My name is Sean Rose. I've been living in Chicago for almost three years. For all of those three years, I've been in a show called The Telethon, every first Saturday night of the month at the Playground Theater.
The Telethon is ending this Saturday. One last big fun celebratory final episode, and then it is over. The last episode of a show that has been with me since I moved to Chicago. An inseparable part of my Chicago life will be gone. I don't know what I am going to do.
You might know about the Telethon. You might not. My friends Ben Vigeant and Greg Guiliano started the show a few days before I moved to the city back in May 2010. It started as a straight-up sci-fi variety show, featuring Ben and Greg as two hapless hosts of a mysterious Telethon they're forced to host all day every day under threat of torture both physical and mental. As the show grew over the years it expanded from this simple premise and became something bigger and stranger, an excuse for us to experiment with all the genre parodies and weirdo silly gags a late night show could allow us.
It's been an important experience, for me. It's all going to be over on Saturday and I'm still processing it. To be honest I am not sure what I can say to say goodbye. I can't speak for the other Telethon dudes regarding how they're feeling about all this. All I can do is speak for myself.
So I'll do that!
I moved to Chicago in May 2010 with my college friend Steve Winchell. When the Telethon started, it was really Ben and Greg's thing and and Steve and I were just there to help out - playing a couple of bit characters here and there, carrying props and working with tech and offering suggestions as to how each episode would work. The Telethon has always been a mostly improvised show - episode plots are written out in advance, but almost all of our dialogue has been improvised from rehearsal through showtime. Everything's always been written and performed on the fly, and Steve and I got used to this pretty quickly.
I was a kid. I'd just moved to Chicago and didn't know anybody and I was scared. The Telethon helped. I didn't know a single fucking thing about the Chicago comedy scene, and the Telethon gave me a window into not only standup and improv and sketch, but music and experimental theater and clowning and a bunch of folks chugging beer while doing push-ups just to make themselves feel sick. We've had so many beautiful guest acts on this show. I've seen so much.
Eventually Steve and I started writing with Ben and Greg for the show full-time and things got a little more intense. While I would never say that the Telethon was a huge popular hit show, we maintained a solid regular audience over the years. For me, it was just about having as much fun as you could with the stupidest fucking jokes possible. What could we get away with?
We had an episode where Steve did actual for-real body shots off of Ben. We had a show where we staged an impromptu funeral service for Creed lead singer Scott Stapp. We ended an episode with Steve pouring whipped cream down my pants while "All Star" by Smashmouth played. We had a show that ended with a straight-up Romney campaign ad. How? How did we do this.
Gosh, we staged a two-part western epic, complete with a choreographed gunfight at the end. We put on not one, not two, but THREE full-blown musical episodes. We did a goofy dinner party farce and a Saturday Night Live pastiche and a game show and a Back To The Future parody and a Halloween episode ENTIRELY in the dark. We worked with some of the funniest folks in the city and put on a great show every month for three years straight.
How did we do it? I'll never know. In the end I feel like I was just a witness to all this. But I was proud to be part of it.
I'm going to miss this big dumb beautiful show. I can't thank Ben and Greg and Steve enough for letting me be part of this thing, or sweet man Jamie Campbell for doing tech for us for so long, or James Teniya for not only making incredible props and costumes for us but for being at literally EVERY SINGLE SHOW since it STARTED. And I can't thank the folks that loved and supported the show, who turned out every month at a late-as-hell hour to laugh at us having fun with eachother onstange.
It has been nothing but fun for me, guys. I will miss it. I don't know what I am going to do with myself.
If you haven't seen the show before, gosh! There's still hope! Saturday night is your last chance. Come by to laugh at us while we cry all over each other in celebration of this beautiful show thing we all did together. You will have a scary, silly, lovely time. Just like always.