Chicago City Limits
Canedy has been performing with Chicago City Limits for over a decade. She's appeared with this longest running comedy and improv show in New York City and around the country. She's performed for audiences of 1 to 1500, at universities, beautiful performing arts centers, cabaret theaters, for Queer Eyes 100th episode, at an elevation of 10,000 feet (yes, she used the oxygen tank), a church basement and a funeral parlor. In addition to performing, she is also an associate producer and the director of the National Touring Company.
Before he won an Emmy for writing on SNL, Will agreed to perform a parody song Canedy wrote while they were on tour with CCL. This is a video from the rehearsal.
The Reviews are in!
MASS MoCA Presents Chicago City Limits: Impressive ImprovBy
-November 7, 2018
This past Saturday North Adams’ famous art museum, MASS MoCA, featured a comedy improv show starring Chicago City Limits.
The improv troupe hails from their hometown of New York City, and has been active since 1977, with well over 30 members and alumni under the troupe’s banner. They have been the recipient of numerous Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs awards, including “Best Comedy/Improv Group” two years straight, in both 1987 and 1988. For anyone familiar with improvisational (or improv) comedy, this is quite a pedigree.
Improv is, when compared to other genres of comedy (primarily stand-up, with others such as sketch comedy), relatively unknown, with the most notable group being the various cast members featured on the famous TV Show, “Whose Line Is It Anyways?” However, their performance in MASS MoCA’s B10 club definitely proved their pedigree to those attending.
The club was completely sold out by opening time, and the tiny club room the show was being held in was filled, with no seats open. The stage was little more than a black square for the actors to stand on, with a piano for musical accompaniment and four chairs to the side for them to sit on while waiting for their cues.
To begin the performance, the four performers asked the audience for something to sing a song about, and ended up singing a comedic and completely improvised song about balloons, comparing them to politicians and the police, i.e., “both are full of hot air.” This was obviously done to show just how talented the cast is at improvisation, and it accomplished its goal—that the four actors could improvise an entire song with rhyming verses on the fly while playing off each other while having only the last verse and the piano player to go off from is nothing short of impressive!
This was no different throughout the night. Their whole two-hour performance included a classic freeze-frame bit, where a lady falls in love with her plumber because of his “plumber’s crack,” but the plumber hates the lady because of her purple shoes. It was performed in multiple theatric styles, including basic styles such as film noir, Shakespearean, Neil Simon and even pantomiming.
Other bits included a dream of a “big wave,” where whenever a bell was rung, the actor had to redo their last line as something else, slowly telling a story about a jobless surfer dude living with his parents in China, and a Jeopardy-adjacent game show where the audience gave the answers and the actors onstage gave the questions (the category used was “jelly beans and oceans”). They then performed a more unique skit where three of the actors worked together alternating between narrating a story one at a time (based on who the fourth actor pointed to) and actually acting out the scene depending on what the fourth actor wanted.
Their longest skit was acting out a musical with a plot lifted from an audience member’s story: a part-time bookkeeper married to a hot dog maker, adopting a puppy. To say it was impressive that a cast member could not only improv song and dance numbers but do so while wearing a mop and stuffing fake fur into their pants to look like the puppy in front of the audience would be understating their talent.
The final skit was a cast member trying to say an unusual phrase, again from an audience member (“when the going gets weird, the weird go pro”), charading as if in clown school and slowly but surely getting the actor to utter the phrase, to a thunderous applause, closing out the performance.
The audience clearly enjoyed every bit of the performance, proven by just how enraptured they were. There was never a joke that didn’t get a chorus of laughter. Even the most subtle play-on-words were met with raucous laughter from most of the audience.
Some audience members were willing to share their thoughts on the Chicago City Limits’ performance as well, and it seemed praise and enjoyment was a common reaction.
“Genius. Every part of (the show), just the genius of the improv. I’m trying to imagine how they do that,” one audience member pondered afterward. “Everything is just, like, it’s part of how their brains work.”
“I thought it was really good,” shared another audience member. “I liked that it was improv, it wasn’t what I expected it to be, thought it was more of a comedy show, so the improv was fun.”
If you’d like to follow Chicago City Limits and see when they’ll next be performing, you can check out their website, which includes info on how to book them for a show or attend one of their improv classes. If you’re interested in what’s next for MASS MoCA’s performance line-up, you can also go to their website, which also has schedules of current and upcoming shows and art exhibitions.