Go ahead, ask—we know you’ve been dying to for the last four seconds. “Jokeworthy” is a comedy feature that will crop up now and then, bringing with it a focus on local comics. This week, our inaugural victim shares his morbid view of making it big in comedy—and whyhe keeps at it.
Climbing rungs on the Chicago comedy ladder looks like this: “I have to cut out my NBA career,” says the five-foot-nine-inch Jeremy Sosenko. We laugh, but he insists it’s no joke. We laugh more. There’s an awkward pause. He’s serious. It makes us laugh.
Sosenko conjures Stephen Colbert in his ability to never break onstage. His sharp one-liners, coupled with clear and present character work, make him a stand-out member of any ensemble.
For the last five years, Sosenko has worked tirelessly to rise in Chicago’s tightly knit improv community. His efforts have paid dividends with numerous notable, long-term gigs. The Dollar Store, a monthly anything-goes variety showcase he cohosts with TOC Books editor Jonathan Messinger, celebrates its second anniversary Friday 3. He’s one of the original members of the Late Night Late Show and the improv troupe American Dream (both on hiatus)—both of which have garnered a large insider cult following over the years. On top of his own projects, Sosenko directs Getting Serious, currently running Tuesday nights at I.O.
“At first, I would get involved with any project I could, just to have something to do,” he says, “but now I can focus on ones that personally mean a lot.”
Judging by his breakneck schedule, there’s a lot that means a lot. But Sosenko has his own system of getting things done. “First off, since I temp during the day, I can just not do any of the work I’m supposed to do and focus on creative stuff,” he says. “Secondly, I never do anything socially.”
That’s not to say Sosenko only spends time working on potential comedic gold; he sits in his apartment and watches Lost DVDs like anyone else. Still, perpetual drive and discipline fill his schedule holes with solo endeavors. Sosenko is writing a screenplay and filming webisodes of the American Patriots League (www.myspace.com/apatriotsleague), which follows a group of do-gooders who right the wrongs of injustice in America.
Sosenko’s motivation is surprising, given the advice he received from a local sage. “I cornered Rachel Dratch at I.O.’s 25th-anniversary show and asked her if she can breathe a sigh of relief, now that she has ‘made it,’?” he shares. “She said no, that it never stops. You always want more. That’s depressing.”Thus, Dratch sums up the sad truth about creative pursuits: They’re never truly satisfying, and that kinda sucks. Over the years, Sosenko has come to recognize his own bittersweet draw to creativity; though he doesn’t fully understand where it’s rooted, his goal is much more tangible.
“You know in Rocky IV how he had that robot butler?” he asks. “I’d like that. But not just any robot butler—the one from the movie.”—SH
The Dollar Store’s two-year shindig pays up Friday 3.