A Designated Kidder

Saturday September 26th, 2009 – Chicago, IL

If it’s Saturday it must mean another installment of Jerry’s Kidders on WGN radio, and a fun one it was. We were on an hour earlier than usual because of a football broadcast so getting there by 10am rather than 11 was a challenge. Ken Sevara was off this week as he was driving back from a gig in the U.P. of Michigan so Jim McHugh joined us in studio.

Jim is a really funny comic and a wonderful guy. I’ve known him almost as long as I’ve been around and that’s going on most of forever. We met in the mid ‘80s at a place called The Comedy Cottage, which was in Rosemont, IL. That was the first place I ever stepped on a stage in the Chicago area and I remember how big time I thought that was back then.

I think it was an old pizza joint and it was no big deal but the vibe in there was electric. It was the start of the comedy boom of the ‘80s and people lined up to see comedians that weren’t really all that good at the time. Many of us went on to enjoy very good things but at the time it was mainly a showcase club where newer comics would develop their acts.

I wish there were tapes of those shows because of all the talent that came through there that was starting at the same time. Arsenio Hall had just left for L.A. right when I started but there were dozens of others who went on to become strong acts including Jim and me.

Jim is a few years older than me and he was already doing it by the time I started to be a semi regular there. I always thought he was funny and he was nice to me off stage too. As time went on we crossed paths occasionally but were never really close until he asked me to be a part of the Chicago Style Standups a few years ago. We’ve really hit it off nicely.

For one thing he’s a Packer fan and that’s not easy to find in the Chicago area. I’m on a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy living down here and unless someone brings it up I try to not mention it. Most comedians know I’m a Packer fan and they razz me about it but I’d stop watching football altogether if I had to cheer for those putrid blue and orange uniforms.

After last week the Packers didn’t live up to the billing either so maybe I should stop it anyway but that’s another tangent I don’t want to touch right now. I picked Jim up at his house in Hoffman Estates and we drove to WGN to do the show. He was like a kid that’s going to see Santa and I could feel his excitement in the car. I knew he wanted to do this.

We really do have fun as a group, both on air and off. Some weeks might be better than others on air but off air it’s always a blast. Ken and Tim Slagle are very good guys and a guy like Jim fits right in. He was funny on the air as I knew he’d be and then we went out to breakfast and that’s always when the real funny starts. We should start recording that.

When I got home Jim sent me a really nice email telling me how much fun he had being on with us and I knew he meant it. I could see it in his face while we were doing it. That’s what life is all about. We talked on the way home about how much pure fun The Comedy Cottage days were and how that part can get lost when comedy is one’s living. Not today.


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