It’s amazing what a good venue can do. In the 1970’s, venues like the Comedy Store and the Improv inspired a comedy boom, brought public attention to the now legendary Andy Kaufman, David Letterman and Richard Lewis, and helped change what it meant to be a comedian. Chicago’s Lakeshore Theater was one such venue –committed to embracing new comedy and furthering the exploration of what it firmly believed to be an art, it held great promise in changing the comedy landscape. This is why the following news is so heartbreaking: announced late yesterday, the Lakeshore Theater will be ceasing all operations on April 10.
The Lakeshore was a forerunner in a new wave of comedy clubs– not limited to just stand-up, it opened its doors to all kinds of acts: improv, sketch, theater, music, and whatever else was good enough to earn a spot. It forwent the two-drink minimum, didn’t care about being TV clean, and made an honest effort to book the best and most original comedy out there, including acts like Maria Bamford, Todd Barry, Reggie Watts and Kristen Schaal. But despite consistently sold-out shows and praise from the Chicago community, the Lakeshore has come into financial trouble.
Lakeshore co-owner and Executive Producer Chris Ritter explained: “It saddens me deeply to announce the closing of the Lakeshore. While revenues have continued to grow over the last three years and the Lakeshore brand of comedy, music and good times has successfully taken hold, current revenues are simply insufficient to fund ongoing operations as well as much needed plant repairs and improvements needed to take the company to the next level of success.”
Australian comedian Jim Jefferies will be performing the club’s final shows Friday, April 9th at 7:30 and 10:30 and Saturday, April 10th at 10:30. Ritter commented on the appropriateness of Jefferies for closing it all out: “We’ve been presenting Jim since we first started presenting comedy and have had the privilege of watching his career explode with the success of his HBO special. It will be a terrific going-away party.” As for ticket holders for future events, they will be fully refunded.
Here’s hoping this was just an April Fools joke.