty slick cinematography and editing, but Urlakis is just as comfortable in the low-tech environment of live sketch comedy. He and performing partner Sean Cusick earned raves for their six-week gig at Stage 773 in November and December, with TimeOut Chicago praising the act’s “brainy irreverence, deftly navigating the subtle insecurities and gross overconfidence of the male condition… seriously funny stuff, likably geeky and spot-on in its ridicule.” They sold out their two shows at this year’s Sketchfest in January and have been seen on various comedy stages around town.
Urlakis and Cusick met while writing for a Chicago comedy show. In their spare time backstage on that show, they created a couple of characters to amuse themselves – a pair of clinically depressed Eastern European vaudevillians – and Urlakis and Cusick the act was born. In the midst of all this comedy, Urlakis still finds time for a cool day job as the Director of Marketing & Analytics for a company called The Jellyvision Lab and for his duties as a regular member of the ComedySportz ensemble.
ComedySportz was chosen as a winner in Concierge Preferred’s “Chicago Concierge Favorites Awards” by Chicago’s concierge community. Over 700 concierges voted and ComedySportz was named one of the top Nightlife spots in Chicago!
Held in conjunction with the second “Concierge Day in Chicago”, by proclamation from Mayor Rahm Emanuel, over 500 of Chicago’s top hospitality industry professionals gathered at Concierge Preferred’s “Chicago Concierge Favorites Awards” on January 26, 2012 at the Hard Rock Café. Over 170 businesses were highlighted, as they were hand-picked by Chicagoland’s 700-plus suburban and city concierge as their favorite destinations in the categories of shopping, dining, nightlife and cultural attractions.
“Knowing that concierges trust us to show their guests a good time when they come to our theatre means a lot to us” said Kristi Parker-Barnhart, Concierge Coordinator at ComedySportz Chicago. We know their reputations and credibility are in our hands when they send us their guests. It’s a responsibility we take very seriously. This recognition is a “seal of approval” not only from the concierges but from their guests as well.”
Downtown Chicago Bosses, 2003 - 2010
Teacher, Coach, Improviser
It's with great sadness that ComedySportz announces the passing of Mike Enriquez, a player on our field for several years and the nicest guy in improv comedy ever. Like so many of Chicago's greatest talents, no one theater could keep him all to themselves. Mike was a fixture at ComedySportz, iO, and the Playground as well as starting his Chicago career working on staff at The Second City.
At ComedySportz, Mike performed in the ensemble, taught in the training center, and served on ComedySportz's Artistic Team. Many remember Mike as someone who supplemented his comedic wit and prowess at ComedySportz with amazing dance skills. This ability led Mike to spend his last years in the company as our Choreographer, helping players bring coordination and confidence to our improvised dance moves.
Originally from Oklahoma, Mike is survived by his mother, three siblings, and the literally thousands of improvisers he touched with his gentle spirit and genuine warmth. We'll miss you, Mike.
As a young veteran of the children’s theater world, Kristi Parker-Barnhart, director of The ComedySportz Crew Meets Peter Pan, she knows how kids like to get into the act. Over two years of directing and performing in touring shows by the National Theater for Children and the Hampstead Stage Company, she saw school age kids so involved in the stories presented that they would scream out to the characters on stage to “watch out” for whatever next act of villainy awaited their hero. “Interaction with kids with entertainment was not invented for the world of video fantasy games, she says. It’s been around a long time. But in our children’s shows at ComedySportz, we take it a step or two farther and totally break down the “fourth wall” of theatre and bring the kids right into the story. They’re totally a part of the action and determining what the story will be. You don’t know in advance what’s going to happen, so our show is not only an introduction to theater for many of our kids in the audience; it’s an intro to improv as well.”
Of course Peter Pan is arguably a pioneer of interactive children’s theatre, she points out. “Remember how the kids in the audience have been asked to ‘think happy thoughts’ and save Tinkerbell? We’re taking that much farther with our ComedySportz adaptation of Peter Pan. While past audiences of our shows have learned to use their imagination through the use of the “Imagination Box,” this time we’re going to show the kids that they don’t need a box to be imaginative. And even though we have a cast of seven and some very cool costumes for Peter Pan, using one’s imagination is still an important part of experiencing this play or any other theatre. Theatre is never as literal as TV, movies or video games where the settings are all shown in great and realistic detail.”
“With our children’s shows at ComedySportz, we’re looking to give kids an introduction to performing arts on two levels,” she says. “The kids are not only going to get experience in watching live theater, but through our interactivity, they’ll get to perform on stage as well.”