On January 18th in Chicago, some of the cities most respected comedians will all descend to Jokes And Notes for the comedy club’s 10th Anniversary tribute show. For those who may not be familiar with club’s the owner, Mary Linsey briefly talked with us about what these 10 years for the club represent in her comedy career expanding over 20 years. Lindsey first made an impact in comedy in the 90’s with previous club All Jokes Aside in Chicago which served as a playing field for past legendary comedians. We start things off by discussing her 10 years with Jokes And Notes, and later the current comedy environment today including who her favorite comedian is.
CH: WHAT DO THESE 10 YEARS FOR JOKES AND NOTES REPRESENT FOR YOU?
ML: It’s a very monumental moment for me, who knew I would be here ten years later. I opened in an area that was under revitalization and then the recession jumped in, I was like woah what is going on here. I just didn’t know if a small business, a 150 seater club would be able to sustain that recession. We became very strategic and made it happened. To be here 10 years later is very monumental. This club is the hub for the Midwest. It provides a lot of opportunities, not only for Chicago comics but the surrounding cities in the Midwest because I accommodate all those guys. I have Just For Laughs auditions here, NBC Diversity, I invite everyone so that they get the same opportunity as my Chicago comics. 10 years this January. It means a lot because I came back to make a difference. It has been challenging because some of the bigger guys when they get big they don’t come back. There are quite a few that stay. A lot of my veteran comics are here and we support each other. I think running the business like I do, which is like a business (because Im a corporate girl by nature) has helped sustain this business. If I wasn’t working on premise, I think this club would be a different club or maybe not even be open. But since I’m at the face of the business and actually here working. people do come with a respectful attitude knowing that it is an upscale club. It’s not a bar-type atmosphere, and what I hear from different comics across the country is that they love that we run it like a business.
CH: YOU’VE BEEN INVOLVED IN COMEDY FOR SOME TIME NOW. WHAT’S THE MAJOR DIFFERENCE FROM COMEDIANS THEN TO COMEDIANS NOW.
It’s different. I think the generations have changed. I been in the game for two decades now. The first decade was Steve Harvey, George Wilborn, Monique, Jamie Foxx, Laura Hayes. This new generation of comics I don’t know.. I feel that they don’t work the same, their ethics are different. Not all of them but most. They don’t do the work those guys did, the feel very self-entitled. This generation sort of tears me down a little bit more, I feel that I’m working much harder because their vision of what’s funny to my vision is much different. I think that the writing is key to be successful, there a lot of comics that aren’t writing what they need to be writing. They’re keeping it in the box, they’re playing it safe and I think that they should just jump out the box unless they don’t have the ability.
CH: YOU’VE SEEN SO MANY GREAT COMEDY TALENTS COME AND GO THROUGH YOUR CLUB. WHO IS YOUR MARY LINDSEY’S FAVORITE COMEDIAN?
ML: That’s a hard question. My favorite comic of all time.. and you can quote me on this.. is Chris Rock. I love him. I think that he is a genius. I love his delivery, that he takes real subject matters and puts a funny comedic spin on it and tells it in a real controversial way. I love that. He has always been my all time favorites. I love Russell Peters, Deon Cole, Jamie Foxx, Kevin Hart. I remember when Kevin Hart first came to Jokes and Notes. He certainly wasn’t the Kevin Hart we know today but look at him now. He’s amazing. I can listen to him all day in stand-up. It’s really hard to say just one but I have always been consistent with Chris Rock because I just love how he puts that comedy out there.
CH: CHICAGO IS KNOWN FOR A LARGE AMOUNT OF GREAT COMEDY TALENT. WHY IS THE CITY HOME TO SO MANY GREAT COMEDIC TALENTS?
ML: Well I think the Chicago comics, like Deon Cole, DeRay Davis, Lil Rel, Corey Holcomb, and Grady work hard because they don’t have the advantages that New York City or Los Angeles have. New York City and LA have a lot of industry in those two cities, we don’t have that in the city of Chicago, so it makes them (comedians) be focus, be on their grind and try to standout from other people. I think Deon has done a great job, and Lil Rel. They’re doing their thing. They’re trying to be on the path that even though we don’t have all the industry here to recognize them like in Hollywood, they still are showing up.
If you happen to be in Chicago January 18th, take the opportunity to stop by Jokes And Notes for their tribute show at 8PM to 10PM. Guest comedians include Rudy Rush, Damon Williams, Deon Cole, Lil Rel, others and will be hosted by George Wilborn.