Jim Belushi’s improv group comes to Rialto
By Randall G. Mielke For Sun-Times Media February 21, 2013 9:52AM
Jim Belushi will headline the Chicago Board of Comedy at the Rialto on March 2. | Getty Images
Jim Belushi & Chicago Board of Comedy
♦ 8 p.m. March 2
♦ Rialto Square Theatre, 102 N. Chicago St., Joliet
♦ Tickets, $29.75-$55
♦ (815) 726-6600
Updated: February 22, 2013 10:08AM
Although actor, comedian, singer and musician Jim Belushi has done many things throughout his career including writing, directing and producing, what he enjoys the most is performing in front of a live audience.
“I love a live performance,” he said, “whether it be performing with my band, or acting on my TV show ‘According to Jim,’ or doing improvisational comedy. With live performances, there is the possibility of magic. Film is beautiful, and you feel the magic between the actors, but the magic comes in a more mechanical way. With a live performance there is an intimacy with the audience. And with improvisation, you get the intimacy right away.”
Belushi is currently getting some of that intimacy as he and four other improvisational comedians appear in Jim Belushi & Chicago Board of Comedy. Jim Belushi & Chicago Board of Comedy will perform on March 2 at the Rialto Square Theatre in Joliet.
“The show is nearly 100 percent improvisation,” Belushi said. “I open the show and do about five minutes of comedy, then I introduce the company, then we start taking suggestions.”
Accompanying Belushi on stage are Robert Belushi (Jim’s 32-year-old son), Larry Joe Campbell, Jon Barinholtz and Brad Morris, all of whom are trained improvisers.
“All of us in the company have been through Second City improvisational training,” Belushi said.
In addition to his work at Second City, Belushi was a cast member on NBC-TV’s “Saturday Night Live” from 1983 through 1985. He also co-starred in dozens of movies. He achieved his greatest fame as the star of ABC’s “According to Jim,” which ran on ABC-TV from 2001 to 2009. Belushi also served as executive producer, music composer and director on the sitcom.
The Chicago Board of Comedy group came together after Jim Belushi went to see his son, Robert, perform improvisation.
“My son, Robert, and Jon Barinholtz were doing a two-man improv show,” Belushi said. “I went to see them and they called me up on stage and I did a scene with them. So, I did a couple of shows with them and I said, ‘Let’s add a couple of guys.’ So we added Brad Morris and Larry Joe Campbell, who was on ‘According to Jim’ with me. We started the five-man improv group last spring, so we’ve been doing it about one year. We’re booked pretty much every weekend.”
Although the troupe does not set out to do R-rated material in the show, sometimes the comedy is for adults only.
“Because we take suggestions, that dictates where we go,” Belushi said. “It depends on the audience. We are not filthy, but there is adult language.”
Belushi thinks one key ingredient to a successful improvisational group is getting along with the others with whom you perform.
“There has to be chemistry,” he said about the performers. “It’s an ensemble. Before we go on stage we say ‘I got your back.’ The key is to make each other look good. Then the scene looks good. You want the scene to work. In addition, we really make each other laugh.”