In a couple of days we perform what will be one of our last Wood Sugars live sketch shows. For awhile. We have plans for the future. One of our members is doing some travelling. Over the past few years we've been doing bits at various Chicago bar-prov-esque venues such as Fizz Bar, The Underground Lounge, The Upstairs Gallery, Mullens. Many others. Usually we get a 10-15 time slot to do a handful of our sketches in the guise of a travelling freak show. Donny would host as Bosco Dunwitty Radriguez and introduce the acts such as "Attack of the Groomzilla" and the "TMI IT guy." Various puns on weird behaviors. We've developed and tried out an alternating line-up of these. The culmination of our comedic experiments came in the form of our first real writers room to create new bits. And then an hour long sketch show with an actual arc, these freaks take flight. You come to love them. Poignant moments help build the tension, then we aim cut it with sharp wordplay. Hey, here's a plug. Step right up to see Wood Sugars Freak Show Featuring Regular Adults.
Recently I dined at Riverview Tavern with some family that was in town. A sort of mural adorned one of the walls outlining the old Riverview Park, an amusement park that used to be situated along the river in Roscoe Village, long since shuttered and built over. With the freak show on my mind, I remembered hearing of this while working an event several years back with the photography company I used to work for. It was someone's anniversary party. The green screen back drop they requested was of a carnival-esque rendering of the old Riverview Park. I'm not sure how it related to this older couple, perhaps they had a date there. At one point, an older woman recounted how horrible the park was, that there was an actual freak show there, how horrid she cried. Her passionate scoff resonated in my memory and is prompting me to do some research, some historical scholarship into nasty freak shows of olde in the Chicago area. Shit, I even want to do some hardcore research, this curiosity pique on curiosities, perhaps even going to the library, tooling around on a microfiche, late nights til closing (what, 7pm in Chicago Public Libraries?) like a self serious scene right out of All The President's Men.
The findings will be in a different post. The show is so close, and the research bug could cause me to stumble upon more weird intrigue. The loop that comes with research. And so I give myself an extension on that part. For now, I'd like to share this article from WBEZ. Apparently Riverview Park caused some racial tensions with their "Dunk the N***er" act. Sheesh. That's just fucking rude. The real freak is the segment of Chicago's population that ate that shit like it was an innocuous family pastime.