‘Messing with a friend’ Shows Our Reality Through The Comedic Eye of Improv.



Susan Messing and Charles Pettit performing as roommates talking about “The Bachelorette” (Photo by Jeramie Bizzle)  

You walk into the Annoyance Theatre and think it’s just another social bar, but as you come up the stairs you are presented with numerous photos of past productions featuring improv artist from all over the city, including actors from Second City.  Upon sitting down, all you can hear is a man who admits to covering his poop with baby powder as it’s similar to putting sawdust on puke to clean himself. The humor in the comedy “Messing With A Friend” comes from the kind of people either we know or have met as the material had to come from someone’s personal experience.


Each week, Susan Messing invites a different actor to join her on stage to perform different scenes based on audience suggestions. Messing and this week’s guest improv actor Charles Pettit quickly transitioned between scenes of teachers discussing going on strike, to fighting with one another about going to Marshalls instead of watching “The Bachelorette”. The pair performed about 6-8 different scenes without skipping a beat. Somehow the scene that sticks in the mind is the poop and baby powder bit as they actors found a way to work that line into two other scenes they’ve performed, which didn’t make sense because they were in a portraying different characters, but circling back to a joke that had the most laughs is a safe way to keep a scene from going dull.

Not most shows continue a transition from one scene to the next without a brief intermission, but the performers kept it moving and didn’t lose anyone during character changing. The material used on stage made it easier to connect with as we all know that one person who either shops at Marshalls or is still attached to love driven reality shows.

Since the show is based on the audience suggestions,  the actors dedicate the whole show to the situations they’re given, no different from any other improv show in the city. It’s hard to say what sets this show apart from others, but the show is good for first timers who’ve never gone to an improv show.

Although the show was filled with a bunch of zingers and one-liners, it makes for a good evening out during the workday, and there will be a slim possibility through audience participation you will see the same show twice.


“Messing With A Friend” – 2 Stars

When: Every Thursday at 10:30 pm

Where: Annoyance Theatre, 851 W Belmont

Running Time: 1 hr

Tickets: $5 at  theannoyance.com


Midwest Film Festival Host Pilot Showcase


This week networks will begin preparing for premiere week as viewers will see new shows on their televisions and online. But instead of channel surfing looking for fresh material, you can to view screenings of the latest works created by independent filmmakers during the Midwest Pilot Showcase at Landmark’s Century Centre Cinema on October 4th.

The showcase, held during the Midwest Independent Film Festival, will feature nine selected pilots with seven being chosen by the New York Television Festival. Some of the shows featured began as mini web series, and have 3-5 episodes, some in which will be played in its entirety. Mike McNamara, Co-Founder and executive director of Midwest independent Film Festival, said this event is a way for filmmakers to come and connect with each other .

“What this line up is all about is just showcasing the best pilots that have been made in Chicago and the midwest, and it’s one great night where we put them all up on the big screen. We get all those filmmakers and pilot creators together, and they will be inspired by seeing each other’s work, and we think other people will be inspired by what we put up on the screen,” said McNamara.

Deciding on which pilot gets their full show played he said came down to the nature of the pilot. Some shows will probably have one or two episodes shown, and for others, it will be three-minute sneak peaks, but their choices are not set. “Kind of like fitting a puzzle together,” said McNamara

The night will also feature a Q and A session with the creators following the showing of the pilots and two never before seen pilots including a sneak peek of “Sickos” created by the executive producers of TV Land’s “Teachers” now in its second season.  

Attendees will see films they’ve never seen before, or never will again. The shows played are said to not only entertain the audience but they’re witnessing the future of content in television.

The  Midwest Independent Film Festival, now in its 12th year, is a year-round showcase that is dedicated to films that are made in Chicago and in the midwest, and those who feature midwest talent. A film is not eligible for submission if it’s not produced in the midwest as their mission is to support the local filmmaking community.

“We pack the house every first Tuesday, and we try our best to get other filmmakers out to the fest, so it’s a rewarding and worthwhile experience for people trying to show their film.”

The 90-minute showcase is expected to be a sold-out event. Tickets can be purchased at Midwestfilm.com. Doors open at 6 pm.

What Students Need As They Head Back To School


As the rest of the students prepare to make their way back to school in just a few days, parents want to ensure that their kids and teens have what they need to make them successful this school year. The only thing is what they need to be successful can’t always be found in a pencil box or their lockers. Below is a list of five helpful programs that students will need to get a head start on their school year. It will help them with some of the subjects that are difficult, especially for the freshmen class.


The website, or add on for windows and Chrome users, helps students and professionals catch the simplest mistakes when writing a paper or an email. Whether is be spelling, punctuations, or other grammatical errors, this program will not only catch the mistakes but help train students to catch the mistakes themselves. The sign up is free with an option to purchase the advanced version that provides more critical help including sentence structure and more.

WolfRamAlpha Math Help

The site operates the same way as the functions of a calculator. The biggest help that it offers is not just the solution to the problem but also provides three different solution steps that give the students an option on what they find easier. The site is free but it helps to purchase the membership as the free version only gives a one step solution. If your child is having trouble in math this will be one site to sign up for.

Google Classroom

Nowadays most assignments issued to students are being sent via the classroom. Although you can’t do much until the teacher gives the student the login for the specific class, but it is one app that students should have on their smart devices. More teachers are using Google classroom as a way to better connect with students on the assignments they need to complete and have no more excuses when a student says “I didn’t get the homework.”


It’s been a long summer for students who didn’t attend summer school or camps during their time off. Lumosity offers brain training games that help improve cognitive, math, and speed skills. The app is free and offers three free games that keep records of the person’s performance. Although you will have to pay for more games parents will see an improvement of performance in their kid’s school and test work.

Pre-loaded Apps Are Wonders As Well

Simple preloaded apps on your phone such as the calendar, calculator, and voice recorder will all be useful this upcoming school year. If you wish to delete those and download more advanced programs remember unlike the preloaded ones the downloads from third party developers can crash and risk not saving the data stored. it is best to stay with the preloads.

Although these programs will help parents will still need to go shopping for everything that is listed on the syllabus from their classes. These apps, however, will make the school year easier, fun, and successful.