Ahern: Morgan Park native is pursuing comedy career
By Patti Ahern Citizen Journalistfirstname.lastname@example.org April 18, 2014 4:30PM
Comedian Pat McGann, who grew up in the Morgan Park community of Chicago, is building his career, headlining comedy shows throughout the Chicago area and the country. | Supplied photo
Updated: May 21, 2014 6:09AM
When comedian Pat McGann performed a comedy routine on the “The Late Show with David Letterman,” he felt as though he had checked off an item from his bucket list.
But that satisfied feeling left fairly quickly because McGann knows that in the comedy business, and it is a business, it is important to move forward, set new goals and reach for new successes.
Still, there was no denying the good feeling that came from having a resume that now includes the phrase, “appeared on Letterman’s Show.”
“It definitely helps to have that credit,” McGann said. “It validates the time and effort I put into this, and it helped a ton. I have to follow up now, and ask, ‘what’s next?’”
Born and raised in the Morgan Park community of Chicago, McGann didn’t always have his eyes set on being a comedian.
“My family is pretty funny, and growing up and going first to St. Cajetan’s (Elementary) School and then Marist High School, that was a blast,” he said. “I wasn’t a smart aleck and I wasn’t a class clown, but my friends and I were fairly competitive and worked to see who could make everyone laugh the most.
“I wasn’t thinking about a career in comedy. I didn’t do any performing arts, and instead I played basketball and baseball. I was into sports and girls and hanging out.”
After McGann graduated from high school, he went on to the University of Dayton, earning a degree in history, and then progressed into a sales career.
“My dad is a lawyer and a judge. I thought about law school, but once I was out of school I did not want to go back,” he said.
McGann threw himself into his sales career and enjoyed travel and meeting people. When the economy began its downturn, however, McGann realized that sales might not be the career for him and began to consider his secret dream about performing comedy.
In 2007, he met his wife, Sara, who encouraged him to pursue a comedy career.
“It is so easy to roll your eyes at someone’s dreams, but Sara didn’t do that,” McGann said. “She told me to go for it, and I trusted her. She is still very supportive.”
McGann started doing open mike nights in Chicago, where comics can try out their material, and also auditioned at Zanies, the famous Chicago comedy club. He was so well received at Zanies that he became a “house” master of ceremonies, and from there began to headline at clubs all over the country.
Sara, an attorney, said it was “love at first sight” when she met her husband. She also discovered several of his notebooks with ideas for jokes and comedy routines and knew her husband had talent.
“I did feel that deep down that this was something he could do,” she said. “Doing Letterman was a pipe dream, but it is pretty cool that he did it and he did it well.”
The McGanns have two children and another due in October. Their careers don’t give them much time together, but Sara believes that Pat’s talent and positive attitude will help him succeed as a comedian.
“It’s like we high-five each other at the house as I get home and he heads out to work, but our time together is definitely quality over quantity,” she said. “Pat is really the nicest person I know, and it is great that I married someone who helps me to be a better person.”
McGann quickly corrected his wife.
“Well, we do more than high-five sometimes. We will be having our third child in three years soon,” McGann said, laughing.
Bert Haas, the executive vice president of Zanies, which has been in business since 1978, agreed with Sara that McGann is “one of the nicest guys there is. I think he is going to become a star — he’s one of the best hosts in the country.”
McGann insisted that he’s not pursuing comedy for the purpose of fame.
“I never wanted to do this to be famous. That’s not why I am doing it,” he said. “I’m doing this because I love it. I am hopeful I can make a comfortable living doing it.”
Looking ahead, McGann is working on several projects. For two seasons, he hosted a show called “The Chicago Stand Up Project” on WTTW-TV (PBS) in Chicago.
To perfect his work, he often records his routines, listens to them again and makes note of audience reactions. In this way, he constantly improves his material and will continue to send tapes of his autobiographical and observational comedy sets to other network shows.
He also will continue to work at Zanies and give his time to charitable appearances.
“Getting on David Letterman was satisfying, but I am not blind to the fact that I have to keep my name out there. As long as I am growing each year, I’ll keep at this,” he said.
For more information about McGann, visit www.patmcganncomedy.com or follow him on Twitter @mcgannpat.