New comedy club coming to Oak Park

Comedy for many is a creative outlet, a way to express themselves. In many ways comedy connects us, whether that be through jokes among friends or watching Saturday Night Live during the weekends. However, there are unfortunately very few comedic hotspots in Oak Park. Luckily, later this year, that will change.

ComedyPlex, a comedy club founded by Christopher Bell, Marz Timms and Sherman Edwards, will be a place for all comedy lovers and will be located at 1128 Lake St. The opening date of the club is “a bit up in the air…we’re looking at mid to late July with a hard opening after Labor Day,” according to Timms, who is a graduate of Oak Park and River Forest High School.

Timms found his passion for comedy at OPRF, where he cracked jokes with fellow student Angela Bowman. At the time, she was putting on a production of “Pygmalion” at the school and suggested that he audition. This early experience launched his career in film, television and with The Second City, the renowned school of improv and sketch comedy. The Second City is one of the better known comedy schools in Chicago. However, it is not easily accessible to many due to its location.

In creating ComedyPlex, Timms hopes to bring the joy of the Second City right here to Oak Park. “I think it’ll bring a lot of laughs to Oak Park,” he said. “We’re looking to do stand up classes and improv classes as well for kids and adults.”

The club will provide space for comedians at a variety of levels, Timms noted. “We’ll have an open mic night as well where people can come in and get on stage for a few minutes and test their jokes out, whether they’re brand new to doing stand up or whether they’re established comedians that are just looking to try some material out in front of a live audience,” he said. “I’m looking to bring in some national and international touring stand up comedians to downtown Oak Park as well.”

And not only will the club be host to many local and large name comedians, but it will be a place for all. Timms hopes that “the surrounding suburbs as well as west Chicago can come on out…We don’t serve food but we want people to be able to enjoy all the nice restaurants in downtown Oak Park, maybe make a day of it! Come on downtown, do the Frank Lloyd Wright tour, grab some dinner and then catch a comedy show.”

By creating a comedy community in Oak Park not only will there be a new hub for students and adults alike to learn about comedy, but everyone from the surrounding area can come and enjoy high quality comedy in an accessible area. Members of the comedy community at OPRF are also excited for this new comedic hotspot.

“Having different kinds of creative outlets for people in the Oak Park area and having it really close to home will give more people an incentive to try new things,” said Christina Hughes, a member of OPRF’s improv club.

Another member of improv club and OPRF actor Sonja Emerson believes that “improv is really important for people to be introduced to because it provides a way to express yourself and also a community where you can feel really safe and comfortable and just explore your creativity, and I think that that’s really important, and also it will just be a really good time.”

For many students improv has proved a way of fostering friendship and gaining self confidence, something that is important to OPRF actor and stand-up comedy supporter Mora Schigelone. “I think it’s really important, especially the improv stuff because it’s really important to everyday life, being able to say ‘yes, and.’ Also, comedy is really hard to access here. The only real place to get it is Second City and that’s way too far for a lot of people to drive, and it’s really expensive, so it’s good that there’s another place to do that.”

The club is currently in its final stages of Village approval; on May 24 the founders will go before the Village to approve their signage. Once this is completed and the club opens, all OPRF students are welcome to come and learn about comedy from some top-notch local and touring comedians. So come Labor Day when you’re in the mood for a laugh, switch off the TV and head on down to the ComedyPlex Club for great comedy and community.